Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

It’s not amber waves of grain that Christopher Boucher sees in his dreams, but emerald waves of hemp.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of industry move into California to set up operations,” said Boucher, whose decades of advocacy for the plant has earned him the nickname in some quarters as “Johnny Hempseed.” 

“There are so many different players in the industry, so much investment money for people who want to set up their operations.”

California voters passed Proposition 64 back in November, legalizing recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older. But one part of the proposition was little-noticed — a provision allowing for the production of industrial hemp.

“Practically nobody knew about it, no one talked about it,” said Lawrence Serbin, president of Hemp Traders, a company based outside Long Beach that bills itself as the largest supplier of hemp fiber products in the country. “Everyone overlooked it and I believe more money will be made from that provision than in recreational” marijuana.

California is not the first state to legalize hemp production but its sheer size and ample agricultural base has backers thinking the Golden State may soon tower over the U.S. market.

But getting from dormancy to dominance may hinge on how quickly and effectively the state’s regulatory apparatus gets established. And then there is the larger question of whether hemp will live up to the hype.

For now, the hemp industry is relatively small — about $600 million nationally.

Products using hemp range from items such as rope, clothing, textiles, lotions to even construction materials such as strengtheners for concrete and the automotive industry in things like door panels.

However, the sharpest growth may come from hemp’s health and medicinal applications in products like nutritional supplements, protein powders and oils that come from hemp-derived CBD, short for cannabidiol-based derivatives.

CBD has been used as a treatment for juvenile epilepsy.

Last month, the Hemp Business Journal predicted the CBD market will grow 700 percent, becoming a $2.1 billion industry in the next three years.

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