Sunday, October 30, 2011

California Seeks to Clear Hemp of a Bad Name

Blogger's Note: This article is from 2006.

Charles Meyer, who farms 2,600 acres south of Fresno, Calif., is among a growing number of people who advocate legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp. “The fact we’re not growing it is asinine,” Mr. Meyer said.

STRATFORD, Calif. — Charles Meyer’s politics are as steady and unswerving as the rows of pima cotton on his Central Valley farm. With his work-shirt blue eyes and flinty Clint Eastwood demeanor, he is staunchly in favor of the war in Iraq, against gun control and believes people unwilling to recite the Pledge of Allegiance should be kicked out of America, and fast.

But what gets him excited is the crop he sees as a potential windfall for California farmers: industrial hemp, or Cannabis sativa. The rapidly growing plant with a seemingly infinite variety of uses is against federal law to grow because of its association with its evil twin, marijuana.
“Industrial hemp is a wholesome product,” said Mr. Meyer, 65, who says he has never worn tie-dye and professes a deep disdain for “dope.”

“The fact we’re not growing it is asinine,” Mr. Meyer said.

Things could change if a measure passed by legislators in Sacramento and now on Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk becomes law. [The bill reached Mr. Schwarzenegger last week; he has 30 days to sign or veto it.]

Seven states have passed bills supporting the farming of industrial hemp; their strategy has been to try to get permission from the Drug Enforcement Administration to proceed.

But California is the first state that would directly challenge the federal ban, arguing that it does not need a D.E.A. permit, echoing the state’s longstanding fight with the federal authorities over its legalization of medicinal marijuana. The hemp bill would require farmers who grow it to undergo crop testing to ensure their variety of cannabis is nonhallucinogenic; its authors say it has been carefully worded to avoid conflicting with the federal Controlled Substances Act.

But those efforts have not satisfied federal and state drug enforcement authorities, who argue that fields of industrial hemp would only serve as hiding places for illicit cannabis. The California Narcotic Officers Association opposes the bill, and a spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington said the measure was unworkable.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican running for re-election, has been mum on his intentions, with the political calculus of hemp in California difficult to decipher. The bill was the handiwork of two very different lawmakers, Assemblyman Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat best known for attempting to legalize same-sex marriage, and Assemblyman Charles S. DeVore, an Orange County Republican who worked in the Pentagon as a Reagan-era political appointee.

Their bipartisan communion underscores a deeper shift in hemp culture that has evolved in recent years, from ragtag hempsters whose love of plants with seven leaves ran mostly to marijuana, to today’s savvy coalition of organic farmers and health-food entrepreneurs working to distance themselves from the drug.

Hundreds of hemp products, including energy bars and cold-pressed hemp oil, are made in California, giving the banned plant a capitalist aura. But manufacturers must import the raw material, mostly from Canada, where hemp cultivation was legalized in 1998.

The new hemp entrepreneurs regard it as a sustainable crop, said John Roulac, 47, a former campaigner against clear-cutting and a backyard composter before founding Nutiva, a growing California hemp-foods company. “They want to lump together all things cannabis,” said David Bronner, 33, whose family’s squeeze-bottle Dr. Bronners Magic Soaps, based in Escondido, Calif., are made with hemp oil. “You don’t associate a poppy seed bagel with opium.”

The differences between hemp and its mind-altering cousin, however, can be horticulturally challenging to grasp. The main one is that the epidermal glands of marijuana secrete a resin of euphoria-inducing delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or T.H.C., a substance all but lacking in industrial hemp.

Ernest Small, a Canadian researcher who co-wrote a major hemp study in 2002 forPurdue University, compared the genetic differences to those that separate racehorses from plow horses. Evolution, Mr. Small said, has almost completely bred T.H.C. out of industrial hemp, which by law must have a concentration of no more than three-tenths of 1 percent.

To its supporters, industrial hemp is utopia in a crop. Prized not only for its healthful seeds and oils, rich in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, but also its fast, bamboo-like growth that shades out weeds, without pesticides.

“Simply put, you create a jungle in one year,” said John LaBoyteaux, who testified in Sacramento on behalf of the California Certified Organic Farmers association. “There’s a growing market out there, and we can’t tap it.”

