The exploding national U.S. hemp market has ballooned to more than $28 billion in revenue this year alone, surpassing the national marijuana market in total value, according to economist Beau Whitney.
Driving most of that growth is the “cannabinoid” sector, which is a polite way of categorizing both non-intoxicating CBD products as well as intoxicating goods made with various versions of THC molecules, such as delta-8.
That boom has overshadowed hemp’s more traditional industrial uses, and thus the markets themselves for hemp fibers and grains, Whitney warned, because federal regulators have pivoted their focus to regulating cannabinoids instead of issuing agricultural permits for more industrial hemp farms.
“The average U.S. hemp farm in 2022 was 17.1 acres. In order to support one million acres of demand for hemp, the U.S. would require 58,480 licenses to be issued. That is equal to issuing 160 licenses per day,” Whitney wrote in a newsletter this week. “Will the farm bill provide funding to support this explosive growth, or will its focus on cannabinoids be an obstacle for this emerging industry?”
Hemp grain and fiber business opportunities were cut off to the tune of $20 billion since the start of 2022, Whitney calculated, due to a “one size fits all policy” from federal regulators on hemp business issues.
That’s led to even more clamoring from business interests for federal guidance and prioritization, which could naturally then lead to more serious competition among stakeholders in the hemp trade for any advantage that could be gained from an audience with Washington, D.C. officials.
So are some version of hemp wars on the way within the booming sector, in the same manner that much of the marijuana trade has turned more cutthroat in recent years?
It seems like a safe bet.