Inside Tennessee Hemp Growth
Industrial Hemp Industry Growth in Tennessee
If you need proof of how fast Tennessee’s hemp industry is growing, look no further than the Brady
Family of Fayetteville.
Three weeks ago, Tina Brady wanted relief from a genetic disorder that causes painful tumors in the bones of her left arm. But she was sick of painkillers and desperate to try something new, so she drove to nearby Shelbyville to buy a small tincture of CBD oil, an extract of the hemp plant. When she got home, Brady squeezed a few drops on her tongue and her life was changed.
The relief was so soothing, Brady said, she decided right then to open a hemp store of her own. She called her local police just to ensure the products were legal, then began searching for a storefront. In a few days, Brady and her husband were printing up business cards for Southern Hemp Supply, the first store selling hemp products and CBD oil in Fayetteville.
“We found a place to rent, bought a sign, bought some products and put it on Facebook,” her husband, Jeff Brady, said Friday. “We open tomorrow.”
CBD From Hemp Is Sweeping The State
Though hemp stores don’t all launch quite so fast, an industry built on products made from hemp and cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is sweeping Tennessee. Throughout the state, businesses big and small are jumping into an expanding hemp marketplace with confidence that products — once considered taboo because of their association with marijuana — have become more widely accepted. Congress appears poised to fully legalize hemp at the federal level through a farm bill later this year, but even if it does not, the hemp industry is expected to continue to grow.
“Tennessee is the sleeping giant when it comes to cannabis and industrial hemp,” said Joshua Camp, the CEO of LabCanna, a Franklin-based hemp wholesaler that will soon open a storefront in East Nashville. “We have all the agricultural prowess of other states, but we also have money and we have health care and we have tech. We have all the components here that make it an opportunity for explosive growth.”
Hemp is the same plant as marijuana but is genetically stripped of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the chemical that provides the high the drug is known for. But hemp still contains CBD, a substance broadly marketed as an alternative treatment for seizures, pain, stress or a vast array of other medical conditions. The majority of CBD’s uses remain unverified by scientific evidence, but this has not stymied a lucrative and largely unregulated industry built upon the healing claims of the hemp extract.
Does CBD Oil make you high? Dr. Michael Privitera explains the affects of CBD Oil based medications. Albert Cesare, email@example.com
Never was this more apparent than last weekend, as The Fairgrounds Nashville welcomed the first-ever Southern Hemp Expo, a trade show that featured more than 100 hemp-related businesses, including farmers, processors, wholesalers and brick-and-mortar stores. More than 700 attendees walked the expo floor on Friday, browsing a seemingly endless supply of CBD products — oils, lotions, Gummi Bears, chocolate and honey — plus hemp seeds, hemp paper, hemp clothing and hemp beer. A faint smell of hemp, notably softer than the earthy odor of marijuana, wafted through the expo hall.
Mixed into that crowd was David Pellicane, owner of a chain of Nashville Vapor stores, who recently expanded into hemp sales. Pellicane said he grew tired of turning away customers who came into his stores asking if he sold CBD oils, so he opened Nashville Hemp on Charlotte Avenue earlier this month.
Soon, Nashville will be flooded with similar stores, Pellicane said.
“I think by this time next year, there will be 25 of them,” he said. “The demand is definitely there.”
Expo founder Morris Beegle said the event’s auspicious beginning illustrated the “tremendous demand” for hemp and CBD products in Tennessee. Beegle started the NoCo Hemp Expo in Colorado in 2014 and expanded to Nashville this year.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Beegle said as the expo began Friday. “You’ve got stores and producers and processors popping up, and I think we are just going to see exponential growth over the next year, two years and three years.
“Farmers need another option besides tobacco, besides corn and besides soy, and they are finding that this crop grows well here and that the return on investment is significantly more in most cases.”
Legal Since 2015
Hemp has been legal to grow in Tennessee, with restrictions, since 2015 when the state launched a hemp farming pilot program that is closely monitored by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. The program has expanded every year and now includes more than 220 farmers growing hemp on more than 3,400 acres of land.
Many of those hemp farmers come from families who have farmed tobacco for generations but have now expanded as the demand has plummeted. Others are entrepreneurs like Will Tarleton, 34, who has cultivated about 5 acres of hemp just outside Nashville for four years. Earlier this year, his wife, Christie, launched Yuyo Botanics, a line of CBD tinctures and salves sold in stores in Nashville and beyond.
“The industry is blossoming,” Tarleton said. “Sure, there is some federal uncertainty, and some fear and doubt … but we have a lot of good momentum. We have great laws and great land and a Department of Agriculture that supports our farmers.”
FROM THIS REPORTER: For Parkinson’s patients, a surreal brain surgery offers new hope
Tennessee First Hemp Dispensary