Is hemp economically viable?

In discussions about cannabis sometimes the argument veers into reasoning about whether industrial hemp is or would be economically viable, if laws were more permitting. This would then create an incitament for the theoretical(?) competitors, such as paper, oil and cotton industries. Of course the threat only has to be percieved to be an incitament, and an incitament might also be ignored. So two questions:

  1. Are some sort of hemp-based industries viable economically assuming a fair playing field?

  2. Is there an incitament, and if so does it have effect?

Start with what Cecil has put in a column: Some of what he wrote years ago may touch on some of, ( I recognize not all) of what you’re wondering.

Hemp can be cultivated in France. And France is the main producer in Europe with some dozens of thousand tons/year. IOW, almost nothing.

It’s used for high-end horse litters, insulation, high quality paper and a variety of other minor specialized uses. ’

So, I guess it’s not very viable. I looked at the site of the association of hemp producers and of course they explain how great a product it is (for some reason they argue that it should be a component of concrete). They also state that it grows easily with a high yield. Still, if it were such an useful and profitable product, I assume it would be grown in much larger quantities.

Do you mean incentive? Like maybe a subsidy or tax break?

I hear there are people who make quite a lot of money from it.:wink:

I, also, do not know what “incitament” means. I did look it up -

  • but I am none the wiser. Are you Norwegian?

I bought some hemp shoes once many years ago, and they are actually still in great shape, which I assume is because hemp is a very strong fiber.

IMO that means the shoes do not wear out so fast, thus “planned obsolescence” (which is good for consumer economy) is not going to happen as soon say compared to a less durable fiber.

Correct me if I am wrong, but is that not an economical disadvantage?

That’s just idiotic.

Hemp seed as a food source is a very healthy nutritional food supplement. However, it cannot be legally manufactured in the USA. And any hemp seed sold here cannot be viable for growing.

As a food source it is incredible what it contains in nutrients; protein, Omegas, etc. See this Hemp Nutrition Listing
It can be legally bought/sold AFAIK anywhere in the USA but cannot be produced here. Once again as long as it is not viable for growing. And contrary to what some may believe will not cause a positive drug test for THC. As far as supplements go though it is always a good idea to make sure you choose a reputable source.

The nutritional value alone of hemp seed should make it a more viable incentive. I can see the Infomercials now. Only this time they would be telling the truth. It’s the unfounded fear of cannabis in this country that hinders its legitimacy.

Hemp is a moderately useful plant - but the claims made about it (usually) by Marijuana advocates are just plain ridiculous; the plant they describe would be actually miraculous, if it existed.

I’ve never really quite understood what they hope to gain by promoting the cultivation of non-psychoactive cannabis, but maybe logic and coherence is not the right thing to hope for, given the context.

Maybe I read to much Vance Packard in my youth, but IMO in many respects waste and obsolescence is one of the economic foundations of Capitalism. So if consumption is a driving force in the economy, would it not follow that a long lasting durable product (for example hemp clothes and shoes-in this case) would be a disadvantage economically?

Maybe not, if you simply charged a hell of a lot more for it than a comparable non-hemp product.

There’s another factor - does it taste any good? I tried some hemp cereal. Meh - I’ll stick to bran cereals, which have an established case for nutritional benefits as well, and which I actually like. I suspect a lot of mainstream consumers would sum it up with some critique like “It tastes like ass.”.

My understanding is that on a flyover, the DEA can’t tell the difference between non-psychoactive hemp, and regular tall weed plants ripe for the smoking. If that’s the case, then regular marijuana could be grown and no search warrant could be issued on the flyover because it just as easily could be hemp growing. No probable cause for a warrant.

So I’ve heard.

No, it doesn’t follow. There are numerous viable strategies in capitalism Some of those strategies are to sell cheap products that fall apart or become obsolete. However, it is also a viable strategy to sell a premium product that lasts a long time.

For a mass-market example: cars are now offering 10-year warranties and the age of cars on the road is much older than 20 years years ago. Your argument would suggest this is a disadvantage to the car companies, but the reality is that higher demand exists for a car that lasts longer.

For a more on-topic example: the only place I’ll buy shoes any more is SAS. Yeah, they’re on the order of $150+ a pair… but I’ll get 5 years of use out of them as nice shoes that I wear to the office, and another 5 as casual shoes to wear around home. SAS may be no threat to the mass market, but they’re certainly a viable business model. (The fact that you can get 10+ years out of leather means that hemp doesn’t have a particular advantage in the longevity department.)

Thank you for fighting my ignorance.

One itemn nmot yet mentioned which was very important in the past, and could be again with oil prices climbing, is that it is (TTBOMK) the only natural fiber with the right physical characteristics (I presume tensile strength) for making rope which floats. Today with “there’s a polymer for every need” this is nowhere as important as it once was – but it could be again.

I suspect the industrial uses of “hemp” are somewhat similar to the medical uses of marijuana - mostly a combination of wishful thinking, marketing hype, and exaggeration by folks who want the stuff around so they can get wasted.

As an intoxicant? Sure, it would be mighty viable. For anything else? Fringe markets at best, as clairobscur mentions.


Hemp Plus granola is absolutely the best-tasting granola I’ve ever had. It used to be my daily staff of life. But then I decided that eating prepared breakfast cereal for breakfast was not economically viable compared to say oatmeal or bread or pancakes homemade from scratch. But I sure love Hemp Plus granola.

I agree completely. But you make it sound like a bad thing.

Quite clearly it isn’t.

Hemp production is legal in dozens of countries. The US imports other food including grains, pulses and meats from as far away as Australia and New Zealand: the other side of the freakin’ world.

If hemp seed as a food source was economically viable then it would simply be imported from somewhere else. If the US can import low value foods such as barley then it could sure as hell import supposedly high value foods such as hemp seed.

The fact that it isn’t imported in more than trivial quantities is all the evidence that is required to prove that it isn’t economically viable.