Hemp boomed in 2017, with U.S. acreage devoted to the plant more than doubling to about 25,000 acres.

At least six states started industrial hemp programs, pushing the total number of hemp states to the mid-30s.

Hemp’s growth wasn’t limited to the United States. Canada’s hemp growers learned in November that they’ll soon be allowed to process hemp flower for CBD – a decision that will unleash a huge new market opportunity.

And in Europe, hemp-derived cannabidiol products exploded alongside smokable hemp products.

The hemp boom can be explained in three easy letters – CBD. Agronomists report that hemp rich in cannabidiol can produce as much profit as an acre of corn. High-CBD flower is selling for more than $100 a pound.

And CBD products are sold in many states where medical marijuana is not. The World Anti-Doping Agency announced in September that it would remove CBD from the list of substances banned at the Olympics and other international sporting competitions. And the UN’s health agency, the Switzerland-based World Health Organization, said in December that CBD should not be a scheduled drug.

Markets are responding. Cannabis research firm Brightfield Group estimated that the U.S. market for hemp-derived CBD market hit $291 million in 2017 and will balloon to $1.65 billion by 2021 – an increase topping 500% in just four years.

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