In late 2018, the latest version of the Farm Bill was signed into effect, and a world of agricultural hemp was opened up to American farmers. Before that, hemp and some hemp products (such as CBD oil) were available for import and sale on a limited basis. Now, although there are still certain limitations state-to-state, hemp in the U.S. can move forward in earnest.
What Is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is a natural compound produced by the hemp plant. It’s one of many, classed as cannabinoids. CBD’s more flamboyant cousin, THC, is another cannabinoid, which is behind the high marijuana induces.
Cannabidiol isn’t mind-altering even though it’s also in marijuana in varying quantities. CBD is primarily derived from variations of the hemp plant, which have a more significant amount of CBD than marijuana strains and legally must contain less than 0.3% THC. While there is CBD that can be extracted from marijuana, it isn’t protected by the Farm Bill, and thus, isn’t a legal substance in every state or at the federal level like hemp-derived CBD.
Marijuana can be medicinal, but everyone knows it for its recreational purposes. Hemp and CBD, by contrast, are the workhorses of the cannabis family. Hemp has a multitude of industrial uses, and CBD has vast potential to support wellness. It’s a versatile compound that can be added to carrier oils and consumed, inhaled through the vapor, or blended into different topical applications.
What is CBD supposed to do exactly? And what is CBD oil’s legal standing compared to hemp? Just like hemp, it is completely allowed for purchase, with individual states establishing their own regulations for now.
The reason individual states can dictate their laws regarding CBD is the FDA has only evaluated it in the form of Epidiolex, which is a single prescription CBD oil for rare cases of childhood epilepsy.
CBD, however, interacts with all human and animal endocannabinoid systems and everything we know about it so far seems to support its soothing qualities for things like stress, inflammation, and trouble sleeping.
The CBD Market Situation in Recent Years
The CBD oil market had existed in fledgling form for years, even before hemp was officially taken off the controlled substance list.
It was quietly available in places with small (perhaps not entirely legal) operations but couldn’t cross state borders. Where marijuana was legal, it had the chance to pop up as a mixed THC/CBD extract. European hemp CBD was and is still available from certain retailers, and the Farm Bill circa 2014 granted stateside pilot programs for hemp crops.
All this culminated in ever-present consumer demand. Interest has been mostly stoked online and by word of mouth, as cannabidiol lacks full clinical trials.
If a doctor recommends CBD, it may be because of witnessing beneficial effects firsthand. But now more than ever, anyone can bring up CBD with their physician if they are interested and certainly should if they have any concerns.
In a more casual sense, people are eager to try out a hot new item for themselves as it becomes less niche and more widely accessible. Today, hemp-derived CBD is a multi-billion dollar industry. The profitability of cannabidiol — both current and projected — led to CBD market growth, and CBD market growth will allow a greater number of consumers and retailers to enter the market.
However, many obstacles remain. Proper regulation is still forthcoming, a Wild West-type patchwork of state rules exist without real federal oversight. The FDA has been slow to react, leaving room for questionable quality products and ethical marketing issues.
This leads us to question, “where do the hemp farmers fall amidst all this?”
Is the CBD Boom Beneficial to the American Farmers?
Fortunately, the CBD boom is favorable for American hemp farmers while at the same time, it is a bit of a double-edged sword.
The CBD market size today is big enough and growing fast enough to support plenty of new links in the chain. From new operations to upscaling, there’s a great demand for farms that can produce consistent, high-quality CBD-rich hemp. Getting to the point of consistent and high-quality crops might be the hardest part.
While other crops have been cultivated and fine-tuned for decades, hemp hasn’t had that opportunity. Farmers are still figuring out best practices and working the kinks out of the breeding process.
Not all hemp is created equal, and not all objectively good batches will be well suited for CBD extraction. As it turns out, laboratory tests aren’t even created equally, so farmers face an uphill battle in verifying and recreating suitable cannabidiol levels in their hemp.
On the other hand, hemp itself is a great agriculture staple. Resilient and quick to grow, it can survive in a variety of climates and needs less water than similar crops. A hemp harvest isn’t likely to be ruined by a cold snap or heatwave, either. If disaster does strike, recent legalization means farmers can insure and recoup losses just as with any other crop.
Best of all, hemp farming offers a welcome path into the future for some beleaguered farmers. Tariffs, climate change, and decline in industries like tobacco and dairy have struck American farmers in places like Kentucky, Minnesota, and California.
American hemp farmers will be the motivation for continued CBD industry growth, and an emergent market for hemp fiber products in our country’s future.
Predictions for the Coming Years
Likewise, the future of CBD is bright and exciting. CBD market projections are estimated at an 800% increase in sales over the next 6 years. Massive amounts of interest and potential profits guarantee innovation, proper research, and regulations, which should benefit retailers and consumers.
Any push for transparency and higher standards will help the best CBD businesses thrive and will help the public to have positive experiences with legitimate CBD products. Hopefully, education will also push forward regarding both hemp cannabis and hemp-derived CBD; an informed consumer makes informed decisions, and in this way, becomes empowered. As cannabidiol becomes ever more mainstream, all industry needs — from farmers to raw materials processors, to scientists, to retailers — will increase. Here at Green Roads, we will continue to dedicate resources to improve our products and the hemp and CBD communities that we are a part of.