Friday, September 30, 2011

Bill seeks to allow industrial hemp grows in Kern, three other counties


It may be distantly related to pot, but industrial hemp most definitely is not, say supporters of a California Senate Bill aimed at legalizing cultivation of the cannabis cousin in four counties, including Kern.
Senate Bill 676 or the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act -- which is on the governor's desk for signing by Oct. 9 -- would create an eight-year pilot program permitting farmers in Imperial, Kern, Kings and San Joaquin counties to grow industrial hemp for sale of its seed, oil and fiber to manufacturers.
After six years, the Attorney General would report on any law enforcement effects of the pilot, while the Hemp Industries Association, a co-sponsor of the bill, would report on its economic impacts.
The bill also lays out law enforcement provisions designed to make it difficult to grow marijuana under the guise of farming industrial hemp, including stipulations that farmers' crops are tested for THC content (hemp contains only trace amounts), that they clearly mark their fields and that farmer grow at least five acres.
Supporters include various companies that already use hemp (which is not a controlled substance unless it's planted) in their products, several farming organizations, the sheriffs of Kern and Kings counties and California legislators from both sides of the aisle, who passed the bill.
They say hemp could become a hugely beneficial "cash crop" for California farmers and that arguments the plant is indistinguishable from marijuana grows are bunk because it grows differently from marijuana -- in dense fields of tall stalks that resemble bamboo.
The bill's opponents -- who include members of the California Narcotics' Officers Association and the California Police Chief's Association -- say legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp would undermine federal law and cause headaches for law enforcement officers trying to bust pot growers.
Though industrial hemp has "about as much THC as the poppyseeds on your bagel have opium," said the bill's author, Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, its cultivation is still illegal as the result of outdated legislation from the mid-20th century.
"Currently we import the entire plant from Canada, Mexico, China ... (to make) thousands of legal products -- food, clothing, shelter, paper, fuel," he said. "It's only illegal when it's growing in the ground."
With SB 676, Leno said he hopes to bring the money California-based companies might spend on importing industrial hemp for their products back to California farmers.
He also said industrial hemp works well in crop rotations, grows without pesticides and requires less water than other crops.
Patrick Goggin, co-counsel to a nonprofit called Vote Hemp and the Hemp Industries Association, estimated that hemp products are a "$400 million a year industry" nationally and the passage of the bill would "remove the barrier for large expansive growth in the market."
"It's going to add agricultural jobs, manufacturing jobs, any number of jobs, processing plant jobs," he said. "More importantly for the state, it's going to create tax revenue."
California, Goggin added, has 55 percent of the hemp product manufacturers in the country.
But John Lovell, a lobbyist for the California Police Chief's Association and the California Narcotics Officers Association, said none of that matters because "cultivation of industrial hemp is illegal under federal law."
He said the bill is "basically forum-shopping for the hemp industry."
Leno said that because viable hemp seeds grow wild in the state, "there's no reason for the federal government to get involved at all."
Still, Lovell added that SB 676 has "virtually universal law enforcement opposition."
In Kern County, though -- where the sheriff's department raids large marijuana grows on a regular basis -- Sheriff Donny Youngblood sent Leno a letter in support of the bill.
So did the Kings County Sheriff, David Robinson.
"Law enforcement is not out to limit agriculture," said Francis Moore, chief deputy of the Kern County Sheriff's Department. "We try to make ourselves very informed about the realities and truths of different productions."
He said that issues may arise with "folks that are working outside of the industry" trying to mask their activities with the hemp provisions.
"I don't foresee this in that case as being overwhelming," Moore said, "but you never know."
While the Kings County Board of Supervisors also proffered its support for the bill, according to County of Kern spokesman Allan Krauter, the Kern County Board of Supervisors -- which is currently mired in a legal battle with the county's medical marijuana collectives -- has not taken a position on the bill.
Ultimately, though, California won't benefit from industrial hemp cultivation if no one's growing it.
And, at least in Kern County, there's not much interest among farmers either way.
"The benefits or negative effects the bill can have here, it's hard to say, because there's so little interest," said Matthew Park, executive director of the Kern County Farm Bureau.
"We support our members' crops that they are growing," he said. "So if all of a sudden, Grimmway Farms decided to get out of the carrot business and get into the hemp business, we would probably support them."
"It's up to each farmer what they want to do."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Industrial hemp bill close to becoming legal


