The choice by the Republican administration to legalize hemp federally – but not cannabis – has arguably caused more problems than it has solved.
As hemp farmers began cultivating crops, the first problem to appear was law enforcement chaos. With hemp fully legal and cannabis fully illegal (at the federal level), enormous confusion has emerged in attempting to separate the two for legal purposes.
Law enforcement authorities have scrambled to come up with better methods for testing for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the only psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant and its potency is primarily what separates cannabis from its hemp sub-species.
However, there is no international consensus on the level of THC that legally defines hemp. Some jurisdictions set the threshold for hemp at <1% THC. The United States has one of the most stringent legal definitions. The U.S. sets a legal threshold of 0.3% THC for hemp.
This is producing another major problem for U.S. hemp farmers. With such a tight standard, farmers are having great difficulty keeping crops beneath that threshold.
Worse, with cannabis still illegal federally in the U.S., any “hemp” plants that exceed the legal limit for THC are destroyed. Total crop loss.
This is now especially a problem for Arizona hemp farmers. The latest testing data indicates that more than 40% of the hemp cultivated in that state is exceeding the legal THC limit.
“It’s a high-risk deal,” said head farmer for Arizona Hemp Supply Co. Dustin Shill. “Right now, it’s just a shot in the dark really. It’s crazy.”
Indeed. Coupled with the crop risks faced by all forms of farming, hemp farming in the United States presents growers with a bleak equation when it comes to risk assessment.
If this wasn’t bad enough, even those hemp farmers lucky enough to cultivate crops that meet federal standards still have to try to find somewhere to sell those crops.
The FDA is still dragging its feet on producing a regulatory framework for CBD consumption in the United States. This anti-cannabis bureaucracy continues to fabricate excuses for keeping CBD products away from U.S. consumers.
With high-CBD hemp being the focus of most U.S. hemp farmers, this is a major problem.
Prior to the passage of the Farm Bill 2018 (which legalized hemp), projections were for the hemp-derived CBD market to reach $22 billion by 2022 (according to Brightfield Group). This was expected to “outpace all other cannabis markets”.
For U.S. hemp companies (and their shareholders) that now looks like nothing more than a hollow joke.
Cannabis Prohibition at the federal level continues to grossly undermine the legal cannabis industry, even in cannabis-legal states. The incompetent manner in which the federal government has legalized hemp along with bureaucratic hostility toward the U.S. CBD market is sabotaging the national hemp industry to a similar degree.
Cannabis investors beware. The much-hyped opportunity for U.S. hemp continues to be road-blocked by the Trump administration.