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Over 40 states started pilot programs for growing hemp, but we still aren't out of the woods

graham nelson

       By: Pat O'brien     

According to the study done by the Congressional Research Service, the United States imported $67.3 million worth of hemp in 2017.   This pales in comparison to the $820 million that the US hemp market reached last year, a figure we only began to record in 2016.   American hemp farmers have a unique opportunity to set the global standard with the feverish growth predicted over the next several years.  The amount of pilot programs has increased dramatically since the institution of the Hemp Farming Act of 2014.  Pilot programs have been set up now in 40 states, leading way to a growing domestic infrastructure. Moving forward, the farmers involved with revitalizing the US hemp market will have to learn the best techniques for growing in their unique climates.   Since prohibition on all forms of the plant Cannabis sativa L. have stifled the research for over 60 years, we are behind the learning curve. 

Over 30 countries allow for the production of hemp within their borders.  One of the largest producers of hemp in the global market is our neighbor to the north Canada, who also, recently legalized the adult consumption of marijuana.   Marijuana is a cousin of the hemp plant.  It is found with a high concentration of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive molecule that creates the “high” people refer to when talking about marijuana.  Only a few countries around the world and a handful of US states have legalized marijuana for adult consumption.  Hemp, on the other hand, has been grown across the globe for thousands of years due to its wide variety of uses. Based on numbers provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization, total acreage across the globe in 2016 was over 200,000 acres of hemp.  The numbers for the US were under a twentieth of that, at 9,800 acres.    The US production grew by 150% in 2017 to over twenty five thousand acres.

The commercial applications of hemp have yet to be fully uncovered.  We are starting to see things such as hempcrete becoming an alternative to traditional building materials.  Its been proven that hempcrete is fire, insect, and mold resistant.  Hemp seeds are one of the most nutrient dense foods available.  Plastics can be replaced with biodegradable hemp composite.  The list will continue to grow as the prohibition gets pulled back.    Right now is the perfect time to reach out to your congressional members and have them put support behind the senate’s version of the 2018 Farm Bill.   Be the change you’d like to see in the world!

Find your senators contact info here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=NY