By Emily Ledger
Since the successful application of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp production in the US has more than quadrupled. In the last year, the area of hemp which has been licensed has increased by 455%.
According to Vote Hemp‘s License Report, 511,442 acres of hemp has been licensed in the US over the last year, to 16,877 growers.
However, Vote Hemp estimates that only 230,000 acres of this will have actually been planted, by the end of the year. Of this, around 50-60% (115,000 to 138,000 acres) will be harvested in 2019.
Despite the farming area of the plant falling significantly short of its licensing capacity, Vote Hemp believes that the “intent” shown by growers is promising for the industry.
“Intent is a useful indicator but we know from previous years that significantly less hemp is planted than what is licensed due to a variety of factors including access to seed and/or clones as well as experience.”
Following the passing of the Farm Bill removed hemp from the drug schedule, making cultivation legal at the federal level. However, the regulation of the industry is left up to the individual states.
Hemp was added to the federal drug schedule list in 1937, due to its relation to marijuana. Both hemp and marijuana are breeds of the Cannabis plant. Marijuana has a high THC content, which causes users to get high. To qualify as Hemp, the plant must contain no more than 0.3% THC.
The total number of states which now allow hemp cultivation is 46. The only states that currently do not allow cultivation of the plant are Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and South Dakota.
In the UK, hemp cultivation is still highly controlled. Growers must apply for a license from the Home Office, and meet strict guidelines. However, hemp farmers are only permitted to harvest the seed and stalk of their crops.
The government clarified in 2018, that farmers were not permitted to harvest the leaves and flowers. Earlier this year, one Hemp farm was ordered to destroy their crop, for producing CBD extracts.