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The US More Than Tripled Its Hemp Cultivation Land Since 2018, Report Finds

By Alexander Beadle

Published: Oct 03, 2019   
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The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill last December was expected to galvanize the American hemp market.

The Bill resulted in the federal legalization of hemp and hemp-derived products, such as hemp-derived CBD. And, for the first time, hemp farmers would see their crops covered under the 1980 Federal Crop Insurance Act, and hemp scientists would face fewer restrictions when looking to research the plant.

Now, the cannabis industry data analytics and business intelligence firm New Frontier Data, in collaboration with Vote Hemp, has released a new report investigating the current state of the hemp cultivation industry within the United States. Its headline finding is that the total number of acres used for cultivating hemp in the US has increased by 328 percent since 2018.

The report, The U.S. Hemp Market: 2019 State Rankings, also includes individual state-by-state analyses and predictions on the future of hemp pricing, and is available to purchase and download online, via the New Frontier Data website.


Key findings from the report

The headline finding from the new hemp market report is that the total acreage used for hemp cultivation in the US has increased by 328 percent since 2018.

“The 29 US states reporting licensed hemp cultivation acreage total almost half a million acres in combined cultivation land area, which is a massive increase compared to 2018 figures of a total land area barely over 100,000 acres,” noted Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, New Frontier Data CEO and founder, in a press statement.

“While there continues to be uncertainty and a healthy amount of confusion around hemp cultivation for CBD production, it is clear that demand is nonetheless continuing to rise across the US.”

Other key findings include:

  • At least 70 percent of the American hemp harvest is intended for extract production
  • The state with the largest amount of hemp cultivation and processing land area is Colorado, with over 80,000 acres being used for this purpose
  • Oregon, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Montana lead the nation in hemp program expansion efforts
  • Tennessee issued the most hemp licenses in 2019
  • California is poised to be the top-producing state for both conventional and organic hemp production


Future projections

Under the new regulatory environment afforded by the 2018 Farm Bill, the hemp industry was expected to grow and make the jump to becoming a mass-market retail commodity, supported by better banking access and reduced risk to retailers.

What was unexpected, said New Frontier Data Senior managing editor, J.J. McCoy, was the “fad-like” phenomenon of hemp-derived CBD products, which have since exploded in popularity.

Although the CBD product craze shows no signs of slowing, and is certainly beneficial for the US hemp market, there are growing concerns within the industry over the uncertain position of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on ingestible CBD products.

“[The] FDA recognizes the potential opportunities that cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds may offer and acknowledges the significant interest in these possibilities,” stated the FDA’s official website. “However, FDA is aware that some companies are marketing products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and that may put the health and safety of consumers at risk.”

“The agency is committed to protecting the public health while also taking steps to improve the efficiency of regulatory pathways for the lawful marketing of appropriate cannabis and cannabis-derived products.”

While the FDA continues to review public feedback and consider potential policy changes, the New Frontier Data analysts believe that the hemp market in states with pro-hemp regulations and attorneys general offices will continue to prosper, while others may fall behind as they retain highly restrictive or prohibitive market regulations.

“As states issue more licenses, consumer demand increases, and mass-market retailers such as CVS and Walgreens continue to expand their own product offerings, we expect the FDA may be forced to provide further regulatory clarifications sooner rather than later,” de Carcer added. 

Alexander Beadle

Science Writer

Alexander Beadle has been working as a freelance science writer since 2017 and has covered the cannabis industry for Analytical Cannabis since 2018. He has also written for our sister publication, Technology Networks, and the cannabis industry consultant firm Prohibition Partners, among others. Alexander holds a Master's in Materials Chemistry from the University of St. Andrews, where he won a Chemistry Purdie scholarship, and conducted research into zeolite crystal growth mechanisms and the action of single-molecule transistors.


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