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Challenges Crushing the Dreams of American Hemp Farmers
With the word coming down the pike last year about the production of hemp to become legal again in the United States, the struggling American hemp farmers felt as if they just received a stay of execution.
This means that they will not have to nickel and dime themselves by dedicating their exclusive land to traditional crops like wheat and corn. They might also be able to stay in the agriculture field for longer without having to deal with pasture crops.
Cannabis supporters have been preaching from the past few decades about the potentials of industrial hemp in saving the economy of the country. Moreover, this depends on whether the country is willing to accept hemp as a sustainable alternative to substances like cotton, fossil fuels, and cotton.
Mitch McConnel, a Senate Majority leader, and a federal lawmaker, fought against legalizing cannabis since the 1980s and saw the hemp potential first hand while exploring various facilities involved with the pilot program in Kentucky, his home state. Noticing the benefits that hemp could provide the average American farmers and consumers, McConnel took charge of the pressing issue on Capitol Hill during the last year. McConnel was determined to ensure that industrial hemp would become one of the plows and pick collection for the farming community. And he got successful in his plan.
So, now that the production of hemp is legal under the 2018 Farm bill, more and more jurisdictions in the countries are accepting it. As of now, 34 states of the United States have made the production of hemp legal for the farmers since the legislation is signed into law by President Trump.
So, this means that the country is happily accepting the decision to hold down the prohibition of hemp production.
Although the hemp market is predicted to cross the $26 billion mark within the upcoming six years, farmers are not living the high life. There are many challenges and uncertainties in the agricultural sector that are to be sorted off before the crop could take off just like the supporters have predicted it to. However, one thing that is certain in the hemp industry is that only the strong or at least those with better resources will survive. Here are some of the most prevalent issues that hemp farmers have been facing since the crop was legalized.
Hemp Production Generates Poor First Year Yield
The farmers of industrial hemp have accepted this decision of legalizing hemp and regarded this as a sweet spot. But, the poor first-year yields of hemp production have made it difficult for the farmers to be profitable. Due to the delayed planting schedule and heavy rainfall, there is a situation where the initial harvesting of the hemp is looking to be miserable. And, this will certainly make a huge impact on the profits.
The Indiana hemp farmers stated that the plants didn’t grow much taller. Moreover, they never canopied the fields, and this has also led to weed problems for the crop.
Reports might have shown that the production of hemp may bring between $40,000 to $50,000 per acre, in comparison to corn, which is just generating $1000 per acre; the farmers still do not believe that the first harvest of the hemp will bring in any profit for them.
Hemp Farming is mostly done with Hands
Hemp farming may bring big money into the farming community, but for this, they will have to put a huge effort into it. Hemp farming is a laborious task, especially when the farmers are not equipped with the necessary equipment to complete the process from seeding to harvesting efficiently. Although some of the hemp farmers may have been able to use modern equipment and machinery to farm hemp, others may have to invest thousands of dollars to purchase new retrofits and equipment. Moreover, as only certain types of plants need to be seeded into the ground, a lot of work needs to be done with the hands by the farmers for the seedling. Someone will have to it do this work, however dirty it may be.
Back during the time of original Rockstar cropping in the United States, slaves used to work in the hemp fields only because no one, especially white men, wanted to do anything related to it. The book “A history if the Hemp Industry in Kentucky” clearly indicated that slavery only flourished in the Bluegrass State because of Hemp. Let’s hope that things go the other way around this time.
Seeds of Hemp being Sold for CBD rich Plants is a Rip-off
There is a shortage of hemp seeds that can be used for producing high CBD yield plants. Many of the hemp farmers who have just started hemp businesses are focusing on capitalizing on the emerging case of CBD. But, for this, any old hemp will not solve the purpose. Farmers interested in producing hemp for selling it to the CBD processors will require only female plants. Many of the hemp farmers are getting ripped off due to the fact that hemp seeds they purchased recently are male plants of hemp. For the farmers who are expecting to sell their plants for CBD, these plants are completely worthless. Now, they won’t be able to sell their crops to the CBD processors, resulting in huge losses.
However, analysts have predicted that by the year 2023, the industrial hemp market could be worth $22 billion.
Thieves are stealing Hemp mistaking it as Marijuana
As marijuana and hemp are similar in odor and appearance, thieves have been mistaking it into marijuana and sneaking into the hemp fields and stealing the crops with enthusiasm. Many farmers in New York have complained about the lost crop because the pot seeking thieves have been stealing it every night.
