DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill opened the door for a newer agriculture commodity to potentially take center stage - industrial hemp.
Shops like Honeysuckle Hemp in Dothan are now welcoming business after getting the green light from the government in December.
“I had been keeping up with the Farm Bill and knew this was coming. When the Farm Bill was officially signed - within a couple hours - I was requesting a business license in Alabama,” said owner Chad Chig Martin.
Honeysuckle Hemp is a natural pharmacy that provides natural medicinal treatment. In glass cases there are bottles in neat rows of CBD oil for sale. Raw hemp flower that can be purchased is tucked in drawers.
“The hemp flower is really sweeping the country right now. It’s the first time in America where people have really been able to buy the hemp flower and carry it around legally,” Martin said.
Hemp is like a sister plant to the marijuana plant - without the high levels of THC, which is the psychoactive drug that gives people the feeling of being “high.”
Martin says his shop is the state’s first CBD Supercenter. He offers nine private labels of CBD oil, which is derived from the plant. He also says his store is the biggest dispensary of the raw hemp flower in the state - offering three strains that can be used for cooking or smoking.
He imports products from Tennessee, Colorado, Utah and California. While some products in the store have no THC, others have trace amounts.
“All of our products have under that .3 percent,” Martin said.
Following the passage of the Farm Bill, State Attorney General Steve Marshall released updated guidelines indicating the sale and use of industrial hemp with a THC concentrate of less than .3 percent is now legal.
Customers leave with documentation of the lab test results indicating the product contains less than .3 percent THC.
Martin says the passage of the law has created access for those looking for medical alternatives. It’s often used for seizures, anxiety or as an anti-inflammatory treatment for things like arthritis.
“We’ve gotten to a point in society where we think of natural medicine as a dirty word. We’re trying to change the thinking there,” Martin said. “Natural medicine should be a great word compared to pharmaceutical and chemical driven medicine.”
He also believes the bill will allow the industry to grow economically.
According to research firm Brightfield Group, the legal market for CBD could balloon to $20 billion by 2022, as referenced by Forbes and Bloomberg.
“We have a period here where America has to catch up with this law,” Martin said. “We feel like we started one of the best businesses in the state of Alabama.”
Martin says once more hemp farming equipment is readily available in the U.S., you’ll see more farmers begin growing the crop.
WSFA reached out to Dothan’s business license office and the State Revenue Department to get numbers on how many people are now applying to open hemp retail businesses.