In early August, an appellate court in Texas delivered a blow to the state’s hemp industry, ruling that the sale and distribution of smokable hemp products were allowed, but their production was not. It appeared to be a harsh loss after a year-long lawsuit filled with highs and lows.
But the story isn’t over yet: Not even 30 days after that decision, a district court ruled that ban unconstitutional.
Followers of the smokable hemp saga may be feeling a sense of déjà vu. Indiana producers went through a similar legal battle filled with back-and-forth rulings for two years until the plaintiffs—hemp and CBD companies that sued over that state’s smokable hemp ban—dropped the case in May. (Though at that time, Justin Swanson, president of the Midwest Hemp Council and the attorney representing the plaintiffs, told me they decided to shift their focus on changing lawmakers’ minds instead. In other words, the fight isn’t over.)
Smokable hemp isn’t the only victim of regulatory uncertainty. CBD producers, too, are still feeling the pang of unclear, shifting and, at a federal level, absent regulations. The lack of clarity will keep mainstream consumer packaged goods companies from entering the ingestible CBD market until they receive federal guidance, writes Madeline Obrzut, content specialist for Brightfield Group, in this month’s “Hemp Watch”.
This game of ping-pong over the legality of hemp and its various forms is doing more than giving industry players whiplash—it’s stifling the growth of hemp’s most lucrative markets, years after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and its derivatives.
Despite the onerous battle, it’s heartening to see so many in the industry fight the good fight. The plaintiffs in both smokable hemp cases are groups of hemp companies, and many CBD business owners now are not just CEOs, but also industry advocates.
Allan Gandelman, president and co-founder of New York Hemp Oil (NYHO) and vertical CBD brand Head & Heal, is another person who has helped push the industry forward in his state. Gandelman founded the New York State Cannabis Growers & Processors Association, which has helped craft laws that have, among other things, legalized and set standards for hemp flower and ingestible CBD products in the state.
Together, he and NYHO/Head & Heal co-founder Karli Miller-Hornick have helped pave the way for not only their business, but also other businesses in the state to thrive. (See the cover story for more.)
Still, even Gandelman knows there’s more work to be done. When asked what keeps him awake at night, Gandelman responded: “My biggest concern is the federal government—the inaction of the FDA and the USDA when it comes to supporting small farms.”
Theresa Bennett email@example.com
The interest in and popularity of delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) snuck up on the cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabis industries—social media posts about delta-8 increased 550% from October 2020 to February 2021, according to Brightfield Group data.
Delta-8 is a variant of the well-known delta-9 THC cannabinoid. Though still psychoactive, delta-8 is reportedly less potent than delta-9. But unlike delta-9, delta-8 is being sold in CBD-friendly channels like vape shops and specialty retailers. This appeals to consumers in states without legal adult-use cannabis sales who are still looking for psychoactive effects, whether therapeutically or recreationally.
Hemp production is federally legal, which makes this cannabinoid easy to get in most places—especially online—and why many believe delta-8 is in the clear. Because it is mainly derived from hemp CBD, in many states, it’s technically in a legal gray area, which is sparking conversations about how to proceed with the intricacies. Now the questions of what happens next and whether bigger brands will jump on this bandwagon are up for debate.
“The competition CBD is feeling from delta-8 primarily impacts the cannabis and tobacco positioning for consumers who purchase through convenience stores and smoke or vape shops—these two channels together made up 7.3% of the CBD market in 2020,” Brightfield Group’s Managing Director Bethany Gomez explains. “As a result, some CBD brands are feeling a significant squeeze, while others that don’t compete in these channels are largely unaffected.”
Brightfield’s Q1 2021 CBD Consumer Insights survey asked CBD consumers if they were aware of delta-8 and whether they’d be likely to purchase it. Nearly one-fifth (19%) of CBD users are aware of delta-8, and 76% of those aware say they are “likely” or “very likely” to purchase it. Additionally, a recent vape and smoke shop survey from Brightfield showed some store owners reporting triple-digit growth as consumers become more aware of the cannabinoid.
Who is Purchasing Delta-8?
The consumers likely to purchase delta-8 have longer CBD usage histories, use more frequently, and prefer higher dosages, according to the survey. Being comfortable with CBD through experience, they are more open to trying products with delta-8.
Looking at purchase channels, those interested in delta-8 shop at smoke or vape stores and specialized CBD retailers more than the average CBD consumer. These channels were early to stock delta-8, so these consumers may have already been exposed to the cannabinoid.
