Over the last several years, the United States Federal Government as well as many state governments have enacted laws to make it easier for a legal economy to develop around hemp products. In the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress established conditions under which Industrial Hemp could be cultivated legally for research or industrial purposes. Furthering the trend, Congress passed the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 which clarifies the definition of “marihuana” to exclude the plant Cannabis sativa L. that contains a concentration of THC which is less than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. The clarity has given businesses the confidence that an industrial hemp business industry is welcome in the United States. As such, several states have passed their own bills encouraging the development of an Industrial hemp industry by farmers in their state.
Despite increasing legal clarity, growth in Industrial hemp has been hampered by social stigma and perception. It has been difficult in both marketing and social perception to draw a clear line between hemp and marijuana and many people still consider them the same basic thing since they are derived from similar plants.
The future of the industrial hemp industry will depend on whether it can successfully differentiate and break into the mainstream.
To help you better understand the emerging Industrial Hemp industry, we’ve put together a list of 25 facts about hemp:
- Hemp is thought to be one of the first plants intentionally cultivated by human societies, with evidence that the plant was used in textile manufacturing in China as long as 10,000 years ago, Hemp Inc. reported.
- Unlike marijuana, hemp doesn’t have enough tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to cause a “high.” In fact, the large amount of the chemical cannabidiol (CBD) present in hemp prevents a high, according to NY Daily News.
- Two federal laws that have been considered in recent years have helped open the gates for the growing hemp industry. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 and the 2014 Farm Bill, a section of which addresses the growing of industrial hemp for research purposes, both cultivated bipartisan support in Congress, according to Al Jazeera America.
- The legality of industrial hemp has been a complicated matter since the 1970 Controlled Substances Act banned the practice unless growers had a federal permit. However, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to grow hemp, Al Jazeera America reported.
- Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the 2014 Farm Bill, outlines the legal requirements and rights of researchers participating in industrial hemp research under state or educational programs, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture reported. This bill was signed into law on February 7, 2014.
- Congress also introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, which would effectively legalize the growth of industrial hemp at the federal level by distinguishing between industrial hemp and marijuana, according to Congress.gov. Though the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 still has not been passed, a number of states have passed or at least contemplated their own industrial hemp bills, and current Congressional representatives have introduced a new version of the bill, known as the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017.
- Prior to the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp hadn’t been grown in the United States on a large scale for more than 50 years, according to U.S. News & World Report. Thanks to these changes in federal and state policies, the American-grown hemp market is now thriving.
- In 2014, Americans purchased an estimated $620 million of hemp products – but unfortunately, none of the hemp used in those products was grown in the United States, NY Daily News reported. Instead, these sales benefited hemp growers in China, Canada and European nations.
- Today, CBD has turned into a booming new business market in the United States. Experts in the field expect sales of CBD consumer products derived from hemp to climb drastically from $90 million in 2015 to an estimated $450 million in 2020, according to Forbes.
- Between the $90 million sales of CBD products derived from hemp and the $112 million sales of CBD products derived from marijuana, there were $202 million in sales of CBD consumer products in 2015, according to Forbes.
- The rise of the hemp industry in America is just getting started. As of 2016, hemp as a whole was a $400 million industry – but the industry is projected to grow to $1.5 billion by 2020, according to the Cannabis Financial Network.
- Overall, experts predict a 700 percent increase in sales of CBD products – both those derived from hemp and from marijuana – from 2016 to 2020. Total sales of CBD products are expected to climb to $2.1 billion, Forbes reported.
- In Colorado – a state already at the forefront of the efforts to legalize cannabis, since it legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012 – the Department of Agriculture has recorded a 28 percent increase in the number of registered growers each year since 2014, the Charleston Regional Business Journal reported.
- Even before the law changed to make it legal to grow hemp in the United States, the demand for the industry was there. Imports of legal hemp products jumped from just $1.4 million in 2000 to $11.5 million in 2011, Al Jazeera America reported.
- Nearly all states currently allow CBD products, with 15 states permitting sales of CBD consumer products only and another 28, plus Washington, D.C., allowing CBD products as part of the legalization of medical marijuana, Forbes reported.
- Hemp farming is cheaper and easier on the environment than the farming of many plants that see more widespread use in consumer products. Hemp plants require little water and can be grown without the use of poisonous pesticides since they don’t attract insects, according to Earth Easy.
- The benefits of hemp oil are numerous. The CBD found in hemp oils may be able to help with medical conditions such as epilepsy, insomnia, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, schizophrenia, acne, mad cow disease, Crohn’s disease, anxiety, pain and cigarette addiction, according to Best CBD Oils. Hemp oils are even thought to help protect users against medical conditions such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
- Textiles, body care products, foods, biofuels, construction materials and plastic composites are just a few of the more than 25,000 products that can be created using hemp, according to Forbes.
- Clothing made from hemp fiber is stronger than cotton, eco-friendly and UV- and mold-resistant, according to Earth Easy.
- Cannabis can be used in a variety of skincare products including soap, styling aids for hair, facial cream, hand lotions and lipstick, the Los Angeles Times reported. The CBD in these hemp skincare products may help users deal with troubles such as eczema and dry or inflamed skin.
- You might be surprised at how many hemp-based materials are used in the construction and furnishing of homes. The Congressional Research Service reported that you’ll find hemp in carpeting and a number of home furnishings, and construction materials made from hemp are known as excellent lightweight insulators, according to Vote Hemp, Inc.
- Paper made from hemp is durable and doesn’t require bleaching, and the manufacturing process is more eco-friendly and results in less air pollution than that involving traditional wood. In fact, the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp-based paper, according to the Cannabis Financial Network.
- Hemp seeds have earned a reputation as a “superfood.” These seeds contain all nine of the essential amino acids. At 35 percent protein, foods containing hemp are an excellent source of protein, especially for those on a vegan or vegetarian diet, according to Naturally Splendid. Today, you can buy salad dressings, pasta, tortilla strips, candies and even frozen desserts made with hemp.
- Hemp can be used to create a sustainable biofuel capable of powering cars – and because it can grow in soil that would be considered infertile for most food-producing crops, growing it doesn’t force farmers to make the difficult choice between using limited land resources to grow food or a biofuel source, the University of Connecticut reported.
- Industrial hemp is also being used to create recyclable and completely biodegradable plastics, which result in less waste taking up space in landfills. In addition to being eco-friendly, plastic made from hemp is stronger and more durable than traditional polypropylene plastic, according to The Hemp Bottle.