Although Americans are currently focused the movement to legalize weed, there’s also an important role for another part of the cannabis sativa plant: industrial hemp.
The U.S. imports an estimated $300 million each year in commercial hemp products and raw hemp materials, yet it’s still illegal in most cases to grow this crop in the country. Industrial hemp is environmentally friendly and has the potential to be used to make 25,000-plus distinct products.
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Here are some of the top commercial hemp products imported to the U.S., according to data from the U.S. International Trade Commission.
1. Hemp Seeds:
In 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available), the U.S. imported more than $26 million worth of hemp seeds; in 2005, just five years earlier, this category only accounted for about $271,000. This speaks to the increased legality of growth of industrial hemp for research purposes, though it is still prohibited to grow this crop for other purposes. The seeds can also be used as an ingredient in health and beauty products, industrial oils, and pharmaceuticals.
2. Hemp Seed Oilcake and Other Solids:
This type of hemp material is commonly used as an additive in foods and nutritional supplements. In 2013, the U.S. imported approximately $6.25 million in hemp oilcake and related products, primarily from Canada.
3. Hemp Oil and Fractions:
This category represents imports of approximately $2.25 million in 2013. Hemp oil can be distilled to make a host of other products, including plastics and biofuels, as well as used on its own in soaps, as a moisturizer, and for cooking.
4. True Hemp Woven Fabrics:
In 2013, the U.S. imported just over $1 million in ready-made hemp clothing and textiles. This includes hemp products that are already processed into fabric but may not be a finished garment or product, as well as completed textile products that were imported as-is.
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5. True Hemp Yarn:
This category, indicating that the hemp fibers have been spun into yarn but that this yarn is not yet woven into fabric, represented $478,000 in industrial hemp imports to the U.S. in 2013.
6. True Hemp, Raw/Processed Not Spun:
The U.S. imported approximately $78,000 in hemp that is in its raw state and has not been processed, with the purpose of doing the processing domestically, in 2013.
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