As the end of the year approaches, I am always reminded of two things: How quickly a year can pass, and how much can change in that seemingly short amount of time.
This issue marks Hemp Grower’s second anniversary in print, serving as yet another reminder of how fast things change. We launched the print component of the HG brand just about a year after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp in the U.S., and at the time, the energy throughout the industry was palpable. That year, farmers grew more acres of hemp than ever before, and the stigma that many still attached to ‘hemp’ quickly lost ground as the plant entered the mainstream.
Then, just as the industry was finding its bearings, COVID-19 hit—and I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say it flipped the entire world on its head.
Coming of age at the beginning of a pandemic is an enormous challenge. But the wonderful thing about a new industry is how malleable it is. That, paired with hemp’s versatility and newfound focus on developing domestic supply chains, carried (and continues to carry) the industry through an unprecedented time in history.
Other challenges, to be sure, have shaped this new industry. Oversupply has weighed heavily on many producers, causing price compression and a significant drop in acreage. Business intelligence and cannabis data firm New Frontier Data estimates 200,000 acres of hemp were licensed in the U.S. in 2021. That’s a decrease from the roughly 335,000 acres of hemp that were estimated to be licensed in 2020, according to Vote Hemp, and a nearly 60% decrease from the more than 500,000 acres licensed in 2019. This has meant not only fewer acres being grown, but also fewer hemp businesses.
While discouraging, these growing pains were to be expected (and were even predicted by some). After all, it’s easy to forget just how new the U.S. industry still is given everything cultivators, business owners and researchers have accomplished. CBD popularity is still booming—according to a 2020 survey from SingleCare, a prescription discount program, nearly a third of Americans have used CBD. That’s up significantly in just one year since Gallup took a similar poll, where just 14% of Americans said they’d used CBD.
And in just three years since hemp’s full legalization, entrepreneurs have further developed innovative products made from hemp, including bioplastics, paper products, wood and construction materials, just to name a few.
Some things that haven’t changed in the two years since Hemp Grower’s first print issue? Farmers’ resiliency. Peoples’ passion for this plant. The hope that it will change the world.
These are the reasons many of us entered the industry, and they’re great reasons to stick around through the many more changes that are likely to come.
Theresa Bennett email@example.com
I’ve often written and spoken on my belief that cannabis greenhouse operations should invest in the most sophisticated environmental control system (ECS) they can afford—perhaps even more than they think they can afford. This is because all efficiencies made to the structure or equipment will pale in comparison to this investment. It’s useful to integrate as much equipment as you can—not just heating and cooling, but also irrigation, ventilation, lighting and shading, energy usage and water treatment. Eliminating standalone systems will ensure that all equipment is working in concert according to the environment and your target setpoints. An underappreciated advantage of a fully integrated ECS is a reduction in training required to run the greenhouse systems.
A common question I often receive at facility startups is: What data should be logged after integrating these systems? There really is no downside to collecting as many data parameters as you can; data are just ones and zeros stored on a server. What can be daunting for your storage space is collecting data at too high a frequency, such as every minute. Ten-minute intervals typically suffice, while longer intervals are preferred for slow-changing data input, such as soil moisture.
From my 25 years of experience with advanced ECS systems, below are tips on which data parameters to collect in a greenhouse and why.
1. Keep tabs on atmospheric data for greater control in the greenhouse.
Greenhouse temperature, relative humidity, vapor pressure deficit, photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) and accumulated light (daily light integral) are all important metrics to track. PAR sensors will occasionally be shaded by the greenhouse rafters, ridge, purlins, suspended equipment, and glass and plastic, but weighting functions can be programmed to buffer large swings. Canopy temperature is extremely helpful to track, as plant stress and leaf wetness can be better avoided. Also collect outdoor temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and light using a pyranometer that will measure beyond PAR to better anticipate heat load. Collecting weather data not only allows anticipatory control, but also allows you to customize seasonal adjustments for your region; the trickiest seasons to control greenhouse climate in the northern half of the U.S. are fall and spring, when the sunlight may be bright while air temperatures are low.
Monitoring atmospheric data allows you to tweak programming to optimize climate. The second advantage to monitoring the parameters described above is for troubleshooting your programming or equipment. You will learn the graphical signatures of specific problems and be able to remedy them faster. For example, I could remotely recognize when a low-speed motor of one of the greenhouse exhaust fans had failed by observing the air temperature pattern, even though the high-speed motor worked, making the fan appear to be functioning perfectly.
