In December of 2018, the U.S. Government legalized hemp; joining China, France, Great Britain and most of the developed world in recognizing that rope is not dope. This ended a prohibition on hemp dating back to 1937 and foretells the end of marijuana prohibition. To date, the dope or marijuana version of cannabis has been legalized on a state level in 33 states. Ten of those: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, (and the District of Columbia)have legalized marijuana for anyone over the age of 21.
So where do entrepreneurs look to make their fortune?
To better understand the profit potential, it is important to appreciate the cannabis plant. Steven DeAngelo, founder of Harborside Health Center, told many industry leaders in early 2010 to stop using the term marijuana and refer to the plant as cannabis. In his opinion, the term marijuana is racist, derogatory and limiting to the public’s understanding of the plant and its potential. I argued at the time that calling our industry cannabis would confuse the public between the THC version of the plant, referred to as marijuana (marihuana), and the THC-free version, also known as hemp. That may have been his objective.
It is critical to understand that hemp is any version of the cannabis plant that contains 0.3% THC (delta 9-TetraHydroCannabinol) or less. Only the female portions of the plant produce the flowers which are necessary for three of the four industry categories of the plant. Both hemp and marijuana varieties of cannabis have male and female plants. Hemp is NOT the male version of the plant. A female hemp plant can not only mutate into a male (hermaphrodite), she can get frisky and raise her THC content above 0.3% and she is no longer covered by the U.S. Farm Bill which legalized hemp, not marijuana.
Rather than thinking of cannabis as one plant, consider it four industry groups. The four F’s, as I have coined it, Food, Fiber, Fuel, and Feelings. To date, most of the media, government attention, conservative mom fervor, and dot.com activity has taken place around the fourth category, so I will start there.