CBD consumers interested in delta-8 are more likely to treat a mental health condition with CBD than the average consumer. Consumers actively treating mental health conditions with CBD may hope to find additional relief from delta-8. This especially applies to consumers who have used CBD with higher dosages for a long time. A high CBD tolerance may lead them to try a different cannabinoid if they haven’t done so already.
So, is delta-8 here to stay? Some states are pushing regulations on delta-8 to ensure compliance with existing state and federal laws and curb any safety concerns—Washington for example, recently banned synthetic delta-8 products. But overall, many states are still grappling with delta-9 THC regulations, and various channels are seeing delta-8 products fly off the shelves. The jury is still out on delta-8’s lasting availability.
Editor’s note: This article originally ran in the June issue of Hemp Grower’s sister publication Cannabis Business Times.
Madeline Obrzut is a content specialist for Brightfield Group. She’s a cannabis professional that closely watches the industry from both a market research and consumer perspective.
The year was 2016. Cannabinoid hemp breeder Oregon CBD tried to produce feminized seed, but it found its crop had been pollinated—and not with the pollen it had planned on using. So, Oregon CBD’s parent company, Jack Hempicine, sued a nearby grower for cross-pollinating and ruining the crop with pollen from cannabis plants high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Dr. Seth Crawford, Ph.D., co-founder of Oregon CBD, claims the defendant's cannabis also pollinated other plants as far as 35 miles away. The suit was an attempt to set a legal precedent for cross-pollination issues between cannabis and hemp farms in Oregon. But proving the pollen came from that grower was difficult to do in court, and Oregon CBD ultimately abandoned the legal battle.
“In this case, there were claims that it could have come from any other farm,” Crawford says. “We had pretty good evidence that it was not coming from other farms; it was coming from this particular point source. But it’s different to scientifically know something versus to be able to prove something in a court of law.”
Along with tumbling prices and unsold biomass, add cross-pollination to the pile of challenges stacked against hemp growers.
What’s Happening With Pollen
Male hemp crops in grain or fiber plantings can pollinate female hemp plants grown for compounds such as the cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG). They can also pollinate female sinsemilla, or seedless, cannabis plants, which are also grown for compounds such as the cannabinoid THC. The result is often unwanted seed development that can reduce resin (and therefore cannabinoid production), as the plant kicks into a reproductive stage that many cannabis and hemp flower growers take care to avoid.
Oregon CBD’s situation was a variation on that theme. The aim was to produce seed, after all, but the company suspected the seed, once the plant was pollinated from the neighboring farm, wouldn’t have the characteristics it was looking for. Crawford says of outside pollen drifting into Oregon CBD’s feminized seed production: “The important thing to recognize with this is that the plants themselves are not genetically impacted by pollination. … But any of the resulting seeds that came off of the plants in the field would then be non-compliant.”
Pollination between cannabis and hemp has also spurred legal action in Colorado. Nadav Aschner, partner at The Rodman Law Group, defended an outdoor hemp grower there in a lawsuit in which a nearby cannabis grower accused the defendant of cross-pollinating its cannabis crop.
Aschner and his client countersued for negligence and abuse of process, claiming, he says, that the cannabis grower improperly sought a preliminary injunction against Aschner’s client to prohibit the client "from cultivating hemp at its property.” He says the cannabis grower’s “pleadings ... failed to appropriately reflect the science of cannabis cultivation and plant biology, ... misrepresenting the risk of ‘imminent and irreparable harm’ that could be caused by Aschner’s client’s hemp crop.” The cannabis grower provided the hemp grower with a settlement, though the settlement amount is confidential.
The conclusion of the dispute underscores, again, the difficulty of proving cross-pollination in court. Discussing cross-pollination woes more generally, Aschner says, “It’s really, really, really hard to prove that it was from this crop and not the one next door, or the one a mile away, or the one 12 miles away on a breezy day that ended up causing the cross-pollination.”
However, pollination doesn’t always cross property lines. Growers can unintentionally pollinate their own crops, says Robert C. Clarke, co-founder and consultant of the BioAgronomics Group and a Hemp Grower editorial advisory board member. “People point fingers and blame very easily, but a lot of times, people should look at home first,” he says.
In cannabis production, a small fraction of seeds or clones marketed and sold as sinsemilla can turn out to be male, says Clarke. Cannabis plants can also develop intersex, also known as hermaphrodite, characteristics. And as with males, Clarke says it doesn’t take much pollen for one intersex plant to ruin a cannabis grow.
