What’s The Future For Hemp?

The Lempert Report
January 20, 2021

This year marks the first time hemp will be grown in Indiana as a commercial crop, not a research crop.

Full disclosure – I am on the national committee of Hemp History Week, and a huge supporter of farmers growing hemp – which is one of the most important cops we have and can be used in a variety of ways – from nutritious foods and beverages, to health & beauty products to clothing. So why, I must ask, is there nearly 70,000 tons of hemp biomass sat in warehouses and storage units as of the end of 2020? Cannabis consulting firm Whitney Economics surveyed over 8,000 hemp farmers across the country and compiled data from every state department of agriculture, and determined that 48 percent of American hemp farmers had leftover inventory last year. Hemp was federally approved for farming at the end of 2018, leading to a rush of entrepreneurs trying the crop in 2019. The fast influx of new farmers led to an over-supply in the market, however, and consumer demand, although growing, still hasn't caught up according to the report. The leftover hemp biomass has led to decreasing wholesale hemp and hemp-derived CBD prices that still haven't rebounded. And then to make matters even worse, the Office of Indiana State Chemist is warning the public about predatory hemp seed vendors known to be active in that state.

This year marks the first time hemp will be grown in Indiana as a commercial crop, not a research crop, said Donald Robison, OISC seed administrator. In some cases, Robison said, people are paying for seed and the product is never delivered. In other cases, the product doesn’t match what is promised by the label. With hemp especially, this can be a problem as many buyers end up with a marijuana, not a hemp, crop. “The legal limit for THC (one of the psychoactive properties of marijuana) in hemp seed within Indiana is 0.3%,” Robison clarified. “We saw a situation recently where the buyer thought he was buying and growing hemp, but instead he grew a crop with 17% THC.” As with all emerging products and trends come the bad actors who can make it bad for us all.