Sipping a tea brewed from peppermint, licorice root and cannabidiol extract, Rochelle Koch and her husband Peter gaze proudly at their 90-acre hemp farm, Whole Circle Farms, nestled in the foothills of the Willamette Valley. In the fields, part-time high school students harvest indigo and green buds and dry them in wood-framed beds in a barn.
The pastoral scene belies the turbulent world in which the Kochs do business, one defined by outdated regulations, public misconceptions and increasing competition—but also by considerable opportunity.
The Oregon hemp industry is like a raging river, restrained by a dam that might soon break and allow products to flood an array of new markets. A provision in the 2018 Farm Bill before Congress would strike cannabidiol from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Schedule 1 drugs, those the agency deems to have the highest potential for abuse.