A California company made the first legal hemp shipment by train across U.S. state lines since prohibition of the plant in 1937.
This April 20, Golden Gate Hemp said it loaded more than 7,700 kilograms of hemp from its 550-acre farm in Fresno on a train headed to the company’s medical research and development lab in Denver, Colorado.
The legal opening for last week’s shipment was made possible by U.S. Congress passing the 2018 Farm Bill, specifically section 10113, which permitted the transport of hemp across state lines.
The new measure led to a surge in hemp cultivation across America, as farmers looked to cash in on the CBD health craze. Others chose to produce different products from the plant such as paper, biodegradable plastics and textile fibres.
While GSH already ships thousands of kilograms of hemp across the country by truck, those transports can be problematic in some states.
Because the federal government left it up to states in 2018 to legalize the production, transport and sale of industrial hemp, some decided to continue their decades-long ban.
In 2019, a truck shipping hemp from Oregon to Colorado was seized by law enforcement in Idaho, where hemp has remained illegal. The case ended up in the Ninth Circuit court, which mostly sidestepped the issue, ruling that the parties involved should pursue their claims in state court.
GSH says some of its trucks have been stopped and seized. The enforcement is costly, and it’s time consuming to get the product returned — if it hasn’t been ruined completely, the company notes.
But sketchy interstate hemp transport laws may finally clear up, as Idaho is set to become the last state in America to legalize industrial hemp on Friday.
Nevertheless, GSH says trains travel faster and eliminate dangers of being stopped by police in different areas that mistake hemp shipments for cannabis.
Trains are also a cheaper, more efficient and more carbon-friendly mode of transport, the company says.
“It all starts here by reducing our carbon footprint with railroads instead of trucks,” CEO Jeff Friedland said in a statement. “The first train shipment marks the dawn of hemp’s next revolution in the U.S.”
Friedland said it took some time to find a rail company willing to transport hemp, because of stigma tied to the plant’s association with weed.
In the end, the company reached a deal with Union Pacific, the nation’s largest railway with 32,000 miles of track.
GSH plans to shift the majority of its transport to rail in the next few years. The company is planning on building a series of strategic hubs in the Midwest, and eventually to the East Coast.
GSH, a subsidiary of Other World Management Inc, is a seed-to-sale company that manufactures products like organic hemp cigarettes.
The company has a zero-waste philosophy where every aspect of the plant is used to monetize a variety of revenue streams.
Some experts believe that hemp can displace trees as a source of industrial plant fibre, as hemp farms can produce four times more per acre in five months than the same area of trees could produce in 20 years.
Top image via GSH