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Companies Lining Up To Cash In On Hemp Face Obstacles


The hemp industry is in its very early stages.

While companies like Coca-Cola exploring CBD, and market researchers expecting big things, it seems as if the ascendance of hemp is inevitable.

But obstacles remain. Though there’s a possibility Congress will legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in all 50 states, the crop will remain highly regulated, according to the Associated Press.

The news agency reports:

But even if the legalization provisions in the 2018 farm bill pass, hemp will remain a tightly regulated crop facing plenty of regulatory and legal challenges.

As the more than 30 states that operate hemp pilot programs have discovered, it’s not easy to oversee a plant that’s used to make everything from car parts to hand cream and that, except for the chemical that produces a high, is identical to marijuana — which the federal government still classifies as a dangerous drug.

It could take one or two years for federal officials to craft regulations for hemp, said Tim Gordon, president of the Colorado Hemp Industries Association. “Just because the farm bill passes doesn’t mean hemp is suddenly legal and everything’s great.”

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has been one of the leaders pushing for legalization, and there’s a decent chance legalization is just what will happen. That march toward legalization is part of the reason some are expecting a major increase in the size of the market.

According to CTV Toronto:

But restrictions on CBD are showing signs of easing, particularly in the U.S., and the growth projections for the market are now dramatically higher than they were a year ago, Brightfield says. It could outpace the rest of the cannabis market to reach US$22 billion by 2022, according to its recent report.

Hemp and cannabis are Schedule 1 federally controlled substances in the U.S. CBD is legal in all 50 states, but only if derived from industrial hemp cultivated for academic research or agricultural pilot programs. However, if the 2018 Farm Bill working its way through the U.S. legislative process passes, it would allow for the full legalization of industrial hemp in the United States, allowing CBD to be sold across state lines.

“This legal grey area that plagues the market right now, that essentially is wiped out… It allows it to be on the shelves of Krogers and Target and Walmart,” Gomez said.