What if Americans could buy cigarettes but were banned from growing tobacco? Buy bread but not allowed to grow wheat? That is the case with industrial hemp, a product in everything from car doors to milk...legally.
Hemp farming was banned in the U.S. decades ago as part of the earliest drug wars. Hemp contains THC, like marijuana. But hemp is not marijuana. "It's like a Chihuahua versus a Saint Bernard," says David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, which sold $29 million in hemp-related products last year. The THC in industrial hemp is so minute that "the only thing you will get from smoking it is a headache," says Gregg Baumbaugh, CEO of FlexForm Technologies, which uses hemp in car doors for Dodge Vipers. Both companies import their hemp from Canada or France, adding 10 to 15 percent to costs.