Hemp is no longer a controlled substance. Previously hemp, even industrial hemp, was considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government. However, with the passing of the new Agriculture Improvement Act on December 20, 2018 (nicknamed the ‘2018 Farm Bill’), cultivating the plant is no longer prohibited.
Since 1972, the Controlled Substances Act had classified hemp and hemp-derived CBD as controlled substances. The 2018 Farm Bill changed this completely, decriminalizing these things (1). Although regulations vary from state to state, this landmark decision has opened up an entirely new sector for agriculture. On top of that, the dietary supplement industry has also seen a boom in hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products.
‘The Year of Hemp’
With the decriminalization of hemp, an entirely new industry with a new supply chain could be on the horizon. As increasing numbers of people have learned about CBD’s health benefits as a nutritional supplement, the number of CBD products has exploded. In fact, 2019 has already emerged as ‘The Year of Hemp’.
At the 2019 Natural Products Expo West, hemp stole the show. To boost its profile, the expo set aside an entire day for a ‘Hemp & CBD Summit’. About 1,000 people attended the day’s events. This included a panel discussion attended by 150 retailers.
The topics of discussion covered everything from CBD as a product to transparency throughout the supply chain. Personnel from established brands and new brands alike learned about products including supplements, beverages, foods, snacks, body-care products, and even more. The Natural Products Expo West is the largest natural products trade show in the world (2).
The Explosion of CBD Products
From mom-and-pop stores to national retailers, CBD products are shaping up to be the next big thing in dietary supplements. For example, hemp has caught Whole Foods’ attention. The company’s trend spotters say that hemp is a top 10 food trend for 2019. In fact, John Mackey, Whole Foods’ CEO, says that the company may start selling CBD products in the future.
What’s more, Hemp Business Journal’s latest report predicts that the United States’ CBD sector will grow to a $2.6 billion industry by 2022. The 2018 sales of hemp and CBD products in the U.S. were estimated at $1 billion. That translates to over 25% growth in the market each year over the next few years. This growth includes the sales of a range of hemp products — hemp foods, full-spectrum hemp extract, textiles, building materials, and even bioplastics (2).
CBD, Marijuana, and Hemp
When talking about hemp products, you may hear several terms. To help you understand the difference between CBD, Marijuana, and Hemp, below are definitions:
Humans have used hemp for at least 10,000 years. Also known as industrial hemp, this is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species. This fast-growing, versatile plant has many uses including making textiles, paper, paint, biodegradable plastics, biofuel, insulation, food, and even animal feed.
Although it is related to the marijuana plant, hemp doesn’t contain as much THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, legal industrial hemp must have less than 0.3% THC. At the same time, hemp has higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD) (3).
Although marijuana is legal for various uses in some U.S. states, it is not legal nationwide. While it originates from the same species of plant (Cannabis sativa), the concentration of THC is much higher in marijuana.
CBD is a chemical found in Cannabis sativa plants. However, it lacks the euphoria-inducing effects of THC (4). Medical research shows that CBD has therapeutic benefits. As a result, it’s use as a supplement has grown in popularity.
Some common therapeutic uses of CBD products include lowering stress, as an antidepressant, as an anti-inflammatory, and as an antioxidant. What’s more, others recommend it for treating anxiety, migraines, arthritis, and to reduce nausea associated with cancer treatment (5). One of the most common forms is CBD oil. At the same time, you can also find CBD gummies, patches, tinctures, and even vapes (6).
The Slow Spread of Legal Hemp
Currently, there isn’t a lot of U.S. acreage devoted to hemp growth. In fact, hemp only takes up almost 80,000 acres in the entire country. Yet that number is slowly increasing. For example, in 2017, hemp cultivation covered only about 26,000 acres across the nation. In 2018, that number grew to over 78,000 acres. According to Vote Hemp, the top five hemp-growing states are:
- Montana — 22,000 acres
- Colorado — 21,578 acres
- Oregon — 7,808 acres
- Kentucky — 6,700 acres
- Tennessee — 3,338 acres
The slow spread of hemp cultivation is mainly due to the patchwork of hemp laws throughout the nation. In some states, cultivating and transporting hemp products is illegal. At the moment, there are nine U.S. states that prohibit any and all hemp production (Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas). What’s more, four states prohibit hemp-derived CBD (Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas) (3).
Joining the Hemp Supply Chain
As stated earlier, hemp has a higher profile thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill hemp. As more consumers discover CBD supplements, this booming industry will only continue to grow over the next few years. Because of this, there will be a great demand for growers, processors, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. If you’re interested in being a part of this growing market by securing a trademark or service mark, submit and application to the USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) (7)
Yet be aware that submitting this application is no guarantee of approval. Specifically, the USPTO will not approve applications if federal and state laws prohibit your product. When you submit an application, the USPTO will then consider your request based on compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, along with other relevant laws and regulations (8).