In the United States, hemp is still illegal. It’s a stupid and shortsighted policy, and other nations are putting us to shame. Here are five of them.
The planet’s leading cultivator, China has (wisely!) never banned industrial hemp. The country produces approximately 44,000 metric tons annually and is number two in hemp-seed production, accounting for 38 percent of the global total. China also leads in producing and exporting hemp textiles and related products. It’s the primary supplier of hemp products to the United States and has secured over half of the 606 hemp patents recorded worldwide.
The French are the front-runners in hemp-seed production, accounting for a whopping 59 percent of the global total. France also produces the lion’s share of Europe’s pulp and paper, the most important hemp market in the EU, accounting for over 50 percent of fiber applications. French hemp cultivars are suited for grain and fiber production, the specific varieties that industry trends demand.
South America’s most prodigious producer of hemp, Chile also sets the pace by hosting the continent’s largest hemp trade fair. Chilean hemp production measures about 4,385 tons annually, and the nation ranks as the world’s third-most-important producer of hemp seed. However, the seed isn’t native to Chile, which imports its four primary cultivars from Italy, China and the US state of Kentucky.
Second only to China in worldwide hemp-fiber production, South Korea produces 14,000 tons of hemp annually. Hemp originated in Asia, and its versatility allows it to grow both upland and in paddy fields. However, regulations have hindered the expansion of hemp agriculture in South Korea, which is fueling a domestic demand for hemp seed and fiber from countries like Canada.
It shouldn’t be too mind-blowing to discover that Holland, the land of cannabis coffeeshops, also happens to be among the EU leaders in hemp production. Hemp output here has risen dramatically, to 6,614 tons annually. However, there’s concern that insufficient cropland will limit output, so Dutch companies like HempFlax have begun farming operations in Romania.