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Marijuana Growers Turning to Hemp as CBD Extract Explodes

Oregon prominently positioned in new agricultural industry

Legal marijuana is driving Oregon pot prices to rock-bottom levels, prompting some nervous growers to start pivoting to another type of cannabis to make ends meet — one that doesn’t come with a high.

Applications for state licenses to grow hemp — marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin — have increased more than twentyfold since 2015, making Oregon No. 2 behind Colorado among the 19 states with active hemp cultivation. The rapidly evolving market comes amid skyrocketing demand for the hemp-derived extract cannabidiol, or CBD, considered by many to be a health aid.

In its purified, distilled form, CBD oil commands thousands of dollars per kilogram, and farmers can make more than $100,000 per acre growing hemp plants to produce it. That distillate also can be converted into a crystallized form or powder.