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Industrial Hemp Opportunities For the County Discussed in Caribou


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, February 27, 2019


CARIBOU, Maine - A meeting to discuss the future of industrial hemp production in Aroostook County was held by The Glass is Half Full (TGIHF) at the Caribou Recreation Department's multi-purpose room on Friday, February 22.  Around thirty farmers and agricultural leaders from the area were present at the meeting which featured a presentation by Jack and Erica Haywood, from LoveGrown Agricultural Research LLC (LGAR).

   LoveGrown Agricultural Research was founded in Farmington, Maine in 2016 and has been working with industrial hemp for the past three years.   2018 was first year of their hemp product line launch.  They have been working in cannabis for about a decade.

   Many diverse products can be derived from Hemp, such as fabrics, ropes, food, animal feed and herbal medicine.  Hemp can even be used as a base for concrete mix called “hempcrete” which is being used  in Europe to construct buildings that have the strength of concrete with the insulating R-factor of urethane foam, but with a product that is one sixth the weight of concrete and is fireproof.  Hemp can also be used to make plastic and its fibers can be used for animal bedding and ground to a pulp to create paper products.

   Hemp plants, which exist in male and female form, come in many different varieties.  They can range in height from six feet to as tall as seventeen feet and feature a woody type stem that can get as big as two and a half inches in diameter.  The beneficial cannabidiol (CBD) compounds are derived from the oil in the seeds and flowers while the fibers from the stalk can be used for paper, rope and animal bedding.  The roots can even be processed for medicinal uses, too.

   “Hemp is a burgeoning crop now being grown in Maine by hundreds of farmers.  There are multiple commodities that you can get from the hemp as a crop; fibers, seed, food items, as well as medicinal products that are high in CBD,” said Erica Haywood, Managing Member of LGAR.  “Different types of farms can grow hemp in different types of ways to produce these different commodities for different markets.  It's a very versatile crop.” 

   Hemp does not contain any significant levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the compound in cannabis that makes people “high.”  Rather, it contains CBDs which act as an anti-inflammatory and thus are used in salves, ointments and tinctures to help treat the aches and pains of arthritis and strained muscles.   “Hemp is sort of the opposite from marijuana,” explained Haywood.  “It's an entirely different category from the perspective of the federal government and the state governments.  You can get licensed to grow hemp just like any other crop.  But marijuana is very highly regulated and could get you high if you smoke it.  Hemp could never get you high, it has high levels of CBD and almost no THC.”

   Hemp has been used as a commodity crop for thousands of years.  Hemp was one of the first plants brought over by the colonists at Jamestown, but the U.S. government had begun restricting and regulating it starting around 1937, even though it does not contain any intoxicating compounds that can make a person “high” like its distant cousin, cannabis does.  Over the past few years, several states have begun allowing hemp to be grown for its industrial uses.  In 2013, Colorado grew its first hemp crop in 60 years and Kentucky is currently the leader in hemp production.  In 2014, the U.S. government allowed hemp to be grown for research purposes and in December, 2018 finally legalized it to be grown nationwide.  Maine does allow hemp to be grown under State license.  Hemp can be legally shipped across state lines and sold anywhere.

   “It became a scheduled substance earlier last century.  In this century, a research bill was passed in the 2014 Farm Act that allowed hemp to be grown as a crop under research circumstances,” said Haywood.  “Now under the latest Farm Act being passed, it's descheduled the crop entirely.  CBD has been descheduled entirely, except for use as a drug at schedule 5, so it's been proven safe and the government is comfortable with farmers growing it now.”

   Haywood says hemp is growing really well in Maine and many farms have had great success with it so far.  The Haywoods are looking for farmers interested in developing partnerships with them to help build a supply chain for their products, to develop harvesting techniques and ultimately a brokerage house for marketing the harvested hemp to out of state sources.  “There's a lot of infrastructure that needs to be built here, stateside before we can utilize hemp fiber the same way we use cotton.  But I know we can use some of our mills and turn them over to that purpose.”

   To learn more about hemp growing, hemp products and potential farmer partnerships with LGAR, who can also assist with the State licensing process, contact Erica or Jack Haywood via their website: or phone; Erica: (207) 778-1181; or Jack: (207) 649-3639. 

   To keep up to date with upcoming meetings in the area, TGIHF can be followed on Facebook.