Rodney Mehring of Blue Lizard Farms near Panaca is a hemp grower.
Hemp is part of the cannabis family, as is marijuana, but it’s not considered illegal in all forms as marijuana has often been. Hemp has been found to have medicinal uses for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
On March 4, Mehring made a presentation to the board of county commissioners pertaining to the proposed ordinance amending the county code for marijuana establishments in Lincoln County.
Mehring told commissioners that at Blue Lizard, “we grow the plants that are high in CBD [cannabidiol] and have low THC [tetrahydrocannabinol].”
In very simple terms, he explained, “THC gets you high. CBD does not.”
Blue Lizard is making every effort, he said, to keep THC levels below the three-tenths of a percent allowed by the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA), “otherwise your entire crop can be seized and destroyed.”
He said some marijuana plants now are known to be producing between 15-30 percent THC. That is not the case with hemp, according to Mehring.
“One percent of THC is not going to make you high, and the CBD also present there can act as a counter-effect to the THC. Also, some of the oils produced from the hemp plant have 99.9 percent of the THC removed.”
Mehring told the county commissioners, “We are not criminals if all of a sudden, for unintentional reasons, our crop should test over the permitted levels. We don’t want to become [seen as] marijuana growers and viewed as criminals within our own county.”
He added, “In the laws that you write, allow for some caveat that our intent is to grow hemp, and if the tested levels happen to be too high, the cannabis laws will still allow us to be classified as a hemp grower and allowing for a little higher percentage.”
Asked the question of what would occur if an outside grower comes into Lincoln County, claiming to be a hemp grower, but attempting to exceed the THC percentage limitations, Mehring said the NDA would catch that in the testing process and confiscate the crop. “As hemp growers, we’re not trying to find ways to really be growing marijuana and getting away with it.”
Commissioner Kevin Phillips said what needs to be worked out in the ordinance to amend the county code has, in part, to do with making sure that what is being allowed is not going to be harmful to those who don’t want it. He cited impaired drivers as a possibility.
A public hearing on the ordinance options is set for 11 a.m. during the April 1 commission meeting.