Report: Hemp could be trillion-dollar industry; farmer believes

Report: Hemp could be trillion-dollar industry; farmer believes it can take over cotton in West Texas

When Congress rolled out the new farm bill last December, one addition stuck out: Industrial hemp.

Hemp became illegal in the early 20th century because of its similar appearance to marijuana. Dr. Rickey Honea said it has taken lawmakers nearly 80 years to discover the truth.

"They're not the same plant," Honea said. "They're of the same culture. They're cannabinoids, but one (hemp) produces CBD oil and very little THC, while the other one (marijuana) produces a lot of THC, but very little CBD oil." 

In a national study, almost 62 percent of CBD users reported using hemp-based oil to treat a medical condition. 

Thirty-six percent of those respondents reported great results, while only 4.3 percent reported poor results.

"When you have a product, technology or source that can bring such great possibilities of health to people, yeah it's going to be very high in demand. You're going to see it popping up all over," Honea said.

Honea said the results he has seen from people at his clinic have been astounding.

"I've seen people already that were able to get off their pharmaceuticals just because they found an alternate way of supplementing their body, and one of those ways is through the CBD oil," Honea said.

Medically, hemp will have a major impact, but that is not all. Economically, reports say it could have a trillion dollar impact by 2030.

"It's going to affect everybody in this area especially, whether they're in agriculture or not, it's going to affect everybody economic wise and product wise," Steve Crump, a West Texas farmer, said.

He said hemp is called a "sustainable crop," something invaluable in this climate.

"It takes hardly any input, any water, fertilizer, chemicals, pesticides," Crump said. "I mean, just the water aspect in this part of the world, it's about 10 percent of usage compared to cotton."

Crump said he believes hemp's cost-effectiveness and reliability could push it over the top

"The weather is rough, the conditions are rough. Cotton is getting so expensive and tough to grow now. I think it's got a competitor," Crump said.

Lubbock Congressman Jodey Arrington said at the end of the day, hemp creates more competition for the agricultural economy. 

"I support it. I'm glad Texas is looking ahead at giving more choice and diversifying our ag economy," Rep. Arrington said. "I think that's good and I'm also for competition. Competition, within the ag economy and around the world, breeds the very best products."  

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