American Hemp Manufacturing PART I: Hemp Activism in America

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Hemp Industries Association is one of the oldest hemp manufacturing groups in the HEMP MANUFACTURING industry.

Long before the modern American hemp revolution, the HIA had a humble beginning in Arizona.

Hemp business owners and their activist friends decided there needed to be an official face of America’s hemp manufacturing industry.

They knew they needed to pull their resources together to get out in front of the stigma that had been stapled to their product like a “kick me” sign on the back of the neighborhood dork.

The Association played a key part in re-recognizing the difference between industrial hemp and THC-heavy marijuana.

Their first lawsuit with the DEA was in 2004. Part of the reason the HIA was fighting this in court was that the DEA didn’t follow procedure when it came to listing hemp as a schedule I substance.

Even though it was already a well-known fact at the time that the THC levels of industrial hemp are nowhere near enough to cause any kind of psychoactive effects, the DEA went ahead and made the sale and use of any THC containing product federally illegal.

Everything from synthetic THC pharmaceutical companies had already spent millions creating to the hemp-infused foods sold in health stores were now the DEA’s enemy.

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The Cole Memo

Regardless of how you feel about Jeff Sessions polarizing political career, his short time as attorney general was a major threat to the hemp industry.

His predecessor, James Cole, made a landmark decision when he issued the aptly named “Cole Memo”.

The memo made it clear that the federal government would not prosecute cannabis and hemp businesses in states with legalization.

This was huge. Legalized states had been left in limbo for years. Hemp and cannabis businesses in these states could have been raided legally at any time by federal authorities, even if they were following all their state’s regulations.

The Cole Memo made dramatic waves throughout the political spectrum because it made clear the right of individual state’s to make their own major legal decisions.

For five years the memo was the law of the land when it came to federal agencies dealing with legalized states.

When Jeff Sessions took over the reins for Loretta Lynch, he moved to dismiss the Cole memo.

You may remember hearing about his feud with President Trump over this and many other issues.

But Sessions’ view on hemp was seen by members of both parties as overzealous. Even in the face of cold hard facts, Sessions believed hemp needed to be a schedule I substance.

2018 Farm Bill

The 2014 edition of the Farm Bill did allow some designated universities and farmers to grow hemp for limited purposes.

But if history has taught us anything its that hemp was already used for all kinds of industrial and medicinal uses.

So why did we need decades of more research for material as common as those overripe bananas on your counter?

Even though hemp has been used for thousands of years, lawmakers are acting as if it was just discovered yesterday.

It’s true that we need more research to understand all the applications of hemp and cannabinoids, but saying we don’t know enough to use it now is like saying we don’t know enough about air to breathe.

You don’t need to understand electricity to turn a light bulb on. Some things don’t require a thorough understanding to enjoy the benefits.

Legal Limits

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The 2018 Farm Bill not only legalized hemp farming and all hemp based plant production accross the US, but it also gave us a definition so strict you could cut diamonds with it.

For a cannabis crop to be considered industrial hemp, it can’t contain more than 0.3% THC.

For hemp farmers and hemp manufacturing, this was a godsend.


Why?

Now that hemp is a commodity like any other crop, farmers can insure their crops against failure.

Think about your own health insurance. Driving, biking, even taking a walk around the block could flood you with healthcare debt if you’re not insured.

Farmers are running a business and without insurance, it can be tough to justify planting a crop that might fail and lose you a ton of money.

The Effects of the 2014 Farm Bill

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Part of the provision of the updated Bill is for the Department of Agriculture to conduct a study on the hemp pilot programs granted in 2014.

Researchers are taking the data from the years since the pilot programs and using it to predict the possibilities for a U.S. hemp market.

But we really don’t have to wait. We’re already living through it.

It’s not a free-for-all

You still need a license to farm hemp in the U.S. You can’t just decide to plant it like you would corn or wheat.

Both federal and state governments are given shared authority over how hemp production is policed.

To give you an idea of how fast hemp acreage is increasing in the U.S. we can look towards the pro-hemp group Vote Hemp.

Since there aren’t any officially estimates, Vote Hemp has gone about collecting the information themselves.

And what they found is astounding…

From a modest 9,800 acres in 2016 to 78,000 acres and growing as of 2018.

That’s over 795% growth in just three years.

With an estimated number of uses in the tens of thousands, only a few hemp byproducts account for the bulk of hemp’s riches.

Those categories are: 

  • Fiber
  • Oilseed
  • Pharmaceuticals/Neutraceuticals

And coming in at 23%, guess what cannabinoid has the biggest market share?

That’s right. Interest in Hemp-Based CBD is bigger than all other hemp products and growing. You’ve seen it in everythng from smoothies to moisturizer.

While it’s true some are a little over-enthusiastic about Hemp-Based CBD’s potential, there is positive information on the subject dating back decades.