Hemp bust: High hopes for farmers lead to struggles, few buyers

Hemp bust: High hopes for farmers lead to struggles, few buyers



Just a few years ago, the American hemp industry was booming, and Arkansas was a prospective boomtown. If it were a time and place, it was California in the 1850s. Trade out the prospectors panning for gold in the California hills for farmers looking to stick legal cannabis plants in the ground for the first time since federal law banned it in 1937. All were looking to grab their piece of a young and fertile industry. 

The farmers got licenses from the state and planted acres and acres of hemp, mostly to produce CBD, the medicinal part of the plant with healing properties. The Farm Bill, passed by U.S. Congress in 2018, had made it all possible, legalizing hemp farming and hemp products. Hemp flower, the part of the plant used to make CBD, drove the industry with 82-85% of the product dedicated to it nationally. In Arkansas, 96% of hemp farming was for floral hemp production. And then, as it often does, boom turned to bust.