Report: Production, Marketing, and Regulation of Hemp Products


Changes enacted in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-334; 2018 farm bill) removed long-standing federal restrictions on the cultivation of hemp. Hemp is a form of Cannabis sativa,the same plant as marijuana, grown for non-psychoactive purposes.

It is an agricultural crop regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). AlthoughUSDA regulates hemp production, the 2018 farm bill explicitly preserved the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA, 21 U.S.C. §§301 et seq.) over certain hemp-derived products.

Leading Hemp Markets Hemp is grown for use in the production of a wide range of products, including foods and beverages, cosmetics and personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, yarns and fibers, paper, construction and insulation materials, and other industrial and manufactured goods.

There are three leading markets for hemp, each based on the part of the plant used:fiber,seed/grain, and flower (Figure 1). Some suggest a separate,marketable category exists for the plant’s extracted compounds (not shown here).

Extracts and concentrates may be derived from different parts of the plant, including the flowers/buds and from trim (parts of the plant removed when the hemp flower is trimmed during the manicuring process) or from total biomass, which may include sticks and stems.

Hemp Fibers Hemp fibers are used in fabrics and textiles, yarns and spun fibers, paper, carpeting, home furnishings, construction and insulation materials, and biocomposites(Figure 1). The interior of the stalk has short,woody fibers called hurds(or hemp shiv/shives); the exterior portion (bark) has long bast fibers (Figure 2).

Hurds are used in insulation, animal bedding,material inputs, oil absorbents, and papermaking. Bast fibers are used to make rope and fabric.Hemp fibers also are used in a range of composite products,including use as building material and concrete blocks (made from a mix of fibers, hydrated lime, and other additives), an insulating material, a fiberglass alternative (by the automotive and aviation sectors), and a biodiesel feedstock.

Fiber processing involves separating the core fiber from the bark through mechanical separation (using a decorticator) or separation through a process called retting or some combination of the two processes.

Once separated, dried, and baled, hemp fibers may be further processed through additional mechanical separation (such as being pelletized or shredded into smaller pieces).





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