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While Arkansas’ medical marijuana industry has begun to take shape in a very public way, marijuana’s tamer cousin is quietly taking off.

A pair of hemp farmers harvested the state’s first legal yields, and the first processor has extracted the first batch of the substance that makes this new crop so valuable — cannabidiol, better known as CBD.

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Industry experts expect the CBD market in Arkansas to explode over the next five years, and some farmers hope they’ve found their newest cash crop.

CBD oils, tinctures, gummies, vapes and a variety of other infused products from out of state have already begun flooding shelves in Arkansas smoke shops, convenience stores and health boutiques.

But knowing exactly what’s in those products can be difficult, if not impossible. Producers in Arkansas hope that locally sourced CBD will offer consumers more products that improve their lives and give them peace of mind at the same time.

CBD is a cannabinoid — one of the chemical compounds derived from cannabis plants. It’s found in hemp and, yes, marijuana. The difference between hemp and marijuana is the percentage of another cannabinoid — delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, the compound that makes a person high.

Hemp, according to the U.S. government’s definition, must contain less than 0.3% THC.

The difference between hemp and marijuana is like the difference between whiskey and nonalcoholic beer, said Lejen Lotspeich, chief scientific officer of New Age Hemp, Arkansas’ first operating hemp processor.

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