HempWire Editorial Coverage: The pending legalization of recreational cannabis and the extraction of cannabinoids from hemp in Canada is only one in a series of changes bringing expectations of new growth to these industries.
- Legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada is set to establish an industry worth billions of dollars every year.
- American companies can make the most of this change through cross-border partnerships and Canadian subsidiaries.
- Industrial hemp offers another option for companies in this sector, producing and extracting cannabinoids, including CBD and other cannabinoids, from the flowers and leaves will become legal on October 17, 2018.
Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTC: MCOA) (MCOA Profile) is making the most of these changes, developing CBD products and industrial hemp cultivation processes alongside its Canadian partner, Global Hemp Group Inc. (CSE: GHG) (OTC: GBHPF). Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE: SMG) has acquired Sunlight Supplies to give it a larger hold in the hydroponic cultivation market. GrowGeneration Corporation (OTC: GRWG) is also specializing in hydroponics, which it expects to become a $4.5 billion industry. Micron Waste Technologies, Inc. (OTC: MICWF) (CSE: MWM) is creating a specialist onsite waste management system for cannabis farmers. And as hemp cultivation appears to be on the cusp of expansion, Future Farm Technologies (OTC: FFRMF) (CSE: FFT) is producing millions of seeds with which to get farmers started.
New Laws and New Crops
The legalization of recreational use cannabinoids in Canada is set to make waves in the market this year. As the first G7 country to legalize recreational cannabis on a national scale, Canada is leading the world in taking this lucrative trade out of the hands of criminal gangs and making it part of the legitimate economy. With the global cannabis market to reach a value of $57 billion by 2027, Canada provides a great opportunity for companies to capture a piece of this rapidly emerging market.
With sales worth close to $6 billion, the Canadian cannabinoid industry has plenty of potential. It’s drawing the attention of big business, with Corona’s parent company investing billions in a cannabis beverage partnership. It is also opening a new market for companies in the related industrial hemp industry. On October 17, 2018, farmers who hold valid hemp cultivation licenses will be allowed to begin to “harvest and store flowering heads, leaves and branches of the industrial hemp plants cultivated during the 2018 growing season.” Companies will now also be able to transport, sell, import and export any part of the industrial hemp plant legally. This allows those involved in the industry to take advantage of an entirely new product market utilizing hemp-derived cannabinoids. For companies already invested in this sector, changes in Canada may open the way for a vast increase in revenues.
The Canadian Cannabis Market
It’s easy to see the appeal of the Canadian hemp and cannabis markets for the companies moving into those markets, such as Marijuana Company of America (OTC: MCOA). Estimates by Statistics Canada indicate that Canadians spent around $5.5 billion on cannabinoids in 2017. As many commentators have pointed out, this places cannabinoid-based product potential in the market on par with alcohol for value to Canadian businesses, and close to the total spent on wine each year.
With around 450,000 people using hemp and cannabis products each day in Canada, this promises to be a stable market with a steady stream of income. It’s one on which businesses can reliably build. And it’s not just about the sale of smokable cannabis. There’s potential for hemp and cannabis-based food and drink, as well as all the paraphernalia used in consumption and the supporting functions needed by the industry and retailers.
Hemp is used in a growing list of products, including dietary supplements and skin products, and even clothing and accessories. Overall, hemp is known to have more than 25,000 possible applications. And Marijuana Business Daily reported that the U.S. market for hemp-derived CBD hit $291 million last year and is projected to explode to $1.65 billion by 2021.
The existence of a government regulatory framework for the medical cannabis industry has made it easier for companies to prepare for full legalization in Canada. Companies, such as MCOA with its joint venture partner Global Hemp Group Inc., are already cultivating industrial hemp and have production in place that can be increased to cater to a growing market.
Though MCOA is an American company, it has gained a solid foothold in Canadian hemp cultivation through a partnership with Global Hemp Group, a Canadian public company. The companies have established two agricultural projects together — one of them in New Brunswick and the other south of the border in Oregon. Both sites are being used to develop better techniques for growing industrial hemp.
At the New Brunswick site, the work is being supported by government research investment to help advance the local hemp industry. Aided by drone technology, the companies are gathering data on the impact of pests on hemp production, ways of correcting soil acidity for better growth, and the impact of nitrogen fertilizers. The resulting crops will provide materials for MCOA’s branded hempSMART™ products as well as a rich harvest of data.
