Oregon farmers are increasing their acreage for hemp cultivation, with the crop growing as much as six times in number from last year, according to the state’s Department of Agriculture.
Hemp growing is new territory, yet many farmers are looking to cash in on the crop’s popularity since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law by President Donald Trump last December.
Growing hemp: a gamble?
Kruger’s Farm from Sauvie Island has allotted 22 acres for their hemp crops, along with full farm plots of pumpkins and corn.
Don Kruger, the owner of Kruger’s farm, stated that they are growing hemp specifically for CBD.
Aside from their currently planted hemp, Kruger’s Farm also has some 35 acres of leasable space for hemp growing. The lot sits nestled between the farm’s famous corn maze and pumpkin patch.
Kruger noted how a lot of people had mistaken their hemp for marijuana, which is also a variety of the same source plant, Cannabis sativa L.
The confusion is because looks and smells like cannabis, but there is a crucial difference that sets them apart. Marijuana has high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the compound responsible for the psychoactive effect of the substance. Hemp, on the other hand, has lower amounts of THC.
Kruger further stated that a hemp field might yield as much as $40,000 for an acre, compared to corn, which averages only $1,000 per acre. He added that earning this kind of money is simply a significant opportunity not be passed upon.
However, Kruger also noted that growing hemp does not guarantee more cash influx. He believes that the right timing for optimal content against natural factors like mold-inducing rain is needed, and can be considered a gamble for farmers.
More on hemp and CBD
Industrial hemp is a legal crop under federal law, permitting farmers to grow, harvest, and process the said plant. Amidst the controversy surrounding it because of its close relation to marijuana, farmers are taking advantage of the hemp industry boom.
In Oregon, state license for hemp growers grew from only 7,808 acres in 2018 to as much as 46,219 acres this year. The state has given 1,342 farmers the permit to grow hemp in June. The USDA further solidified the legality of hemp by issuing a statement last May that growers can export hemp across different states, which is based on the 2018 Farm Bill.
The establishment of hemp as just a crop has given rise to many innovations, particularly in deriving products from it. For instance, cannabidiol or CBD is extracted from hemp and is infused in many products, including oils, tinctures, lotions, bath bombs, pet care items and more.
The CBD industry is enjoying significant growth since the legalization of hemp. Users are praising it for being a natural remedy for many health conditions, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, and even severe diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s disease. However, most of these claims are still unfounded.
Borderland Businesses Experience the CBD Wellness Boom
Nanette Lattimer-Gamboa relayed to KVIA TV how her job as a licensed massage therapist was at risk after sustaining rheumatoid arthritis, which has affected her hands. She told the news outlet how her condition has almost prompted her to quit her work due to intense pain.
Lattimer-Gamboa opted for a natural cure and ventured on CBD or cannabidiol for her arthritis. Later on, the pain she felt every after massages have considerably lessened and the inflammation more bearable after using CBD.
Starting a CBD business
After her remarkable pain relief, Lattimer-Gamboa got the idea to incorporate CBD with her products. CBD has made its way to the wellness market in the form of lotions and creams, and the most popular cannabidiol product that is the CBD oil.
Nanette Lattimer-Gamboa, with her partner and Co-Owner Anthony Rincon of Infused Massage & Wellness, decided to infuse CBD oil into their massage and facial. Rincon stated that there is a special feeling in receiving a CBD-infused massage as opposed to rubbing it into oneself.
CBD is a derivative compound industrial hemp, a cousin plant of marijuana. Both plant varieties have the same source plant species, which is the Cannabis sativa L. that most people only associate with the illegal substance. However, CBD does not cause a high, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the active compound in cannabis with psychotropic effects.
In Texas, CBD is legal and may contain THC as long as it does not go over the limit of 0.3% THC content.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved only one CBD-containing drug as of writing. Epidiolex, the medication used to treat intractable epilepsy, is the only cannabidiol drug that can be prescribed by a doctor. This means that CBD products in stores still have questionable legality at the federal level, especially those that are ingested.
Calls for more CBD research
José Rivera, UTEP School of Pharmacy founding dean, said that more CBD research should be done. He stated that products, especially those from the internet, are not equally made. Many of such items have various claims about ingredients and therapeutic effect.
Rivera further said that what’s on a product’s label does not necessarily include what is actually in the product. Minimal studies on CBD may confuse many consumers.
Anthony Rincon noted that their town, El Paso, is small and still holds a lot of stigma regarding CBD and its related products.
For other users, CBD is allegedly life-changing for them. Ciara Horton, a CBD user, claims to go for two CBD-infused massages per month to manage her anxiety and relieve pain. She stated that she is happy to have discovered such massages that give her both relief and enjoyment.
For Lattimer-Gamboa, being able to aid people like Horton makes her feel good and gives an avenue to inform more people about CBD. She is delighted to change people’s perspective of the said substance.
CBD Products Sell Well in Logansport
Business for CBD manufacturers and retailers is doing well in Logansport, following the legalization of the said substance in Indiana last July of 2017 for the treatment of epilepsy.
