Farmers in the American tobacco belt have high hopes for hemp.
Hemp was a staple crop in the region from colonial times until tobacco became more lucrative. When the US government classified hemp as a controlled substance akin to heroin and LSD, the industry died.
Now it’s reviving. More than 25 states have legalized the growth of hemp – and for good reason. A report from North Dakota State University found 25,000 different uses for hemp that don’t include lighting up. Hemp seeds are rich in protein; its flowers are being analyzed for their medicinal properties; and the plant’s fibers can be used to make textiles, paper, natural building materials, and even as a substitute for plastic.
American farmers are organizing co-ops and fledgling businesses to turn hemp into cash.
TRENDPOST: As the movement to legalize marijuana gains momentum, the national hemp ban ultimately will fall, possibly by 2020. Look for advocates to press for its removal from the federal list of controlled substances. Once that happens, the industry will bloom quickly.