SISTERS, OR -- Hemp, distinct from marijuana due to its much lower THC content, can be grown in Central Oregon with none of the strict regulations required by its cousin. Matt Cyrus of Triple C Farms in Sisters, says hemp gets a bad rap, but according to the state of Oregon, it's a crop just like anything else growing in a field. "It's no different than if you were raising mint. Or dairy. Or any other crop that people don't like the odor. It's just as legal as any of those other crops. And Oregon and Deschutes County's farm provisions kick in and prevent any neighbor complaints."
Cyrus claims not all hemp smells bad. "The skunky odor that some people dislike are specific strains. Some strains smell like a bouquet of flowers." He says he even had one once that smelled like Juicy Fruit gum. Unlike marijuana, hemp grows like bamboo, because all the parts of the plant are harvested to make paper, plastic, textiles, and CBD oils for lubricants and medicines and Cyrus says hemp was made illegal because it threatened the timber and plastics industries. "Hemp has been around for a long time and is a very sturdy, good product used in paper and textiles. Also, it's found to be effective in plastics, and in fact, they can make a biodegradable plastic from hemp."
Cyrus thinks that more Oregon farmers will switch to hemp as the medicinal and recreational marijuana markets top out, and it's a way for area farmers to grow a durable, mold-resistant plant, outdoors, with none of the regulations imposed on marijuana. He has 25 acres of hemp growing near Sisters, and he says what he thinks is most impressive about hemp is that it has been anecdotally linked to healing. "The CBD, taken from the crystals on the flower, has been found effectively with its healing properties. The CBD is the medical part of the medical marijuana. It's the substance that will help your body heal, as opposed to getting you high from the THC."
Hemp growers must be registered with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, because hemp is a crop, but they don't need approval from the Oregon Health Authority or the Oregon Liquor control Commission, like medicinal and recreational marijuana growers do.