FILE - Hemp

A hemp field in summer.

The CBD products lining grocery store shelves next year could be derived from Michigan-grown hemp.

David Conner of Paw Paw Hemp told The Center Square his group chose to grow 26 acres of hemp because it’s an emerging market that fits into their specialty crop season window.

Conner said he and his partner, Joe Leduc, plant hemp before the blueberry season begins and harvest hemp right after the blueberry season ends.

Michigan gave 564 licenses to hemp growers and 423 licenses to processors after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp farming, which was banned previously because it contains THC, the psychoactive element in cannabis that can produce a high.

State law requires growers to destroy any hemp containing more than .03 percent THC.

Conner said most of his hemp likely will be used for CBD-oil based products created by processing hemp to a refined, THC-free oil that will be sold to companies making CBD products such as edibles, tinctures and drinks.

More people will use hemp in hempcrete, insulation, and even a cat litter supplement in the short-term, he said, but the “biggest opportunity” for Michigan farmers will be in the automotive industry once it begins supplementing plastic with hemp.

“You could replace up to 30 percent of a poly-plastic blend with hemp, and it’ll hold up better than your standard plastic will right now,” Conner said. “Hemp has a natural microbial resistance and water resistance that makes it a perfect blend for plastic. By reducing that footprint by 30 percent, you’re going to save a ton on plastic.”

Conner said he doesn’t yet know the expected revenue per acre for hemp.

“We won’t know the revenue per-acre until next month, but it’s anticipated that if you’re going to get $500 per acre for corn, then hemp will return $5,000 an acre,” he said.

The BrightfieldGroup, a market research firm, published an October 2019 report pinning the hemp-derived CBD market in the U.S. just above $23 billion in revenue by 2023.

The group estimated 285,000 acres of industrial hemp planted in the U.S., a 207,000-acre leap from 2018.

Morris Beegle, president and co-founder of We Are For Better Alternatives (WAFBA), a group of hemp-brands, told The Center Square they’ve reached into the domestic and global hemp supply chain to sell everything from guitars to regenerative farming equipment.

Beegle said he sees hemp branching into other sectors such as construction and automotive once the hemp infrastructure and processing structures in the U.S. grow.

“I think hemp will be part of the solution when we switch from petroleum-based plastics to more bio-based plastics that are crop-based from crops like hemp,” Beegle said.

Beegle pointed to the European market in which many car manufacturers use hemp and other crop-based plastics in interior paneling.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on and Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.