A bill that would make it legal for some California farmers to grow and sell industrial hemp is a signature away from taking effect.  The bill is controversial because hemp and marijuana look nearly the same and the two are the same plant species.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood supports the bill and says harvesting hemp would be a good thing for Kern farmers and our economy but he admits it could make it difficult to monitor and differentiate between fields of marijuana and hemp, especially from the air.

From milk to body wash, hemp products aren't hard to find in stores.  Soon, hemp used to manufacture these goods could be growing in Kern County fields.

"This particular bill would help Kern County. It's a product that can be grown and used in agriculture," said Sheriff Youngblood.  "It's used in all different kinds of products right now."

Senate bill 676 creates a pilot program allowing for the cultivation of industrial hemp in Kern County and three other California counties - Imperial, Kings, and San Joaquin.

"I don't know of anyone who really wants to grow it," said Don Davis, current president of Kern's Farm Bureau.  He says hemp has a reputation problem, but overall, farmers support the bill.  "A lot of the groups that are for legalizing marijuana are for this bill. We're on the same side for completely different reasons."

Davis says farmers want freedom to choose what to grow.  According to SB 676, hemp has less THC than marijuana.  THC is the chemical that gets people high.  The DEA says that doesn't matter.  The agency classifies hemp the same as marijuana.

"Everyone is afraid because it looks like marijuana, that there's illicit uses for it. If there are, I'm not aware. I've done my research," said Sheriff Youngblood.

As the county crackdowns on marijuana grows, hemp, marijuana's seed sibling is making headway.  Governor Jerry Brown has until October 9th to make a decision on hundreds of bills, including this one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Anti-Drug Tsar Proposes Cannabis as 'Strategic Resource'

By Alexandra Odynova

The country's top anti-drug official said Wednesday that a good way to boost the agricultural sector would be to cultivate plantations of the "strategic resource" cannabis.

Viktor Ivanov, head of the Federal Anti-Drug Service, proposed the mass-planting of drug-free cannabis across Russia at a meeting of the State Anti-Drug Committee in remarks that were quickly backed by health officials but greeted with skepticism by industry insiders.

Ivanov said at least three Russian research institutes have cultivated 20 subspecies of "harmless," drug-free cannabis that could become the essential raw material used for seed oil, livestock feed, pulp for paper production and other products as in years past.

"I think it could become an important innovative project," Ivanov said in a separate interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta published Wednesday.

He said cannabis could be used to make as many as 25,000 items and reach an annual turnover of more than 100 billion rubles ($3.1 billion), providing 1 million jobs.In addition, he said, the drug-free species would be able to force out potent cannabis plants covering about 1 million of hectares of the country.
The project has the backing of the Economic Development and Agriculture ministries, Rossiiskaya Gazeta said.

Gennady Onishchenko, head of the Federal Consumer Protection Service, said Wednesday that he had no objections about Ivanov's initiative.

"Maybe, there is a certain sense" in cultivating drug-free cannabis to replace wild-growing plantations, he said, Interfax reported.

But Russia's top necrologist with the Health and Social Development Ministry, Yevgeny Bryun, said even harmless species contain traces of tetrahydrocannabinol, the substance that causes marijuana's exhilarating effect.

"I personally don't know any cannabis without cannabinoids," Bryun said, Interfax reported.
In fact, Ivanov's idea is not terribly innovative because cannabis was widely grown in Russia for centuries, and the Soviet Union was growing cannabis, mostly for hemp and oil, on 680,000 hectares of land in 1936, according to the Big Soviet Encyclopedia. But production largely stopped after most cannabis species were blacklisted in the early 1960s during a United Nations anti-drug campaign.

