What is the Demand for Hemp? An Expert's Perspective

Thousands of conventional farmers, marijuana growers and novice businessmen rushed to plant hemp in the hopes of cashing in on a newly legal harvest. However, many of these hopeful entrepreneurs were met with disappointment when their crops failed and the dramatic increase in the supply of hemp caused prices to plummet. Now, many farmers are left with hundreds of thousands of pounds of hemp packed in their barns, unable to sell at a fair price. It could be years before the U.

S. hemp market matures and stabilizes, according to agriculture experts. Hemp is likely to remain a specialized crop, such as cherries or tulips, rather than competing with major commodities like corn and soybeans. Hemp can be converted into a wide variety of products, from ropes to floorboards, granola and dog treats.

Most producers in the United States have set out to grow and sell plants to obtain their CBD, although some farmers grow hemp for its grain or fiber. Unfortunately, many hemp producers won't make much money, and some could go bankrupt. The indoor space licensed for hemp production has grown this year, but it still only amounts to about 3,800 acres. The U.

Food and Drug Administration has stifled the industry by not allowing the sale of CBD as a food product or dietary supplement. Policymakers in some states have tried to help farmers find new markets for hemp, such as Colorado allowing hemp CBD to be added to foods and Montana allowing hemp to be added to animal feed. The mountains of hemp cultivated over the past two years are now packaged and stored, waiting for better prices. In May, about one-third of Kentucky's 445 producers had exclusive storage licenses.

Last year he planted 50 acres but couldn't sell that crop either, so he sold his farm. Entrepreneurs have also discovered a new and controversial use of CBD oil: processing it to obtain delta-8 THC, an intoxicant that can be found at gas stations, convenience stores, health food stores and CBD stores. California lawmakers are considering a bill that would harden the definition of “industrial hemp” by requiring hemp extracts on store shelves to have a THC concentration of no more than 0.3%. CBD foods and beverages are big business but it is important for regulators to keep in mind that delta-8 THC isn't the only new cannabinoid that exists.

Researchers are just beginning to develop seeds that offer a consistent harvest and processing facilities are scarce. State policy makers are trying to help make more industrial hemp products trendy by launching pilot projects and buying decortication machines for farmers. Smokable hemp and marijuana are very similar but farmers will re-enter as the industry matures and they can find processors, sign reliable contracts and grow hemp according to buyers' specifications. The Asia-Pacific industrial hemp market is expected...

Kelli Prellwitz
Kelli Prellwitz

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