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As Senate Brings Legal Change, Hemp Offers Hope for American Farmers

CannabisNewsWire Editorial Coverage: The hemp industry is growing in North America and appears to be set for further expansion thanks to legislation making its way through the U.S. Senate.

  • Hemp is a cultivar of the cannabis sativa plant that lacks the active drug ingredient that makes marijuana users high.
  • It can be used to produce medicinal CBD oil as well as fibers for rope, paper and canvas.
  • Even in difficult growing conditions, hemp can provide higher profits than many other crops.
  • It has a lower environmental impact thanks to low water consumption and little need for chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Marijuana Company of America, Inc. (OTC: MCOA) (MCOA Profile) has hemp already growing at cultivation sites in Canada and the United States, experimenting with improved strains and cultivation techniques. As a provider of hydroponic equipment, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE: SMG) is benefiting from the growing cannabis industry and will likely see increased sales thanks to a recent acquisition. Another provider of hydroponics, GrowGeneration Corporation (OTC: GRWG), has already seen a dramatic increase in sales thanks to acquisitions and the rise of cannabis. Micron Waste Technologies, Inc. (OTC: MICWF) (CSE: MWM) is launching specialist waste treatment equipment for cannabis growers. And as federal hemp legislation comes closer to passage, Future Farm Technologies (OTC: FFRMF) (CSE: FFT) is producing millions of hemp seeds ready to be planted by farmers in Maine.

Bringing Hemp Back

The past decade has seen a rush to embrace legal cannabis in North America. In the United States, 31 of the 50 states now allow its use for medicinal purposes while another 15 allow products derived from cannabis but with restrictions on their active chemicals. Nine states also allow the sale and use of recreational cannabis.

These changes have largely overlooked an important class of cannabis: hemp. This variety of the cannabis sativa plant does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that is the basis of marijuana’s recreational appeal. Historically used in making rope and fabric, hemp became illegal alongside other forms of cannabis because there was no way to distinguish between them. But with new ways to provide that differentiation, industrial hemp appears to be on the cusp of returning to widespread agricultural use in the United States.

The Hemp Revival

Changes in legislation have already allowed a number of companies, including Marijuana Company of America, Inc. (OTC: MCOA), to start growing hemp in the United States and Canada. But as with so much else about cannabis production, this has been somewhat hampered by restrictions at the federal level. Now a change appears to be forthcoming.

In 2014, the Farm Bill allowed farmers to start growing hemp for research purposes. Hemp farming quickly took off, reaching 25,713 acres of harvested land in 2017. And current efforts are afoot to make the crop fully legal.

This isn’t just a publicity-grabbing move from the liberal left. A bill put before Congress by Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky aims to make hemp cultivation legal. It has cross-party support and looks likely to pass despite the partisan divides in Washington. If it does, the bill will allow companies such as MCOA to expand their efforts and may encourage more farmers to grow hemp.

The financial potential of a hemp crop is staggering. The plants can currently be used to produce cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is used in medicines and wellness products such as those sold by MCOA. Some farmers are expecting revenues of $90,000 per acre for the oil, compared with only $600 per acre for alfalfa, which is currently one of the most popular crops in the United States.

There’s even more profit to be made from a properly developed hemp industry. Given full legalization, a revival of such ancillary industries could allow farmers to profit from both CBD oil and what is currently a waste product once the plant is processed, reviving the hemp fiber industry after nearly a century.

A Better Crop for the Environment

One of the great advantages of hemp is that it’s easier to grow in dry climates than many other crops. Though it needs more water than other crops during the first few weeks of growth, hemp subsequently needs less water and is less vulnerable to drought. This makes it an ideal crop for farmers in arid environments, such as parts of the western United States, as well as those currently facing the impact of climate change.

Reduced water consumption is one of several factors that make hemp an environmentally friendly crop. Growing hemp doesn’t require pesticides and herbicides, meaning that the soil can be left clean and given a chance to recover between other crops. Hemp can also be used instead of trees to produce paper fibers, thus saving trees and reducing the geographical footprint of paper production.

