By Rieva Lesonsky

For years the uninformed confused hemp with marijuana, leading to very few hemp-infused products being sold in mainstream stores. While hemp is a variety of cannabis, it has a negligible amount of THC, the ingredient that makes marijuana a mind-bending drug. Earlier this year, the feds officially “recognized” that hemp was different than marijuana, although there is still a government ban on commercial cultivation.

But, according to a recent report in Bloomberg Businessweek, there’s now a steady flow of hemp into the U.S. from Canada. In fact, one Canadian entrepreneur sells his hemp hearts products in Safeway, Whole Foods and Costco.

Photo Courtesy: Manitoba Harvest
Photo Courtesy: Manitoba Harvest

Hemp hearts are the inner kernel of the hemp seed (pictured), and are popular because they’re easy to digest and have more protein than chia or flax seeds. Businessweek says hemp hearts “can be sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, and salads or processed into powders, flour or oil to make everything from bread to beer.”

The magazine says U.S. food marketers are very interested in hemp products as well. Already hemp can be grown in 14 states for research purposes, and some in Congress say hemp could provide an economic boost. Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) told Businessweek, “The potential for a billion-dollar-plus domestic industry is very realistic.”

Hemp cultivation, which has been legal in Canada since 1988, enabled entrepreneur Mike Fata to grow to a $50 million-plus business.

The good news for American entrepreneurs: According to Businessweek, the “packaged food giants say they don’t have any current plans for hemp, leaving the market open for smaller” companies.

This is a true ground-floor opportunity to manufacture (eventually), sell or serve hemp.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+   and and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.