Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced this week that he would introduce legislation to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity.
Local hemp grower, Kit Doyle, owns Murphy Hemp Company. He started the business after the banking crisis of the early aughts. The business produces a variety of products, everything from salves to tinctures to smoking cessation products. Still, because hemp is cannabis, it's a controlled substance. This means a whole host of problems on a federal level.
"It's challenging because you have to do certain things to get banking and do normal business," explains Doyle.
This is an obvious problem for a plant that promises a wide array of uses. Doyle says it's full spectrum of possibilities are not even yet fully known because research and development has been hindered by it's status.
Despite this, Doyle says someone could build a house with hemp alone. "It makes a chemical reaction and bonds like a cement or concrete," he explains. "It has great anti-microbial properties. It sequesters carbons. In the green world, there's no better building product. You can turn it into plywood. You can build anything out of it."
Kim Reese is an employee at the Murphy Hemp Company. She says she worked in health care for most of her life and she sees the many benefits the plant offers. Additionally, she see the industry as a way for the community to rebound economically.
"It used to just be we mainly had the mill for folks to work," she detailed. "The industry that cannabis has brought for our area is extraordinary!"
Doyle believes changes on the federal level will only keep getting better for Oregon.
""It already has and will continue to bring in industry," says Doyle. "More people to employ more Oregonians. That's really what this is about."