Hemp is a fast-growing plant, capable of growing up to 20 feet in 100 days, allowing farmers to potentially grow a substantial crop in a relatively small area, even in soil conditions where other plants might struggle to survive. With legalization expected with the passing of the Farm Bill, hemp cultivation may grow beyond the small crop levels currently established by companies such as MCOA. An increasing number of farmers are already planting hemp. Once the red tape is eliminated, more will surely jump on board this bandwagon.

Getting Ahead of a Growing Industry

This change is good news for MCOA and its existing hemp cultivation projects. Legal change will give the company credibility as an early adopter in a suddenly expanding field, with the advantages in technique that experience brings.

One of the company’s projects is the continued development of Hemp Agro-Industrial Zone (HAIZ) in New Brunswick, Canada, with its partner Global Hemp Group (CSE: GHG). There, MCOA and GHG have been working with the government to explore different approaches to hemp cultivation and encourage the industry in the region. Supported by a government grant, MCOA and GHG have been conducting experiments that study and evaluate soil conditions and pest problems that could affect hemp crops. Drones allow researchers to accurately assess the success of crops and gain a better understanding of what makes hemp grow best.

More recently, the company has also established a hemp cultivation site in the state of Oregon in another joint venture project with GHG. This 109-acre site features both indoor and outdoor cultivation that allows the company to maintain a steady supply of plants throughout the year.

At the Oregon facility, MCOA and GHG are cultivating hemp varieties with particularly strong yields of CBD. This active ingredient in hemp is being used in a growing variety of medical and wellness products, with applications including increased alertness, the control of epilepsy and pain management. By collecting and analyzing data on hemp strains to augment CBD development, MCOA hopes to establish better profits and wider availability for this important medicine.

Businesses Benefit from Hemp

The ascendance of hemp cultivation and the wider cannabis sector is bringing benefits for companies in supporting services. Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE: SMG) recently completed the acquisition of Sunlight Supply, Inc., the leading distributor of hydroponics products in the United States. This $450 million deal is the largest transaction Scotts has ever made and will double its sales to cannabis growers, who make extensive use of hydroponic equipment. The lawns and gardens specialist might not be growing cannabis, but as legalization spreads and the sector grows, the company certainly stands to profit from the plant.

Another provider of growing equipment, GrowGeneration Corporation (OTC: GRWG), is also set to benefit from an expanding sector. By selling hydroponic systems, nutrients and materials for hydroponic cultivation, the company has seen a steady increase in its profits. Its sales increased 80 percent in 2017, and it has acquired several smaller companies to ensure its growth. The company expects U.S. hydroponic sales to exceed $4.5 billion by 2020, thanks to exponential growth driven by the cannabis sector.

Micron Waste Technologies, Inc. (OTC: MICWF) (CSE: MWM) also supports cannabis cultivators but in a different way. The company provides onsite waste management systems that turn organic waste into clean water. Micron Waste has targeted marijuana cultivators as one of the markets for its products. To celebrate this growing market, the company recently ran a contest to name its specialist cannabis waste digester.

Another specialist in indoor growing equipment, Future Farm Technologies (OTC: FFRMF) (CSE: FFT) specializes in LED lighting and vertical farming solutions. Not content with providing supplies to the cannabis sector, the company has entered the market itself with a hemp farm in Maine. The farm is soon expected to provide over 15 million hemp seeds to farmers in the region, which will allow the growers to quickly increase hemp cultivation if the current Farm Bill passes into law.

After being banned for decades, industrial hemp is seeing a rapid rise in North America. It offers opportunities for farmers and suppliers of cultivation equipment. And perhaps most importantly, it offers an environmentally friendly crop for difficult growing conditions.

For more information on Marijuana Company of America, visit Marijuana Company of America, Inc. (OTC: MCOA)

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