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Illinois Leaps Headlong into the Industrial Hemp Market

By William Sumner, Hemp Business Journal Contributor

Illinois is going all-in on cannabis. In becoming the first state to legislatively enact (rather than pass via ballot measure) both to legalize adult-use cannabis and create a state sales marketplace, Illinois has seen a surge in interest for industrial hemp. Prompted by the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally legalized industrial hemp for the first time since World War II, the Land of Lincoln is on its way to establishing a dynamic hemp market.

Case in point: Within 24 hours of opening the application process for hemp cultivation licenses, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDA) was inundated with over 400 applications from interested farmers. Since the application process began in May, the IDA received 667 applications, approving 434 cultivators and 89 processors.

That is significant, especially given other states with similar population levels. By comparison, despite Pennsylvania’s being in the second year of its industrial hemp program, only 319 cultivation permits have been issued there.

Confident that Illinois is poised to become a major hemp producer, the Ontario-based hemp company Red White & Bloom (RWB) is making major bets on the market. Late last month, the company signed a letter of intent to acquire what could be one of the world’s largest hemp production facilities.

Located in Granville, the new production facility totals 3.6 million square feet with over 451,282 square feet of production and warehouse facilities. That represents a massive undertaking compared to other hemp production facilities, as it is nearly 1.5x the size of Canopy Growth’s  (NYSE: CGC) new production facility in Kirkwood, New York.

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The Farm Bill Will Help Hemp Farmers and Entrepreneurs  

Forbes Magazine – 

HempThe 2018 Farm Bill will radically overhaul America’s relation to hemp and could unleash a hemp renaissance in the coming years that will close the gap between the U.S. and China. As a Schedule 1 substance alongside marijuana, hemp farmers and entrepreneurs in the U.S. have faced many barriers to doing business. Interstate commerce for hemp products was almost non-existent and financing was difficult to come by. But all that is set to change.

According to the American Agriculturist, the 2018 Farm Bill will allow hemp to be regulated by the USDA, including the labeling of American-grown hemp as certified organic; interstate hemp commerce will be legalized; financing and research opportunities will open up; hemp farmers will be guaranteed water rights; the definition of hemp will be altered to make it a non-drug commodity.

Hemp has hundreds of uses, many of which are yet to be discovered or fully realized thanks to the lack of available research funds. From textiles and plastics to livestock feed and home cooking, hemp has many applications that can reduce our dependence both on other countries and fossil fuels. Driven by explosive growth in hemp-based consumer products, the global hemp market is expected to jump to $10.6 billion by 2025. Everything from our vodka to our cars is waiting to be reimagined in the future with legal hemp. Many people won’t even realize how much their lives are affected by cannabis-based products.

One of the most exciting applications of hemp lies in the extracted cannabinoids or CBD oil. According to the Washington Post, “dozens of studies have found evidence that the compound can treat epilepsy as well as a range of other illnesses, including anxiety, schizophrenia, heart disease, and cancer.” With the legalization of hemp, CBD can be regulated and researched much more than before to truly understand the medical efficacy for a wide range of diseases.

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Why Is Cannabidiol (CBD) Everywhere?

By Alex Williams – New York Times

Cannabidiol (CBD) is being touted as a magical elixir, a cure-all now available in bath bombs, dog treats and even pharmaceuticals. But maybe it’s just a fix for our anxious times.

It’s hard to say the precise moment when CBD, the voguish cannabis derivative, went from being a fidget spinner alternative for stoners to a mainstream panacea.

Maybe it was in January, when Mandy Moore, hours before the Golden Globes, told Coveteur that she was experimenting with CBD oil to relieve the pain from wearing high heels. “It could be a really exciting evening,” she said. “I could be floating this year.”

Maybe it was in July, when Willie Nelson introduced a line of CBD-infused coffee beans called Willie’s Remedy. “It’s two of my favorites, together in the perfect combination,” he said in a statement.

Or maybe it was earlier this month, when Dr. Sanjay Gupta gave a qualified endorsement of CBD on “The Dr. Oz Show.” “I think there is a legitimate medicine here,” he said. “We’re talking about something that could really help people.”

CBD

So the question now becomes: Is this the dawning of a new miracle elixir, or does all the hype mean we have already reached Peak CBD?