The bill before Governor Schwarzenegger is the latest installment in a hemp debate that reached its height in 2004, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said that federal antidrug laws did not apply to the manufacturing or consumption of industrial hemp. The court ruled that decades earlier, Congress had exempted from marijuana-control laws the stalks, fibers, oils and seeds of industrial hemp, and that the government had no right to ban hemp products.

That opened the floodgates for Patagonia hemp jeans and the Merry Hempsters Zit Zapper (with hemp oil).

Patrick D. Goggin, a lawyer for the Hemp Industries Association and Vote Hemp, said there would probably be legal snarls to work out with the California legislation, assuming it is enacted, so that farmers would not be placing their property in jeopardy if they chose to grow industrial hemp. But if the federal government clamps down, Mr. Goggin said, “we’re prepared to raise the issue in court.”

“We’re trying to get an arcane vision of the law contemporized,” he added.
Rogene Waite, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the agency would not speculate about pending legislation.

The bill’s adherents point to hemp’s hallowed niche in American history. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson cultivated hemp (neither effort was profitable). Colonists’ boats sailed the Atlantic with hempen sails. Old Ironsides carried 60 tons of hempen sail and rope. The word “canvas,” in fact, is derived from cannabis, a high-tensile fiber naturally resistant to decay.

Hemp flourished as an American crop from the end of the Civil War until the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act ended production. During World War II, when Japan seized the Philippines and cut off supplies of Manila hemp, the crop got a brief reprieve in the United States, where farmers were encouraged to grow “Hemp for Victory,” for boots, parachute cording and the like. But contrary to lore, most such hemp was never harvested.

Today, China controls about 40 percent of the world’s hemp fiber, and its ability to flood the market “could result in price fluctuations the American farmer would have to weather,” said Valerie Vantreese, an agricultural economist in Lexington, Ky. (Kentucky was once the leading hemp-producing state).

Hemp is grown legally in about 30 countries, including many in the European Union, where it is mixed with lime to make plaster and as a “biocomposite” in the interior panels of Mercedes-Benzes.
In the United States, the chief argument against hemp has been made by drug-control officials, who are concerned that vast acreages could be used to conceal clandestine marijuana, which they say would be impossible to detect.

“California is a great climate to grow pot in, and no one from law enforcement is going through the fields to do a chemical analysis of different plants,” said Thomas A. Riley, a spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington.

To some people intimate with the nuances of marijuana, however, the idea of hiding marijuana in a hemp field, where the plants would cross-pollinate, provokes amusement.

“It would be the end of outdoors marijuana,” said Jack Heber, 67, a marijuana historian and author who runs a group called Help End Marijuana Prohibition, or HEMP. “If it gets mixed with that crop, it’s a disaster.”

In North Dakota, the state agricultural commissioner, Roger Johnson, has proposed allowing hemp farming, and has been working with federal drug regulators on stringent regulations that would include fingerprinting farmers and requiring G.P.S. coordinates of hemp fields.

“We’ve done our level best to convince them we’re not a bunch of wackos,” Mr. Johnson said.
Fifteen years ago, he noted, there was little market for canola, which is now a major crop produced for its cooking oil. He sees hemp in a similar vein and dismisses the fears that it would lead to criminality.

But up north in Garberville, the Central Valley of marijuana, the lines between hemp and marijuana are often a hazy blur, as they are at a store called the Hemp Connection, where hemp hats and yoga clothing are sold alongside manuals on pot botany and Stoneware baking pans (“makes six groovy brownies per pan”).

The proprietor, Marie Mills, who said she once crafted paper from marijuana stalks, remains committed to cannabis in all its guises.

“We want to educate people and take away the stigma,” Ms. Mills said. “We want hemp without harassment.”

O So Green Bears are produced entirely from hemp fiber


O So Green Bears are unique in the fact that they are produced entirely from hemp fiber, which is a readily renewable source to make cloth and other products, and also from recycled materials. Hemp has been used for making everything from ropes to cloth to oil for over twelve thousand years.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp and the Declaration of Independence was written on paper made with hemp. The interesting story of hemp is found on a separate page of this site.
O So Green Bears are the greenest bears on earth and originate in Europe, where they are sewn on solar powered sewing machines. Their European cousins are the Ecobears.
O So Green Bears are sort of like immigrants of the bear world originating in England, moving to Spain before being invited to the US by Suzanne Lippe who discovered the bears and their creator while in Europe. Being a supporter of anything green, Suzanne was very impressed by the bears, their creator, and the totally eco friendly production of them. Having the bears come to the US was a project that Suzanne passionately needed to carry out.

