America was pretty late to the party, but the federals finally figured out (again) that hemp doesn't get us high. By removing the plant from the Controlled Substances Act via an amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress cleared a path for American companies interested in using hemp and its extracts and fibers to source those materials domestically. And retailers selling those products in this country can now do so without fear of law enforcement and regulatory interference.
Some pundits view industrial hemp as a bigger cash crop than marijuana, with its seeds, stalks, fibers and cannabinoids all used to make a long list of products. Here are seven things we eat, wear and use every day that will be impacted by hemp legalization:
You can already find hemp seeds, hemp milk and hemp-based meat alternatives at grocery stores, but those are largely made from hemp imported from Europe, Canada and other countries. With hemp's legalization, the demand for hemp foods will increase, and so will access to domestic hemp. The plant is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fats, protein and other nutritional benefits, and it provides a nutty flavor that goes with just about anything.
Food and drinks infused with CBD will still have to be approved and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so don't be surprised if a lot of manufacturers stop using "CBD" on their labeling altogether and replace it with terms like "full-spectrum hemp extract."
The fibers from hemp stalks have a variety of uses, with paper and textiles being the most obvious choices. By taking fiber from the plant's hurd and pulp, companies can make a range of paper styles, as well as clothing, shoes, backpacks, rope and other textile products. Hemp fibers are more durable than cotton yet still soften with age, and have shown to be more resident to mildew. They're also more porous, allowing the body to breathe.
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You can already find hemp clothing online and in stores around the country, but legalization is likely to take hemp fibers mainstream. Patagonia is already on board, with one of its regional representatives noting that the outdoor clothing brand is excited to increase its relationship with Colorado's hemp industry.
For those who want the nutritional benefits of hemp without having to eat hemp seeds or veggie burgers, hemp and hemp-derived CBD extracts, proteins and isolates are a quicker, easier way. Hemp-seed oil and extracts, usually sold in pill or sublingual form, have helped with skin and hair disorders. CBD has shown potential benefits in dealing with everything from anxiety and pain to epilepsy, and can be added to food or vaporized as a concentrate.
Hemp and hemp-seed supplement makers are likely to continue operating without much change (as long as they don't make any unsubstantiated health claims), but CBD supplements will probably have to alter their terminology, as will CBD food and drinks. Either way, expect to see more of them at Whole Foods, and even chains like Kroger and Safeway.
We'll try not to geek out too hard on this one, because hempcrete is pretty frickin' awesome. This hemp-based building material may be one of the plant's coolest applications — and most slept on. When mixed with lime and water, hemp hurd can make a concrete-like material than is more resistant to mold, pests, weather and fire than traditional concrete. It weighs less, too, and gets stronger over time. Despite all of hempcrete's uses, very few contractors employ the substance; Denver saw its first permitted hempcrete building constructed in 2017. But the word is spreading.
Hemp can also be a base ingredient for fiberboard, roofing, flooring, wallboard, caulking, paint, paneling, plaster, plywood, insulation, bricks and more.
A more environmentally friendly option than traditional plastics, hemp plastic is biodegradable and carries a much smaller carbon footprint. Some plastics use standard materials infused with hemp fiber, while others are made of 100 percent hemp material (and are 100 percent biodegradable).
Hemp plastics are also stronger than their traditional counterparts and can be used to make anything from water bottles to weed scales. Hemp plastic's most memorable moment came when Henry Ford debuted a car partly made from hemp, but the product's biggest potential could be in technology, according to Colorado Hemp Co. founder Morris Beegle, who sees bio-plastics, composites and nano-fiber technology for energy storage as a cash cow for hemp producers.
Already one of the largest sectors of hemp-based products in America, cosmetics made with the plant will only get bigger now that hemp is legal. One of America's largest wholesale hemp buyers, the Dr. Bronner's company, uses the plant to make soap and body-care products.
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You already can find lotions, lip balms, salves, soap, lipstick, makeup and bath bombs made with hemp and hemp-derived CBD at retailers and online; expect more physical shelf space devoted to them as the hemp hype grows. These products are technically made for human consumption, though, so FDA regulations are looming.
Pet treats and toys
Hemp companies aren't just going after humans now: Our dogs, cats and even horses are targets of the hemp trade. Research has shown that hemp and CBD extracts can help other mammals similar to the ways they help us, with veterinarians and pet owners using hemp-seed extracts for nose and ear afflictions; CBD has also treated anxiety and pain among dogs and cats. These products will also be regulated by the FDA.
Pets will likely be chewing on hemp more often, too, as hemp fibers make a tough, durable rope or toy for chewing and tug-of-war.