In a nondescript white building on Texas A&M University’s campus, students from multiple different disciplines are leading the way in the research of industrial hemp.
The passage of the federal 2018 Farm Bill and subsequent Texas HB 1325 in 2019 paved the way for the Texas A&M Industrial Hemp Breeding Program to begin conducting research in the spring of 2020.
With the passage of these two pieces of legislation, hemp, also known as Cannabis Sativa or marijuana, can now legally be grown in Texas as long as its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration is below 0.3% and the grower has a license to do so.
Russell W. Jessup, professor of perennial grass and industrial hemp breeding, started the project and said that Texas A&M and Texas Tech were the first schools in the state approved to begin researching the plan.
“The state law for growers, they can get a growers permit and a commercial permit, but they can’t do any breeding or research,” Jessup said. “We have highly motivated students, highly passionate students. They’re looking for new crops. Farming is thought of as boring and ancient and not all that innovative. With hemp, everything we’re doing is innovative. It has not been researched for 80 years in the United States.”
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