Apparently, thieves have been mistakenly stealing hemp plants, and the problem is worsening with time, as reported by the hemp farmers. The stealing of hemp started with 20 plants and then slowly escalated to 100 plants. Moreover, in the beginning, such incidents happened just once a week, but it has now escalated to every night. These plants are completely useless to them, and they can smoke as much as they can without getting the ‘high’ they are looking for.
The farmers also fear that this significant loss of crops even before reaching the harvesting time could badly cripple them before they even start. The problem of theft is forcing the farmers to either assemble an independent team or invest in increased security to keep a look at their crop.
A farmer in New York reported that he is in big problem as he is sleep deprived because of spending countless nights watching out for his property. He said his family had spent many nights for the same reason.
Along with this, the hemp farmers are facing challenges with crop insurance, banking, and a shortage of sufficient pesticides and herbicides. In other words, it will be some time before the hemp production can get back to normal in the United States, and the farmers can enjoy farming without any issues. Moreover, considering the duration for which the crop was out of circulation, the country may never see a rise in the hemp production like expected.
All You Need To Know About Import And Export Of Cannabis
Cannabis, due to its ever-growing health benefits, is getting popular. It can be found in various forms in a number of industries. Over the past few years, an immense increase has been registered in the import exports of medical cannabis. Among many countries, the suite of clients related to cannabis is expanding. For this purpose, one needs a thorough, detailed legal advice related to manufacturing, overseas hemp import-export issues, and legal procedure or customs.
Due to cannabis being a drug, the import and export of the products of medical cannabis internationally, including the ones made of low THC cannabis, are highly administered and subject to International Drug Convention.
It requires a legal approval of the national governments of both of the countries that are importing and exporting the products before the shipment can proceed. Some of the countries are lenient about food or nutritional products having cannabis, but it depends on the laws of different countries.
The supply of medicinal cannabis is not really affected, but it requires a legal import export license and permits to export.
There are several products of cannabis that are eligible for export with the license:
- Cannabis resin extracts that are manufactured under Narcotic drugs act 1967 license and permit. But, it is applicable for the one that is not in the form of final dosage.
- In Australia, medicinal cannabis products can be exported under a GMP license.
- Export-only enlisted medicinal cannabis products or products that are registered on the Australian Registered Therapeutic Goods may also be eligible.
How to ship medical cannabis internationally?
Before you start shipping cannabis internationally, here is what must be kept in mind:
- Try to start with countries having developed health departments and strong export authorities. For example, countries like Colombia, South Africa, Lesotho, Jamaica, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands would do great.
- Take a start in countries in which federal laws allow the production of cannabis. There are quite a few countries like Mexico, Switzerland, Luxembourg.
- There are countries that allow medicinal cannabis imports, especially in the E.U.; so, find such countries to trade.
- Acquire cannabis import and export permits and make suitable deals. And always make sure you report all imports and exports to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
For your information, The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is the “independent control body for international drug conventions” of the United Nations (UN). The 1961 Single Convention allows the manufacturing and administering of cannabis for research and medical purposes only, that too under certain conditions. The authorities decide a specific space or area where cannabis can be cultivated and has the exclusive right to import or export cannabis, trade at wholesale, and maintain supply. The countries having businesses related to cannabis have already taken such steps to proceed.
The import export market for medical cannabis is expanding considerably. However, apart from the difficulties regarding permits and other legal issues, there are many other important matters to work through. Especially the quality standards of the product matter a lot.
For that purpose, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) assurance is compulsory to trade medical cannabis. For instance, as such there are no designated standards of regulations between and among countries for medical cannabis quality check. That includes all contents, like adulterants, composition, ingredients, and the levels of toxic residues in the product. That is somehow scary thinking cannabis as a medicine. Supply chain integrity is also an issue.
International trade laws of cannabis
International trade is regulated by UN drug Control treaties (three-core), and notably by international trade and investment law. For instance, The UN drug control treaties like single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (amended later) deal with this subject. Specific UN control treaties make sure the international import export of cannabis restricts to medical and research purposes only. Moreover, they set measures for export import of cannabis, such as schemes for permits and licensing.
To be brief, the treaties provide for some of the following purposes related to cannabis trade or import export:
- The 1961 Convention includes cannabis and cannabis resin as a Schedule IV drug. Further, it restricts the import and export of schedule drugs for research and medical purpose only. This convention also limits the quantity of import of such drugs.
- The 1971 Convention includes THC and its isomers in Schedule II and prohibits the import and export of THC and similar drugs for research.
- The 1988 amendment conclusively requires parties to criminalize imports and exports done in infringement to permitted trade under the above (1961 and 1971) conventions.
Companies that legally supports the import export of cannabis
Lately, with the legalization proceedings in U.S and Canada, this industry has flourished. Companies are now legally trading from Canada to U.S.
