With OK from Congress US hemp market set to boom
PORTLAND — Hemp is about to get the nod from the federal government that marijuana, its cannabis plant cousin, craves.A provision of the farm bill that received final approval in Congress on Wednesday removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances and treats the low-THC version of the cannabis plant like any other agricultural crop. THC is the cannabis compound that gives pot its high.President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law next week.The change sets the stage for greater expansion in an industry already seeing explosive growth because of growing demand for cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in hemp that many see as a way to better health.Federal legalization could triple the overall hemp market to $2.5 billion by 2022, with $1.3 billion of those sales from hemp-derived CBD products, according to New Frontier Data, a cannabis market research firm.“It’s a huge deal because it’s a domino effect. Banks can get involved now and if banks get involved, then credit card processors get involved — and if that happens, then big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart get into it,” said Sean Murphy, a New Frontier data analyst who’s tracked the industry since its infancy in 2015. “All these big players are going to come in.”Hemp, like marijuana, already is legal in some states. Approval at the national level brings a host of benefits that the pot industry has yet to see.