An industrial hemp crop growing operation hidden in Kentucky could save lives.
The crops are being grown on a former flower farm tucked away on the outskirts of Jackson County and is now the largest hemp growing operation in the country. The plants are hidden from the public, but the operation allowed LEX 18 to document the cultivation of the controversial crop.
The hemp plants are producing cannabidiol oil, also known as CBD, which may be able to help children with seizures. It'll be the first time hemp is available in Kentucky. However, the sheriff says some families in need have already moved to Colorado, where it's already available.
"We have families that are out there, living in a strange environment, sleeping on the floor, having to relocate just to have the medicine that they could have right here," says Sheriff Denny Peyman.
But moving isn't an option for the family of 17-month-old Jolie who suffers hundreds of seizures a week.
"We got diagnosed with a really rare seizure disorder called infantile spasms," says Jennifer Harrell, Jolie's mother.
Jolie's mother is part of a group of parents trying to get their hands on the oil and away from a cocktail of prescription pills.
"One of them (the prescription pills) can cause Steven Johnson syndrome. So it can make your skin fall off. And the one she's currently on, can cause permanent blindness. So those are the decisions we have to make. Its kinda like you're playing Russian roulette with your kid's brain," says Harrell.
The plants are allowed to be grown through an expanding pilot program under the farm bill. A few weeks ago, this operation opened right here in the bluegrass again under secrecy, for fear of thieves.
Not everyone is a supporter though because of hemp's similarity to marijuana. The Department of Agriculture reiterates that this won't get anyone high and the program is closely watched.
More testing will need to be done before anything can be legally prescribed, it's unclear when parents in Kentucky will have access to CBD oil. Earlier this year, Governor Beshear signed a bill into law allowing doctors at UK and U of L to prescribe CBD oil from hemp to certain patients.
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