By Jeff Greene

The Florida economy has ground to a halt, except food and basic necessities. These exceptions include hemp. With a small dip in retail initially, Florida’s determination that hemp was a food and therefore essential was a boon for business. Gabe Suarez, founder of Natural Life and a Florida Hemp Council Boardmember stated “our numbers have not changed at some stores and increased at a few others, it seems like the new customers as a result of this crisis are outweighing those we lost due to quarantine.” This hold true with several manufacturers who state that while wholesale account sales have dipped slightly, online sales have more than compensated. 

With reports out that 94% of Arkansas farmers lost money last year and the bankruptcies in Colorado and Kentucky in the extraction space, the negative press certainly matches or exceeds the positive. One thing is certain, if you don’t have a network, know the industry and know the plant, the chances of you losing money goes up. If you can mitigate that risk, with 8 billion people globally more stressed, more anxious, more sedentary and more isolated, the market will most certainly increase over the coming years.

Regulatory consistency continues to keep the big players out of the space, but once the FDA gets past the COVID testing and immunization, if they keep in line with global direction, we will begin to see recommended daily allowances of cannabinoids and eliminate the question of how to navigate this space. Once that is done, it will be a mad dash for institutional investors looking for opportunities in the space to make a splash. So far, side effects from using the only FDA regulated cannabinoid is sedation and hepatic impairment. Using cannabis for sedation has been consistent and liver damage has been rare in anecdotal research. 

The next push after cannabinoids will be fiber and grain. Whether or not we have economically competitive products will be decided by the market, more environmentally friendly products in the paper and plastic markets will push those markets too. Micro greens in salad, seeds for human consumption and fiber in concrete, insulation and compressed board are all being explored. Institutional boundaries in building and manufacturing are being overcome. Those approval processes for the building industry that take years to navigate and lots of money are nearing conclusion. Hemp will be in our dairy, egg, beef, poultry and pork industries as animal food and horse bedding as soon as the testing to insure that horses don’t absorb tetrahydrocannabinol from hemp bedding is confirmed and that animals that consume hemp don’t have any issues different from humans or any other mammal. 

The fear that cotton and paper had in the 1930s that led to hemp prohibition will almost certainly be realized almost one hundred years later. The reason the hemp industry will come out of this pandemic stronger and larger is simple, the cannabis plant is a disruptor. The lock that the FDA has had on medicine and nutrition, the timber industries lock on paper and the petroleum industries lock on plastics will almost definitely be affected with the emergence of hemp based alternatives. The rub on most environmental alternatives is that they are more expensive than their widely accepted alternatives. With federal legalization of hemp farming and the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans, costs could come in competitive or less expensive than their competition. 

Whether you are afraid of jumping in to the industry, jumped in and been burned, took advantage of the uncertainty and built a brand or are just getting started. It’s never too late to get involved. We recommend The Florida Hemp Council as your first step in networking.