Suddenly, A Season for Industrial Hemp to Spring Forward
Last year, cannabis-industry attorney Bob Hoban told us how he saw “the hemp industry taking huge, huge, huge steps forward. I’ve always seen and still maintain that the hemp industry is going to dwarf the marijuana industry by a long, long, long shot. The hemp industry worldwide is a $1 trillion industry, whereas marijuana is certainly going to be very profitable, but we’re going to see large strides in hemp in the near term.”
One such leap was attempted last week with announcement that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promoting hemp production by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act that since 1970 has associated hemp with its more THC-potent cousin, marijuana.Should McConnell’s legislative effort succeed, it seems reasonable to speculate that hemp would subsequently be unconstrained from Section 7606 of the Federal Farm Bill, establishing the crop as a fully legalized agricultural commodity. Currently, Section 7606 only allows for the cultivation of hemp in pilot programs and for research about its benefits for American farmers and businesses. Key figures to watch now include a pair of McConnell’s Republican colleagues. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) has long stood among Congress’s most vociferous opponents of cannabis law reform. In 2012, he opposed de-scheduling hemp, saying “I cannot favor promoting cannabis sativa as a legitimate alternative crop. It seems that the main reason hemp is being put forward as a legitimate crop is to promote the legalization of marijuana.” Of course, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, too, has been notoriously opposed to all things cannabis. Last January, his rescission of the Cole Memo was widely interpreted as a hurdle to hempresearch and development, pushing such activity instead to Canada and South America, or overseas to countries like Israel and Australia. Pursuant to New Frontier Data’s efforts in shepherding our clientele through both the critical mass of cannabis-industry data and the global nexus of unbiased cannabis reporting, the company has long been aware about and kept track of the industrial hemp segment. As Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, New Frontier Data’s founder and chief executive officer, explained in Februarywith announcement of the company’s acquisition of the Hemp Business Journal (HBJ), “we knew since first meeting [HBJ founder] Sean Murphy in 2015 that we needed to insert ourselves and figure out a way to cover the industry segment it in a meaningful manner.”
Granted, more public (and investment) attention throughout recent history has been afforded to ever-expanding North American cannabis-reform efforts and the expansive social, economic and legislative goings-on in Canada and a continually increasing number of U.S. states. “Much of the focus,” she said, “has been on the medical and adult use applications of cannabis. However, with the intelligence and data gathered by Hemp Business Journal, we are beginning to understand the full extent of the opportunity presented by hemp not only nationally, but worldwide.”
Now having joined New Frontier Data as director of hemp analytics, Sean Murphy this week will be presenting at the fifth annual NoCo Hemp Expo, April 6 and 7, in Loveland, Colorado. He will also be leading an upcoming webinar about Hemp-Derived Market Opportunities; watch for a forthcoming CannaBit with details.
J.J. McCoy is Senior Managing Editor for New Frontier Data. A former staff writer for The Washington Post, he is a career journalist having covered emerging technologies among industries including aviation, satellites, transportation, law enforcement, the Smart Grid and professional sports. He has reported from the White House, the U.S. Senate, three continents and counting.