While hemp and marijuana leaves may look similar and both come from the cannabis species, the two are very different.

Hemp contains a compound called cannabidiol (CBD) and has less than .3% THC — the substance that makes marijuana psychoactive —so it doesn't provide a "high."

Winona LaDuke and Nicolette Slagle with the Anishinaabe Agriculture Institute are working to highlight the differences in hemp and the many benefits it has. They received a $25,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to help their efforts.

"Our big goal is promoting hemp," Slagle said, adding that they hope to bring more awareness to growing it, its uses and the profitability. "To try and use hemp as a tool for community and economic development."

Slagle said that two big ways hemp can be used for the lakes community is to "diversify farmer's incomes" and as a textile. Hemp can benefit soils and the environment, she added.

"In the realm of textiles, it's been shown that hemp uses less water and potential chemicals versus cotton," she said. "It's shown to be a much more sturdy fabric."

With the $25,000 Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant from The Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation MDA organization, Slagle and LaDuke have more opportunities to promote hemp.

As the Anishinaabe Agriculture Institute is a nonprofit, the grant provides them with money to pay for interns, for some of the work on their curriculum about growing hemp for different travel organizations, and for part of their hemp conference in March, Slagle said.

According to a news release from the MDA, Slagle and LaDuke's hemp project and its progress will be included in the Greenbook, an annual publication of the MDA. The project is expected to last two to three years.

Slagle's interest in hemp started from LaDuke's. She's been working with LaDuke for close to five years now, learning more about hemp and helping LaDuke get her hemp project started. She's noticed that other people's interest in hemp has "kind of been exploding in the last year or so," and hopes to continue educating with this grant.

Hemp conference

The third annual hemp conference, mainly geared toward tribes and tribal members, is March 4, 2020, at Maplelag Resort in Callaway. For information, call 218-375-2600 or go to www.welrp.org.

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