The same issues happen in hemp cannabinoid production, where the breeding lines are less developed, Clarke says. “A lot of people have been caught up with buying bad seed for many reasons—[the seeds are] non-productive—and other reasons just besides making a few male flowers,” he says.
Many growers have entered the hemp and cannabis spaces after working with other crops, Aschner says, and they think they know what they’re doing. In reality, their experience doesn’t always directly translate.
“If everyone knew how to grow hemp really, really well, and marijuana really, really well, and everyone knew to look for the male plants at a certain time after germination or seeding—whatever you’re doing to propagate your crop, … there would be less cross-pollination,” he says.
As the distance between cannabis and hemp crops increases, the amount of pollen that wind carries between them decreases, says Clarke, an ethnobotanist, plant breeder and agronomist who authored “Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany,” among numerous other books and articles.
In one study, researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) / Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre stated that high-quality hemp plants in Canada and Europe must have a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) distance between them to avoid unfavorable pollination.
The AAFC researchers also noted that wind directions influence pollen travel. “The amount of pollen distributed downwind was about six times the amount distributed upwind,” the study states. In effect, being isolated by 0.9 km upwind would be the same level of “isolation” as being 5 km downwind, per the study.
The size of farms and the distances between them influence pollination rates. “If you’re in Kansas and you’ve got large distances between farms, because everyone’s properties are pretty massive out there for farming, there’s probably a little bit less of a likelihood of cross-pollination,” Aschner says.
Growers cultivating in controlled environments might be afforded some protection for their crops and those of nearby cultivators. In a cross-pollination sense, greenhouses are better than outdoors, Clarke says, but may not offer significant protection, especially if they are not sealed. Indoor growers with filtered intake ducts should not have cross-pollination issues, he adds.
Once cannabis is federally legalized in the U.S., Clarke predicts, agricultural extension offices will be able to advise growers on which crops work in which regions, both from an economic standpoint and to let them know the locations of other nearby growers who could produce or receive problematic pollen.
In their Hemp Grower column “How Seeded and Seedless Hemp Crops Vary for Different End Uses,” Clarke and BioAgronomics Group co-founder Mojave Richmond wrote that they anticipate hempseed and hemp fiber cultivators will grow in areas where broadacre agriculture is already widespread. They also note that sinsemilla growers have established themselves in other areas, such as rural pockets in Northern California.
“Across North America,” they wrote, “effective and fair regulation of our burgeoning cannabis industry will largely rely on understanding which branch of our industry was established in each region first, and whether a precedent exists for its continuation.”Growers of pollen-producing hemp should be at least 10 miles from sinsemilla growers if possible, Clarke and Richmond wrote, adding, “Safe distances should be increased to up to 30 miles or more if the pollen source is a broadacre grain seed field or if seedless crops are established downwind of seeded crops.”
The Triploid Option
At Oregon CBD, the company decided to not only attempt setting a legal precedent on cross-pollination, but also introduce a scientific remedy. Participating in research trials at North Carolina State University, Cornell University and the University of Kentucky, Crawford and his team are working to create sterile, triploid hemp crops with three sets of chromosomes.
To create the triploids, the researchers crossed hemp with two chromosomes, which are naturally occurring and called diploids, with tetraploid hemp that they had created with four chromosomes.
Crawford says that “triploids are, for all intents and purposes, sterile. You can get one or two seeds if you have intense pollination happening, but these are essentially sterile plants.”
As for the tetraploids, Crawford says, “Tetraploids can make seed with diploids pollinating them. They can make some seed [when they pollinate other] tetraploids but not nearly as many. And then diploids being pollinated by tetraploids—they set seed, but they’re not viable seed—there are no embryos.”
University of Connecticut (UConn) researchers have also created triploid genetics by crossing diploids with lab-created tetraploids. They published their findings in the September 2020 HortScience paper “Production of Tetraploid and Triploid Hemp.”
“You don’t get viable eggs in triploids, and therefore, if there are no viable eggs, they can’t be fertilized by pollen and set seed,” says Dr. Jessica Lubell-Brand, Ph.D., an associate professor at UConn who worked on the study.
Seedless watermelons sold at the supermarket are triploids bred by plant breeders in a similar way, Lubell-Brand says—by doubling the chromosomes of a diploid to make a tetraploid, then crossing that tetraploid with another diploid to make a triploid. “It’s the triploid seed that the farmer grows, which is seedless, and that gets to market. Same thing with triploid citrus, triploid hops and other common [crops],” Lubell-Brand says. “Sometimes you might get a tetraploid from the wild that you could use, but with most of the food crops, it’s been done by plant breeders.”
