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In Kentucky, the crop is being studied by researchers at a half-dozen Kentucky universities.
Eastern Kentucky University researchers recently harvested their small hemp plot. Those plants reached seven feet tall.
"It seems to be fairly easy to grow," said EKU agriculture professor Bruce Pratt. "The plants got established so quickly that they shaded out the weeds."
A 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service pegged hemp imports at $11.5 million in 2011, a tiny sum relative to other imported crops.
If widespread U.S. production is someday allowed, states able to attract processors close to where the crop is grown will be the winners, said University of Kentucky agricultural economist Will Snell.
"It’s a small, niche market, but it’s growing," he said. "We can grow it. The problem is, other states and other countries can grow it as well."
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