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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Forbes Magazine –
The 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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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”.
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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