Ecobears are the creation of Yvonne Wright who first discovered the use of hemp fiber as a potential source for producing green products from a man named John Parkinson. Mr. Parkinson was making fabric by combining hemp fiber, obtained from Hempcore in Essex, England, which is still in business today, mungo, a
wool fiber from old cloth, and shoddy, shredded wool from old cloth. Yvonne Wright began using this material to make various objects that were environmentally friendly, including purses, rucksacks, paper, soft toys and more.
Eventually she settled into making bears, driven by two passions, the environment and making soft toys. On February 29th 1996 the first Ecobear was born and named Harvest. Imagine only having one birthday every four years?
Using a combination of Hemp, recycled cotton and wool mix was unusual at the time. Yvonne’s company produced the first bears made in the twentieth century from such materials.
Ecobears was awarded the 2000 Best Newcomer Award from the British Toymakers Guild among other toymaker awards.
In 2006 Yvonne and her partner, David, traveled throughout England, Spain, France and Morocco in search of a new lifestyle, finally settling in Catalonia Spain. The new location allowed them to live a more self sufficient lifestyle. Their off grid use of solar energy allows each bear to be made from solar powered machines that leave green bear paw prints on the earth. Their goal is to use these bears as an educational source to increase awareness of the use of hemp as a renewable and earth friendly fiber obtained from a plant that has a myriad of uses that were much ignored in the last century until recently.
Hemp is a source of fiber that can be used with no chemical processing. It is used for textiles and paper. The oil from the hemp seed is used for bio fuels to power vehicles and is also a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Burlap was also made from hemp and was a source for making soft toys in the 1800’s.
Hemp has experienced a rebirth in popularity among environmentally concerned companies in the past decade.
Today Yvonne and David produce many eco-friendly products available through their website. David also writes the wonderful stories, for the website, of the Ecobears who live on the Planet of Vynex, a place that is abundant with plants and wildlife that is all cared for by the Ecobears. Renowned Children’s Author and illustrator Calvin Innes is in collaboration with David for the publication of the first Ecobears printed book.
In the US the Ecobears are now licensed and marketed under the name O So Green Bears, by Suzanne Lippe, founder and President of Give a Green Bag LLC, an environmentally dedicated e-commerce store that sells a huge variety of green home and gift products in filled to order bags. Her O So Green Bears are constructed with the identical materials as the European versions and are made on solar powered machines, as well, at the facility in Spain.
They are adoptable by name and every month a new bear will be released for people to add to their eco friendly collection of O So Bears. The O So Green Bears that are sold only is the US are unique and, for now, only available through the O So Green Bear Site.
The designs are produced as a joint effort between Yvonne and Suzanne who has an extensive design background and education. Oso is Spanish for bear thus the name O So Green Bears.
Suzanne, aside from her crafting and design skills is also well known environmental advocate and the bears serve well as diplomats for her cause to further environmental awareness through education. For each bear that is adopted a portion of the cost will go to one of several environmental causes.
Suzanne Lippe is well known for her works through charities and environmental groups especially in her home state of New Jersey. She has held workshops and art shows to promote awareness of the health issues of Barnegat Bay.
Her recent show called Re-clamming the Bay featured local artists who created their own designs of giant clams and placed them strategically to be viewed by all as a means of attracting attention to the cause. The show was an overwhelming success.
O So Green Bears can be ordered through this website and custom orders are also available. All bears are one of a kind so when you adopt one of these adorable and friendly little bears it will be yours alone with it own unique character and personality just like a child. You will also be taking a stand for endangered, threatened and mistreated animals all over the world. Adopt an adorable O So Green Bear friend today and help give life back to the land, sea and sky.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Humboldt Hemp Fest hits Mateel Nov. 11-13


Celebrating 21 years of hemp and marijuana activism on the weekend of Nov. 11-13, the Mateel Community Center in Redway is proud to present the 21st annual Humboldt Hemp Fest.