2. Rhizospheric data helps optimize growth.
Monitor substrate volumetric water content (VWC), either by a soil moisture sensor or weight scale. If your facility collects irrigation leachate, monitor substrate pH and electrical conductivity (EC). VWC is currently the best practice for initiating automatic irrigation to optimize growth.
3. Track equipment usage and cycles to time repairs.
One early mistake I made in my career was not paying attention to equipment cycling rates. Motorized shade curtains were moving over 100 times per day in partly cloudy weather, resulting in several motors burning out prematurely. Once I was aware of this, I reprogrammed them so they moved no more than eight times per day. Tracking usage minutes can aid in replacing bulbs in high-intensity discharge (HID) fixtures. Likewise, fan belts on exhaust fans can be replaced before breaking, and fans can be programmed to come on in different orders to spread wear by tracking accumulated minutes of operation.
4. Energy usage data helps improve efficiencies.
Many of us in the industry want to reduce energy use to preserve our planet’s climate, so it makes good business sense to track usage and demonstrate a commitment to improving production efficiency (this can be done by measuring grams of flower per kilowatt hour, or kWh). But energy tracking can be tricky, as it involves sub-metering your facility (having more than one electric meter) to get more granular data to validate conservation strategies. At the very least, try to sub-meter your facilities’ operations separately: cultivation, processing, packaging, etc. Ideally, one or more flower rooms would be sub-metered where the impact of different equipment or programming could be compared.
5. Monitor water and fertilizer usage to minimize contamination.
The value of our nation’s water supply is at the front of many of our minds given the images of drought in the West. Even where water is abundant, we need to protect local waterways and aquifers from irrigation runoff that might taint them. Therefore, it is valuable to monitor water usage, pH, EC and status of our water treatment systems. Two large sources of waste are brine from reverse osmosis purification systems and “bleed-off” valves of evaporative pad systems used to prevent scaling (calcium buildup) on cooling pads. Using data collection, I confirmed that water usage from evaporative cooling pad systems was far greater than summer irrigation demand and was able to curtail this waste.
Robert Eddy is the former Purdue University Plant Growth Facilities manager and the founder of CEA Consultancy LLC.
Crop production is risky throughout the entire growing season. Every day can present a new event that could lead to reduced yield or even complete crop failure. While not every season will present severe weather, there is always a risk for disaster.
Cannabis sativa can be found growing in some harsh or unfavorable conditions, from high altitudes to hot and sometimes very dry areas. The plants produce an abundance of foliage, so some leaf loss only minimally impacts productivity. But cannabis’s tolerance of adverse conditions does not always mean smooth sailing. There are some weather events that even the hardiest plants can’t return from.
Flood Damage and Drought
It is an understatement to say hemp does not like standing water. While most of us have heard about hemp disliking “wet feet” or have seen this firsthand, it is one of the serious issues growers face in the eastern U.S. Early-season rain events can range from sprinkles to torrential downpours that cause water to stand in low-lying fields for multiple days. Plants can drown when roots do not have enough oxygen. (This can be confusing because hydroponic plants have roots submerged in water, but that water is well-oxygenated.) The lack of oxygen in flooded fields can lead directly to root death. If the water recedes before this happens, plants can still have damaged roots that are more susceptible to root rots that thrive in wet conditions, like Pythium.
As hurricane season coincides with the end of the growing season, cultivators may need to adjust when they harvest based on excessive rain, flooding, and high wind speeds. Late-season rain can increase the risk of diseases, such as botrytis, that attack the flower or grain heads. With very few fungicides available, growers may have no choice but to harvest early.
On the other end of the spectrum, hemp can be grown in dryland production, where rainfall typically does not exceed 20 inches annually and irrigation is not used. These growers manage the land in a way that increases soil moisture. Some growers opt to use irrigation equipment, mitigating the risk of crop loss due to drought. Some growers may have limited amounts of water for irrigation in western states with increasing droughts and falling water levels in lakes and rivers. However, one aspect of drought tends to go overlooked until it is too late: pest outbreaks. There are several reasons that plants become more susceptible to outbreaks during droughts. When a crop is the only green plant in sight, insects and mites seek it out as food and a source of water, and pest pressure can increase. This was an issue for hemp growers in Montana in both 2020 and 2021. Massive amounts of grasshoppers, often referred to as a swarm or plague of locusts, can modify their behavior and become gregarious. They can move in huge groups from field to field, consuming plants until very little left is left. There are virtually no products available for grasshopper control in hemp.