A spokesman for the Agro-Zrk company, which produces fish feed made of cannabis seeds, expressed skepticism about reviving the industry.

"It has been ruined for so long that the whole industry needs to be restored, which might require 15 years," the spokesman said by telephone.

Ivanov did not give a time estimate but said the initiative would cost the state about 10 billion rubles ($313 million).

The Soviet Union had about 130 factories producing hemp. Now there are only a few companies that produce hemp rope and cloth.

It is very hard to sell hemp-based products because of "ill PR," the Agro-Zrk spokesman complained.

Maxim Klyagin, a Finam agriculture analyst, said the industry has been abandoned for dozens of years and now "it will be very hard to resume its potential."

Russia plans to boost economy with non-narcotic cannabis

By Stefan Korshak 

Moscow - Russian scientists should breed a non-narcotic strain of the marijuana-producing plant cannabis to stimulate the country's hemp industry and combat drug abuse, a senior law enforcement official said Wednesday.
'We need to develop and cultivate new non-narcotic breeds of cannabis which will allow us to stop importing hemp products ... and help fight drug addiction,' said Viktor Ivanov, the director of the Federal Service for Narcotics Control (FSKN).
Other members of the FSKN controlling committee voted in favour of Ivanov's proposal, which would give the government formal grounds to support the project, the Interfax news agency reported.
Also called hemp, cannabis is a plant whose stalks are commonly used for the manufacture of ropes, paper and fabrics. Portions of its flowers may also be used to produce marijuana.
Russian scientists have already developed 20 hemp strains, which contain 'almost no' traces of marijuana's key narcotic chemical - Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Further research and selective breeding could create a plant useless for marijuana production, and ideal for extensive cultivation by farmers, Ivanov said.
In comments to the Rossiskaya Gazeta newspaper, Ivanov said the government should commit 300 million dollars to the project, which could ultimately create 1 million jobs in the rainy and mountainous Tuva, Maritime and Stavropol provinces.
Gennady Onishchenko, the chief of consumer safety agency Rospotrebnadzor, told Interfax: 'This is definitely a good idea ... its time has come, with genetic modification it is now possible to create non-narcotic hemp.'
But other health experts were sceptical, pointing out that low-THC cannabis plants breed naturally with high-THC plants, which would make it difficult to keep plants in an industrial hemp plantation THC-free over several growing seasons.
'Our estimates were that you could do it for about three years, then you would have to plough the fields under and replant everything,' said Aleksandr Mikhailov, a former FSKN official. 'The 'clean' plants would turn into narcotic ones.'
Evgeny Bryun, the Health Ministry's chief narcotics inspector, said: 'I know of no strain of cannabis that is THC-free. I know people have tried to breed such plants and failed.'
The government led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has embarked on a national development campaign with a main strategy of making unused territories across the country's eight time zones economically productive.
Energy projects particularly in the Arctic, Siberian and Pacific Ocean regions are Moscow's top priority. Machine-building, high-tech and agriculture, particularly in the thinly populated east, also have been designated important sectors.
The Soviet Union was a leading world producer of hemp and its industrial byproducts oil, food, fibres, housing and industrial materials until 1961, when Moscow ratified the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and banned almost all forms of cannabis.
About 1 million hectares of cannabis are thought to be under cultivation in Russia for illegal marijuana production, most of it in the Far East and Black Sea regions. An estimated 2,000 hectares of land are under cultivation with cannabis for legal purposes, according to a RIA Novosti news agency report.
Marijuana is used as a recreational drug among Russia's urban middle classes, and by rural residents who almost always grow the plants themselves for personal use.
In contrast with developed nations, there is little demand in Russia for upmarket marijuana specially crossbred to induce a strong high, with hardcore addicts preferring heroin or other opiates.
There are 2.5 million drug addicts and more than 5.1 million drug users in Russia, according to United Nations data. In a statement in July, Ivanov said that marijuana was a dangerous drug and should stay illegal in Russia.

