An important charge of the Louisiana Cannabis Association is to help organize and coordinate efforts to create agricultural growth and prosperity in our state. Without question, the cultivation of cannabis can add jobs, revenue and profits to agricultural enterprise in Louisiana.
Cannabis – Two Potential Agricultural Markets
The agricultural opportunity for cannabis in Louisiana centers on two products â€“ medical cannabis and hemp. Current regulations on the cultivation of medical cannabis are quite restrictive and thus diminish the opportunity for this item in the private sector.
Opportunities with Medical Cannabis
As currently written, State Bill 143 grants LSU and Southern University the right of first refusal to jointly or independently grow and process medical cannabis products. If either school accepts this right, then the revenue generated by the production of cannabis products will effectively stay in state control. If both forfeit this right, then the contract will go out to bid to entities in the private sector.
Opportunities with Hemp
The real agricultural opportunity related to cannabis lies with hemp. Sales of hemp products sold in the U.S. totaled $620 million in 2015, yet none of the hemp was cultivated here. Much of it comes from France, which accounts for 70% of world production. China ranks second. By legalizing the cultivation of hemp in Louisiana, we will be among the first states to do so. We can then not only satisfy demand for hemp products in Louisiana but also in other markets throughout the country and the world.
Preferred Growing Conditions for Hemp
Hemp is an environmentally friendly crop. It requires less water than most crops â€“ cotton requires 14 times more water than hemp – and no pesticides. It grows best in deep, humus-rich soil with controlled water flow, which is found in abundance in Louisiana. Hemp also is best grown in lower altitudes, is relatively insensitive to cold weather, and thrives in hot weather. As an added bonus, crops grown after hemp benefit from it because hemp suppresses weed growth and its root system helps loosen soil.
Products Made with Hemp
Hemp is very versatile raw material. Some of the many products made with hemp are:
- Building materials
- Biodegradable plastics
- Health foods
- Nutritional products
- Automobile parts