The prominent companies that are legally trading medical cannabis are:
- Tilray (TLRY)
- Canopy Growth (CGC)
What Makes Hemp Fiber Better Than Alternative Options?
Hemp is undoubtedly one of the most durable fibers available, but its production has been discouraged (and banned) because of its close resemblance to marijuana (also commonly known as the pot). The truth is that its chemical is used as a narcotic. The rest of the components of hemp are very useful and are being used in several ways in various industries.
Hemp fiber made from the hemp plant is way better than other alternatives in many ways. Some people tend to confuse it with other materials, but in reality, fiber from the Cannabis plant is being used for 10,000 years. Hemp clothes dated from 8000BC are proven to exist.
The plant named Cannabis sativa (aka hemp) is being employed in a number of industrial uses. Efforts are underway to legalize its mass production because of its immense benefits.
Reasons That Make Hemp Fiber Better:
- Protection of the wearer:
Since these fibers are made from a plant, they protect the wearer from water and sun. It does not absorb water so you can be safe from any spilling, and alongside it absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, keeping the wearer safe. So, hemp fiber can save you from the scorching sun and pouring rain.
- Durability and strength:
Fibers made from hemp are durable and reliable; also, at the same time, they are also very lightweight and comfortably breathable. Strength combined with lightweight material makes it suitable for use in a variety of fabrics.
After spinning, the material becomes coarse and slightly thick, which makes it suitable for a number of industrial uses. For use as a fabric, it is spun in such a way that it becomes mold resistant and very able to withstand damage or tearing down.
- Sustainable material:
Talking in terms of sustainability, hemp is a perfect choice for the environment too. It not only absorbs more CO2 but also produces more oxygen. There are no waste materials, and every part of this crop can be recycled, so this is a very sustainable choice.
- Organic crop:
Growing hemp plants puts a lesser strain on the ecosystem. It does not require fertilizers or pesticides for growth and turns out to be a fully organic crop. A full harvest of hemp needs half water than that required by the cotton crop. There are no by-products as all components of hemp can be used for industrial purposes.
Additionally, the crop can be harvested roughly three times in a year, because hemp gets ready much quicker (in roughly 3 to 4 months), thus causing lesser strain on land and environment. Once the crop has been harvested, the land can be immediately used for growing the next crop of hemp without needing an in-between break.
The growing space requirement is also quite low, so it can be easily grown in compact spaces while increasing the yield. So, the farmers can have a good yield throughout the year, with up to 3 harvests of hemp n a calendar year.
- Range of industrial uses:
The use of hemp is not limited to fiber only; rather, it is being used in industrial production of a number of practical uses like shoes, insulation, paper, ropes, and even biofuel. Since 2000 years, hemp is being used for paper production, thus saving countless trees.
- Withstands wear and tear:
Strength is one of the most significant plus points of Cannabis sativa. It is sturdier than materials like wool or cotton. So, fibers manufactured from hemp are able to withstand wear and tear a lot better.
- Pairing up with others
Another significant advantage of hemp is that it can be used in combination with other fiber materials. So, combining it with other materials in proportionate amounts will result in the right qualities that the manufacturers are seeking.
- Profitable produce
Despite being ecologically feasible, the production of hemp is economically viable too. Farmers and producers can earn a good share of profits from this crop. As mentioned earlier, it cuts down other expenses like water and pesticides, making it less of a hassle to grow it. The soil also improves with each harvest, allowing a good crop in next season.
There are many other advantages of using hemp fiber. It is a win-win situation for everyone; right from the grower to the wearer, everyone benefits from using hemp as a fiber.
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Hemp Business Journal. (2020). The U.S. Hemp Industry grows to $820mm in sales in 2017. Retrieved from Hemp Biz Journal: https://www.hempbizjournal.com/size-of-us-hemp-industry-2017/
Hemp Gazette. (2020). How Hemp Fibre Is Produced. Retrieved from Hemp Gazette: https://hempgazette.com/industrial-hemp/hemp-fiber-production/
Hemp News. (2020). Why should farmers grow hemp? Retrieved from CRRH Hemp News: http://www.crrh.org/cannabis
Musio, S., Müssig, J., & Amaducci, S. (2018, November 23). Optimizing Hemp Fiber Production for High Performance Composite Applications. Retrieved from Frontiers In: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2018.01702/full
Recreator. (2017, July 12). Hemp 101: A Traditional Method of Hemp Textile Production. Retrieved from Recreator: https://recreator.org/blogs/hemp-101/hemp-101-a-traditional-method-of-hemp-textile-production