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Take a trip down the aisle of the nearest Whole Foods Market and it won’t take long to fill a shopping basket with products trumpeting the health and beauty benefits of a commodity Texas farmers are forbidden to grow: hemp.
Lotions, shampoos and shower gels boasting hemp’s essential oils and antioxidants. Shelled seeds, or hemp hearts, promising bigger boosts of protein and omega fatty acids than chia or flax seeds. Boxes of non-dairy hemp milk touting vitamins, minerals and amino acids for healthy hearts and glowing skin. All in packaging that if not displaying the leaves of the long-taboo cannabis plant itself is inevitably splashed with hearty doses of green.
There already are more than 25,000 identified uses for hemp, ranging from health foods and nutraceuticals to clothing, car dashboards, biodegradable plastics and construction materials like “hempcrete.” With the nation’s farm incomes near a 12-year low, it’s no wonder Texas growers want in on a market that’s expected to explode nearly sixfold to $1.65 billion in the U.S. alone by 2021.