A certified seed won't free up hemp farmers from the DEA completely. Colorado farmers who use the CDA-approved seed won't need to go through the DEA to get them like they must for foreign seeds, but interstate commerce is still a gray area. Sinning says the CDA is taking a middle ground on whether or not the certified seeds and the products they produce can cross state lines. Although the CDA is warning famers of the plant's federal illegality, the department can't stop them from transporting it.
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"We want to grow hemp - as far as the composite goes, there are a lot of applications there. Anything with glass fibre in it, we could be replacing that."
Glass fibres are thin, silica fibre strands that insulation materials such as Pink Batts are made out of.
It would be easy to replace plastic in sports equipment, too - Pickering has a skateboard in her office that a fourth-year student made out hemp.
"What's stopping us now? The technology is there."
The stumbling block is money - the products are not commercially viable.
Colorado-grown hemp makes up more than half of U.S. domestic hemp production, said Duane Sinning, assistant director of Colorado Department of Agriculture’s plant industry division, and interest in the crop has grown exponentially since it became legal. The market is worth millions of dollars, but it’s difficult to get a more specific idea of its value because the industry is changing so rapidly and prices fluctuate so quickly, Sinning said.
A California company hopes to develop a $30M hemp processing plant in western Kentucky. Kings Royal Biotech of San Diego, California along with an unnamed Chinese partner plan to begin the processing of more than a thousand acres of hemp in Carlisle and Hickman Counties, with the 2018 Hemp harvest.
African countries are now seeing the economic value of legalizing cannabis. According to a UN survey, over 10,000 tons of the plant are already being produced in the continent each year which could translate to billions of dollars in the legal cannabis market.
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An entrepreneur at the forefront of establishing hemp in Washington says that he has harvested his first crop but doesn’t know what he’ll do with it, underlining the unpredictable future for sober cannabis in the state.
Cory Sharp said Oct. 9 that he figures he can store for a couple of years an estimated 70,000 to 80,000 pounds of hemp grain. He said he’s trying to line up financing for a plant to make hemp-seed oil, sold as a nutritional supplement.
“It’ll take millions to do it right,” he said. “It’s a lot of capital, and there are a lot of hurdles.”