Thursday, the Alabama Cannabis Coalition announce that Hemp Fest is being held in Scottsboro, Alabama at the Scottsboro Silos on Saturday September 18th, at 11am, CST until Sunday September 19th at 6pm, CST.
“We are also very excited to announce that H. Marty Schelper, the Founder and President of the Alabama Cannabis Coalition, will be the Keynote Speaker at Hemp Fest 2021,” the Alabama Cannabis Coalition announced. “We invite you to come out this weekend and see us. We will have flyers and would love to meet you. Join us in helping to end the insanity of Cannabis Prohibition.”
The Alabama Cannabis Coalition is committed and dedicated to the fight for legalization, expungement of criminal charges, pertaining to cannabis, and home grow. Schelper is also the President of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition.
The event is being sponsored by Scottsboro Vapor and CBD. There will be music as well as food and drinks and information about the hemp industry in Alabama.
Currently hemp is legal across the country after passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Most of the hemp that is grown in Alabama is used to produce hemp flowers for the manufacturing of CBD oil. Alabama currently has CBD processing plants in Cullman, Huntsville, and soon in Phoenix City. Farmers with licenses from the Alabama Department of Agriculture are allowed to grow and harvest hemp legally as long as the THC content of their crop is .3 percent THC or less. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Delta 9 THC is illegal in Alabama and is a controlled substance. Some hemp processors synthesize Delta 8 and Delta 10 THC from CBD oil. That product, that has less potency than Delta 9 and is sold over the counter legally in the state.
There has been considerable interest however in locating a hemp fiber plant in Alabama. The Alabama Political Reporter met in August with West Alabama farmer Robert Speller who spoke to the Winfield City Council in August about locating a hemp fiber factory there. Speller explained that in hemp fiber production the crop is grown for plant material and harvested much like hay in large round bales. The processed hemp fibers can be used to produce products as diverse as: flooring, toilet paper, horse bedding, automobile parts, clothing, paper and more.
Kevin Edmundson, whose company markets hemp fiber processing machinery, said that the machinery for a hemp fiber processing plant costs about $550,000 and the machinery and building about $2.5 million. Edmundson said that the biggest challenge is growing enough acres of hemp to keep the factory operating twelve months consistently so that end product manufacturers can continue to have a steady supply of fiber year round.
Edmundson said that hemp stubble that is left after hemp flowers are harvested can be harvested for fiber; but that it is more ideal to purpose grow hemp for total crop mass.
Speller said that hemp fiber production is an untapped market for Alabama farmers and that the state should do away with the current licensing regime for growing hemp for fiber and treat it like any other crop.
Chey Garrigan with the Alabama Cannabis Industry Association said, “Hemp fibers is a large potential market for Alabama hemp farmer.”
Garrigan cautioned farmers to be sure that they have processors in place to take their crop (whether they are growing hemp for flower production or fiber production) before putting a hemp crop in the ground. Garrigan said that her association is working to get those fiber facilities in place in Alabama.
In 2021 the Alabama state legislature passed legislation sponsored by state Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, that created a legal pathway for citizens of Alabama with a demonstrated medical need to legally obtain Alabama grown and processed medical marijuana as early as the fall of 2022.
Garrigan explained that while most hemp in the state is grown outdoors in fields, the marijuana growers will be more tightly regulated and that all of that production will likely be in large greenhouses.
Garrigan said that home grow of marijuana was not legalized by the legislation and that only farmers with a medical marijuana license from the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission could lawfully grow marijuana – which is a high THC variety of the same cannabis plant family as hemp.
Patients must get a recommendation from a doctor, who has to be certified by the Commission to give those recommendations. The patient would then go to a licensed dispensary to purchase a legal marijuana product. The possession of marijuana in a raw plant form or any smokable product will remain illegal in Alabama for the foreseeable future.
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission recently hired state Treasurer John McMillan (R) as its new executive director.
The Commission will begin awarding a strictly limited number of grower, processor, transporter, and dispensary licenses some time in 2022.
Schelper and the Alabama Cannabis Coalition supported Melson’s 2021 legislation as a first step; but they would like to see a full decriminalization of cannabis, whether grown for CBD, hemp fiber, or marijuana.