Recently, California joined the growing list of states that have passed some level of pro-hemp legislation in the past few years. Bill SB 1409 was passed to open the doors to growing the state’s industrial hemp industry. Here’s what you need to know about the legislation – as well as three things to do now to start making money on hemp.
What is the Hemp Bill SB 1409?
California’s Hemp Bill, SB 1409, was signed into law by Governor Brown to go into effect on January 1, 2019. This bill adds an industrial hemp pilot program to the state’s legal cannabis industry. As it stands right now, the cultivation of hemp is regulated because of its classification as a “fiber or oilseed crop” under the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act that can only be grown by approved hemp seed cultivators. The list of approved cultivators hasn’t been added to since January 1, 2013. Every year, growers of industrial hemp register with a county agricultural commissioner and pay a renewal fee.
SB 1409 opens the possibility of becoming an industrial hemp seed cultivator to others who haven’t been certified before January 1, 2013. Industrial hemp is no longer going to be considered a fiber or oilseed crop. This doesn’t necessarily mean CBD food products can be sold; in fact, a recent release from the California Department of Public Health banned the sale of CBD food products. We’re still waiting to see how hemp will be regulated as we approach 2019.
Interestingly, SB 1409 also authorizes the California Department of Food and Agriculture to begin an “agricultural or academic research” pilot program for industrial hemp. Colorado and Oregon have carried out similar programs to help inform and structure their regulatory systems. Hemp remains illegal at the federal level, yet more than 30 states have passed some kind of pro-hemp legislation to date.
How to Make Money on Hemp
Obviously, there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to California’s future regulation of industrial hemp. In addition, seed cultivator applicants won’t be permitted to submit a license request until January 2019. However, here are three things you can do now to get a first slice of California’s legal industrial hemp industry.
Find your niche.
Hemp has a wide range of uses: over 25,000 known uses, to be exact. It can be used in building materials, fabric and textiles, ink, skin lotion, and shoes, and the seeds are a great source of nutrition. If you want to make money off hemp products, the first course of action is to zero in on how you want to use hemp. Hemp-based consumer products, food/nutrition products, and pharmaceuticals are the most common industries, and probably the most accessible for new entrepreneurs. Hemp seeds are very nutritious: they contain a big dose of omega-3 fatty acids and are a better source of good protein than chia seeds or flax seeds. Hemp seeds are also known to contain a good portion of vitamin E and minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.
Keep in mind that with food product, pharmaceuticals, or beauty products, you may have to comply with FDA or FTC regulations in addition to California state compliance laws. Do your consumer research now to see whether your hemp fortune lies in nutrition or nail polish.
Start creating distribution channels.
Just because you can’t start growing hemp in 2018 doesn’t mean you can’t start creating your own distribution channels. Start to recruit customers for your niche product by building a brand presence online. Pick a topic, make a website, and start promoting or endorsing hemp products that already (legally) exist on the market. Becoming an expert in all things hemp will serve you well both on the customer and supplier side. Customers want someone they can trust to help them navigate the new hemp market. Hemp farmers want help recruiting customers to their product. It’s a win win for you and your suppliers.
Look for land.
If you do intend to become an independent hemp farmer, you will need a lot of space. Though hemp is relatively easy to grow, it’s not easy to be profitable without planting at least 50 acres. Now is the time to start your search for the space you need in January; competition for land will only get tougher as the January 1 deadline approaches.
For more tips on getting started in the cannabis (and soon to be hemp) industry, get in touch with one of our experts.