by Pot Portal Associate Editor

In a new report by VoteHemp it says…

Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading grassroots hemp advocacy organization, has released its 2019 U.S. Hemp License Report. The report documents state-by-state progress of hemp legislation passed in 2019, reported licensed acreage of hemp, identifies states with active hemp farming programs and estimates the amount of hemp that will be planted in this critical year following the federal legalization of hemp through the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill. To view the complete 2019 U.S. Hemp License Report, please visit: https://www.votehemp.com/u-s-hemp-crop-report/.

“We are seeing hemp cultivation dramatically expand in the U.S. in 2019, with over quadruple the number of acres licensed in hemp compared to last year and the addition of 13 more states with hemp programs,” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “Now that we have lifted federal prohibition on hemp farming, it’s time build the infrastructure and expand hemp cultivation and the market for hemp products across the country so that all can reap the benefits of this versatile and sustainable crop.”

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp cultivation in the U.S. has grown rapidly. The number of acres of hemp licensed across 34 states totaled 511,442 in 2019—more than quadruple the number of acres licensed from the previous year. State licenses to cultivate hemp were issued to 16,877 farmers and researchers, a 476% increase over 2018. Licensing is a good indicator to show intent but we know from previous years that significantly less hemp is planted than what is licensed due to a variety of factors including access to seed and/or clones, a lack of financing as well as inexperience. This will be the case again for 2019 and Vote Hemp estimates that 230,000 acres of hemp will actually be planted and 50-60% of that will be harvested due crop failure, non-compliant crops and other factors resulting in 115,000-138,000 acres of harvested hemp.

Hemp processors are critical to the growth of the industry and the report also documents dramatic investments and growth in hemp processing facilities. States which license processors reported 2,880 processing licenses, an increase of 483% over 2018. Several key states including Colorado do not license processors so processing capacity is actually significantly higher. The growth in processors is largely for extraction and positions the hemp industry well to meet market demand for extracts but more investment is needed for fiber and grain processing.

The new 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law by the President on December 20, 2018, includes Section 10113 titled “Hemp Production,” which removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, places full federal regulatory authority of hemp with USDA, and allows State departments of agriculture to submit hemp program plans for approval and regulate hemp cultivation per their State specific programs. The USDA is expected to release new federal regulations for hemp cultivation this fall as required by Section 10114 of the Farm Bill and states with approved plans can begin regulating hemp cultivation under the new Farm Bill provisions starting in 2020.

In addition to defining hemp as cannabis that contains no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, the 2018 Farm Bill asserts a ‘whole plant’ definition of hemp, including plant extracts; and removes roadblocks to the rapidly growing hemp industry in the U.S., notably by authorizing and encouraging access to federal research funding for hemp, and removing restrictions on banking, water rights, and other regulatory roadblocks the hemp industry currently faces. The bill also explicitly authorizes crop insurance for hemp. For more details on the specific hemp provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill, please check out Vote Hemp’s blog post, “Hemp in the Farm Bill: What Does It Mean?” https://www.VoteHemp.com/hempinthefarmbill.

Among the fastest-growing categories in the natural foods industry, hemp seed is a rich source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs), providing both SDA and GLA, highly-digestible protein, and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and iron. An excellent source of dietary fiber, hemp seed is also a complete protein—meaning it contains all ten essential amino acids, with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by the human body. Advancements in hemp research and manufacturing demonstrate the remarkable versatility and product-potential for hemp. Hemp bast fiber has shown promising potential to replace graphene in supercapacitor batteries, which could then be used to power electric cars and handheld electric devices and tools. Hemp fiber can also be used to create environmentally friendly packaging materials, and hard bio-plastics for use in everything from airplanes to car parts. Hemp houses are also on the rise, as hempcrete, which is energy-efficient, non-toxic, resistant to mold, insects and fire, has many advantages to synthetic building materials, lumber and concrete.

To date, forty-six states have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. These states are able to take immediate advantage of the industrial hemp research and pilot program provision, Section 7606 of the Farm Bill: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow the hemp commercially. More information about hemp law, legislation and the crop’s many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com.