As more venues of investment and consumer goods open in cannabis and hemp markets, Americans are turning their attention to an industry that could save the country’s farm economy.
Much has been made of the industrial and commercial uses of industrial hemp outside of the more prominent CBD products, which offer many of the benefits of marijuana without the mind-altering high. Still, these benefits continue to be found in unlikely areas and with unexpected benefits to American industry.
If you’ve heard of hemp, you’ve likely heard of CBD, CBD oil, soaps, lotions, sleep aids and chronic pain relievers, but you may not know the extent of cannabis ingenuity.
According to UPI, over 50,000 products have been made using industrial hemp in the time since the crop was made legal in 2018. 
The plant also has extensive uses in renewable plastics and composite wood products, UPI reported.
Composite boards made with pressed hemp can be up to 20 times harder than oak and require about 1/200th of the growing time. 
This echoes the pattern of other textile crops like cotton, which take far more water per acre to produce similar yields when compared with hemp.
John Crye’s company, Fibonacci LLC, makes the compact hardwood hemp synthetics in Kentucky.
"We're in the forefront of the hemp fiber industry, and I don't know how many people are buying it besides, us," Crye said. "There appears to be lots of room for new entrants in the market.” 
“People just don’t understand what hemp is,” Jeffrey Cox, head of Illinois’s bureau of medicinal plants, said to the New York Times. “I had to explain that it’s not marijuana to hundreds and hundreds of people.” 
In Illinois, the Times reports that many farmers have turned to hemp as an alternatives to crops facing heavy sanctions and tariffs across trade-lines with China like wheat, corn and soybeans.
“It went from a trickle to a flood,” University of Kentucky agricultural economist Tyler Mark told the Times. 
While hemp crops are relatively resistant “weeds” compared to other crops, there are no federally-approved pesticides for the new plant and growing and harvesting it can be labor-intensive, the New York Times reports. 
Meanwhile, other uses for hemp crops and textiles lay waiting to be used to their fullest potential.
Forbes recently reported that if resources were redirected toward the use of hemp, in the broad sweep of money spent on the fashion industry, huge amounts of money and environmental impact could be saved. 
“Hemp is a more sustainable, organic and regenerative agricultural crop and most everything that you can make with cotton can be made with hemp, with way less impact on the Earth,” Morris Beegle, cofounder and president of We Are For Better Alternatives told Forbes.