Saturday’s Wisconsin-Nebraska Football showdown adds to Marijuana Fest Hoopla Continue reading on Saturday’s Wisconsin-Nebraska Football showdown adds to Marijuana Fest Hoopla

by Gary Storck

MADISON: Bucky or Buddy? The convergence of the Big Ten football game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Nebraska Cornhuskers with the 41st Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival in downtown Madison this Saturday should make for an interesting weekend. 20,000 to 40,000 Huskers fans are expected for Nebraska's nationally televised Big Ten debut at Camp Randall at 7pm Saturday evening.
Both Wisconsin and Nebraska were once centers of industrial hemp production when America's hemp industry was thriving a century ago, and this historical fact is noted on the event poster and other promotional items. The last commercial hemp fields were planted in Wisconsin in 1957, and thousands of acres of feral hemp plants descended from their cultivated ancestors flourish year after year in both states today. Feral Hemp even plays a role in supporting gamebird populations in Missouri and Nebraska
The festival kicks off at Library Mall adjacent to the UW Campus at State and Lake Streets just before noon Saturday. Library Mall lies along the route many football fans will take as they navigate from State St. over to Camp Randall Stadium as the 7pm game time approaches. ESPN is setting up their GameDay set on Bascom Hill, site of a number of prior Harvest Fests as well as recent April 20 "4/20" smoke-ins in 2009 and 2010.
Harvest Fest attendees can expect live music on Library Mall from before noon Saturday to up until about 6:30 pm, punctuated with speeches from cannabis activists from as close as Madison and as far away as California, New York City, New Jersey, Michigan and of course, Nebraska.
The 41st Annual includes several new features. A first-ever 12-page glossy festival program debuts this year with information and articles about the festival and ads from supporters. A hemp clothing fashion show will provide more distractions for the passing throngs. And as usual, the festival will feature plenty of live music, vendors, information on the cannabis plant and thousands of cannabis legalization supporters over Saturday and Sunday.
On Sunday, while football fans recover from Saturday's revelry, Harvest Fest swings into its second day with more live music at Library Mall beginning at noon. Around 3:15, attendees will begin to line up for the highlight of this annual celebration, the parade from Library Mall to the State St. Steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol for a rally and concert with the great Madison reggae band Nama Rupa.
The weekend really kicks off Friday night from 5-8pm at the Frequency Nightclub at 121 W. Main just off Capitol Square for the 9th Annual Is My Medicine Legal YET? (IMMLY) medical cannabis benefit. The event will be emceed by California cannabis comedian Ngaio Bealum, and will feature music, medical cannabis discussions, vending from Madison NORML, and live music. Headlining is Utopian Rag who, under various names have played at all previous 8 editions of this event going back to its days at Madison's historic Cardinal Bar. Also on the bill is Brok'n Arrow, and there will be a short bonus set from Cher and Brian McCullough, two longtime activists.
Folks who appreciate the cannabis plant will know that the 41st Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival is the place to be this weekend, but for thousands of other who came to Madison for the football game or the World Dairy Expo, Harvest Fest may just be that pleasant pause that refreshes as they go about their day this weekend.

Brilliant Global Knitwear Signs 1.5 MM Pound Purchasing Agreement for CRAiLAR Flax Fiber From Naturally Advanced Technologies

