On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration made history. For the first time, the agency approved a hemp-derived product for use in treating epilepsy.
The decision comes as more and more Michigan farmers and researchers have their eye on producing hemp for commercial and medical uses.
Hemp comes from the same plant as marijuana — cannabis sativa — but industrial hemp does not contain THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. Nonetheless, it is regulated as a Schedule 1 drug. Unlike researchers in other states, Michigan scientists have not been able to study the crop and that means the state's farmers are losing ground to growers in Canada and other states.
Kurt Thelen is a professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University. He has been awaiting federal approval to study hemp for more than two years. He joined Stateside to discuss the uses and potential economic benefits of growing industrial hemp and the difficulties in studying the crop under its current status as a Schedule 1 substance.