The festivities will begin on Friday, Nov. 11 with a kick-off event featuring Dell Arte International’s original production of Mary Jane-The Musical, a unique theatrical event that is part concert, part show and reflects the broad spectrum of our community’s attitudes, beliefs, fears, hopes and dreams about the herb.

Advance tickets are on sale beginning this week at the Mateel office and online for a price of $30 in advance. Tickets at the door (if available) will be $32 and current Mateel members receive a $2 discount off either price.

The main event will then take place on Saturday, Nov. 12 and will feature a full day of music, speakers, dance, comedy, vendors, and more, showcasing performances by Diego’s Umbrella, Bayonics, Junior Toots, Sahra Indio, The Brown Edition, To Life!, Ngaio Bealum, Heather Donahue (author of growgirl), The Fabulous Resinaires, Ambush and many more.

Stay tuned to the Hemp Fest page at for the full entertainment and speaker schedule, plus other featured activities. Doors open at 11 a.m. with a suggested donation of $20 for the full day event.

Then on Sunday, Nov. 13, the weekend’s festivities will culminate with a free hemp fest forum. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. with forum from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sponsored by 707 Cannabis College, this event will offer a panel discussion featuring a wide variety of expert speakers on current topics ranging from the Humboldt County Medical Marijuana Ordinance and CA state bill to medical, legal, and dispensary issues, plus media, hemp, and more.

For more information on any of the above events, contact the Mateel Community Center at 923-3368 or and don’t miss all the fun and education in store at the 21st Annual Humboldt Hemp Fest on the weekend of Nov. 11-13.

Capitol Hemp Co-Owner Attributes Store's Police Raid To His Call For 'Occupy Adams Morgan'

Capitol Hemp


WASHINGTON -- D.C. police officers in bulletproof vests raided Capitol Hemp's Chinatown and Adams Morgan locations Wednesday night, arresting six employees and one customer.
Four of those employees and the customer were released, Capitol Hemp co-owner Adam Eidinger told The Huffington Post. The two still in jail are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon at the D.C. Superior Court.
Eidinger said that police "ransacked the stores" and confiscated "hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise," including glassware and the store's computers.
"Two employees and one customer were found with trace amounts of marijuana on them. Less than a gram. But that had nothing to do with our store," Eidinger added. "The employees were violating store policy."
Eidinger said he suspects the raids were politically motivated. He has been a "vocal critic" of a proposed luxury hotel in Adams Morgan, for which the developer received a $46 million tax abatement.
On Wednesday, Eidinger posted a note to the Adams Morgan online message board calling for an Occupy Adams Morgan to begin immediately after a Thursday evening community meeting with D.C. officials to talk about the proposed development.
"I think it's no coincidence that the day I talk about occupying in my own community, in my own neighborhood where I live, where I own a business, that I'm raided," Eidinger said.
Eidinger said that the Capitol Hemp stores are closed Thursday, but will be open again on Friday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Welch joins House effort to allow industrial hemp

by Tim Johnson

Vermont supporters of hemp received a boost Tuesday when U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., signed on as a co-sponsor of The Industrial Hemp Farming Act.
That measure, introduced five months ago in the House by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, would remove federal restrictions on the cultivation of hemp, a crop Paul calls a non-drug variety of cannabis grown for oilseed and fiber. Hemp and other varieties of cannabis are now classified as marijuana under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and cultivation of hemp in the United States is effectively banned, requiring a special permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Hemp is used to make a variety of products, including clothing, drinks, skin butters and auto parts. Virtually all the hemp used in products sold in the U.S. is grown in more than 30 other countries, including China and Canada. Unlike marijuana, according to the pro-hemp lobby, industrial hemp has a psychoactive content so low that it won't produce a high if smoked.
Vermont is one of nine states that has enacted legislation that would permit controlled hemp cultivation or research -- contingent on federal authorization, which the Paul bill would provide.
The local campaign to legalize industrial hemp has been spearheaded by Rural Vermont, a farmers' advocacy group with about 750 members. Rural Vermont pushed for the state enabling legislation, which passed three years ago, and has been lobbying Welch to endorse the Paul bill.
The organization contends that hemp, as a crop option, would open up "significant economic opportunities" for Vermont farmers and for processors of such "value-added" products as food-grade oils, rope, paper and animal feed.
Welch's office said Tuesday that he had signed on to Paul's bill, H.R. 1831, joining 26 other co-signers, many of them liberal Democrats.
Permitting cultivation, Welch's statement said, "will allow Vermont farmers and small business owners to compete in the growing worldwide market for hemp products."
Rural Vermont praised the decision.
"It's a great step for the congressman to take," said Jared Carter, director of Rural Vermont, "recognizing the opportunity that industrial hemp provides to Vermont farmers."
Paul has introduced an "Industrial Hemp Farming Act" in each of the past four congressional sessions, but none of the bills has advanced to the Senate. The current bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
Along with Vermont, the other states to pass measures reducing barriers to production or research of hemp are Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon and West Virginia.

