As a massive economic opportunity that also restores our environment, industrial hemp is a superior commodity that will transform the quality of life globally. Compared to commodities with similar uses, hemp is cultivated utilizing the least amount of water and nutrients, requires no pesticides. Hemp also has the shortest growth cycle, sequesters the greatest level of carbon dioxide (4-times more than trees), and is unique in its ability to be grown almost anywhere in the world. Consumer interest is growing worldwide, and this coupled with the 2013 US Farm Act that allows hemp cultivation for research purposes, is providing major industry growth.
Hemp is has been utilized for decades by European car manufacturers such as Mercedes, BMW, and Lotus. Clothing brands such as Patagonia, Armani , as well as hemp-focused brands such as Livity and Gramicci apply hemp textiles to high-quality garments. Hemp is also the key ingredient or brand differentiator in several food and body care brands that are distributed through some of the world's largest retail chains including Costco, WalMart, Whole Foods, and Kroger stores.
The by products of hemp have been used by humanity for thousands of years. Historically, hemp was the largest cash crop in the USA up until its prohibition in 1937, and again regained this status briefly during World War II, during a brief period of legalization when the U.S. promoted cultivation to quell a fiber shortage due to the war effort.
Although the hemp market is centuries old and includes over 20,000 unique products, the industry is still highly fragmented, immature and very limited on the product supply side due to 75 years of suppression by the United States government. The U.S. imports 60% of all of the hemp produced worldwide, but U.S. farming is limited to research crops in Colorado and Kentucky at this time.
UCG believes that the current $500-600 million dollar international market is nearing a tipping point here in the U.S. and around the world. The recent passage of the US Farm Bill in late 2013 has legally opened the door to hemp research in the US, signaling a move toward legalization and scaled commercial operations. This will provide a boon to small family farms, local brands, the manufacturing sector and all related ancillary industries that will benefit, i.e., farm equipment manufacturers, shipping logistics, processing equipment and more.
The hemp and cannabis markets span across almost all sectors and industries; building materials, human and animal food, textiles, energy, industrial materials, medicine and more. In the 2013 Congressional Research Service report entitled “Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity," reported that the US retail market for hemp is estimated to be $500 million. It is estimated that the United States imports 60% of hemp produced worldwide, which would indicate that the global hemp market is well over $800 million. The medical cannabis markets are estimated to be anywhere from $10 to $120 billion annually. With the changing legal nature of these products and industries, there is very little accurate or comprehensive data available.
Hemp was purposely connected to its sister plant “marijuana," as both are from the genus, Cannabis Sativa L. These are two distinctly different plants, easily distinguishable. The connection was made in order to suppress a superior commodity that threatened the market share of many industries; from timber and cotton, to fuel, food, pharma, agro, and more. For the past 75 years the use of the hemp plant has been intentionally suppressed.
There has been a consistent strong wave of positive change surrounding the hemp and cannabis industries over the past several years and it appears to be building momentum in each successive year. Federal regulators have stopped the DEA from interfering with States that have legalized hemp and cannabis.