Drought can affect a plant’s ability to defend itself by decreasing production of compounds that reduce herbivory. While it is unclear what kind of change drought has on the many different phytochemicals produced by cannabis, one study found that THC and CBD content increased under controlled drought conditions.
Spider mite infestations also tend to surge when weather is drier and hot. High populations of mites can easily move from plant to plant using their silk, much like the spiders in the movie Charlotte’s Web.
Wind can damage hemp throughout the plant's life cycle. Early in the season, wind can bend or snap small plants that are still developing their roots. However, plants have resiliency and can often come back from some slight bending, or they can be assisted with trellising or stakes. As plants grow larger, high-sustained winds can cause lodging, which is when the above-ground portion of a plant becomes permanently bent. While providing support can reduce this risk in systems with wider row spacing, severe damage cannot be fixed.
The severity of lodging is not just about the speed and duration of the wind—it is also about the strength of the stem and roots of the plant. Diseases of those parts of the plant may also lead to lodging.
Good drainage and soil that is not compacted help roots grow deeper and form a sturdy anchor. Hemp starts should not be rootbound, which can reduce the roots’ ability to support the plant. Optimizing fertilization is another way to make sure the plants are healthy and have sturdy stems. Over- or under-fertilization could increase lodging or stalk breakage. Selecting cultivars that have a more compact structure could also reduce how top-heavy the upper portion of the plant is.
Hail damage can be devastating to crops. Hailstones can snap hemp branches and stems. If this occurs close to harvest, plants will not be able to bounce back from the damage. During vegetative growth, hemp can send out additional shoots below the damaged area, which has happened in Colorado hemp fields that have been battered by mid-season hailstorms. While mid-season hail would likely cause reductions in yield, it’s unlikely to cause total crop loss.
Frost and Snow Damage
Frost and snow damage are also problematic for late-harvested hemp. Some growers may encounter frost and snow on their crops, depending on when and where they plant. Fortunately, hemp seems to be at least somewhat frost tolerant. Some hemp breeders even sell frost-tolerant cultivars.
Snow is something many hemp growers don’t see during the growing season, but for those who do, damage can be variable. Wet, heavy snow or ice storms can cause branches to snap under their weight. Growers may need to try to shake snow off plants. Cultivators should watch weather forecasts to help them determine if they need to adjust their harvest to account for snow, frost, hail or excessive rain.
With extreme climate conditions on the rise, growers may want to look into crop insurance options. Insurance for disasters, whether they be abiotic or biotic, may be well worth it for growers. Growers can purchase plans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (USDA RMA) or through private insurance companies, though they must meet certain requirements. For RMA insurance, a minimum of one year of experience is required along with minimum acreage requirements of 5 acres for cannabinoid hemp and 20 acres for grain or fiber hemp. Insurance will not cover crop loss due to THC content that exceeds 0.3% on a dry-weight basis.
Nobody wants to see crop loss, but preparing for potential extreme weather can reduce headaches and loss of income. Understanding the weather risks in a given region, selecting appropriate field sites, and having crop protection insurance can lessen the chance of losing excessive income. Modifying the planting or harvest date to reduce loss due to extreme weather can also reduce chance of crop loss.
Marguerite Bolt is the hemp extension specialist at Purdue University’s Department of Agronomy. She received her M.S. in entomology from Purdue University and her B.S. in entomology from Michigan State University. Bolt’s research has focused on hemp-insect interactions and plant chemistry.
When the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill) removed hemp from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, many cannabinoids now making headlines were virtually unknown to farmers pinning their hopes on hemp. But the hemp market soon spawned a robust cannabinoid industry, with CBD as the star.
Since then, the industry of hemp-derived cannabinoids has assumed a life of its own, expanding to include minor cannabinoids having everything from well-researched benefits to novel, controversial and intoxicating unknowns. Staying abreast of trends and regulatory responses is akin to tracking moving targets. And producers who ventured into regulatory gray areas have become targets themselves.
Yet despite the turbulence, hemp-derived cannabinoids still promise vast potential and profit.
