“There’s no question in my mind that this could be a multibillion-dollar crop where we could see millions of acres, eventually,” Eric Steenstra, executive director of Vote Hemp
“The crop right now is sellable,” Colorado hemp farmer Jim Denny told NPR reporters earlier this year. “I’ve already had people contact me on my website saying, ‘We know you’re growing stuff and we want to buy it from you already.’ And we haven’t even put it in the ground.”
What Denny is experiencing is called demand, and it’s one half of the most basic blocks of modern economics. The other, supply, is what he is trying to generate. And he’s not alone. The fact is, industrial hemp — which is a cousin of the marijuana plant, sans the psychoactive compound THC — is a potential gold mine for the agricultural industry. The problem is that so far, it’s been lumped together with marijuana and made out to be dangerous, when it is in fact no more dangerous than cotton or wood.
“There’s no question in my mind that this could be a multibillion-dollar crop where we could see millions of acres, eventually,” Eric Steenstra, executive director of Vote Hemp, said to NPR. “Is that going to happen in a year or two? Of course not.”
But that doesn’t mean that the gears aren’t in motion to establish a legal market. As marijuana legalization is slowly but surely spreading across America, one of the biggest hidden benefits that should come along with it is the resurgence of industrial hemp production.
Hemp is a material that is as practical and useful as almost anything in the world, and can be used to produce a variety of products, including building materials and food. The problem, as of right now, is that those who would be willing to jump in and start growing face a combination of pitfalls, including legal roadblocks, and a scarcity of seeds and research.
In what is a bit of a surprise, there are actually members of Congress who are seeing the potential in the hemp industry. As most policymakers are quick to shrug off and ignore matters related to marijuana or hemp, there are states that could benefit monstrously from the market opening up. The most glaring example of this is Kentucky, which has a couple of political powers who have come out in support of pushing forward with deregulating the hemp industry.