The US hemp industry is expecting business to boom after the 2018 Farm Bill was passed last week. The bill, awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature, will remove hemp from the federal-controlled substances list, opening the door to state-by-state regulation of hemp, which is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant species.
The greenlighting of hemp is also indicative of a growing mainstream acceptance of cannabidiol (CBD), which is derived from the cannabis plant. In states where the plant is legal, businesses are already capitalizing on the growing popularity of CBD, as merchants tout its health benefits to sell CBD-infused food, drinks and beauty products.
The compound is said to have several medical benefits, including anti-anxiety, stress relief, pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s even been approved by the FDA to treat seizures linked to two rare forms of epilepsy.
Industry leaders are exploring opportunities in the CBD space in the US as well, including Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth.
According to Canopy Growth’s CEO Bruce Linton, the “Farm Bill is the first step to active” involvement in the US for his company. Linton told CNBC that, “The world’s changing: This is the first step in the US to manage cannabinoids.”
Much of this momentum is coming from the US federal government lessening its strict stance on CBD.
However, Linton said there are still some lingering questions, and while passage of the bill is a “big deal … it’s not a finish line.” The CEO said that approval of the Farm Bill would pose “a lot of ‘what’s-next?'” questions, including how much CBD could be added to food or beverages.
However, demand for the product is undeniable. Industry publication Hemp Business Journal estimates the total retail value of hemp products sold in the US in 2017 to be at least $820 million, with CBD products constituting 23 percent of sales.
What’s more, the food industry experts from Whole Foods have already named hemp products among their top ten food trends in 2019. In a press release, the company said it relied on “seasoned trend-spotters” who have “more than 100 years of combined experience in product sourcing, studying consumer preferences and participating in food and wellness industry exhibitions worldwide,” to compile its new report on what to expect next year.
“Hemp hearts, seeds and oils are nothing new to food and body care lovers—they’re in everything from waffle mix to dried pastas,” the company wrote. “But a new interest in the potential benefits stemming from other parts of hemp plants has many brands looking to explore the booming cannabis biz.”
The President hinted Saturday that he would sign the bill this week, saying, “Next week, it looks like the Farm Bill is in very, very good shape. So we’ll get the Farm Bill. Got to take care of the farmers.” Trump must sign it before December 31, 2018, when the current dairy program expires.