Gov Eric Holcomb signed a measure in 2018 to clarify the rules for possessing, buying, and selling CBD oil in the state, provided that the product has less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound in cannabis responsible for the high that users experience.
Following the measure, hemp CBD businesses in Logansport increased in number.
CBD business in Logansport
CBD products such as coffees and teas are sold at Judy’s GoodLife Emporium, located at 325 E. Market Street, and it’s probably the longest CBD retailer in Logansport. Diana Brown, the manager, said that the store opened four years ago.
They initially did not have a lot of sales because people are unaware of CBD, up until the controversy surrounding its legality was picked up by the media.
As soon as it happened, Brown recalled hardly keeping up with consumer demand because they were the only ones in town selling CBD products.
There was a time they removed their cannabidiol products from the shelves because of the attorney general’s take on the law, causing the dispute to gain traction and causing doubts. Judy’s GoodLife only resumed their sale of CBD products after the governor signed the measure in 2018 that stipulated regulations for CBD in Indiana.
Brown said that excellent products should have a QR code, which is the small black-and-white square that can be scanned by a smartphone, leading to important information regarding the product like specific batch, source, third-party lab testing, and manufacturing details.
Judy’s sales slowed down as more businesses enter the CBD market, Brown noted. People are becoming more educated about cannabis, which only has 20 years of scientific study. As soon as science could catch up, Brown believes that the industry will continue to grow.
However, the FDA’s decision on CBD products can make or break the market, she added.
Many other businesses in Logansport that sell CBD-infused items notice how the oil is the most in-demand product, and as well as capsules, gummies, and lotions, too. Prices for CBD oil can be around $3 to $150, depending on the amount.
Use of CBD
Brown stated that most buyers use CBD to relieve pain more than any other health condition. However, she also noticed that the reasons for buying are varied, which prompts them and other sellers to take care not to sound like they are handing out medical advice.
Other medical issues that people use CBD are anxiety, seizures, and sleeping disorders. They also noted some patients sent by their doctors to get CBD oil for autism. Also, a lot of people buy CBD-infused vape kits to get over cigarette withdrawal.
Brown further added that people should not expect CBD to be useful for their problem. Its interaction with other medicines is also a cause for concern. Brown stated that CBD is not a magical cure-all that benefits everyone.
First Legal Harvest Season for Michigan’s Thousands of Acres of Hemp
While Michigan’s recreational market is nearly shaping up, farmers and processors across the state are busy working with another strain of Cannabis sativa L. for its first legal harvest season.
The 2018 Farm Bill spurred this turn of events following the legalization of industrial hemp. Michigan established a pilot program not long after, wherein registered and licensed 572 growers planned to grow 32,614 acres, with 423 hemp processors at the helm.
After cultivating during spring and summer, many farmers are almost to harvesting their first hemp crop legally.
Hemp in Michigan
Vice President Dave Crabill, for the state association comprising farmers, manufacturers, and processors, iHemp Michigan, said that they are looking into scaling hemp to process CBD and the plant fibers.
The group met on Monday in Lansing to discuss hemp’s introduction to the agriculture industry in Michigan.
Although the state’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are still unsure whether the planned acreage has been planted with hemp, Michigan Industrial Hemp Program Director Gina Alessandri stated that the prospective yield at the end of the year determines what kind of the first crop will be produced.
David Connor planted 26 acres of hemp to replace his blueberry farm in Paw Paw. He has since harvested 20K pounds of industrial hemp. The said crop is split between the stalk, which is commonly used for fabric, paper, and building materials, and the flower from which CBD can be extracted.
Connor noted that the ROI for hemp shows promise. According to USDA, an acre of corn is valued at $543, while an acre of hemp can go as high as $10K to $20K. However, Connor said that the process is labor-intensive, and the market value is still a big question since harvest season is still ongoing.
Hemp and CBD
Hemp is a cannabis plant, as is marijuana; however, hemp contains significantly lower amounts of THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive compound causing the addictive nature of marijuana. It is a controlled substance since 1970 and is illegal for recreational use based on federal laws.
There wasn’t any difference in the definition of both varieties up until the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp for cultivation and processing. Moreover, the bill permits the transportation of hemp and its related products across different states, provided that the THC content is less than 0.3%.
There are many CBD products in the market today, ranging from a variety of industries, from skincare to pet health and even food tech.
CBD is famous for supposedly having therapeutic benefits, such as to provide pain relief and alleviate anxiety. In 2023, the Brightfield Group forecast study projects the CBD industry to grow at $22B.
How it helps farmers
GTF Llc. CEO Gary Schuler noted that farmers benefit significantly from choosing hemp as their crop because the entire plant can be processed and used. His firm dries and then processes hemp waste to be used in food products, biodegradable plastic, animal feeds, and building materials.
Schuler further added that growing hemp decreases carbon footprint because hemp-based plastics are biodegradable, as opposed to petroleum-based plastics.
While waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to layout the final rules for CBD, Michigan plans to proceed with the hemp program in 2020. They are looking to hand out licenses to interested parties.
On the other hand, recreational marijuana use is another emerging cannabis business that will commence after business license applications on November 1 will be accepted and evaluated before awarding licenses at the end of 2019.
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