Acela CBD held an open house on Sunday to show the community what they do.
Karen Swolsky, vice president of sales and marketing for Acela, said the open house was to educate the community on what Acela offers.
“Today, we opened our doors and welcomed the community to view our facility and see what we do here,” she said. “We’re showing them seed-to-shelf of the industrial hemp plant and what it produces. We’re also selling our line of product. Our first release of product was available on Friday.”
At 2 p.m., Acela CBD President and founder Andrew Culbertson, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarrels and Kentucky State Rep. John Sims Jr. spoke briefly about the opening of Acela and industrial hemp.
“I grew up on a farm in Ohio,” Culbertson said. “If it hadn’t been for the tobacco farm, we wouldn’t have had Christmas, so I understand tobacco farming and I did two years of ag school in 1980. I spent a lot of time wanting to get back to the farm. What is exciting for us is that we are creating a product that is pharmaceutical grade and we can get that in the market from right here in Maysville.”
According to Culbertson, Kentucky is making strides in industrial hemp farming.
“Every month, every week and every day, Kentucky is making great strides. We’re leading the nation,” he said. “It was 2001 when the first hemp bill was introduced and passed. It has taken that long to get to today.”
Massie said a lot of work was put into passing an industrial hemp farm bill.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “This is just the beginning. This is a result of 10 years of hard work in Washington D.C. and it’s been bipartisan. The industrial hemp farming act was introduced by Rand Paul’s father in 2009. It was the first bill that I co-sponsored when I got to Washington D.C. When Ron Paul left, I reintroduced the bill immediately and got to work getting as many Republicans and Democrats as I could together.”
Massie also gave some history on how the hemp bill was passed.
When Quarles began speaking, he asked how many people used to farm tobacco and how many were doing so still.
“There’s just a few of us left who are still growing,” he said. “We don’t know if hemp will replace tobacco, but we’re going to give it everything we’ve got. There is no other plant that is experiencing faster growth than industrial hemp. If there is ever a natural home for this plant, it is the Commonwealth of Kentucky, because we have heritage, history and farmers who know how to produce a high quality product. We know there are thousands of products you can make and that’s what makes this crop special. It’s my belief that in years to come, when looking back, industrial hemp will be looked upon no differently than corn, wheat or tobacco in Kentucky. This plant gives Kentucky an opportunity to be first in something. The numbers speak for themselves. We’re so proud of what you’re doing in Maysville.”
Sims said he appreciates the farmers who are growing the industrial hemp.
“I want to thank Andrew and his team for what he has put together here,” he said. “For those who don’t know, I was reading an article recently that said in the 1830s, this region was number two in the state for hemp production. I want to thank the farmers who are stepping out to do something new to help their families and their community.”
Mason County Industrial Authority Executive Director Owen McNeill said he was pleased to see Maysville be a part of the growth.
“Today’s event for Acela highlights another option for area farmers when considering what to plant. Hemp and hemp associated economic activity has grown exponentially over the last few years and I’m proud that Maysville and Mason County are part of that growth,” he said. “Very few industries represent as much economic potential as hemp. As an economic developer, I just hope legislative obstacles are removed and/or mitigated safely to ensure this growing industry continues to expand.”
Many of the products Acela CBD offers on its website include cannabidiol, or CBD, oils and extract created from industrial hemp.
Historically, the first hemp was grown in Kentucky in 1775, in Danville on Clark’s Run Creek. Early settlers in the state brought hemp to the area, along with flax and wool, which were considered the best options for fabric in a region where cotton could not grow very well.
Counties producing the most hemp were located in the Bluegrass region of the state and were either near or along the Kentucky River. Fayette, Woodford, Shelby, Clark, Scott, Bourbon, Jessamine, Mason, Franklin, Boyle and Lincoln proved to be the largest hemp-producing counties during the 19th century.
Hemp production declined during the Civil War. Although some hemp was still grown in Kentucky at that time, the cotton market in the deep South, and, therefore, the market for cordage and bagging, was cut off.
Hemp however did made a comeback during the Spanish-American War and again during World War I and World War II. The production of hemp then became illegal during the latter part of the 20th century.