“TECHNICALLY, NO ONE’S EVER denied me the water,” says hemp farmer Kim Phillips, with a laugh.
Legally, Phillips can grow hemp on her 75-acre farm in Montana’s Helena Valley, but whether she can water her crops is another matter.
Phillips is at the center of a dispute that highlights the legal gray area around hemp farming in the United States. The water source she can access from her property is a federally regulated irrigation district controlled by the Bureau of Reclamation, a federal organization that manages water projects in America’s 17 westernmost states. Although Phillips has followed Montana’s strict hemp regulations, the Bureau of Reclamation didn’t respond to her request for water in time for her to irrigate the crops she planted last year. Her field languished and died.