An Insider’s Look Into Hemp Production in the US

Confused about the difference between Hemp and Marijuana? Don’t worry, you are not alone.

The confusion between the two, which are both from the same plant species, Cannabis Sativa, is the main reason why the United States banned hemp in 1937. And why they discouraged the cultivation of hemp as well.

Even now, there’s a lot of prejudice against hemp production in the United States, even though it’s a useful plant to grow especially in today’s day and age.

Hemp grows especially fast, which means that you can harvest it quicker, and use it for a wide variety of products.

In fact, after it was legalized in December 2018 in the United States, the total sales of hemp-based products were $1.1 billion in 2018 and are expected to double by 2022. A lot of that demand comes from cannabidiol (CBD) products.

CBD is a derivative of hemp and marijuana plants that is non-psychoactive, that is, it doesn’t cause you to get high (THC from marijuana will). Read on to see some of the history of hemp production in the US and how you can get in on the action.

The Beginning of Hemp Production

Hemp production dates all the way back to 1616 and was quite popular in the country. President Lincoln, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson were all involved in hemp production.

Back then though, US hemp wasn’t used for CBD oil (as it is now), but mostly for textiles, ropes, and sails.

Hemp was also used to produce the money bills back then, as well as, the first versions of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper. This is because hemp produces four times as much paper as trees.

Jamestown, Virginia was the first one to make farming of Indian hemp seeds compulsory. In the 1700s, it was mandatory in colonial law to grow US hemp.

The Ban of US Hemp Farms in 1937

The unfortunate thing was that when the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted, it included hemp production in the act, even though hemp doesn’t have any psychoactive effects at all. It was merely a case of misguided lawmanship.

This is because hemp is not a narcotic at all. In fact, THC which is the active substance in marijuana is present in high percentages in marijuana – 7.5 to 10%. But it’s only present in small quantities in CBD – 0.3% or less.

You cannot get high off of hemp, but even so, hemp was banned along with marijuana. Even though during WWII, the ban was lifted for a bit, due to the “Hemp for Victory” program, the ban went back into effect after the war was over.

The 1970 Controlled Substances Act labeled hemp as a Schedule I drug, which was the final strike against hemp production in the US at that time. Both marijuana and hemp production was prohibited by law.

The Recoup of Hemp Production in the United States

Thankfully, in 2018, Donald Trump signed a Farm Bill 2018, and this decriminalized hemp cultivation, almost a century after the first attack on it in 1937.

The great thing is that as soon as the bill was enacted, there was a 455% increase in the land cultivating industrial hemp, from 78,176 acres of land to 511,442 acres. That was in the space of a few months.

Apparently, US farmers were aware of how lucrative US hemp farms would be.

Not only that, but US hemp farmers were also eligible for crop insurance and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started researching how CBD that comes from hemp production could be used in food supplements and products.

A full-scale escalated acceptance of hemp production in the US began, which is continuing till the present day.

The Present – How Much Hemp Is Produced in the US

The reason why farmers are so excited about hemp production in the US is because of its lucrative nature.

For example, one farmer in the US used to grow kale on his farms and sold them for $1 per pound. Now he charges $35 to $40 per pound of high-quality hemp he sells for CBD extraction. Those numbers are insane.

That’s why there is such high excitement about US hemp farms right now because it’s such a high-return crop. Right now, 146,000 acres of land are being used for hemp production in the US, according to the USDA (US Department of Agriculture).

Hemp Farming Is Hard Work – Be Careful Before Jumping Into It

It’s not all sunshine or roses though. If you as a farmer are interested in going into hemp farming, then you would have to learn as much as possible about it and enter into it cautiously.

Even though it is quite lucrative, farmers shouldn’t use hemp as a get-out-of-jail-free card. If your farm is failing, hemp isn’t automatically going to save it from bankruptcy.

Hemp farming requires a lot of manual labor, much more than other products.

Also, a lot of farmers realize that the first crop they grow turns out to poor quality as they are still learning. It results in a total failure and thus, an utter loss of resources, and a huge dent in the cash flow.

The booming CBD business has also bought out a lot of shady players into the game, as is always the case.

Be prepared for all this before you jump into hemp farming. This article by Colorado Breeders Depot gives a good breakdown of all the things to do for next year’s industrial hemp crop.

US Hemp – Too Early To Tell What the Future Outlook Will Be Like

Hemp production in the United States is still in its infancy and thus, it’s too soon to tell what the future looks like. Even though CBD is the main reason most hemp farmers get into it, there would other products for hemp farming. Paper and textiles being other options.

Seeing the booming CBD sales, any farmer would be tempted to get into hemp farming, but it’s time to tread lightly and carefully.

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