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How Universities in the U.S. are Changing the Way We Think of Hemp

In the last five years, hemp research in the United States has grown exponentially thanks to hemp-friendly farm bills that have facilitated the establishment and development of pilot research programs. With a legal framework in which industrial hemp can be studied under the auspices of state universities, some of the most reputable institutions in the country are now leading the way in hemp science. Here are five of the most important university research programs making an impact in the hemp industry in the United States:

University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)

In 2018, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) found support from lawmakers in the state capital of Tallahassee to launch a pilot hemp research program. However, no state funding was appropriated for this initiative. Green Roads took this opportunity to partner with the university by donating $1.3 million to their newly created program. The partnership has helped fund the first phase of research including materials, facilities, and human resources needed for the cultivation and study of industrial hemp.

The UF hemp pilot program will focus on two areas of hemp science: finding the most effective strains for specific industrial applications and establishing the best cropping practices for commercial purposes.

Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, Illinois)

As one of the most important public research institutions in the midwest, Southern Illinois University has taken an important leadership role in hemp research nationwide. Their program, created last year, aims to study industrial hemp and medical marijuana with the goal of facilitating certificates for students and farmers in the state.

“We’re getting this request and input from stakeholders, who are reaching out to us, telling us they need the science,” said interim dean of agricultural sciences Karen Midden. “But we’re also getting it from students — current and potential students — that they would like to have programs to prepare them for work in these areas.”

Cornell University (Ithaca, New York)

The Ithaca-based university has established a comprehensive research program to study the potential impact of hemp in the state of New York. The Empire State is well-positioned to become a major player in the hemp and CBD industry in the near future, and the Cornell program seeks to find the most efficient ways to facilitate hemp production throughout the state. Among its goals, the program will try to uncover potential obstacles in the development of the industry including seed issues and pests. Additionally, the university will determine the best varieties for diverse New York conditions.

Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana)

Officially known as the Purdue Hemp Project, the program is the most significant hemp initiative in the state of Indiana. Made possible through a partnership between the Purdue College of Agriculture and the Purdue Agricultural Experiment Station, the university’s project is composed of industry experts and professionals including faculty and farmers.

According to their official website, the Purdue Hemp Project’s mission is “to provide research-based information to aid in the development of hemp as an industry in Indiana and throughout the Midwest.”

University of California Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)

As one of the first academic institutions dedicated to the study of cannabis, the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative has established itself as one of the most important programs of its kind in the world.

California is now the largest population in the world with legal adult use of cannabis. Los Angeles is predicted to become the capital of the American cannabis and CBD industry, says program director Jeffrey Chen. “While our priority is to study the therapeutic potential and health risks of cannabis on the body, brain, and mind, our mission is the interdisciplinary study of the wide-ranging health, legal, economic, and social impacts of cannabis.”