For many years, Tennessee farmers who used to rely on tobacco as a crop that would pay enough for them to support their farms and keep their land have been looking for a plant that would be as lucrative as the one that once played a key role in the settlement and founding of the United States. Since the federal tobacco settlement, the growing and sale of tobacco has become far less lucrative, but many former tobacco farmers haven’t found a crop that could support them, pay their note, and put their kids through college in quite the same way that tobacco could. Some Tennessee lawmakers believe they may have found the crop to do just that, one that, like tobacco, has deep roots in British colonial America-hemp.
The plan that has been put forward by State Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) and Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) wouldn’t legalize recreational marijuana growth and use as was recently done in Colorado, but it would allow Tennessee farmers to grow hemp for industrial purposes that could be used in the manufacture of a wide range of products. Faison told The Examiner Wednesday that he and Niceley were slated to have a meeting Wednesday afternoon with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam about House Bills 1392 and 2445, which decriminalize the growing of industrial hemp in Tennessee and make the growing of hemp subject to the regulation of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (as with any other industrial crop), respectively.
"Our motivation for doing this comes from the desire to bring jobs back from other countries right back to Tennessee," Faison said to The Examiner Wednesday. "Every industrialized nation in the world grows Hemp. We should as well."
Representative Faison said that preserving Tennessee's long agrarian heritage played a role in his decision to sponsor legislation allowing for the industrial growing of hemp. "Many Tennessee farmers have struggled to actually turn a profit for years now. The market for hemp will hopefully develop and our farmers will once again be able to turn a sizable profit," Faison said.