Dr. Ethan Russo, M.D., is a board-certified neurologist who’s studied cannabis and cannabinoids for a quarter-century. Now CEO and founder of CReDO Science, Russo served as senior medical adviser to GW Pharmaceuticals, the British company that developed Epidiolex, the first and only CBD drug to win U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Russo explains that understanding the potential of cannabinoids rests on understanding the endocannabinoid system, a system of endogenous cannabinoids and receptors within the human body. These same receptors are where cannabis-derived cannabinoids, such as THC, also lodge.
“The endocannabinoid system is the master homeostatic regulator of human physiology. It is the thing that keeps in balance our bodily functions,” Russo explains, noting brain function, emotions, nausea, hunger and more. “You name it. Any aspect of how we work is affected by this system.”
Therein lies the reason cannabinoids have tremendous potential for so many conditions and uses—and what’s at risk when zeal for new cannabinoid profit streams sprints past science into unknowns.
Fact or Fiction?
A quick internet search on virtually any minor cannabinoid yields multiple articles and blog posts implying vast amounts of research behind even obscure compounds and their effects. Russo acknowledges a wealth of knowledge exists about cannabinoids and their work in the human body, but with an important qualifier: “We know a great deal about what are considered the major cannabinoids: THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] and CBD [cannabidiol].”
When it comes to all the cannabinoids Cannabis sativa can produce, which Russo puts near 150, he says the surface is barely scratched. Beyond a dozen or so, Russo says the vast majority of known cannabinoids remain uninvestigated to any significant degree.
“But what is really intriguing is, of the cannabinoids that have been researched so far, all of them have obvious medical applications and are quite distinct from one another in how they act. So, there is a tremendous amount yet to be learned here,” Russo says.
One might think the farm bill facilitated U.S. cannabinoid research, but Russo disagrees: “There remain considerable roadblocks to research, such that I would say the situation is not that different now than it was in the late ’90s. Even with the [farm] bill, there are severe restrictions on what one can do. … This is one explanation for why I’ve spent the majority of the last 25 years working for foreign-based companies.”
Russo explains that without governmental support and funding, biomedical research on therapeutic applications of cannabis and its derivatives often falls on private companies. But many private studies involve subjective feedback from patients, not rigorous research.
“That’s all well and good,” he says. “It can provide some evidence of benefit, but in the scheme of drug approvals, like by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA], or the opinion of physicians or scientists, that’s very low-level evidence. And it really doesn’t push the proverbial ball forward in terms of acceptance on a scientific level.”
Conversion and Quality Concerns
Anyone following hemp’s cannabinoid boom witnessed the rapid rise of delta-8 THC. This high-inducing cannabinoid naturally occurs only in small amounts that are cost-prohibitive for growers to produce and process at scale. However, delta-8 is synthesized easily from CBD. Both the chemical conversion process and the intoxicating result have put delta-8, along with similar THCs such as delta-6, delta-7 and delta-10, at the center of controversy.
Russo shares that a 1990s study in Israel found delta-8 beneficial in treating nausea in children undergoing chemotherapy. He also reports delta-8 THC is more shelf-stable than delta-9. But his primary concerns with delta-8 products flooding the hemp market lie with potential contamination issues and lax quality control. Though much of the marketing around delta-8 suggests extensive research, Russo puts it in context: “We have heard, but it’s not yet proven, that it’s not as potent or not as intoxicating as delta-9. But that really hasn’t been tested head-to-head in humans in any kind of formal basis.”
Russo shares a recent conversation with a respected Canadian analytical lab that’s tested large numbers of delta-8 samples. “When they see delta-8, there are always other compounds present—delta-10, delta-6. We know even less about those,” he says. Of greater concern are what Russo calls the “unknown unknowns,” potentially toxic byproducts that can be created during chemical synthesis.
Cannabis scientist and educator Dr. Greg Gerdeman, Ph.D., president and CEO of NASHCX (Nashville Commodities Exchange), also has concerns.
“My biggest concern is not that the known cannabinoids that have occurred in cannabis are harmful to human health. Cannabinoids are by and large resoundingly safe and work on the endocannabinoid system in ways that I think are much more likely to be supportive to health than hurt it,” Gerdeman says. “ … The problem is in contaminants. The problem is that synthesizing these isomer cannabinoids is easy enough to be dangerous, and there’s not control over who moves their experimental … product directly to a marketplace.”
