Hemp farmers are excluded from the cannabis business

D&G Ag Tech Farm in Eastford credit: Photo by Christine Stewart

This is a farm and already growing the plant, but Michael Gudenaf and nearly 50 other hemp farmers in Connecticut will not be able to grow the plant with more THC.

This is because legislation allowing cannabis for entertainment has left hemp growers out of the equation, and efforts to include them this year have failed.

D&G Ag Tech manufactures 78 brands of hemp products, but none of them are approved for sale at medical marijuana dispensaries in Connecticut.

Under federal law, hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound that causes you high fever. Once this threshold is crossed, the cannabis plant is considered marijuana.

Conor Roderick, a recent UConn graduate and major producer credit: Photo by Christine Stewart

The Connecticut Act, which legalizes the drug in 2021, says products sold at 18 Connecticut dispensaries can only be from four approved medical marijuana manufacturers in the state. These same producers will be able to switch to the cannabis business for entertainment.

“It left us completely out,” Gudenaf said last week during a tour of his farm.

Goodenough helps extract and package everything from CBD oils to creams for about 44 of the 48 hemp farms.

It uses the method of cold extraction and rotary evaporation to separate terpenes from cannabinoids and CBD from THC.

The beginning of the extraction process credit: Photo by Christine Stewart

“We know how to store and extract if there is a shortage,” Gudenaf said.

He said that since the product could not be shipped across state lines due to federal law, there must be enough product grown here in the state to maintain a leisure market.

The Consumer Protection Department is in the process of determining who will receive a cannabis cultivation license and believes there will be enough to meet demand.

Goodenough is not so sure.

“The people who can do it and do it tomorrow are our farmers,” Gudenaf said.

He said there would be a race for land and local zoning would complicate the issue for those looking for a place to grow. Goodenough said it took him two and a half years to obtain a license for the Massachusetts dispensary.

Under Connecticut cannabis law, a licensed cultivator may cultivate, grow, and propagate cannabis in an enterprise containing at least 15,000 square feet of growing area.

While the Ministry of Consumer Protection has no opinion on the policy, the Ministry of Agriculture says it supports efforts to involve hemp producers.

But currently, under the existing Connecticut hemp program, which has been approved by the USDA state plan, the licensee cannot have both a hemp and cannabis license.

Michael Gudenaf with one of the extraction machines credit: Photo by Christine Stewart

“The department has spoken out in favor of the working group in Public Act 22-103, which aims to assess how best to support the cannabis industry as entertainment cannabis becomes legal here in Connecticut,” the ministry said in a statement. of agriculture. “The department supports the cannabis business for entertainment, including Connecticut hemp products for sale at their locations.

Senator Christine Cohen, co-chair of the Environment Committee, said she also supported the possibility of hemp growers expanding into the legal cannabis business.

“We have passed the working group and I would like to see them grow.” “This makes perfect sense, as they are already cultivating the plant / species and supporting our agricultural heritage in the country.”

Goodenough, a former Marine who has worked in the IBM technology industry for 25 years, said the plant’s healing properties have brought it back to its agricultural roots.

“I fell in love with agriculture again,” Gudenaf said. “I have experience in technology, but that brought me back to the farm.”

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