Hemp grower Andrew Graves tends his Kentucky fields. Atalo Industries
An eccentric coalition of libertarians, environmentalists, and GOP lawmakers are promoting the virtues of the useful weed for rural and urban areas alike. But there’s one big legal hurdle.
Every weekday, Chad Rosen drives from his farm in rural New Castle, Kentucky, a 200-year-old town with fewer than 1,000 residents and five Baptist churches, to a squat manufacturing facility east of downtown Louisville. The 40-minute drive crosses Kentucky’s major red-blue divide: Where Rosen lives, in Henry County, 69 percent of his neighbors voted for Trump; only the state’s two largest cities, Louisville and Lexington, went for Hillary Clinton.
Rosen’s job represents a slender thread of economic connection that links those sides: the state’s nascent hemp industry. His company, Victory Hemp Foods, processes Kentucky’s newest cash crop into nutty oils, seeds, and protein powders. In three years, Rosen’s hemp-based product line has grown from a few stores to a shelf presence in 75 markets statewide, including Whole Foods, Kroger, and boutique nutritional shops.
He’s also the president of the