Cannabis and hemp consultant Kenneth Morrow, owner of Trichome Technologies, isn’t surprised by the surge in intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids. “There’s so much financial incentive to do so,” he explains, noting that hemp processors avoid strict regulations and heavy taxation that the state-legal cannabis industry faces.
Morrow, who pioneered the art of terpene isolation in cannabis, says it’s important to make a distinction between extraction and conversion involved with cannabinoids like delta-8. He explains that the extraction methods being used are typically the same accepted and approved methods commonly used for other hemp and cannabis products.
“Those are the same methodologies, so there’s no increase of contaminants or potential problems with the extraction methods,” Morrow explains. “It’s when they extract the CBD or whatever chosen compound and then they start doing the conversions. … If there is a lot of harmful chemicals left in the resulting conversion, obviously, it’s a bad thing.”
Regulatory and Legal Hurdles
Attorney Nolan Jackson, part of the business litigation practice group at Frost Brown Todd, advises clients nationwide regarding hemp laws and regulations at the state and federal levels. He also serves as regulatory counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a national nonprofit hemp industry advocacy organization.
Jackson sees two central issues facing hemp-derived cannabinoids at this moment: the FDA status of CBD in food and dietary supplement products and the issue of intoxicating cannabinoids and intoxicating hemp-derived products.
On the first issue, Jackson explains that while the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp and hemp-derived THCs from Schedule I controlled-substance status, it didn’t remove the FDA’s regulatory jurisdiction nor enforcement ability. And, right or wrong, the FDA maintains adding CBD or THC to food or marketing either cannabinoid as a dietary supplement is illegal under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
On the second issue of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids, such as delta-8 THC, Jackson breaks down current arguments regarding legality, pro and con.
The primary argument for legality is simple: The 2018 Farm Bill defines hemp to include derivatives, extracts and cannabinoids, as long as delta-9 THC does not exceed 0.3%. “In other words, if it’s hemp, … it’s protected, regardless of the presence of an intoxicating cannabinoid such as delta-8 THC,” Jackson says, explaining the argument for its legality.
But counterarguments are several. One argument against legality is that Congress intended for the 2018 Farm Bill to legalize non-psychoactive or non-intoxicating hemp and believed the 0.3% delta-9 THC limit accomplished that.
Jackson explains another argument against legality maintains that, according to the August 2020 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) interim final rule on hemp, all synthetically derived THCs remain Schedule I controlled substances, regardless of their delta-9 THC content. The catch, he explains, is that federal law does not define “synthetic” or “synthesis,” and opinions on delta-8’s standing differ.
An additional position, held by Russo, is that delta-8 and similar CBD-derived cannabinoids remain illegal analogues of delta-9 under the Federal Analogue Act, which says that if someone creates a similar molecule to a federally illegal substance, such as delta-9 THC, that analogue is illegal.
Jackson reports the U.S. Hemp Roundtable’s position on intoxicating products made from legal hemp is clear: “It does not believe in a wholesale ban against intoxicating products. What it prefers is to see those products regulated in the same way as other intoxicating cannabis products like adult-use marijuana.”
As this story went to press, Jackson said he was aware of at least 17 states with delta-8 THC laws, regulations, policy statements, or law enforcement actions, including similar THCs in some cases. Law enforcement action against delta-8 has also happened in states without formal policy statements, including product seizures from a vape shop South Carolina.
Jackson says recent state action regulating intoxicating cannabinoids falls in three camps: “[Some] states have banned the manufacture or sale of delta-8 outright. Some states are allowing delta-8, but only as part of an adult-use marijuana program or regime—that would be the position of the Roundtable. Then a third group of states is addressing the issue through their definitions of total THC, so their laws would limit legal hemp products to 0.3% total THC.” Some of those definitions refer to all THCs, while others specifically mention THCs such as delta-8, delta-7 and delta-10, along with delta-9.
Jackson expresses concern that this regulatory patchwork may exacerbate marketplace confusion, disrupt interstate commerce, and lead to greater compliance costs for businesses.
Industry and Consumer Savvy
Gerdeman says the hemp industry’s understanding about cannabinoid science has varied significantly from its start. At one end of the spectrum were traditional family farmers, unfamiliar with CBD. At the other end were experienced cannabis growers shifting to CBD-dominant cannabis—considered hemp if it contains a maximum of 0.3% THC—for cannabinoid extraction.
