On Tuesday, the Senate passed an amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill. The updated bill removed industrial hemp from regulation under the Controlled Substances Act, making legal hemp an agricultural commodity in the US.
The bill was approved in the House yesterday. Now, the final step is for President Trump to sign it into law tomorrow.
In short, hemp is now legal across the entire US.
Legal Hemp: A Big Industry
Before this week, the 2014 Farm Bill allowed farmers in some states to grow limited amounts of hemp for research purposes. For example, combined retail sales for all hemp products amounted to approximately $820 million USD in 2017. Not bad.
In terms of acreage, in 2018, 77,000 acres were planted across the entire USA. Not great.
These numbers are a mere drop in the ocean to what this industry could have been worth. Now it can prove it.
Because now, all federal blockades to hemp farming no longer exist. Regulation lies in the hands of each state and so the hemp industry is set to boom.
There are two key markets looking to dominate: the CBD market and the fledgling tobacco market.
Legal Hemp: CBD Market
CBD market research specialists, the Brightfield Group, already predict that by 2022 the hemp-derived CBD market will be a $22 billion USD industry. This market is already growing at a much faster rate than the legal weed market in the US.
Because of its health benefits and relaxation properties, hemp-derived-CBD is used in a host of products, from foods to oils and creams. It delivers all the goodness of cannabis but without the psychoactive, or ‘high,’ effect that comes from the THC. Hemp has little to no THC levels, and it is for this reason that marijuana remains illegal, while hemp has now gotten the all-clear.
This is also where the tobacco industry will enter. Tobacco sales have fallen dramatically in recent years as the public health implications of the substance have deterred sales. But tobacco was once one of America’s biggest cash crops. Now, hemp can replace the farming of tobacco as we move into the era of CBD. The tobacco companies already weighed down with cash will no doubt put their money into this agricultural venture now that they legally can.
As Doug Fine, author of Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution, puts it:
“It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Farm Bill’s passage for the US hemp industry, it’s basically the starting gun.”
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