Either way, it would be hard to script a more of-the-moment salve for a nation on edge. With its proponents claiming that CBD treats ailments as diverse as inflammation, pain, acne, anxiety, insomnia, depression, post-traumatic stress and even cancer, it’s easy to wonder if this all natural, non-psychotropic and widely available cousin of marijuana represents a cure for the 21st century itself.

The ice caps are melting, the Dow teeters, and a divided country seems headed for divorce court. Is it any wonder, then, that everyone seems to be reaching for the tincture?

“Right now, CBD is the chemical equivalent to Bitcoin in 2016,” said Jason DeLand, a New York advertising executive and a board member of Dosist, a cannabis company in Santa Monica, Calif., that makes disposable vape pens with CBD. “It’s hot, everywhere and yet almost nobody understands it.”

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The Future of Hemp Engineering: Hempcrete, Supercapacitors, Bio-fuel and More

Despite a global prohibition still largely restricting the cultivation of cannabis, some scientists are still revolutionizing industries through engineering hemp buildings, supercapacitors, and more.

Preceding the 1900’s, cannabis was once one of the most significant crops for mankind. It was only in the past century when men forbid its cultivation, grinding cannabis production and all of its subsidiary parts to a halt.

The plant is rooted deep in humanity’s history and was likely the earliest cultivated plant for its textile fiber. Despite many countries’ recent regressions revoking the laws in which made cannabis illegal in the first place, it is largely recognized as a plant with no other use other than “getting people high”.

Hempcrete buildings

But cannabis is not one sole entity. It is rather a collection of a family of plants consisting of sativas, indicas, and ruderalis. Cannabis Sativa and indica plants are renowned for their psychoactive effects, but there is a variety of Cannabis Sativa which is grown specifically for its derived products.

The plant in question, otherwise known as hemp – or industrial hemp – is the seed or fibrous part of the Cannabis Sativa, whereas the flower of the plant is legally regarded as marijuana. Unlike marijuana, hemp does not possess a significant amount of psychoactive chemicals and as such, cannot be used to get “high”.

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2018 Hemp Harvest – Biomass Pricing Trends

With harvest upon us, farmers and processors are working together to establish a fair market price for hemp biomass.  This is challenging because as an industry, we need to better understand the relationship between supply and demand. The biggest question, is there enough biomass to supply the hemp processors at full capacity this year?  The answer will impact current and future pricing of biomass, but this is a complicated subject due to the lack of traceability in the Hemp industry. Our industry lacks baseline data such as total biomass produced and total sales of CBD products to end consumers.  In addition, the 2018 farm bill will have a tremendous impact on demand. The answer to supply and demand in 2018/2019 is evolving as market speculation drives the price of the first biomass sales, we look into three important questions, and analyze the factors driving the market.

What is the current spot price for hemp biomass?
How will hemp biomass prices move in the next 3 months?
Did USA farmers produce enough hemp biomass to fulfill demand?

What is the current spot price for hemp biomass?

Currently the spot price for finished, dried biomass lots intended for extraction is between $3.50 – $4.75 / % / lb depending on volume and quality.  This price is being influenced by a few factors.  The first factor is that early flowering varieties of hemp are harvested.  This eases the pressures on processors who need to procure biomass supply.  However, the processors should be competing over this early material, and with prices in the $3.50 / $4.50 range, this indicates they have an alternative source of CBD or that the buying market is not overly competitive.  To me, this is an early warning sign that demand from processors will not keep up with the supply of hemp.

The price of biomass is also being driven by farmers who are avoiding future pricing uncertainty.  Farmers have a fear that there will be more biomass than can be sold in 2018 / 2019. If this is the case, prices will plummet because not all farmers will be able to sell their crop and competition to monetize crops will be intense.  Because of this fear, securing a contract early in the season insulates a farm from pricing volatility in hemp biomass. We suggest farmers consider pre-selling a portion of their crop to hedge against price fluctuation and create guaranteed revenue.

If you have 2017 material, SELL IT NOW.  I asked our Washington Cannabis team about the relationship between extraction material from 2017 versus the new 2018 crop and here is what they said.  Expect to take a 50%-65% haircut on prices. “A couple weeks ago it would have been about .50 vs .25/g for 2018 untested to 2017 untested. Right now we’re probably looking at .45/g vs .15/g for the same..” -Tyler Lamont

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