The people and our government are realizing hemp’s potential to make a positive impact on our health, economy and environment.
HEMP MAKES A COMEBACK
After almost 30 years of being forbidden, the U.S. allowed businesses to import dietary hemp products in 2004. In the new century, application of hemp started to diversify as artisans and small businesses imported hemp fiber for clothing and textiles. The first big win for U.S. farmers came in 2007, when two North Dakota farmers were granted hemp licenses—the first time in over 50 years. Building on this, a Farm Bill signed into law in 2014 allowed more states and some businesses to begin experimenting with hemp, under the guise of research into restoring this crop to American life. Ultimately, hemp and all its derivatives became fully legalized in 2018, through the passage of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018.
THE HEMP MOVEMENT GROWS
The return of legal hemp brought an explosion of interest in this crop and products made from hemp, especially CBD oil. Farmers licensed over 500,000 acres of hemp across 34 states in 2019. Less than half were actually planted and harvested. Producers turned most of the hemp harvested in 2018 and 2019 into CBD oil or hemp extract, the hyper-popular supplement with numerous benefits. Consumers drove CBD sales to over $1 billion in 2019. In addition, individual states continue to pass laws facilitating hemp growing and the production and sales of CBD supplements within their borders.
NEW CHALLENGES & A PROMISING FUTURE
While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp, other challenges remain for the new U.S. hemp industry. USDA regulations suggest the Drug Enforcement Administration wants to retain control over many aspects of the industry. The CBD industry awaits regulation from the Food and Drug Administration. Banking, credit card processors, and tech companies often refuse to work with hemp companies. At the same time, more farmers, entrepreneurs, and consumers are interested in hemp than ever before. A new infrastructure is growing to help farmers harvest and process their crops, while new people are discovering hemp and CBD every day. A Gallup poll in 2019 suggested 14% of Americans use CBD products. With a new U.S. hemp industry making history, the future looks bright for this beneficial multipurpose crop.
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