cultivation of hemp, but the fledgling industry remains a long way from becoming a thriving business.
Observers say commercialization of this potentially lucrative plant remains limited for legal, financial and technological reasons.
They point to restrictive federal guidelines governing hemp, a dearth of investors willing to wager money on the plant, and a lack of commercial-scale processing equipment. Finding fixes to these challenges has proven difficult.
Hemp is used for various products, including CBD-based medicines as well as paper, clothing, food, lotions and supplements. It’s also used in industrial applications.
Much of the hemp used currently in the U.S., however, is imported.
Despite the glacial pace of hemp commercialization, advocates are bullish on the long-term prospects. They argue the 2014 Farm Bill – which authorized production for research purposes and a few select pilot programs – eventually will create opportunities for entrepreneurs.
“It’s a great time to be in the hemp industry,” Eric Steenstra, executive director of the California-based Hemp Industries Association, insisted. “For a long time we were importing and that’s finally starting to change with the breakthrough of hemp being included into the 2014 Farm Bill, even though it’s pretty limited.” Zev Paiss, executive director of the National Hemp Association in Colorado, agreed: “There are a lot of opportunities; but we are still figuring out how to make that happen.”
By Omar Sacirbey
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