Source: e-mail distribution

VANCOUVER AND PORTLAND, OR, Sept. 27, 2011/PRNewswire/ - Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc. (NAT) (OTCBB:NADVF.ob - News) (TSXV: NAT) today announced that it has entered into a purchasing agreement for a minimum of one and a half million pounds of CRAiLAR® Flax fiber with Brilliant Global LTD, the Hong Kong-based private label knitwear manufacturer which produces a broad spectrum of sweater and accessory items in natural fibers for globally recognized brands. The agreement is to commence in October 2011.
"This agreement represents our third purchasing agreement since March and brings our total client roster to seven global brands," said Ken Barker, CEO of NAT. "Brilliant works with the most recognizable brands and retailers in North America and we intend to demonstrate the significant capabilities of CRAiLAR Flax to perform seamlessly within its portfolio, while integrating a sustainable, all-natural fiber into its textile mix and its consumer product story."
Since March 2011, NAT has signed development or purchasing agreements with HanesBrands, Georgia-Pacific, Levi Strauss & CompanyCintas CorporationAshland Inc., and Westex Inc.
About Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc.
Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc. develops renewable and environmentally sustainable biomass resources from flax, hemp and other bast fibers. The Company, through its wholly owned subsidiary, CRAiLAR® Fiber Technologies Inc., has developed proprietary technologies for production of bast fibers, cellulose pulp, and their resulting by-products in collaboration with Canada's National Research Council. CRAiLAR technology offers cost-effective and environmentally sustainable processing and production of natural, bast fibers resulting in increased performance characteristics for use in textile, industrial, energy, medical and composite material applications. The Company was founded in 1998 as a provider of environmentally friendly, socially responsible clothing. For more information, visit
Neither the TSX Venture Exchange Inc. nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Russia needs over $300 million for industrial hemp project


Russia is estimated to have at least one million hectares of illegal cannabis, planted mainly on the fringes of the country, in the Far East and Black Sea region.
Russia is estimated to have at least one million hectares of illegal cannabis, planted mainly on the fringes of the country, in the Far East and Black Sea region.

A project to resume cultivation of industrial hemp is estimated to cost Russia about ten billion rubles ($315 million), the head of Russia's Federal Drug Control Service said.
Russia's State Anti-drug Committee will decide on Wednesday whether to allow the planting of hemp, currently prohibited in Russia. The country is currently one of the world's biggest importers of hemp fibers and oil.
"We have already assessed the costs, they stand at approximately ten billion rubles," Viktor Ivanov said in an interview published by the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily on Wednesday.
He added that the funds could be raised "without cutting other important [budget] expenditures."
Russia was a leading world's producer of hemp, used as a source of oil, food, fibers, housing and industrial materials, until 1961 when the Soviet Union ratified the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which declared cannabis - along with heroin - a highly-toxic narcotic.
In 2007, the government relaxed legislation on the planting of hemp, approving the list of non-narcotic kinds of hemp, which may be cultivated.
Russia is estimated to have at least one million hectares of illegal cannabis, planted mainly on the fringes of the country, in the Far East and Black Sea region. About 2,000 hectares are used to grow hemp.
The Federal Drug Control Service earlier said that a revival of hemp's industrial usage will help "to create new jobs and reduce social tensions in the regions, which are abundant with illegal wild cannabis."

Expert groups call on gov't to reconsider drug strategy


Expert organisations invited by the government to asses its new drug strategy have unequivocally called for reworking the plans, daily Nepszabadsag said on Tuesday.

The government's new strategy was prepared by a professional working group and published in August. They said the previous policy, approved in 2009, failed to fulfil expectations. Hungary used to be a transit country for drugs and has become a target country; first-time drug users are increasingly younger and many dealers hide behind the provision that drug dealers are judged more leniently if they are abusers themselves.

Under the new strategy, the government plans to tighten punitive measures against drug abusers.

However, the Hungarian Addictology Society believes that introducing stricter regulations will not prevent drug abuse.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union said the new strategy goes against European practices and it is unsuitable for a future drug policy. Many of the planned measures, such as setting up an online monitoring service and banning the use of the hemp symbol, would be unconstitutional, they said.

LETTER: Barney Frank, Ron Paul pot legalization plan would be boon to Mass.


We would like to acknowledge our appreciation to U.S. Rep. Barney Frank for taking the time to visit and talk with a group of concerned citizens at Gallery X in New Bedford on his efforts to legalize marijuana.

