ST. CLOUD -- The fast-growing hemp industry is holding a statewide conference here in St. Cloud. The Minnesota Hemp Association's conference and expo will be at the River's Edge Convention Center next Tuesday, December 3rd.

Executive Director Joe Radinovich says the hemp plant is very similar to its cousin the marijuana plant, but there is a clear distinction.

Hemp is defined by a cannabis plant that is less than .3% THC content, so if you're in a state where marijuana is sold recreationally a lot of that marijuana tests at 20-25% THC.

Radinovich says 2016 was the first year hemp was grown in Minnesota under a federal pilot program, and in 2018 the federal government expanded it to a full-scale crop under the farm bill.

Radinovich says there are three main commercial uses for hemp.

One is for grains, you can use it in plant proteins. Animal feed is one application.  Another potential use is fiber, there isn't a lot of industry development around that yet but there's a lot of advanced fibers or event building materials that can be made out of hemp.

And the third use for hemp is CBD oils. Radinovich says about 78 percent of the hemp crop grown in Minnesota this year was dedicated to the CBD industry.

This year Radinovich says about 5,000 acres, as well as about 400,000 square feet of indoor space, were dedicated to growing hemp.

The Minnesota Hemp Association was formed this past spring and currently has about 150 members.

Enter your number to get our mobile branded app