Watch: Why Kentucky Farmers Are Quitting Tobacco And Turning To Hemp

Growing hemp is a complicated and mostly illegal process in the United States. Hemp is a form of cannabis that is extremely low in THC, the psychoactive ingredient that makes you high. Growing hemp has been Illegal in the United States since 1937 (except for a brief period during and after the World War II), despite the fact that it was grown for hundreds of years prior to that. And it's still illegal, with law enforcement arguing from the air, illegal marijuana grow operations and hemp farms are too hard to distinguish.

But the attitudes towards industrial hemp are changing. This October 2015 report by PBS NewsHour's Christopher Booker looks at how Kentucky - famous for its tobacco farms - is now looking to return to its historical roots of hemp growing. A bill passed in 2014, granted states and universities the right to research hemp. The result? A number of states who've started research projects, with Kentucky leading the way.

"There's no reason why industrial hemp should have been outlawed in the United States or Kentucky," Kentucky's agricultural commissioner James Comer tells Booker. And he's banking on it becoming the next big thing.

Tobacco used to bring $1-billion a year into Kentucky's economy, but due to anti-smoking campaigns, that figure is dropping. And that's why hemp is suddenly so attractive to traditional tobacco farmers. While illegal to grow, it's not illegal to import: $500-million worth of hemp is imported from other countries (such as Canada) into the US, to make a number of everyday items from rope to skin creams to food products. If Kentucky could get a piece of that action, it would be set.

But growing hemp in Kentucky, even just for research, took a lot of work. Watch just how the state got its seeds in the ground. It wasn't easy.


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