GUTHRIE, Oklahoma (CBSDFW.COM) – Sitting side by side, hemp and marijuana plants could easily be confused.
“If it wasn’t labelled, there would be no way to tell the difference,” said Jesse Tischauser looking at young cannabis plants he’s growing in Guthrie, Oklahoma, nearly four hours north of Dallas.
He’s been growing hemp for almost a year now in his greenhouses, since his business, Herb’s Herbs, received a license from the state. When voters legalized medical marijuana last year, too, he was well-positioned to start growing it, as well.
“We have roughly 20,000 medical marijuana plants and 100,000 hemp plants growing in our greenhouses,” he said. “I bet you can’t tell which is which,” he teases.
His two crops are closely related, sharing the same distinctive leaf, associated with marijuana.
Both are grown, harvested and dried the same way.
A lab test though, would reveal one big difference: the amount of THC in each of the plants.
It’s the intoxicating chemical that can give you a buzz.
Federal law requires hemp, which is naturally low in THC, to maintain a concentration of no more than .3%.
Marijuana, which is still outlawed by the federal government, can contain more than 30% THC.
“They are both medicinal,” said Tischauser.
Both plants also contain CBD, and virtually all the hemp in these greenhouses will be used to produce CBD oil.
But, hemp can also be used to create clothes, food and beauty products, as well as alternative to plastic, concrete and steel.
“Hemp has a lot of potential, a lot of products to be made from it. a lot of demand for it,” said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. “There’s profit to be made in it.”
In Howard County, Texas, a four-hour drive west of Fort Worth, fourth-generation farmer Eric Herm is eagerly awaiting Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s signature on legislation legalizing hemp farming.
Herm believes he can make twice as much profit per acre planting hemp compared to cotton.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a plant that’s been introduced to the farm scene that’s going to create this amount of new money,” he said.
Tischauser sees potential benefits for everyone.
“When Texas legalizes hemp, I mean, there is so much farmland,” he said. “It is going to be a game changer as far as the industry goes.”