Legalized hemp will not be a miracle crop, writes Dan Mitchell for Modern Farmer Thursday.
"The claims of hemp activists are often overblown. It's a highly useful, highly versatile crop, but its utility is, for the most part, fairly marginal, at least going by the size of its existing markets and estimates for how big a domestic U.S. market could be."
Hemp is the non-drug form of cannabis that's been used for eons as a food, fuel, and fiber. It's largely banned in the U.S., Mitchell writes, but legal to grow in China, Canada and elsewhere. And demand for hemp isn't that high, Mitchell said. "The total retail market for hemp in the United States is only about $500 million."
Demand may grow with legalization, but hemp is still a thirsty, labor-intensive crop, that costs six times that of wood pulp.
"None of which is to say that the outlook for hemp is not bright. It certainly seems to be, as long as we keep things in their proper perspective. That means ignoring claims such as hemp becoming a “trillion-dollar crop” that “could finally allow people to grow money on trees,” Mitchell states.
What's your take? Will the end of prohibition unleash a hemp revolution?