The UConn researchers wrote in “Production of Tetraploid and Triploid Hemp” that triploid hops produce higher yields and have more alpha acids than diploid hops. Triploid hemp might also have benefits beyond sterility, they stated, writing, “It is possible that triploid hemp may offer some unique cannabinoid profiles or increased secondary metabolite content.”
Crawford says he has seen a slight, non-statistically significant cannabinoid content increase with Oregon CBD’s triploid genetics compared to its diploids. He adds that in hemp with higher ploidy levels—triploids, tetraploids and above—there appear to be more “olfactory compounds,” such as terpenes and aldehydes.
To follow its HortScience paper, UConn received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant through the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education program. Lubell-Brand will use those funds to lead a project to explore triploid hemp sterility, plant performance and cannabinoid production in field and greenhouse settings.
Triploid hemp could prove beneficial, Lubell-Brand says. “I think it’s going to be a nice option, whether it has enhanced metabolites or not,” she says. “As long as they’re not reduced, I think it could be a good option for farmers.”
If growing triploid genetics and distancing crops prove unrealistic or unsuccessful, growers may have a few options if their crop gets unintentionally seeded.
Many hemp growers focused on CBD production extract the CBD after growing rather than selling smokable flower, Clarke says. They’re more focused on the extract, or “goop,” than flower quality, he says.
Those growers may see a silver lining in a cross-pollination event, as long as there aren’t too many seeds. “They should, even with a few seeds in there, get plenty of goop,” Clarke says. “It shouldn’t really interfere with anything, as long as you’re not trying to put a bunch of seeds through the extractor, which are oily and have other problems.”
If growers' crops have an abundance of seed, Clarke says, “They better have a use for the seed.” Growers can eat them or feed them to their chickens if they have any, he says.
When it comes to selling seed that has set on cross-pollinated plants, University of Illinois Extension Commercial Agriculture educator Phillip Alberti says he thinks there’s potential behind selling the grain for processing into food.
“We don’t have enough information to definitively state that it will [work],” Alberti says, considering unexpectedly pollinated plants have different characteristics than grain-type cultivars that are bred and grown for food production. “...[Y]ou just don’t know how [the seeds] are going to perform, and I think at that point, quality will be a bigger indicator."
He adds that seed size, oil content and processor specs would all affect the marketability of the seed.
There’s also the issue of sticking to an existing contract or agreement, timing production—as grain crops usually flower before cannabinoid cultivars—and finding a buyer, Alberti says. In the Midwest, farmers have a “tremendous amount of interest” in grain production, but meanwhile, he says, “there really isn’t too much of a grain market,” in part because of a lack of processing facilities.
Similarly, there may be hope, though challenges would exist, for cannabinoid growers whose crops get cross-pollinated and who are considering selling stalk components. Cannabinoid producers generally grow cultivars with a thick hurd, or woody inner core, compared to those generally used for fiber, Alberti says. “If one could separate the fiber from the hurd, I think the hurd would more likely be a potential profit generator,” he says.
“Growing hemp for grain and fiber I’m not going to say is a 100% fit for everybody,” Alberti says, “but it’s more attuned to what we know how to do [in the Midwest], which is hay forages and grain [from] corn.”
A Resonating Message
An increase in hemp and cannabis production could provide more medicines and materials—such as hempcrete, animal bedding and packaging—to people, sequester carbon and create new jobs, among other benefits. As those realities come to pass, multiple sources featured in this article say growers will need to respect each other’s production, including with regard to pollination.
“I think as the industry expands, people should be very careful to be good neighbors,” Clarke says. “And I think that lesson applies to anything in life, actually: Be considerate, be respectful, be a good neighbor.”
Patrick Williams is the managing editor for Hemp Grower magazine.
When the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill) passed, serial entrepreneur Steven Gluckstern knew hemp would be a hot commodity.
Gluckstern purchased a 250-acre farm in Estancia, N.M., and, soon after, purchased a second 270-acre farm in nearby Moriarty, N.M., and started Santa Fe Farms. Although the initial plan was to grow hemp for cannabidiol (CBD), Gluckstern knew he needed to chart a different path if he wanted Santa Fe Farms to be successful.
He also quickly realized that the young industry’s supply chain, or lack thereof, could threaten farmers and the industry as a whole.
