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Hemp is on a High

Growth of CBD products from hemp outpaces those from marijuana.

By Becky Garrison

Hemp-derived CBD products are rising more rapidly than marijuana-derived CBD products. It’s a first in the field of all things containing cannabidiol, according to a new report.

The CBD industry is slated to grow to $2 billion by 2022, reported New Frontier Data in August. Here are some key findings from its report:

• The hemp-derived CBD market in the United States is estimated to grow to $646 million in 2022.
• The U.S. marijuana-derived CBD market is estimated to grow to $647 million in 2022.
• In 2017, there were over 25,500 acres of hemp grown across 19 states. Of that acreage, 70 percent was for CBD, 20 percent was for seed and 10 percent was for fiber. Read the complete report at www.newfrontierdata.com/product/cbdreport2018/

As expected, multinational companies like Constellation Brands (Corona beer and Robert Mondavi wine), Molson Coors, Origins (Estée Lauder) and Coca-Cola are exploring entering the cannabis space to take advantage of this exploding market. But what does the introduction of mass-market companies signify for the future of craft cannabis?

During September’s International Cannabis Business Conference in Portland, four industry experts expounded on the basics of CBD and how Oregon’s craft cannabis producers can make their mark in this industry as it explodes. The panel was titled “The ABCs of CBD.”

While the terms “hemp” and “cannabis” often are used interchangeably, Cedar Grey, chief executive officer of Siskiyou Sungrown, parsed the multiple definitions of hemp. First, there’s the biological definition of hemp, which falls with all other cannabis into the cannabaceae family (along with hops). As Grey noted, “Most of the variation that we see in cannabis plants throughout the world is due to thousands of years of human cultivation. This has given us a vast array of diversity.”

Historically, hemp referred to cultivars of cannabis chosen for fiber production. Grey observed how this has been muddied by the legal definition of hemp. “The legal definition of hemp is a cannabis plant that’s certified to be less than 0.3 percent THC and is grown under the proper regulatory framework.”

Growing hemp CBD versus cannabis

Oregon has the distinction of having one of the most robust legal hemp programs in the nation, with full production permitted under the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Hemp is viewed in this state as an agricultural product, so growing and processing hemp is not restricted by Oregon Liquor Control Commission regulations governing cannabis. Also, most hemp businesses consider themselves not to be under U.S. Code 26 subsection 280e, which denies cannabis businesses, even operating in states where cannabis is legal, to take advantage of most write-offs available to legal businesses.

“Hemp production under the ODA is infinitely less complex than farming under the OLCC requirements,” said Grey. “This reduced complexity translates to profits and happiness.”

Despite this increase in happiness, Justin Tombe of Phytonyx pointed to some of the challenges in the hemp market. “The infrastructure is not there for expanding, so choices are being made in a vacuum.”
If hemp growers want to cure hemp, for example, they can’t rely on the old, tried-and-true methods that cannabis growers use. “You can’t hang 50,000 pounds of dry-weight hemp,” said Tombe.

Also, the lack of streamlined federal guidelines makes transporting hemp across state lines tricky. Different states have different regulations regarding what constitutes hemp, and these regulations continue to change. Furthermore, one can face an obstacle such as those facing growers and processors in California when in July 2018, the state banned food products containing CBD.

The 2018 Farm Bill and hemp

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), in his video address before ICBC, referenced the inclusion of hemp into the 2018 U.S. Senate Farm Bill. “We need to make sure that hemp products with low THC are not regulated under the Controlled Substance Act. This change was included in the Senate Farm Bill this year.” The 2014 Farm Bill expired this year, and the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership have targeted mid-November to finalize the 2018 Farm Bill.

In addition, hemp regulations in other countries are undergoing similar shifts, setting the stage for a global explosion of hemp-derived CBD products in the very near future. With mass production of CBD, consumers will need to become educated in order to purchase products that will achieve their desired results.