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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Grainger

The Cannabis Industry in 2020

The past two decades have been revolutionary for U.S. cannabis and hemp. The rapidly changing laws and regulations surrounding the industry have given growers and sellers great earning potential, but what exactly is the state of the cannabis industry in 2020?

Because cannabis remains a Schedule I drug at a federal level, cannabis legalization in the U.S. is a complicated social and political experiment.

In the twenty years following the legalization of cannabis for medical use in Hawaii in 2000, a total of thirty-three states have followed suit – fourteen of which have completely legalized recreational cannabis sales for adults.

However, differences between federal and state law result in a confusing legal spectrum surrounding the growth, manufacture, sale, and marketing of cannabis and hemp in 2020. Currently, you can buy marijuana from a store for fun in one state, only get it from a doctor in another, and be locked up for its possession in other states.

So, where does the cannabis industry stand in 2020? What is legal, what will get you in trouble?

What's the difference between cannabis and hemp?

According to U.S. federal law, the difference between a cannabis crop and a hemp crop is the level of THC found in the plants.

Belonging to the same species, Cannabis sativa, hemp, and cannabis plants produce varying levels of THC – the compound that has a psychoactive, or mind-altering, influence on the human body.

According to law, any plant with a THC concentration lower than 0.3% is considered hemp. A plant with a THC content higher than 0.3% is cannabis.

This distinction is vital for growers in the industry, as the 2018 farm bill legalized the production of hemp on an agricultural scale in 46 states, but not cannabis.

Hemp is an incredibly diverse agricultural crop, capable of making commercial and industrial products such as textiles, clothing, papers, bioplastics, insulation, biofuel, rope, and CBD oils that have proven medicinal benefits.

Cannabis, on the other hand, is used for its cognitive influence over the human body, and various potential medicinal properties. This gives rise to the variation in the laws' attitude towards cannabis and hemp, which in turn influences the growing, selling, and marketing of the two products.

Hemp farming

With the passing of the 2018 farm bill, hemp can be grown on an industrial scale in all U.S. states other than Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and South Dakota.

However, the USDA has applied stringent guidelines to the agricultural hemp industry, which helps ensure hemp farms produce crops with non-intoxicating levels of THC (<0.3%).

Samples from the crop must be tested fifteen days before harvesting, and any produce that tests over 0.037% THC concentration (leeway given for testing uncertainty) is to be destroyed by a federal, state, or law enforcement officer.

Hemp farmers require a license, which they must apply for through the USDA.

Farmers also need to report their hemp crop acreage, which helps the USDA track the amount of hemp being grown throughout the country. Furthermore, individuals with a controlled substance criminal conviction within the past ten years are unable to obtain a license to grow hemp.

Advertising Cannabis and Hemp Products

Because cannabis remains a federally banned substance, marketing regulations surrounding any hemp or cannabis-related product are in constant flux. As such, it isn't very easy for hemp and CBD companies to market their products in 2020, let-alone products with high THC concentrations.

Physical real-estate like posters and billboards that say 'get high' are most certainly a no option.

But education campaigns that inform consumers about the benefits of hemp products (such as counteracting deforestation and petrochemicals), the medical benefits of CBD oils, and help users understand quantities and tolerance when it comes to consuming THC products like edibles or vaporizers, offer companies a valuable marketing avenue.

There are hemp and CBD retailers who are demonstrating successful advertising tactics. Companies such as cbdMD are using social media influencers and athletes to endorse their products.

This method is effective, targeted marketing, and avoids the 'in-your-face' approach of a billboard. cbdMD claimed the role of primary sponsor of the recent big wave surfing event in Hawaii, which associated CBD products with some of the highest performing athletes in modern sport.

2020 is set to be an incredibly significant year for the U.S. cannabis industry. With more states considering legalizing the substance, growth, and marketing regulations will be further influenced. As of the beginning of 2020, the sector stands divided but gradually more united.

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