In Oregon, the focus is on growing hemp strains with a high yield of cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is one of the active chemicals in cannabis that does not get users high, unlike marijuana’s tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), though CBD still can be used for a variety of medicinal uses. Using a mixture of seeded and cloned plants, staff at the Oregon facility are growing high-CBD-yielding crops while gathering data on their progress.
The Potential of Hemp
MCOA’s investment in industrial hemp means that the company may be set to benefit from a revival in this long-suppressed superior crop as well as the changing U.S. and Canadian laws. A century ago, hemp fiber was used in the production of rope and cloth. Laws aimed at outlawing marijuana killed the industry, but as the interest in other strains of cannabis has grown in recent years, so too has attention on hemp.
In the United States, the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill is set to strike hemp from the definition of “marijuana” under the Controlled Substance Act. This would mean the revival of an industrial agricultural crop that has been repressed for almost 100 years. Language within the Farm Bill could ease regulations for CBD companies such as MCOA by allowing extracts from the hemp plant to now become legalized.
Hemp’s financial potential now lies in its use as a source of CBD oil and other cannabinoids such as CBC, CBN and CBG. The industrial applications of hemp in areas such as textiles, bio-composites and building materials will become increasingly viable as more biomass is generated in the cultivation of hemp to produce cannabinoids.
CBD has become a hot ingredient in medicine and wellness products in recent years, offering great potential for farmers. Even with the growth of hemp tightly restricted, farmers in the United States have predicted revenues of as much as $90,000 per acre from producing hemp oil. For struggling farmers, that compares favorably with the $600 per acre they can get for alfalfa and other traditional and specialty crops. CBD is the oil that goes into MCOA’s hempSMART products. There are currently less than 300,000 acres of hemp grown worldwide, compared to traditional crops such as wheat and corn, with hundreds of millions of acres of each being grown. With the potential disruptive applications for hemp from industrial to medicinal, it will ultimately compete with traditional crops as it is adopted by many sectors of the economy.
In addition, hemp has the advantage of being good for the environment as well as for business. It uses less water than many other crops, needs little in the way of pesticides and herbicides, sequesters significant carbon dioxide and can be rotated with other crops to improve the fertility of fields. Using hemp fibers for paper may reduce the number of trees chopped down, thereby protecting woodland and maintaining carbon dioxide at healthy levels.
A Growing Industry of Growing Things
The spread of cannabis legalization, alongside the increasingly well-recognized potential of hemp, is spurring growth for a number of companies.
Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE: SMG) is one of several companies providing the support services that cannabis companies need. It recently expanded by acquiring Sunlight Supply, Inc., the United States’ foremost distributor of hydroponic equipment. Hydroponics is fundamental to growing cannabis in indoor facilities, which are often more effective and secure than outdoor cultivation. The $450 million deal will double the company’s share of the market in cannabis growing equipment.
GrowGeneration Corporation (OTC: GRWG) also provides equipment needed by cannabis growers in the form of hydroponic systems, nutrients and materials for hydroponic cultivation. The growth of the legal cannabis market in North America caused an 80 percent increase in the company’s sales in 2017. GrowGeneration predicts that this continuing market growth will turn hydroponics into a $4.5 billion industry in the United States alone by 2020. To make the most of this growth, GrowGeneration has acquired several smaller companies.
Like most industries, cannabis cultivation produces waste. Micron Waste Technologies, Inc. (OTC: MICWF) (CSE: MWM) is developing specialist technology to deal with this concern. A producer of onsite waste management systems, Micron’s products create clean water out of organic waste. With cannabis cultivation growing, the company is targeting this sector with a purpose-built cannabis waste digester. It even ran a competition with a $2,000 prize for the person who came up with the best name for the waste digester, a move that helped to publicize cannabis cultivation.
Future Farm Technologies (OTC: FFRMF) (CSE: FFT) provides another of the pieces of specialist equipment needed for indoor cultivation: lighting. The company makes indoor lighting and vertical farming setups suitable for cannabis cultivation. Future Farm is also preparing for the expansion of the hemp market in the United States by producing millions of hemp seeds ready to be sold to farmers. If expected changes to the federal law in the United States make it easier for farmers to cultivate hemp, then the company will be in a position to equip new entrants to the market, letting them quickly get in on a valuable cash crop.
Between the revival of hemp and legal changes, the cannabis sector is growing. It’s an increasingly diverse industry, covering medical and recreational cannabis, industrial hemp and CBD food products. Canada now provides an ideal area for companies to build up their presence in the industry, but the potential for growth is international.
For more information on Marijuana Company of America, visit Marijuana Company of America, Inc. (OTC: MCOA)
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