Thursday, July 19, 2018

Comer gains seat on farm bill conference committee

By Bruce Schreiner

A Kentucky congressman with deep roots in agriculture will serve on the conference committee assigned to negotiate a final version of the next federal farm bill.
After his selection to the committee, U.S. Rep. James Comer said Wednesday the final product will be the "most impactful legislation" signed into law this year. He'll also advocate for including language that legalizes hemp, a proposal championed by a fellow Kentucky Republican — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The conference committee role is a plum assignment for Comer, still in his first full House term. He represents a rural district that relies heavily on agriculture.
The congressional conferees will meet to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill. The legislation would renew farm programs such as crop insurance and land conservation.
The negotiations come as farmers are struggling from low prices for their products and increasingly worried that trade disputes could depress commodity prices further.
Comer said he's looking forward to working out a final farm bill that will "give our farmers confidence the federal government has their back."
Comer is a farmer and served as Kentucky's agriculture commissioner. He emerged as one of the state's biggest proponents for bringing back hemp as an agricultural commodity.
To legalize hemp, it has to be removed from the controlled substances list that currently associates the crop with its cousin — marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but hemp has a negligible amount of the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
McConnell's proposal to legalize the crop was included in the Senate-passed version of the farm bill. Hemp language wasn't included in the House measure.
Comer said he'll push hard to put the hemp provisions in the final version. He said there's still resistance to the crop among some conferees.
"The economic viability of industrial hemp in Kentucky grows every day," he said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Kentucky has been at the forefront of hemp's comeback. The crop has been grown on an experimental basis in a number of states after a provision in the 2014 farm bill allowed state agriculture departments to designate hemp projects for research and development.
The versatile crop was historically used for rope but has many other uses, including clothing and mulch from the fiber; hemp milk and cooking oil from the seeds; and soap and lotions. Other uses include building materials, animal bedding and biofuels.
Meanwhile, proposed changes to food stamps loom as the biggest sticking point in the farm bill negotiations. The House bill would tighten work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Senate version largely avoided changes to food stamps.
Comer said Wednesday he'd like to see the tighter work requirements in the final bill.
"We have the strongest economy we've had in a generation, and there's never been a better time to get people off welfare and into the work force that are able bodied," he said. "And this ... is the last potential piece of legislation this year that could have any type of welfare reform component to it."

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

First pot company to IPO on Nasdaq raises $153 million

By Sue Chang

Tilray Inc. TLRY, +0.00% late Wednesday raised $153 million via an inital public offering of 9 million shares of which 6.524 million shares will be offered in the U.S. at $17 a share, above its expected pricing range of $14 to $16. Another 2.476 million shares classified as subordinate voting shares will be offered in Canada and other countries at 22.45 Canadian dollar a share.

Tilray, a federally-licensed marijuana cultivator, processor and distributor, will receive the bulk of the proceeds and will be majority controlled by the Seattle, Wash.-based Privateer Holdings. Shares are expected to begin trading Thursday morning on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol TLRY.

Will France’s Post-World Cup Economic Boon Come from Hemp?

By Nick Adams

Since 1970, the winners of the World Cup have seen economic growth after their country’s victory. France’s boon could include CBD, if the government would allow it.
France, who defeated Croatia in the championship match on July 15, was the third-largest producer of hemp in the world in 2017 with 40,000 acres in cultivation, just after Canada (138,000 acres) and China (116,000 acres). In the US, acreage reached 25,000, doubling 2016’s output.
Industrial hemp is grown in France for its seeds and fibrous stems. Only a few strains of the plant, listed in article R.5132.86 of France’s Public Health Code for cannabis, are allowed for cultivation provided they contain less than 0.2% THC.
“France produces the lion’s share of Europe’s pulp and paper,” according to “It’s the most important hemp market in the EU, accounting for over 50% of fiber applications. French hemp cultivars are suited for grain and fiber production, the specific varieties that industry trends demand.”

France has the highest rates of cannabis consumption in Europe. Among France’s 67 million people, there are 800,000 regular cannabis users and 17 million experimenters. 