This proposal, co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, would federally legalize marijuana (cannabis) and let states make up their own laws on regulation, cultivation and distribution. Whether you agree or disagree, we should appreciate Rep. Frank for the courage of taking this proposition on and fighting for what he believes is just.

One of the drawbacks of the present marijuana prohibition policy is the use and cultivation of hemp. In the 1700s, early American farmers were often fined if they didn’t grow hemp on a portion of their farms. It was desperately needed for maritime and commercial use in making sails and rope. Also, it was used as a food source for humans and livestock.

Hemp, now used commercially is imported from Canada, Philippines, and other far east countries. With legalization, local farmers would be more free to grow this lucrative crop. Its use would also reduce our dependence of synthetic materials leaving a more natural bio degradable product. It is not hard to imagine New Bedford’s mills again busily making world-class ropes and fabrics.

Also, if marijuana was legalized federally, and the state of Massachusetts was to tax and regulate its sales, the funds raised could easily help stabilize the state’s economy. With the present laws, the black market is making billions of dollars in its sales. If it was legalized, the commonwealth would save millions of dollars on prosecution, incarceration and eradication. This would free up our courts and jails, and also leave more money for treatment to those with alcohol and harder drug dependencies.

It is a scientific fact that marijuana use is safer than alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, yet these are all legal. As a matter of fact, states and countries who have deregulated marijuana have all witnessed a significant drop in crime rates. I would imagine it’s sales would be sold in separate locations than alcohol package stores, perhaps in cafes and that consumers must be at least 21 years of age. Drivers would be subject to the same policies as those who consume alcohol.

Congressman Frank had said there are many now in Congress who are sympathetic to its legalization but are afraid to stand up to the laws because it may be used against them at election time. He urged legalization supporters to write letters to their elected officials.

If there was ever an opportunity to make a green change to stimulate our economy this is the one.

Charles A. Hauck
New Bedford

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Boise's Inaugural Hempfest draws hundreds

by Eric Fink

Nearly 1,000 people flocked to Boise's Julia Davis Park, Sunday for the City of Tree's Hempfest.

The crowd had one very clear message for lawmakers in the Gem State: legalize marijuana.

Supporters of Hemp and medical marijuana argue those who consume cannibas are not breaking the law. ""We are not criminals," Isaias Valdez, the event organizer said. Valdez continued, " We have jobs, we're responsible we work hard, we follow all the other laws out there on the books. And, because we decide to consume cannibas we should not be treated as criminals. We as Idahoans want cannibas law reform and we are ready to take that next step."

Dozens of "Idaho Moms for Marijuana," rallied for their drug of choice to be legalized. "Everything you've ever heard about marijuana is a lie, straight up," Theresa Knox said. "Marijuana has so many beneficial uses aside from medicinal or recreational."

Today's Channel 6 News spoke with a marijuana opponent who works with Drug Free California, an organization aimed at educating adolescents about the dangers of drugs. "Don't buy into the lie," Roger Morgan said who . "Marijuana is not medicine. It is harmful, it's addictive and it does not medicate anything."

A group of Idahoans for marijuana have formed "Compassionate Idaho," a grassroots organization hoping to put the legalization of medical marijuana to a vote. The group aims to get 50,000 signatures statewide by April 30, 2012 in order to put The "Idaho Medical Choice Act" on the ballot for the November 2012 election. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Building a Sustainable House… FROM HEMP!

