Earlier this year, Oregon made progressive amendments to their 2009 statewide industrial hemp bill. With this new and improved hemp bill in action, Oregon is well on it’s way to creating a multi-million dollar industry.
The original legalization of hemp seven years ago was focused on the industrial uses of hemp (oilseed and fiber), but only 13 producers in the state were interested in cultivation licenses.
The 2016-revised industrial hemp bill has changed its tune to a more medicinal side of hemp.
Oregon, catching onto the CBD craze, realized their industrial hemp bill needed to be adapted to include more of these CBD-only cultivators. The state removed the 2.5-acre minimum canopy from the original industrial hemp bill and added the ability to grow in greenhouses (which allows year-round production) to attract CBD hemp producers.
Since these adaptations, Oregon’s hemp cultivators have risen from a measly 13 producers to a modest 77 licensed producers. These new-age hemp cultivators cover an estimated 1,200 acres of farmland across the state.
Most of these producers, as predicted, are choosing the medicinal route as opposed to the industrial — turning their hard-earned flowers into CBD oil. This choice isn’t necessarily out of personal belief but out of survival — CBD oil is in high demand while hemp oilseed and fiber products are not.
According to the Federal Government, a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC is defined as “hemp” and can be more liberally grown than high-THC cannabis. “Hemp” products may also cross state lines, a federal crime for the THC counterpart.
This federal definition creates a gray area. Many believe cannabis with low levels of THC and high levels of CBD can be marketed and sold nationwide, however, the feds have made it clear they are prohibiting hemp sales in states that don’t allow the plant’s production.
Portland-based lawyer, Amy Margolis, told OregonLive that any interstate commerce should be approached “very cautiously.” Margolis added, “Until there is clarity, I would not be comfortable sanctioning a commercial business that sells interstate hemp products.”
There are many states (sixteen to be exact) that have passed CBD oil laws to treat debilitating ailments such as epilepsy and cancer. The production can’t keep up with the demand at this rate.
While industrial hemp deserves to be just as high in demand because of its ability to completely revolutionize industries like paper, textiles, fuel, etc., but that just isn’t where the money exists. Noelle Crombie with The Oregonian reported that in Kentucky, hemp was introduced to compete with their diminishing tobacco crops — the state imagined hemp would reinvigorate their agricultural industry with fiber, bioplastic, livestock feed and biofuel. However, state agricultural officials have found CBD oil is the most valuable commodity to come out of this newly established industry. Farmers know it too, 60% of the total Kentucky hemp acreage is dedicated to the production of CBD oil.
However, it seems like it is only a matter of time until industrial hemp is a mainstream commodity again. The Hemp Industries Association told The Oregonian that 9,000 acres of hemp are being cultivated across the United States, twice as many as last year. As the country begins to realize all the benefits of hemp that outweigh those of existing industries, industrial hemp will make its way into the spotlight again.