From millennia ago, industrial hemp has been an essential raw material for various products and manufacturing processes. It has since been used for paper, construction, rope, textiles, ropes and several other industrial applications, significantly advancing civilization.
This continued until the 1930s, after which cannabis cultivation became almost eradicated and non-existent. Right about now, industrial hemp is trying to make a phenomenal comeback. All thanks to the passage of the new Farm Bill, passed into law in December 2018 by the US.
The Law declassified industrial hemp as a prohibited or controlled substance, legalizing its wide scale production by all farmers. Of course, the type of industrial hemp being referred to here is CBD- which contains less than 0.3% THC. Its low composition percentage of THC is nowhere close to the amount that is needed to create the "high feeling" associated with the mainstream marijuana that everyone fears.
Future of Cannabis industry
Currently, cannabis is being used for various products and projects, including usage as an additive in the production of foods, beverages, and cosmetics to paper, clothing and building materials. To put it clearly, there's perhaps no modern product that cannabis can't add phenomenal value to.
This has made it a highly sought-after farm produce in recent times. To put it in proper context, below is the current distribution of hemp usage in various industries:
Personal care: 22%
Industrial applications: 18%
No wonder the hemp CBD market alone, is expected to grow to up to $22 billion in 2022ㅡ a 67% increase from 2017 stats.
So, what is the future of the Cannabis industry, as it stands?
Facilitation of enormous employment opportunities
As the prior muzzling around cannabis lessens and its global adoption rate increases, there'd be an evolution of cannabis-related employment roles - either directly and indirectly. The evolution of tens of thousands of new jobs across multiple sectors would be facilitated by this legalization, in the very near future.
Besides the hiring of additional workers in agriculture, processing, and manufacturing, this newly legalized industry, will need industry-specific accountants, lawyers, compliance officers, government regulators, IT specialists, financial and insurance experts, transporters, researchers and lab technicians, marketers, CFOs, CEOs and various other retail employees.
Some of these aforementioned employees would be hired by existing companies, including banks, truckers, farm equipment makers and drugstore chains, while others would be in the employ of opportunistic start-ups.
There are several uncertainties, which if not sooner resolved, may mar the promising future of CBD. They include:
- Uniformity of metric unit
Hemp is fast becoming a fully legal agricultural commodity. Yes, a lot of other countries model the US, so that's in no way a preposterous statement. Being a newly legalized produce, you'd be surprised to hear that a unit of hemp seed doesn't have a universal metric or an agreed-upon quantity, yet. This is a foremost example of the startling lack of standardization that the new industry is currently being plagued with.
- Regulatory Standards
Another instance is that of regulatory standards. Hundreds of novice hemp farmers are falling prey to hemp seed sellers who unwittingly sell seeds that grow into plants with ultra-high THC levels. Farmers in this category have had to withstand huge losses because most state laws require that such farms be destroyed. The pathetic thing there is that farmers can't know THC levels until it's close to harvest - and too late to do anything.
Another concern along that line, is the issue of testing protocols. That is, how regulators hope to ensure compliance with the .3% THC content on a dry weight basis.
- Consumer Safety
According to the US National Institute of Health, CBD is “devoid of psychoactive activity, with analgesic, anti-inflammatory properties". Its unlike THC – the primary psychoactive component in cannabis. But the glaring absence of uniform regulations of CBD in beverages, food, and supplements, would present a significant challenge for consumer safety in the near future.
This is placing a burden on profit-based companies to ensure their products do not pose a risk to public health and minimal exposure to illegal activities. Companies are generally known for doing everything ethically - and sometimes unethically - possible to make huge profits. Leaving consumers with no choice but to take the word of CBD-product manufacturers, does not, therefore, look promising, concerning consumer safety.
As the future approaches, it's expected that most of these pivotal issues, would be resolved pronto. Their resolution would undoubtedly impact and dictate the future of the cannabis industry.