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Heartland Growth 2020 Vision

Erika Gee
Erika Gee


Little Rock

Hemp in Arkansas: Grow Your Know 3-6 p.m., January 23
Wright Lindsey Jennings, Little Rock


Hemp in Arkansas

It's a new year in the Heartland and with medical marijuana sales setting records and the seemingly unbound promise of a well-regulated hemp market, we couldn't be more excited. At the end of 2019, Arkansas Business asked us for to provide a review of the past year and a look ahead at what to expect for 2020. Here's what Stuart and I had to say about what to expect this year.


Looking ahead, the increase in the patient count has started to impact employers, especially those in the western part of the state where employees may be drawn from Arkansas or Oklahoma. While many employers have modified their employment policies to account for medical marijuana and gone through the process of identifying in writing those positions that are safety-sensitive, a significant number have not. Given the types of remedies that are available to employees or applicants for violations of Arkansas’ medical marijuana laws, we expect a spike in employment litigation in 2020.


Many Arkansans are interested in becoming involved in the program but the state has not authorized any additional cultivation or dispensary licenses. Processor licenses, which would authorize companies to process marijuana into other products, like edible food and drink, extracts or topical creams, were authorized in the 2017 legislative session but the commission has not yet finalized the rules or begun accepting applications. The same is true of the specialized transportation and distributor licenses authorized in 2017. For potential investors, the best short-term opportunities for involvement in the Arkansas cannabis market are in ancillary services/products, such as growing supplies, security or equipment sales.


Meanwhile, the hemp program administered by the state Department of Agriculture got off to a roaring start in its first full growing season in 2019, with nearly 2,000 acres of fields and 80 farmers authorized to grow industrial hemp, which has been legalized under federal law.


The state has also licensed 18 processors to extract the non-psychoactive compound CBD or otherwise process the raw hemp for a large variety of purposes, including building materials, industrial products and food products. Observers expect that this market will increase significantly in 2020, as it provides farmers with the opportunity to grow a specialized crop in high demand without the concern over federal legality.

We really do live in fascinating times. If you asked if we could have imagined writing such a prospectus just five or six years ago, we would've said yes, but it would've been with a heavy load of optimism. And we are even more optimistic today. Thursday, January 23rd, Ryan Agnew and I want to share that hope with you at Hemp In Arkansas: Grow Your Know. Join us to learn about opportunities for hemp in Arkansas!

To accompany our vision for what's ahead, we've collected some of the industry's best bets on 2020, enjoy!

20 predictions for 2020: Insiders handicap what’s ahead for the hemp sector - Hemp Industry Daily

"In 2020, the U.S. hemp industry is going to transcend previous norms by exponential amounts. Farmers and processors are going to have to come up with creative solutions to adhere to the domestic surplus as well as the pressure from consumers to provide a more economically reasonable end-product." - Casey Flippo, CEO, Natvana, Little Rock, Arkansas

Marijuana On The 2020 Ballot: These States Could Vote - Forbes

"In 2020, hundreds of thousands of Americans will turn out to vote not for the top of the ticket, but for the rights of cannabis consumers in upwards of a dozen states," said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. "As we have seen in previous elections, marijuana initiatives increase voter turnout in nearly every demographic. With public support growing by the day, 2020 will be the biggest year yet for expanding the freedoms and liberties of cannabis consumers."

20 cannabis predictions for 2020 - Leafly

Call your bookie, lay the bet. In late 2018 the Leafly News team made 24 predictions for the new year—and a fat 68% of them came true. Take that, Nostradamus!

Why the War on Drugs Should Become the Fight for Strict Labeling - Greencamp

When we take a glance at our stores and pharmacies, we can almost hear the dying trumpet of the war on drugs. But a new fight is emerging – the fight for a regulated market.

20 Bold Predictions for the Cannabis Industry in 2020 - Green Entrepreneur

As the Green Rush soars into a new decade, we thought it would be useful—and fascinating—to find out where the big players see it all going in 2020 and beyond. From all-out federal legalization to innovative new technology, here's what they see in the crystal ball.

What's New for 2020? MJBizCon Reveals the 10 Cannabis Trends to Watch - Weedmaps

The annual gathering was the perfect place to gauge where things currently stand while pinpointing the latest trends. Top takeaways reveal that the industry is stronger than ever and moving in a promising direction — even if some issues need to be addressed along the way.
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