Hemp farming has become a popular discussion in some political circles in recent months, but it's not just some fad. It could legitimately save farmers across the United States.
There are many reasons hemp can be beneficial to American farmers. Unlike marijuana, hemp can be grown in large quantities outdoors, similar to wheat, corn or soybeans. It is also more adaptable than other major crops. Hemp requires only half as much water as corn, which saves farmers money, can be grown in a variety of different temperatures and soils, doesn't need pesticides and can grow incredibly fast.
Many point to water conservation as a major selling point for hemp farming. In areas with dry or arid environments, like the American southwest, water is incredibly scarce and will probably become even more so in the coming years thanks to climate change. Hemp could therefore become a vital part of a farmer's life in these areas.
It also helps that hemp can be grown for any number of reasons. CBD products would be one major use of hemp, but there are supposedly 25,000 uses for the crop including biodiesel, paper, fabric and building materials.
Right now, farmers who do grow hemp in the United States make around $90,000 per acre. To put that in perspective, alfalfa (America's fourth largest crop) makes only $600. Although part of that is that there are so few hemp farmers that demand is incredibly high. Last year, hemp farming took up only 25,000 acres in the United States. Alfalfa had 16.5 million.
All this is to say that it's pretty undeniable that allowing hemp farming would be incredibly valuable in the United States. And considering even anti-marijuana Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell believes hemp farming should be allowed, it's pretty likely it's going to happen.
(h/t Pacific Standard)