Editor's Note: We originally reported Student Body President Rusty Mau "hopes that NC State can follow Kentucky's lead in pursuing hemp research." This quote was misattributed to Mau and was said by Andrew Klein, president of the Raleigh Hemp Society. The Technician also stated that Mau is "advocating" for hemp research at NC State. To clarify, while Mau does support the pursuit of hemp research in the future, he is not an advocate for the cause. Instead, Klein has asked Mau to help him meet with deans of various colleges at the university to promote future hemp research.
Members of The Raleigh Hemp Society have enlisted the aid of Student Body President Rusty Mau in order to gain support from administration at NC State to initiate graduate research on the benefits of growing hemp.
Bringing hemp research to NC State would fit into the university’s values as an institution, according to Student Body President Rusty Mau.
“I think that’s something we value at NC State—looking at interdisciplinary research that touches people on a personal level and can improve our day to day lives,” Mau said.
The president of the Raleigh Hemp Society Andrew Klein, a senior studying natural resources policy and administration, said if the programs can be created, NC State’s reputation as a leader in the agricultural field could help spread awareness about the plant’s benefits.
Klein said NC State legislators have been open to hearing what the RHS has had to say in the past, but have been noncommittal on whether they would openly support hemp research.
Hemp is beginning to make its way into university research, and NC State could follow in the footsteps of other university pilot-programs supporting hemp research, according to Klein.
In 2014, the state of Kentucky drafted regulations to administer seven pilot programs at Kentucky universities to cultivate hemp, which will be funded by private money and land as well as their agriculture department, according to Louisville Business First.
Klein said he hopes that NC State can follow Kentucky’s lead in pursuing hemp research.
“The interdisciplinary nature of hemp and the hemp movement, when you talk about hemp as a construction material, as a textiles, and its [benefits to the soil] as a crop, makes it have so many impacts on our lives,” Mau said.
Hemp research has begun to pick up steam since President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill in February 2014, which authorizes universities and state agriculture departments to conduct pilot programs for academic and agriculture research. However, states still have the power to forbid the growth of hemp.
There are currently 13 states that have legalized industrial hemp with several others on the way to legalization, and hemp is widely produced in 33 other industrial countries including France, China and the U.K.
Klein said hemp’s benefits are being ignored by American society due to the fundamental mischaracterization that the hemp plant is the same as recreational marijuana.
“You can smoke a field of hemp, and you would die of CO2 poisoning before you got high,” Klein said.
Some of these benefits include using hemp to create greener, more effective alternatives to common products, such as hemp cooking oil, which has more omega-3 than traditional oil; hemp paper, which can be produced four times more efficiently than paper from trees; hemp fibers used in clothing, which can be produced with less water than cotton; and raw hemp, which can be made into a concrete substitute.
One of the goals for the RHS this semester is to increase membership through an educational campaign about the benefits of hemp and allow students to hear from both sides of the discussion. More student support could help influence the university to actively support hemp research, Klein said.