Hemp Beyond CBD
In 2014, the federal government made it legal for individual states to conduct pilot programs (regulated test plots) for industrial hemp cultivation under the 2014 Farm Bill. These pilot programs were designed by each individual state to help them dictate how and where they wanted hemp to be grown within their borders. Growing hemp under these pilot programs allowed states to collect from their permitted growers the information needed to regulate and grow the industry in a way that allowed for its rapid reintroduction into agriculture.
At that time, the “underground” cannabis community was already wise to something the rest of the world had not yet figured out: the healing and relieving effects of cannabis and CBD. Early pioneers of the CBD industry had already been working on plant genetics allowing for high levels of CBD oil production while also staying under the federally illegal threshold of 0.3 THC.
With these safe and stable plant genetics, a few pioneer growers and investors took the risk, invested money and time into a new crop and the hemp industry slowly began to gain traction.
Stories about CBD providing relief for people with cancer and for kids with seizures made the popularity of CBD skyrocket. Soon hundreds of acres of hemp were being grown in Colorado, Oregon and later, Nevada.
As more hemp was planted, people became increasingly fascinated with its potential benefits. Soon people were trying CBD for everything from chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, muscle cramps and even their pets.
With more stories circulating about how CBD was helping people and their animals, still more companies decided to invest in the industry. These early investments funded things like innovation in industrial-grade harvest equipment, greenhouses and manufacturing plants, and allowed the industry to scale up rapidly.
Now, fast forward a few years to 2020.
As it sits today, the federal government has federally legalized hemp with passing the 2018 farm bill, allowing for the sale and transportation of hemp anywhere throughout the United States. Billions of dollars have been invested into farms, factories and the industry is beginning to stabilize.
With some maturation of the market and necessary infrastructure in place, prices for CBD hemp are drastically cheaper than they were 3-5 years ago. This is a good thing for people who need affordable access to CBD, but it has made it harder for small farms to be profitable and stay in business, because the costs to grow and produce quality CBD hemp still remain high.
With this pressure from the market, farms are beginning to look at the potential of hemp beyond its cannabinoids and are gravitating toward its growing grain and fiber markets. Because of the high cost of plant genetics, and the extra care (such as planting, hand harvesting, drying and curing) that go into CBD crops, hemp crops grown for fiber and grain are much cheaper to grow and require less manpower to harvest.
The price of seed for hemp fiber and grain crops is significantly cheaper than high CBD seed, and farmers are able to plant with their existing equipment like a grain drill. This simplicity appeals to farms wanting to experiment with hemp, but also do not want to invest significant sums of money in the planters and harvesting/curing equipment necessary for CBD flower crops.
Aside from the different financial and equipment needs in these crops, hemp grown for CBD also has a much higher risk of failure, because if you do not harvest the plant before its THC content goes above 0.3% THC, the State can make you destroy your crop before you even get to harvest.
Fiber and grain crops are at significantly lower risk of failure for THC content, as the genetics have been selected for grain and fiber production instead of cannabinoid production, and most of these crops have little to no THC at all.
The grain that comes from hemp can be pressed, producing oil high in essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6.
It is also important to note here that hemp seed oil does not contain any cannabinoids (no CBD, no THC). For people who are just learning about hemp, there has been some confusion between CBD oil and Hemp Seed oil.
They are not the same, and have very different effects.
CBD oil comes from the sticky resin (trichomes) that forms on the outside of the plant flowers, and hemp seed oil is squeezed or pressed from the hemp seeds themselves. Because of its nutritional benefits, hemp seed oil has become a popular alternative to things like coconut oil and olive oil.
The hemp fiber market is another exciting piece to this industry. Hemp fibers are one of the strongest natural fibers on the planet, and they grow quickly too. Innovators in this space are making products like hemp paper, insulation, fabrics, hempcrete and there is even research being done to see how hemp fibers can be used in supercapacitors in electric car batteries.
As a company that has been in this space since it was first legalized in our State, we are not only excited to continue producing high quality CBD products, but also to see how this industry continues to grow and evolves in all of these different areas.
Hemp is one of the most incredible plants on the planet, and is a key part of the sustainable future of humanity all around the world.