The 2018 Farm Bill was passed by the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 87-13. The next move is that the legislation heads to the House for a vote -- and then if it passes there, it goes to President Trump to be signed into law. It is expected to face no significant challenges.
The impact of this legislation on the cannabis industry is enormous. Last year, hemp sales in the U.S. reached $820 million, according to the Hemp Business Journal. That's without hemp being completely legal. These sales have been projected to reach $2.1 billion by 2020 -- and that's not taking into account the passage of the Farm Bill.
The Hemp Farming Act includes language that will amend the federal list of controlled substances with regards to hemp. It also removes any federal regulations that keep farmers from growing and selling hemp and allows the farmers to collect crop insurance.
The first group to benefit from this is, of course, the farmers and the states where hemp is identified as a crop with a lot of potential. Next are the companies that stand to benefit from focusing their product lines on hemp-derived CBD.
Top 5 Hemp Companies
Cannabis research firm Brightfield Group found that hemp-derived CBD (cannabidiol) sales in the U.S. hit $291 million in 2017. Brightfield also said that with the anticipated passing of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, the hemp-derived CBD market is expected to quickly go mainstream and become a $5.7 billion market by next year, and a $22 billion market by 2022 -- nearly 40x its current size. This number tends to be larger than most other hemp market estimates.
Brightfield's senior analyst, Jamie Schau, said: "We believe that blowing market sizes and growth figures out of proportion would do our customers and the market a great disservice. This year's hemp CBD forecasts might seem like a departure from that view, but I assure you they are not. These numbers reflect the substantial changes we anticipate will follow full federal legalization of hemp-derived CBD, a prospect that is no longer a pipe dream but looking more and more likely as bipartisan support for hemp and its extracts continues to grow."
Brightfield Group provided a chart of the top twenty hemp-derived CBD companies -- and four the top five are publicly traded. CW Hemp or Charlotte's Web Holdings (CWEB.CN) (CWBHF) , CV Sciences (CVSI) , Medical Marijuana (MJNA) and Elixinol (ELLXF) .
Market by 2022 -- nearly 40x its current size.
Figure 1 provided by Brightfield Group
Charlotte's Web has really bounced back after having received a warning letter from the FDA. In 2017, founders the Stanley Brothers were called out by the FDA for making claims that couldn't be substantiated.
"Your products, "Everyday Dietary Supplement," "Everyday Plus Dietary Supplement," "Everyday Advanced Dietary Supplement" and "Charlotte's Web Gel Pen," are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above-referenced uses and, therefore, the products are "new drugs" under section 201(p) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(p)]. New drugs may not be legally introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce without prior approval from the FDA, as described in sections 301(d) and 505(a) of the Act [21 U.S.C. §§ 331(d), 355(a)]. FDA approves a new drug on the basis of scientific data and information demonstrating that the drug is safe and effective."
Since then, the company rephrased its website and many other CBD companies dialed down the promises of efficacy. The stock, listed in Canada, has moved from C$8.13 to a year high of C$20.76 and was lately trading at C$16. Charlotte's Web recently reported financial results for its third quarter, with revenue growth of 57%, to $17.7 million, versus last year's $11.3 million for the same time period. Gross profits increased 54%, to $13.8 million over last year's $9 million for the same time period.
CV Sciences had over a 200% increase in sales across the board year over year. The company is number two in the market, with an 11% of overall market share. Its 2017 sales were $34.7 million and 2018 expected sales are $74.3 million. The company just built expansive manufacturing operations, which also house numerous marketing and distribution teams responsible for a growing list of consumer products and marijuana edibles containing plant-based CBD. CV Sciences is helping to secure San Diego as a global hub for the state's cannabis supply chain after the passing of favorable local and federal regulations.
Medical Marijuana has 10% of the overall market. Its 2017 sales were $32.2 million, and in 2018 it's expected to report sales of $79.0 million. The company's main product is Kannaway and through its direct sales model, it has been the company's largest stream of revenue. The model continues to see success in a market where formal advertising and marketing are limited.
Elixinol is number five in the market and has a 4% share of the overall market. Its 2017 sales were $13.4 million and 2018 expected sales are $25.4 million. Brightfield noted that Elixinol has strategic partnerships with medical professionals, leveraging relationships to expand CBD education and brand name recognition.
Brightfield said, "The Act will be a boon to the legal hemp CBD industry, and a great relief to farmers and producers who have been sidelined by vague federal laws forcing them to compete on an unfair playing field against gray and black-market actors, and even international importers."
Top 5 Hemp States
The top five states whose hemp industry will benefit from the farm bill, according to the Hemp Industry Daily, are Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, North Carolina and Vermont. Colorado already produces 50% of the country's hemp. Kentucky has more acres licensed, but Colorado has more in production. Oregon's hemp requires some of the same testings as consumable cannabis. This means it doesn't have the same exposure to pollutants that Chinese hemp has and makes it a desirable product for producers.
Hemp Industry Daily said that North Carolina has more growers, more acres and more processors than any other state in its first year of hemp production. The state has really focused a lot of effort on the crop. Vermont has 90 licensed growers and 560 licensed outdoor acres for growing hemp. This little state has flexed its hemp muscle.
"The Farming Act provides much-needed certainty, so hemp farmers and hemp businesses can provide the goods people want," said Gabriel Ettenson, President of Elixinol. "Hemp is a positive contributor to the U.S. economy and culture. Hemp is a clean agricultural product and has great potential to enhance our collective wellness and global environment." Elixinol currently buys its hemp raw products from Colorado, but the company sees this language as a positive step for U.S. hemp businesses and the U.S. economy.