While many hemp farmers are interested in new derivatives liked delta-8, Gerdeman says many are not. “I’ve talked to farmers who are very upset that in order to even try and sell their product now, it’s turning into a drug that gets people high. That’s not what they thought they were doing. It’s not what they’re wanting,” he says.
On the consumer front, John Kagia, chief knowledge officer for New Frontier Data, describes a gulf between the hemp industry’s interest in commercializing minor cannabinoids—intoxicating or not—and consumer awareness.
“While these minor cannabinoids may present considerable wellness or therapeutic potential, we think that it is going to be absolutely critical that there’s a major component of consumer education if these cannabinoids are going to enjoy anything close to the types of successes that CBD and THC have enjoyed in terms of adoption. Because even though consumer interest may be high in learning more, as it currently stands, there remains a very significant knowledge gap,” Kagia says.
Eric Singular, NFD senior hemp analyst, notes this limited consumer awareness dampens hemp industry excitement surrounding minor cannabinoid production. Delta-8 was an exception easily marketed to consumers through comparisons to delta-9 THC, he says. He adds that extremely high costs for many minor cannabinoids, largely due to low supply compared to CBD, also hinders growth. (See sidebar below.)
“The other thing that has to be considered in any conversation about cannabinoids at this point is FDA’s rejection of the CBD New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) status. I think any producer out there who would be making [a] white label bulk cannabinoid ingredient probably should be looking at that rejection of the new dietary ingredient with some pause and hesitation,” he says. “In other words, if FDA is unwilling to grant CBD dietary ingredient status, what is FDA going to be granting any of these other cannabinoids? That should be a concern in folks’ minds at this point.”
What Does the Future Hold?
Looking forward, Gerdeman is reflective. “For hemp-derived cannabinoids, I hope that there can be a path forward, but it must involve transparency, honesty in labeling and quality control checkpoints in the development,” he says.
“We are at a place in time where we have the knowledge and sophistication to understand more about the cannabis plant and to breed more into the cannabis plant than ever before. And part of what’s so amazing about it is how adaptable the plant is, in its physical properties and phytochemistry,” he says. “To chase a monoculture CBD because we can cook it up in different kitchen labs to have the molecule of a moment—that’s a shame to me if it distracts from using modern genomics and breeding and intelligent farming.”
Morrow, like many in the hemp and cannabis industries, says he’s conflicted about the path industry regulation should take. He worries that unscrupulous practices and exploitation of legal loopholes could trigger blanket bans and hinder the next medical breakthroughs.
“To stifle development on these first emergers, be it delta-10 or delta-8, pretty much stifles research and development for all the rest coming forth. To stifle that development, to me, is a shame,” he says. “But I don’t want [regulators] to tell manufacturers they can unleash any chemical they want on the general public without any oversight. I don’t believe in that either. I’m very conflicted on both sides.”
Kagia believes the stamp of federal approval is necessary for major retailers and national consumer packaged goods companies to dive into cannabinoid-infused consumable product development. “To us, that is going to be one of the really consequential outstanding developments … which will be instrumental in shaping the trajectory of this market,” he says.
Jackson echoes that sentiment. “Until we address the issue of the FDA on CBD and food and dietary supplements, I think there will continue to be negative market consequences. There is undoubtedly an oversupply of CBD waiting to hit retail shelves. But until we answer the question of CBD and food and dietary supplements at the federal level, big box retailers and national food companies will continue to be reluctant to get into that business. And those consequences go all the way down the line to hemp growers,” he says.
Russo says there’s a bright future for cannabis and hemp commerce and research. “On the pharmaceutical side, in particular, I want to see the roadblocks to research being liberalized so that it’s easier to do the kind of work we should be doing in this country but are ceding to other nations of the world,” he says.
“We need the straight jacket off for this to really take off and be part of a burgeoning industry that potentially can help a great number of patients, improve quality life for them and also provide employment for many people.”
Will that require federal legalization of cannabis in the U.S.?
“It would sure help,” Russo says.
The information in this article is not intended to be medical or legal advice, should not be taken as medical or legal advice, and should not be relied upon in place of consulting with qualified medical/legal professionals.
Jolene Hansen is a freelance writer specializing in the hemp, horticulture and specialty ag industries. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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