The first year of nationwide cultivation of industrial hemp has been a mixture of retrenchment and optimism for growth in the longer term. "The industry isn't going to go away," said hemp entrepreneur Morris Beegle on Thursday. "It's going to become more of a whole-plant industry."
Americans are consuming the cannabis derivative cannabidiol (CBD) in food, beverages, and supplements, and dosing their pets with it as well, but "there is still much that we do not know about ... potential risks," said FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn on Thursday.
The government will allow farmers to destroy "hot" hemp fields themselves, rather than having to hire a contractor to do it, and will expand the number of laboratories that can test industrial hemp for THC levels, said Agriculture Undersecretary Greg Ibach on Wednesday.
For all its cachet as a potential money-making crop for American farmers, industrial hemp ranked midway between safflower and flaxseed in plantings, with an estimated 230,000 acres in 2019, and industry leaders disagree whether 2020 will be a year of expansion or retrenchment. But the USDA is approving state plans to regulate hemp production and offering crop insurance for hemp growers, steps that could help establish the crop.
Industrial hemp faces more regulatory and legal hurdles than many other newly hatched industries, says a report from agricultural lender CoBank. While growth in the industry is driven by cannabidiol (CBD), widely available in foods and as a supplement, two other markets hold potential: the fiber and the grain and seed sectors.