Hemp farming is gaining a foothold in Appalachia—and could turn the region into a production powerhouse.
Floyd Landis strolls with Amish farmer, Ben King, through a one-acre patch of six- and seven-foot-tall organically grown Cannabis sativa plants in Pennsylvania’s southern Lancaster County. The retired road cyclist and disqualified Tour de France winner palpates a thick, bright-green cola, smells his fingertips and grins at business manager, Jake Sitler, also a former pro bicyclist.
“She’s just about ready,” says Landis. The tableau smacks of a Cheech & Chong film, but this is totally legal.
Known as hemp, the plants are the same species that yields marijuana, but have been bred to produce low THC (the psychoactive compound responsible for the mind-altering effects of marijuana), and large concentrations of cannabidiol, or CBD. They’ll be harvested in about two weeks and taken to a Columbia processing facility, where the chemical will be extracted.
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