Meanwhile, smokeable marijuana containing THC is strictly prohibited in France. Medical use is allowed via prescription. During his presidential campaign in 2017, Emmanuel Macron promised to reduce cannabis arrests to citations and stop sending people to jail for possession.
France has the highest rates of cannabis consumption in Europe and a black market estimated at 1.2 billion Euros. Among France’s 67 million people, there are 800,000 regular cannabis users and 17 million experimenters.
The French are used to going to Amsterdam or Rotterdam for pot tourism. In the Netherlands, cannabis has been available for recreational purposes in coffeeshops since the ’70s.
The global financial crisis hit the Netherlands hard in 2008. Two years later, after Holland’s soccer team went to the World Cup finals, the economy began to recover. In 2009, the Dutch cannabis industry contributed 1.1 billion Euros to the national economy.
In 1998, France’s economic growth increased by 6% in the three months following its World Cup victory over Brazil. Analysts revealed that with victory comes a systematic improvement of household morale and leads to larger investments such as the purchase of new vehicles and houses, and starting businesses.

Hemp field in France

While France Advanced in the World Cup, the CBD Green Rush Bloomed

In June, several CBD shops opened in France, one in Paris called Cofyshop. Shops sold out the day they opened. The very first CBD store opened in October 2017 in Besançon in eastern France, near the border with Switzerland. The owner, Élodie Marchon, got the smart idea to start selling hemp flowers as dietary supplements in her vape shop. She buys flowers with less than 0.2% THC in Switzerland, where CBD products are legal as long as they contain less than 1% THC, and sells them in France as “herbal teas.”
In May, Minister of Health Agnés Buzyn stated clearly that the adult use of cannabis is absolutely not an option. However, the fact that she didn’t say anything about the well-known situation going on in Besançon was enough to encourage the establishment of more than 100 more such shops throughout France in the span of a few days. National police started to seize some goods and send the flowers to toxicology laboratories in order to test the products and see if they contained more than 0.2% THC. For the first time, dried hemp flowers could be sold “legally” as a dietary supplement. To circumvent the legal ambiguity, herbal tea containing CBD clearly instructs on the packaging: “No smoking.”

France Is a Huge Market for Cannabis, But Its Laws Remain Repressive

MILDECA, the government agency that coordinates efforts to control drugs and drug addiction in France, issued a precise reminder of the law in order to stop this French green rush at its inception. MILDECA (for Interministerial Mission for Combatting Drugs and Addictive Behaviors) considers the sale of hemp flower to be an incentive to consume cannabis that is also high in THC. They clarified that:
  • The hemp flower is considered waste and is prohibited for sale.
  • Processing the flowers or even extracting molecules from the hemp flowers are also prohibited.
  • Products that contain cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from the flowering portion of the plant are illegal.
  • Finished goods must contain no trace of THC, only the plant can contain less than 0.2% THC.
  • No therapeutic claims can be made about CBD products.
“They might have scared some people, but that is not going to stop me,” says Damien Libeau, a NORML France member who’s planning to open a CBD store in Paris. He’s already selling CBD tinctures online to patients suffering from conditions like cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
In June, Health minister Buzyn commented about the CBD stores: “They took advantage of the gray area of law to open their coffee shops. They will have to close in a few months. Any sale of products containing THC is prohibited in France. I’m against the legalization of cannabis because I think it’s a toxic and dangerous product and I’m also against its decriminalization.”

Many entrepreneurs think France’s ban on hemp flower is not consistent with European legislation.

This month, the Narcotics Brigade of the French National Judicial Police (DCPJ) began to arrest coffeeshop managers and seize goods in several regions of France. NORML France’s team of lawyers is helping to prepare their defenses and to question the legality of those pursuits.
Many entrepreneurs think France’s ban on hemp flower is not consistent with European legislation. They’re convinced that Common Agricultural Policy (the agricultural policy of the European Union) authorizes all parts of the hemp plant to be used. As a member state of the EU, France should not have the right to restrict the common organization of markets in the hemp sector, they contend.
Florent Buffière, the Communications Manager for NORML France, expects some liberality in cities like Lyon and repression in others like Reims. Buffière, who studied at Oaksterdam University in Oakland, CA, hope France’s cannabis laws in France will someday be like those in California and other US states.
On July 14—Bastille Day, the national holiday of France—people sang the national anthem as a reminder of the courage of those who fought during the French revolution. The next day, France won its second-ever World Cup, crowning the soccer team as the best across the globe. The national anthem rang out again, this time as a symbol of success and unity. While France’s morale was ambitious and unbreakable on that victorious day, the drumbeat of the cannabis revolution also reverberates in the hearts of the country’s patients, recreational users, entrepreneurs and activists.


By Katie Lavin

Limited Space Available in the Fall 2018 Undergraduate Class

 Image result for sterling college of vermont

New legislation that went into effect on July 1 makes it easier to experiment with growing hemp in Vermont. A one-week immersion course focused on the entrepreneurial pursuit of growing and making value-added products from this Cannabidiol-rich plant is being offered through the School of the New American Farmstead, Sterling College’s continuing education program. Healing Hemp: Cannabidiol from Field to Product runs August 13-17 at Sterling’s campus in Craftsbury Common with instructor and Sterling alumnus Kyle Gruter-Curham ‘09 of Creek Valley Cannabidiol.

