(This is an abridged version of a column that appears in the August issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.) Kristen Nichols is the editor of Hemp Industry Daily.
Smokable hemp has taken hold with consumers.
The unlikely trend has given hemp producers new market opportunities – and a new set of legal headaches.
It seems that consumers are gobbling up cigarette-like products that smell and taste just like marijuana, only they’re completely legal.
There’s a lot to like about this trend:
- It gives cannabis consumers in states with no access to legal marijuana a way to experience cannabinoids other than THC, namely CBD.
- Some tobacco smokers say that smoking hemp helps them quit cigarettes.
- Smoked hemp normalizes cannabis and chips away at the misconception that inhaling any variety or amount of cannabis leads to impairment and stereotypical stoner behavior.
But the rise of smokable hemp raises some complicated legal questions for the entire hemp supply chain.
Many in the hemp industry are benefiting right now from a federal government too distracted by bigger problems to spend significant resources on the hemp industry. I worry that smoked hemp could change that benign neglect.
I fear that those Instagram models blowing luxuriant clouds of hemp smoke are inviting meddling from the same health and safety agencies that have largely ignored the trend of people blending cannabinoids into tinctures and salves.
The trend also works against decades of hemp activism to persuade the public that hemp is totally different than marijuana.
Hemp pre-rolls make it more difficult for every hemp entrepreneur who still has to explain to banks and investors that, no, you can’t get high from smoking (insert hemp product here).
I don’t have an easy answer here. I don’t want to smoke hemp, but I do want to see hemp entrepreneurs profit from those who do.