As Oregon farmers face the grim prospect of destroying their marijuana crops because of oversupply, savvy entrepreneurs are turning in increasing numbers to cultivating hemp for CBD oil production.
Hemp is being described as the state’s “new gold rush”, with farmers commanding prices in excess of $100,000 per acreage of crop.
The move to hemp is highlighted by the huge increase in the number of applications for licenses – from 12 back in 2015 to 353 so far this year. This represents a 25-fold increase.
Farmers and the hemp “gold rush”
One of the growers joining the “new gold rush” is Jerrad McCord of southern Oregon who says the present glut of marijuana on the market is forcing farmers to adapt-or-die. McCord recently added 12 acres of land for hemp cultivation.
Another farmer who has switched his farm from marijuana to hemp is Trey Willison. He says it’s difficult to believe that marijuana growers now face the grim prospect of having to destroy their crops because of insufficient storage facilities aggravated by the current low-demand and high-supply situation.
Williston grew 200 pounds of pot a month in his two-story building. That space is now almost empty. His greenhouse that was intended to expand his marijuana cultivation business is now packed with hemp plants. He breeds genetically selected hemp plants with high CBD concentrations, harvests the seeds and extracts CBD from the remaining plants. Williston can command as much as $13,000 per kilogram for the CBD extracts.
Marijuana gluts the marketplace
Oregon’s weed glut is not over-exaggerated. State farmers are now sitting with close to one million pounds of product in the form of usable flowers. This figure excludes the 350,000 pounds of extracts, edibles and tinctures for which there is little demand and the prices on offer can, at best, only be described as rock-bottom.
With such a huge surplus, it’s no wonder then that the price of one gram of marijuana has dropped from $15 to $7.
The hemp movement began gaining momentum in 2017 when prices for marijuana plummeted from $1,500 per pound last summer to a dismal $700 by mid-October.
Hemp promises massive payday
Switching to hemp is an obvious solution to a problem that could never have been foreseen four years ago when Oregon legalized pot. The production of purified distilled CBD oil turns one acre of farmland under hemp cultivation into a $100,000 payday.
CBD oilis also converted into crystals or powder form and is gaining increased respect as a medicinal remedy for a number of debilitating illnesses such as pain relief and anxiety. Clinical trials have also shown hemp to be helpful in the treatment of neuroinflammation and addiction.
CBD oil edibles are also flooding the market in the form of chocolate, pet treats and infused mineral waters.
There’s a bar in Los Angeles bar that sells CBD drinks, while CBD oil creams are being used by massage therapists and juice bars are serving CBD-infused smoothies. Then, of course, there are literally dozens of websites offering CBD products such as capsules, oilstinctures and transdermal patches.
At the very minimum, 50 percent of hemp cultivation nationwide is for the production of CBD oil and, according to the president of Vote Hemp, “Oregon is riding the crest of that wave.” Eric Steenstra, whose organization advocates pro-hemp legislation, describes Oregon as “a hotbed of (hemp) activity.” He points out that switching production from marijuana to hemp is seamless because the growth techniques for both products are so similar.
What is the difference between pot and hemp?
Marijuana is high in THC, the cannabidiol that makes us high. CBD, on the other hand, is a non-psychoactive compound. THC content ranges from 10 to 27 percent, while hemp plants only contain about 0.3 percent THC.
Oregon’s pot glut is two-fold.
- State law prohibits cross-border marijuana sales.
- The state never put a cap on the number of licenses for growers.
Add to that the fact that Oregon has the perfect climate for growing weed, bumper crops every season have also contributed to the huge stockpiles of marijuana that are now attracting rock-bottom prices.
The state’s pot regulatory body, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, is undertaking a market study to establish by just how much CBD extracts are gaining in popularity.
Other states experiencing a decrease in the market price of weed are Colorado and Washington, but their price tags are far from the drastic drop being experienced in Oregon.
Another aspect attracting farmers to industrial hemp cultivationis that it is legal under federal law. Industrial hemp is used in a multitude of products such as the manufacture of fabric, food, seed and construction materials.
The US Food and Drug Administration stands on the threshold of approving the first CBD drug that will be used in the treatment of severe epilepsy.