The Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture estimates that by 2020 there will be at least 10,000 acres of hemp cultivated in Puerto Rico for commercial purposes.

The director of the Office for Licensing and Inspection of Hemp of the Department of Agriculture, Irving Rodríguez, said that the local government needs to submit a plan before the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) by January.

“After that we will move on to the commercial phase. There are already farmers with thousands of acres waiting,” the official said.

He anticipates the development of products such as cooking oil, milk or hemp juice, hemp blocks (hempcrete), animal feed, clothing, medical treatments and CBD items.

New Frontier Data, the authority in data analytics and business intelligence on the global cannabis industry, reported that U.S. hemp revenue is predicted to reach nearly $6 billion in sales by 2020.

Hemp or industrial hemp is a variety of Cannabis that contains less than 0.3 percent of THC content by dry weight, whereas marijuana is a variety that contains more than 0.3 percent of THC by dry weight and can induce psychotropic or euphoric effects on the user. Hemp and marijuana both derive from the Cannabaceae family. Hemp and marijuana therefore share certain similarities, but there are key differences.

The U.S. 2018 Farm Bill redefined hemp as an agricultural commodity, removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and allowed for a massive expansion of economic opportunities across all sectors of the hemp industry. Marijuana continues to be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act.

Less than a year after the change to the hemp classification, industrial hemp was legalized and Puerto Rico’s tropical climate makes the island an ideal home for this industry, since it allows up to three crops a year.

The Office for Licensing and Inspection of Hemp of the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture projects the granting of 50 manufacturing licenses, whose effect “could represent about 100 to 150 million dollars for the treasury.”

The island is currently in an investigation phase, and the Office for Licensing and Inspection of Hemp has granted 30 harvest licenses and seven manufacturing licenses.

The Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture issued the first licenses to start growing hemp last September, eight months after former Governor Ricardo Rosselló signed an executive order supporting the hemp industry.

Managing Editor for The Weekly Journal. She has 14 years of experience as a print and radio reporter, news editor and TV anchor. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Journalism from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus.

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