CARMEL, Ind. - Hundreds of Hoosiers are investing in the hemp industry after the crop became legal to grow in 2018, and as some expected, it came with a few challenges.
Inside a facility in Carmel, dozens of hemp plants are growing. It is only a fraction of a growing industry in the Indiana.
Austin Schroeder is in charge of researching this crop for a company he runs with his dad called Agrozen Life Sciences.
Austin tests different strains of hemp to find out which is the best to grow in Hoosier state .
"We are trying to make it easier on the farmers to have the best genetics possible," he said.
The father-son duo opened their business back in 2018.
Not only does Agrozen Life Sciences grow hemp, they also test THC levels when farmers or stores send them samples.
"The farmer wants to grow that crop for as long as they can to maximize the cannabinoid profile of the plant and not exceed the legal limit of THC," said Brian.
According to state law, the plant must have a THC level of 0.3% or less. They hope their lab gives farmers more information so they do not have to destroy their crop and lose money.
"They want to ensure that what they are selling at their store test within the legal limits," Brian said.
About 160 licenses were granted in 2019 to grow and process hemp in Indiana. This year, the Office of Indiana State Chemist expects to approve 300 growing licenses. They note the challenges farmers faced with high THC levels.
"A lot of it is again, a new crop, and educating folks on what they need to do and how they need to do it," said Robert Waltz, an Indiana State chemist and seed commissioner.
Waltz believes labs like this one in Carmel are an important part of the learning process.
"You need to know not only the testing, you need to know how frequently to test and when to pull the specific variety out that you are working with," said Waltz.