As the company’s initial crop grew, so did Gluckstern‘s concerns that there would be a glut of biomass industrywide and a shortage of options to process it. He started exploring options to incorporate processing facilities into his operation as well as developing contracts to purchase harvested hemp.
Over time, Santa Fe Farms has been working to transition from a hemp farm into a business that incorporates all aspects of hemp production and sales, including seed genetics, cultivation, extraction, processing and B2B products for retailers.
In 2020, its demonstration farms produced more than 200,000 pounds of CBD biomass. And while growing hemp for CBD is an important part of its business model, the company’s focus now is on developing a hemp ecosystem that includes three divisions: growth (cultivation), transformation (decortication, extraction, manufacturing, equipment) and impact (hemp-based products and advanced carbons).
“The future, from my perspective, was not going to be in phytocannabinoids; that was an interesting way to get started, but it was really going to be the industrial uses of this plant that were going to drive the industry,” explains Gluckstern, Santa Fe Farms’ co-founder. “I’ve now dedicated the last three years to putting those pieces in place to build an integrated … enterprise in all aspects of growing this plant and how it affects the environment.”
“Even though the company started by growing hemp for CBD, we realized that we would be moving into industrial hemp,” echoes Chief Global Engagement Officer Deanna Byck. “So while this year much of what we are growing is CBD, we are also growing industrial hemp on our demonstration farms in New Mexico. Much of what we grow in the future will be industrial hemp, and we will work with our farm partners and especially our partners in Indian Country to grow much of it.”
Growth: Elevating Farmers
In addition to growing hemp on its own farms, Santa Fe Farms has partnered with farms in California, Oregon, Colorado and Kentucky as part of the company’s Farm Partner Program—another prong in the company’s goals to help build out a supply chain.
“The supply chain [for hemp] was never really fully formed, and one of the big things we set out to do was to reestablish the farming network,” explains Isaac Cohen, president of the company’s cultivation division. “There was a lot of hype in 2018, but many hemp farmers had one or two disaster crops, and we realized if we didn’t help turn it around and start working with farmers, most would go back to crops they used to grow.”
The new Farm Partner Program created a network of partner farmers and provided those partners assistance with access to genetics, processing facilities and warehouses.
“We know the success of the hemp industry starts with farmers,” Cohen says. “We’re not trying to own all the farms; farmers have infrastructure and labor, and we’re helping them plug in the hemp component.”
“Our roots will always remain in understanding that cultivation needs to work, and we need to be able to grow hemp—and farmers need to be able to make money growing it,” Gluckstern explains. “But we have a supply chain … problem. You have to make money at every step of the supply chain, [and] if one of those steps breaks down, that entire supply chain breaks down … and then we don’t have an industry.”
Transformation: Post-Harvest Scaling
To help ensure that supply chain supports the hemp grown on the company’s and its partners’ farms, Santa Fe Farms’ processing division now manages decortication, extraction and manufacturing.
“We realized that … it wasn’t about any [one] part of the supply chain; it was about the entire supply chain,” explains Byck. “Every part of the supply chain is super important, whether it be the farmer or the processor, or even the people who are providing the contracts; the more people work together, it creates a better, stronger industry.”
That realization is what led to a significant evolution since the first hemp crop was planted in 2019, and it helped steer Santa Fe Farms’ transition from a hemp farm to a more diversified business.
As part of that diversification, Santa Fe Farms acquired High Grade Hemp Seed, a global provider of hemp genetics, this year. This and another acquisition—of Center Pivot Group, which focuses on promoting best practices in industrial hemp production—allowed the company to create small circular economies nationwide. The goal ties back, again, to building the supply chain infrastructure: provide farmers with seeds, information about regenerative growing practices and leads, as well as provide processing and help with securing contracts.
“We figured out that if we helped the farmers decide what to do with their products, it would benefit everyone,” Byck adds. “Instead of squeezing out the competitors, [we worked] with farmers with the notion that … helping farmers amplify what they’re doing means we don’t miss out on any part of the supply chain.”
Gluckstern admits that the model is a departure from his original plan for Santa Fe Farms, which included prioritizing land acquisition and cultivation.
“As opposed to three years ago, when I thought, ‘We’re going to have to own lots of farmland,’ I’ve progressed to a view that says, ‘We want to work with farmers all over the world, help them with standard operating procedures, help them with genetics, basically help them make sure that their offtake can get purchased,’” he says.