Article By: Dionne Payn
Photos By: Siobhan Hodgson

Hemp building is not a new idea. One of the oldest known hemp houses was built in Japan over 300 years ago. Today, hemp building is becoming more popular with projects happening all over Europe, America, Canada and Australia.
Most recently, hempreneur Tony Budden of, built the first hemp house in South Africa. Dionne Payn caught up with Tony to find out more.
Tony Budden
Housing in South Africa is a very big issue right now. The South African Government needs to build 5 million houses as soon as possible, and building with hemp is a great way to provide affordable housing.
We made the decision to build our home from hemp about five years ago, and it took about 4 years to find the right property and get the plans approved.
As well as being our home, we also wanted to prove that hemp building could work in South Africa so we decided to build a contemporary, up-market property. We knew this would give the project greater exposure in magazines and would spark more interest from potential investors and decision makers in Government.
The house was built as a modular system; it was built in the factory and then shipped to the site. Building with hemp and using a modular building system are both firsts in South Africa.
We needed about 3 hectares of hemp for the property, but seeing as hemp is still in research phase in South Africa, we had to source it elsewhere. We imported hemp from France, which wasn’t a low cost option, but we knew it would be calibrated for use in the building industry.
The hemp industry in South Africa is still very new, and while we would prefer to use local hemp, we didn’t want to take any risks with such a high stakes project.
The building process itself was quite straightforward. We used two different techniques, hemp chipboard on top of a double layer of hemp insulation and hempcrete, which seemed to complement each other well.
We tried to use hemp for as many of the fittings and features of the house as we could; the carpets, cupboards, lampshades and curtains are all made of hemp.
It took about 6 months to build the house as there was lots of training needed for our team of builders who had never worked with hemp before. We had to redo some of the walls as they had air gaps in them. Yes, there was a lot of trial and error in those six months.
This was probably the most challenging aspect of the building process: getting the builders’ heads around something that was so different to what they had been trained in. They are used to using brick and cement, and now they had to deal with an organic living building, natural products, VOC-free paints and so on.
But they are so proud of the final product; they are always keen to see how things are going.
What was interesting was that there was another construction project using traditional brick and cement that started at the same time as we did. We’ve been in our house for three months and the other project is still going.
We also included double glazing which is not widely used in South Africa, and again had to be imported from overseas. Double glazing was an important factor for us because we wanted to make sure we would save energy and have good heat and sound insulation as it does get very windy where we are.
I found out that even though hemp is a good insulator, you still need to have an initial source of heat. We use a mixture of ceramic tiles and gas heaters which we put on for about 30 minutes a day, and we find that’s enough to make sure the house stays nice and warm.
To furnish our new house, we bought Triple A appliances and used LED lighting so we’ve noticed we are using about ½ of the energy we used in our old brick and cement house.
And now we are in our home. I like it; it’s a comfortable house. You would have to experience for yourself what it’s like being inside an organic building; it’s a living, breathing organism, and it feels really good.
In the future when hemp is more widely grown, it is entirely possible that the cost of building with hemp would be a lot less compared to conventional buildings.
When you look at the costs of building a brick and cement house in terms of energy use, poor recyclability of materials and the amount of carbon created in the production of the raw materials, the cost to society and to us as individuals is certainly a lot more compared to building with sustainable techniques such as hemp, stawbale or rammed earth.
If you are thinking about building a hemp house, my advice is to go for it. But, be prepared to be a lot more involved than if you were building a regular house.
You need to train the builders in this technique, understand the material, and be prepared to work with professionals, unless you are lucky enough to find a specific hemp builder.
If you do the research and understand the material you are working with, you will end up with a beautiful home.
Tony Budden is a partner with Duncan Parker in Hemporium, a South African hemp company, whose long term goal is to promote the cultivation and use of industrial hemp as a sustainable crop in South Africa. For technical details about the building process and more pictures of the finished house, visit the blog at
Dionne Payn is the founder and Editor of Hemp Industry Insider, a free online magazine dedicated to showcasing the best hemp products and service providers.
Visit to download your free copy of the magazine.

