Hemp has had an interesting history in the United States. Before 2010, the hemp industry operated in the fringes of the law, with hemp continually being lumped in with its illicit cousin marijuana for years. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 changed all that and started a new era for the U.S. hemp market.
The legislation sought to clarify the differences between industrial hemp and marijuana, as well as to repeal federal laws that forbid the cultivation and sale of industrial hemp.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the country had imported hemp worth $3.07 million in 2009. However, with the passing of the 2009 Industry Farming Act, hemp imports increased drastically, hitting an estimated $75.89 million in 2015, a growth factor of twenty-four. Hemp is a pretty profitable cash crop, and this increase can be attributed to an increased demand for hemp by farmers looking to profit off the cash crop.
You would think that the number of imports would keep increasing, but strangely, that wasn’t the case. Hemp imports fell to $67 million in 2016 and declined even further to $63.84 million in 2017.
However, 2018 saw an increase, with the country bringing in $71.87 worth of hemp. Despite there being no studies into why the country’s hemp imports increased, an educated guess would be that it is due to increased demand for cannabidiol (CBD) products. The compound is extracted from hemp, and unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it doesn’t give users a psychoactive high.
Its strength lies in its ability to treat a variety of medical conditions. Chock-full of potent medicinal properties, it is said to be effective against a host of conditions ranging from anxiety, and insomnia to high blood pressure and chronic pain. In June 2018, the FDA approved a CBD-based drug to treat rare forms of epilepsy in children.
As of September 2019, America had imported about $66.6 million worth of hemp, with 89% ($59.3 million) of the crop imported from Canada.
Naturally, hemp seeds account for a large percentage of hemp imports. 72% ($47.72 million) of the hemp brought into the country comprised of hemp seeds. The second most imported was hemp oil, accounting for $10.02 million, followed by hemp seed oil cake ($7.93 million) and raw unspun hemp ($476,276).
Right now, much of the hemp imports are tied to the unregulated CBD market. Although the FDA has taken steps to regulate the hemp industry, CBD remains largely unregulated. Whether hemp imports increase or decrease will ultimately depend on the FDA’s efforts at providing a comprehensive regulatory framework.
Analysts see this statistics are providing food for thought for hemp industry players like Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) and Sugarmade Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD) who know that importing products often comes with higher costs that can be avoided by nurturing a domestic supply of those products.
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