Nebraska hemp researcher says growing hemp could boost Nebraska's economy

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A Nebraska hemp researcher says growing hemp can lead to an economic boom for the state.

Feb. 3 is the first day people in Nebraska can apply for a state license to grow hemp.

Nebraskans are allowed to apply for a state hemp license starting Monday. Doane University professor Andrea Holmes said she sent in a request to start researching hemp products last year.

"We basically do sample prep to test our flowers," Holmes said, "As well as consumer-facing products for different cannabinoid products."

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture said it could collect as high as $236,000 from hemp licensing fees. It also could get up to 315 licenses. Of those 315 licenses, 270 are designed for cultivator licenses, 30 for processor-handler licenses and 15 for broker licenses.

The NDA also said Nebraska could have as many as 400 different cultivation sites.

If numbers can get that high, Holmes said it could have a huge economic impact.

"It presents an agricultural revolution for the state of Nebraska," Holmes said, "We are now at the brink of an opportunity that is so important for our farmers, for our entrepreneurs in the state."

A Lincoln business called Hemp Vision is already using hemp products to make its sunglasses. Andrew Bader, who owns the company, says using hemp decreases the cost for his business.

"It's a cheap bio-based material," Bader said, "So it brings down the overall cost of the material. It's good for farmers and its good for the earth."

Bader said he currently gets his plastics from North Dakota and does not plan on applying for a hemp license at this time because of certain regulations.

"I hope their regulations will loosen up and allow for more wide-scale production," Bader said.

Holmes said Nebraska should take the opportunity to become a major factor in the hemp industry.

"I think the state of Nebraska should become a leader in the nation of niche market developments," Holmes said, "Like the minor cannabinoids and using genetics that are very strong and stable."

She also wants Nebraska to look into a trifunctional hemp crop. This would allow hemp growers to grow for fibers, CBD and its grains.

The NDA said 6 people applied for a hemp license Monday. The total cost for a cultivator license application is $550.