Russia may legalize cannabis for industrial, agricultural use

MOSCOW, September 23 (RIA Novosti)
Russia may soon authorize the cultivation of hemp - otherwise known as cannabis sativa - for agricultural and industrial needs, Russia's Federal Drug Control Service said on Friday.
On September 28, the country's State Anti-drug Committee will decide whether to allow the cultivation of hemp, currently prohibited in Russia.
Russia was a world leading producer of hemp, used as a source of oil, food, fibers, housing and industrial materials, until 1961 when the Soviet Union ratified the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which declared cannabis - along with heroin - a highly toxic narcotic.
Russia is currently one of the world's biggest importers of hemp fibers and oil, the country's drug control watchdog said in a statement.
In 2007, the government relaxed legislation on the planting of hemp.
Russia is estimated to have at least one million hectares of illegal cannabis, planted mainly on the fringes of the country, in the Far East and Black Sea region. About 2,000 hectares are used to grow hemp, an anti-drug official said.
The official said that a revival of hemp's industrial usage will help "to create new jobs and reduce social tensions in the regions, which are abundant with illegal wild cannabis."

Hemp 4 Haiti


"Created to support ongoing disaster relief efforts in Haiti, the Hemp 4 Haiti Project, is focused on providing sustainable, reusable goods and products to the victims of natural disasters. The exterior packaging is crafted from high-quality, hand braided hemp that can be easily unwoven after the non-perishable goods contained within have been consumed. Once unwoven, the hemp has numerous practical applications vital to relief efforts.  Fully reusable and sustainable, Hemp 4 Haiti eliminates the waste and environmental pollution that other disaster relief products leave behind."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Government missing entire job market in hemp

By Len Calderone

President Barack Obama recently presented a jobs program that requires taxpayers to put up $500 billion. He didn’t even prove that even a single job will be created, which is what happened with his stimulus program. 

Let’s look at a market that has been ignored for years but likely can create thousands of jobs across the country.

When we hear the word cannabis, we think of marijuana, which is produced from the cannabis plant. However, this same plant has a soft, durable fiber called hemp. Hemp is one of the oldest known domesticated plants, dating back some 7,000 years. One of its first uses was for paper. Hemp is a source of food, clothing, shelter, fuel, paper, fiber, rope, medicine and other consumer goods. This multipurpose crop can put money into local economies.

There are two varieties of hemp. One is used to produce marijuana, a recreational and medicinal drug. The other commercial variety contains less of the drug found in marijuana. This plant has many useful properties that can benefit society and increase the harvest for farmers. It is environmentally friendly and requires fewer pesticides than cotton, the price of which has risen 40 percent.

Hemp is a fast-growing biomass that can be used for fuel. Presently, we are using corn to produce ethanol, which is blended with oil to produce gasoline. Because corn crops are being diverted from the food chain, the crop is not as available as it should be for food, leading to higher grocery costs and food shortages. Biofuels can be made from the oils in hemp seeds and stalks. Biodiesel produced from hemp burns clean and is nontoxic — something we need for clean air. Filtered hemp oil can be used to power diesel engines without requiring an oil blend.

Hemp is an effective method of weed control in farming. It minimizes weed seeds, helping farmers avoid herbicides. With the elimination of herbicides, crops would be organic.
Hemp also can be used to clean impurities from wastewater. In fact, it is being used to clean contaminants at Chernobyl, according to 

A cotton crop is produced only once a year, but two crops of hemp can be harvested in a year from the same field. Clothes can be produced from hemp, which has the texture of linen. Like cotton, hemp breathes and is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. It also is organic and natural. The crop is chemical- and pesticide-free, lasting four times longer than cotton.
Hempcrete is a building material composed of hemp and lime. It’s used as an insulating material along with brick, wood or a steel frame. By mixing hemp, fiberglass, kenaf and flax, a composite material can be made at a low cost for car manufacturing. 

China is the largest producer of industrial hemp in Asia, while France leads European production. Because of the narrow-minded thinking of Congress, it is not legal to grow hemp in the United States because it is related to marijuana and considered a controlled substance. Some states — not Georgia — have made the cultivation of industrial hemp legal, but have not begun to grow hemp because the Drug Enforcement Administration still considers hemp illegal.
It is time that Congress revisit laws that affect hemp. It is probably the most versatile, natural resource on Earth, and its production would create thousands of jobs and give the economy a much-needed boost.

Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway. He is a professional salesperson and for 30 years has written articles for trade publications in various fields.