“There is revenue to be earned in this industry right now, but the long game is the trillions of dollars in displacement of different products, which is going to take time.” —Kimberly Kovacs, chief strategy officer, Santa Fe Farms
Impact: Product Development and Building a ‘Carbon Company’
Another significant shift is that Gluckstern no longer sees Santa Fe Farms as just a hemp company, despite its involvement in all aspects of hemp production, from genetics and cultivation to processing and sales. Instead, he calls it a "carbon company."
“One of the people that we worked with early on had been whispering in my ear, ‘This plant has … the ability to sequester carbon,’” he recalls. “That was the moment I realized there was something much bigger to the story than just an agricultural product that’s been around for 8,000 years; I realized this product has all of this potential, but most importantly, it has the potential of being a tool in the fight against climate change.”
The European Industrial Hemp Association estimates that a single acre of industrial hemp can sequester 15 metric tonnes of CO2 per hectare (the equivalent of 6.7 tons per acre), which is higher than any other commercial crop.
As a carbon company, Santa Fe Farms is focusing on the long game, not the immediate opportunities.
“There’s a lot of companies that get started in emerging industries like hemp [that] … go after the opportunities that they see right in front of them and don’t step back and look at … where new opportunities could exist or different strategic relationships or alignments that could happen to actually expand the market substantially,” explains Chief Strategy Officer Kimberly Kovacs, who joined the company in June from her former position as CEO of Arcview Group, an investment and market research firm servicing cannabis and hemp businesses.
Santa Fe Farms wants to reduce carbon with hemp beyond just growing it. On a strategic level, Kovacs hopes hemp can be used to replace trillions of dollars of products that are harmful to the environment, including paper, plastic, building materials and animal feed, to reduce the global carbon footprint.
But before Santa Fe Farms can begin approaching large companies, such as an Amazon or a Coca-Cola, to offer hemp-based solutions, the company needs to fully build out a scaled supply chain that can withstand the demand.
“Imagine if you could convince Amazon that their hundreds of millions of boxes that should be made of hemp and not timber—and I could convince them of that—their first question is going to be, ‘Can you provide me hundreds of millions of boxes [made of] hemp? Because if you can’t, how can I rely on that as a solution?’” Gluckstern says.
In July, Santa Fe Farms brought on Dr. Stuart Cowan, Ph.D., as the company's chief science officer and president of advanced carbons. Cowan will focus on regenerative agriculture and “premium-grade nature-based carbon offsets,” Byck says.
“As we build out our state-of-the-art facility and work with the leadership we have assembled, will be able to transform hemp into products that will eventually replace plastics, paper and building products,” Byck continues.
Santa Fe Farms’ products division is exploring avenues to create multiple products using hemp, she says. Categories that show promise are health and wellness, nutritional products for humans and animals, packaging, paper and pulp, animal bedding, building products, carbon-sequestering biochar, and bioplastics.
As part of the products division, Santa Fe Farms is introducing the idea of “regenerative refining,” a paradigm shift from replacing products that put carbons into the atmosphere to creating products such as biochar, which sequester carbon in the ground and have the ability to generate a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future. Santa Fe Farms’ expertise in this area will enable the most environmentally sustainable processing method while making full use of the many hemp processing derivatives, says Byck. The company's leadership maintains alternative hemp derivatives will overtake today’s phytocannabinoid-rich wellness and medical products in importance. To that end, the company is constructing a “regenerative refinery” that it expects to be a technologically advanced extractor, processor, manufacturer, and hemp research facility.
Efforts to bring hemp into the folds of these product industries will be guided by multiple experts, Byck says. Hunter Buffington, executive director of the Hemp Feed Coalition and Santa Fe Farms’ products division vice president and director of policy and advocacy, has been working diligently to convince the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve hemp for use in animal feed, she adds.
While building a hemp economy and a global carbon company is possible, it’s going to take strategic planning and patience along with farm subsidies, hemp-friendly regulations, ongoing research, and alliances with farmers and industry partners.
“I’m here to introduce hemp as a solution to industries that are our biggest carbon contributors, … to work with these industries to say, ‘How can we start addressing your problem today without disrupting your supply chain?’” Kovacs says. “This is not about running out and going public tomorrow. … There is revenue to be earned in this industry right now, but the long game is the trillions of dollars in displacement of different products, which is going to take time.”
Jodi Helmer is a North Carolina-based freelancer who covers the intersection between agriculture and business.
2020 Hemp Cultivation Map
Hemp Grower's interactive cultivation data map provides a state-by-state breakdown of acres grown, licenses issued and more for the 2020 growing season. View More