Cannabidiol (CBD) products are rapidly gaining a reputation for their health and healing properties as well as for being profitable for farmers. “This class will be valuable to people looking to get into CBD, whether they are looking to grow it or make products out of it,” said Gruter-Curham. “I look forward to sharing the knowledge and skills I have learned over many years in the industry. This class will also provide opportunities to hear from and network with some of Vermont’s finest in the business.”

Guest speakers include Eli Harrington of Heady Vermont, Erica Kawka from the Phytoscience Institute, and Will Read from CannaPlanners. Topics covered include history of the hemp plant, legal history and current standing in Vermont and abroad, CBD components, the science of CBD, genetics and selection, basics of growing hemp, CBD preservation techniques, value-added CBD products, branding, marketing and economics of the CBD industry. Participants will also visit Gruter-Curham’s farm for hands-on demonstrations in the field and processing kitchen.

The School of the New American Farmstead (SNAF) is Sterling College’s continuing education program, which presents agrarians, culinarians, entrepreneurs and craftspeople ways to hone valuable skills while adhering to the College’s principles of environmental stewardship and experiential learning.

For more information on the School of the New American Farmstead and to register for this class, please visit:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Willie Nelson grows cannabis empire with new line of CBD oil products

By Katie Friel
Willie's Remedy CBD coffee

Whether it's a song about heartbreak or an eighth of his own brand of marijuana, Austin's own Willie Nelson always has the cure for what ails you. Beginning in September, Nelson is expanding his cannabis line to include one of the buzziest products in recent memory: CBD oil. 
According to a release, Willie's Remedy, the CBD line of Nelson's Willie's Reserve, will first debut a whole bean, CBD-infused coffee to help perk up your morning. The small batch roast will be infused with oil naturally derived from American-grown, organic hemp. When brewed, an 8-ounce cup of Willie's Remedy carries about 5 milligrams of CBD oil. 
"It's two of my favorites, together in the perfect combination," says Nelson in a release. "Like coffee, cannabis is a plant that works for me." The coffee is set to launch in September in Colorado. According to a representative, the brand plans to roll out additional CBD products sometime this year. 
In addition to music, education about the cannabis plant has been a large part of Nelson's lengthy career. With Willie's Reserve, which sells marijuana, accessories, and edibles in states where pot is legal, Nelson is monetizing the regulatory and social shifts happening in places like Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and California. Now, says the singer, it's time to focus on hemp.
"Hemp production was suppressed in America because hemp was competitive to too many industries. The country probably missed some opportunity during hemp prohibition," says Nelson. "But another way to look at it is that hemp is the answer to [a] huge range of challenges we're facing right now. Allowing commercial hemp farming will create jobs for the farmers."
Nelson also hopes to use his CBD line to educate consumers on the benefits of THC-free products. Though it is a derivative of the cannabis plant, CBD carries many of the same benefits as marijuana, but without THC, users don't have the psychoactive or "high" effects.
The launch of Willie's Remedy comes just months after Willie's Reserve made its debut in April. That line includes Willie's Reserve Legendary Stash of packaged flowers and pre-rolled joints. In true Nelson fashion, the Red Headed Stranger tests all of his products, which are cultivated on independent farms in small batches, using only organic inputs. 

