Industrial hemp is an extremely versatile plant. It has been used to make a plethora of products including textiles, rope, paper, naturceuticals, and various skin care goods. The compounds inside the hemp plant, called cannabinoids, are also gaining a lot of interest as of late. The main cannabinoid in hemp is called cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive substance that has been touted for its potential health benefits.
As more discoveries are made about the versatility of hemp, it has become clear that hemp is a lucrative commodity. According to a recent report by Hemp Business Journal, the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2016 was $688 million. As interest in hemp grows, so will the market. This is especially true when it comes to hemp-derived CBD products. From creating jobs to boosting stocks, hemp has many opportunities to generate cash. Here are four ways that hemp could potentially help both local and national economies.
Hemp is Easy to Grow – and Profitable
Hemp has been grown all over the world for centuries, from Ancient China to Revolutionary times (the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper!). It is known to be quite easy to cultivate as it can sustain in many different climates and has few predators. According to the Hemp Industries Association, only about eight in 100 pests can cause serious damage to the plant. Knowing this, along with the data that demand for hemp products is exploding, many farmers are curious to take up cultivation of cannabis.
“Farmers are very curious and want to know the returns from hemp. There’s good money in seed and you can pull $300 per acre right now at a minimum, but the potential is there for $1,800 per acre and even higher,” said Ryan Loflin, a hemp farmer from Colorado, in an interview with AGWeb. In other parts of the country, particularly the South, lawmakers are considering hemp as a way to create jobs – specifically in economically-depressed areas where cotton and sugarcane farms used to bring in millions.
Hemp has the Ability to Create Jobs
As mentioned, the hemp industry could help boost the economies of the communities choosing to be involved. Aside from the actual growing of hemp, there is also a demand for processors, extraction technicians, manufacturing professionals, regulatory officials, scientists, and more. In Kentucky, the country’s 5th poorest state, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, agricultural business owners, and other advocates have been diligent in their efforts to boost hemp production to help stimulate the economy.
“What this industry does is give people an enormous amount of optimism, that there are solutions, and that we’re working on them instead of holding our hands up in despair,” said Chad Rosen, a hemp farmer and president of the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association, in an interview with CityLab. “The beauty of this plant is that we are all aware of what is possible.”
Hemp is Sustainable
The plant has been touted for its many uses, including as a way to help the environment. As mentioned previously, hemp is incredibly easy to grow. It requires very little if any pesticides or fungicides, reducing the amount of chemicals in soil. Additionally, Using phytoremediation, hemp was used at Chernobyl to harmlessly extract toxins and pollutants from the soil and groundwater. Hemp actually absorbs CO2 while it grows through natural photosynthesis, making it carbon-negative from the get-go. Since hemp can also be turned into paper, it may be able to help reduce deforestation across the globe.
Hemp is Becoming More Popular for Potential Health Benefits
As interest in the possible medicinal powers of hemp – and more specifically, CBD, grows, so does the demand for products derived from the plant. More and more people are looking to hemp as a potential alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals as it is natural and eco-friendly. As mentioned previously, the hemp market in the United States is worth nearly $700 million dollars and is only expected to rise. Research and development on hemp and its potential benefits has been increasing, meaning the amount of types of products on the market will continue to grow.
Hemp is a natural, easy-to-grow, and sustainable plant that is celebrated for its many uses. The plant has the power to help the U.S. economy in several ways and may even help to create jobs and commerce in areas that have seen high unemployment and poverty rates. It is expected that the hemp industry will only continue to grow, and thus create even more economic opportunities both at home and abroad.