At last week’s sold-out American Herbal Products Association’s Hemp-CBD Supplement Congress in Denver, keynote speaker Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared hemp a “crop of the past and, yes, a crop of the future.” As a crop of the past, hemp has distinctly American roots. Highlighting this history, Governor Polis recounted how our nation’s founders grew hemp and how some of the earliest American flags were made of the plant. While he took time to offer some historical and personal anecdotes, the Governor devoted the majority of his speech to discussing hemp as a crop of the future.

While Colorado has had early success in leading the hemp market, Governor Polis sees an even brighter future for the state and the industry. In particular, he highlighted the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s (“CDA”) Colorado Hemp Advancement & Management Plan (the CHAMP Initiative”). The CDA will submit the CHAMP Initiative to the United States Department of Agriculture, as the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (the “2018 Farm Bill”) calls for state plans for the management of various aspects of hemp cultivation and processing. Governor Polis sees this initiative as “a unique opportunity to establish a comprehensive blueprint for how the state will not only manage but also advance this emerging [hemp] industry by examining the entire supply chain from cultivation to market, and the steps in between.” For more information on the CHAMP Initiative, click here.

In addition to the Governor’s keynote address, two other panels filled the remainder of the morning agenda. The first of the day, “The Hemp-CBD Supplement Market: A Financial Snapshot,” discussed the financial states of and projections for cannabis markets. One such estimate forecasts that in 2022 the world cannabis market will have grown to $30 billion, with the United States accounting for a staggering $22.1 billion of the market. Focusing on the Hemp-CBD supplement market, the panel stressed that the key to unlocking the next phase of growth for the market is for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine how it is going to regulate the space.

The second and final panel of the morning, “Getting to Market: Hemp Supply Chain Management,” featured a discussion of the hemp supply chain. Featuring scientists, farmers, and attorneys, the panel discussed the fragile state of the hemp supply chain. From interstate transport issues to destructive microbial outbreaks, the hemp supply chain is far from unbreakable. In fact, several of the panelists seemed particularly concerned that the market is outpacing the supply chain. These concerns stress the importance of initiatives, such as the CDA’s CHAMP Initiative, and allies, such as Governor Polis, to ensuring that hemp can grow into the “crop of the future.”