Zimbabwe makes play for ‘superplant’ hemp


Image result for zimbabwe

HARARE, July 17 (The Source) – Since the Zimbabwe government announced in April that Zimbabweans can now apply for licences to grow cannabis for medical and research purposes, moves are on to set up legislation to regulate the crop.
The southern African nation followed in the footsteps of Lesotho, the tiny nation which last year became the first in Africa to legalize cultivation of medical marijuana.
Zorodzai Makovere, who founded the Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust (ZIHT), believes Zimbabwe should also be looking at other areas of the plant, which she says offer more opportunities.
“There is a global momentum on cannabis as Zimbabwe has a huge competitive advantage to the countries that have set the trend so far. So I think government has seen it fit because they are not only looking at the economic benefit but also the medicinal benefits that come not just with the medicinal cannabis but also the industrial cannabis,” she told The Source at a Cannabis Round Table in the capital.
While industrial hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant, hemp is cultivated to produce small amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound in cannabis responsible for a euphoric high.
Hemp can be turned into or used in many areas such as construction materials, clothes, food and in the production of insulation materials. Other uses include paper, plastic for functions ranging from single-use to automotive components while in textiles is said to be several times more sustainable than cotton and cheaper to produce.
Experts say the plant has over 25,000 uses, making it a superplant with something for everyone.
“There are economic opportunities that come for our country as well as employment creation among the many economic factors you can think of. I think it’s good timing because in the region alone there is (Lesotho), South Africa and Malawi moving in that direction. But these countries also have no regulations in place so this gives Zimbabwe a head start even though these countries have done a lot of research which we are lagging behind,” said Maroveke.
Davison Gomo, an economist who heads the African Leadership Convention said it was critical that the country evaluates and creates the right framework for the production of the plant.
“In this society everyone is going to be looking for any solution and any material that plays a role on furthering either economic development or providing solutions to problems faced by citizens. In this case, whether looking at medicinal cannabis or industrial hemp, the potential that basically is available to us as a people and as an economy is large,” he said.
“The medicinal cannabis — although science is still evolving — to a larger extent it is very clear that it can provide solutions to various serious medical conditions. If you look at industrial hemp, is it not true that you can get a lot of by products from this especially since the world through science, research and development is discovering new solutions to various needs for our industries.”

The other kind of cannabis: Advocates push to legalize hemp farming in Texas

By Melissa Repko

Image result for hemp field with barn

Texas hemp advocates want to see fields of green on farms across the state — and they’re rallying lawmakers to make it happen.

A group of hemp advocates testified Tuesday before the Texas House Agriculture and Livestock Committee about the jobs and economic opportunities that are possible if the state allows Texas farmers to grow the crop. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant but has low or untraceable amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

Hemp products have become a staple at smoothie shops, wellness stores and many nationwide grocery chains. Austin-based Whole Foods carries hemp protein powders and body care items, such as lotions. The lightweight and fibrous crop has been used by home builders, clothing companies and automakers, including BMW. And hemp seeds have even been used as a garnish on cocktails and entrees.

But federal law tossed hemp into the same category as its famous cousin, marijuana, and its connection with the controlled substance spooked some lawmakers.

"Everybody is starting to figure out this is actually a good thing, and it's not the boogeyman," said Jim Reaves, the state legislative director of the Texas Farm Bureau.

In his testimony, he said the crop would give farmers another option, especially during tough years for corn, cotton or other Texas crops. The net income that Texas farmers and ranchers receive from commodities has dropped more than 50 percent in the last four years, he said.

The debate over hemp is another example of how lawmakers and industry leaders are trying to reconcile harsh federal drug laws with a growing demand for cannabis-related products — including the ones that don't give consumers a high. Texas has held the line, even as other states have approved pilot programs to farm industrial hemp. Some states, like Colorado and Maine, have gone further by legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

Texas has allowed very few businesses to touch the plant — even if it has low levels of THC. It has granted three companies licenses to grow the plant and produce a type of cannabis oil that's used as medicine for Texans with intractable epilepsy.

Hemp has been in a unique kind of limbo. Texas consumers can find hemp products on the shelves of national chains like Costco and Target, but farmers cannot grow the plant. That means the majority of hemp is imported from Canada, China and other countries.

The federal farm bill in 2014 paved the way toward change by allowing state agricultural departments and universities to run pilot programs that could grow and sell industrial hemp. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — whose home state of Kentucky has become a fast-growing producer of hemp — said he's optimistic the crop will be legalized in the next federal farm bill. It is expected in the next few months.

About 40 states have passed some form of hemp legislation and 19 states have begun cultivating it, according to Vote Hemp, a national advocacy group. Last year, about 25,713 acres of hemp were grown in the U.S. Colorado had the largest number of acres, followed by Oregon, Kentucky and North Dakota.

On Tuesday, advocates from Texas, Colorado and Kentucky urged the committee not to let Texas fall behind.

Coleman Hemphill, executive director of the Texas Hemp Industry Association, told the committee that he has seen the economic promise and innovative uses of hemp during travels to Kentucky and Oregon. Some companies are coming up with new ways to use the eco-friendly material for disposable cups, grocery bags and construction materials. For example, he said, they're exploring how it could be used to make straws as Starbucks and other retailers ban plastic straws.

Some of those who spoke Tuesday are part of the American Hemp Advocacy Campaign. The campaign is run by Vote Hemp and is supported by Texas country legend, Willie Nelson. Nelson, who’s spoken and sung about his support for cannabis, is also in the business. His company, GCH, has a proprietary strain of marijuana and recently launched a hemp-infused coffee.