Green leaders converge on city

BioFibre conference attracts global players

Ellen Lee with Ford's SoyFoam seat that reduces 
the carmaker's use of oil. 

SERIOUS players in the biomaterials and bioenergy fields from around the world have converged on Winnipeg for the three-day BioFibre 2011 conference.
The event has attracted participants from Europe, Asia, the United States and across Canada, including Ellen Lee, a technical expert in plastic research with the Ford Motor Company headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The global industry may be in its early stages, but organizers characterize Manitoba's involvement in the field as nothing short of a bio revolution.
The province has a goal to generate $2 billion in annual revenue in the bioproducts field by 2020.
A focal point of that effort is the Composites Innovation Centre, co-sponsor of the event with the Life Sciences Association of Manitoba.
Sean McKay, executive director of the CIC, said good progress is being made developing the infrastructure that is required for widespread commercialization.
"This is a region that produces a lot of the flax and hemp in the country, which has some of the best fibre," McKay said. "If we can generate supply and get some manufacturers to process it into mat forms, then we can create an important rural economy."
An indication of the intensity of demand for biomaterials -- industrial products that use renewable materials, such as agricultural fibres to replace petroleum-based composites like fibreglass -- is that a decade ago engineers at Ford were not very receptive to the idea of replacing traditional vehicle parts with ones made with renewable or recycled materials.
Now, Ford engineers are so keen to introduce new sustainable technologies into their cars the biomaterials research team has to hold them off so they can finish all of the testing that's required.
And much of that demand is coming from consumers.
The CIC has partnered with all sorts of industry players in the aerospace and transportation industries to develop technologies using biofibres, as well as the technology required to produce parts made from such materials.
There are already about 30 companies engaged in research and development and production in Manitoba turning hemp, flax and wheat byproducts into paper, insulation, roofing tiles, biodegradable food packaging and ultra-lightweight components for the green-building-material and transportation sectors.
Ford's Lee, who is to address the BioFibre conference today, spoke at the University of Winnipeg Richardson College for the Environment and Science on Monday.
She said Ford has already implemented a soy-based foam product for seat cushions that has been included in the construction of three million vehicles. Ford calculates its use of soy foam reduces the company's oil usage by 1.3 million kilograms a year and eliminates nearly five million kilograms of CO2 emissions annually.
That project took close to 10 years to get to this stage.
The company has also just introduced a wheat straw-reinforced plastic storage container in the latest models of the Ford Flex.
Lee said Ford's goal is to increase the amount of renewable and recycled materials in its vehicles every year.
She said although Ford is seen as a leader in the field in the auto sector, it is really just getting started.
"Just this year, the company formed a sustainable materials steering committee," she said. "We are at the beginning of really trying to track what's going on."
Lee said in addition to the technological innovation that is required, there is always economic viability and high-quality standards that have to be met.
But she said one of the motivators for the company to introduce more biomaterials in its cars is consumer demand.
In addition to Lee, speakers at BioFibre 2011 will include a senior official with the Korean government's green policy, the president and CEO of the Ontario BioAuto Council and Burt Rutan, an entrepreneur who designed the Virgin Galactic spacecraft. Rutan has been described by Newsweek magazine as "the man responsible for more innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer."

Safavieh to launch first green indoor rug line at Fall High Point Market


US-based rug manufacturer Safavieh is set to launch its first sustainable indoor rug line at the High Point Market-Fall 2011, held from 22-27 October 2011.

The collection has been designed by Thom Filicia with every piece reflecting international, ethnic or contemporary undertone. It is formed of 100% natural and fine hemp. The hemp is combed, brushed and softened to offer a coarse woven wool-like appearance. The look is accentuated with gradation and intricate tone layering.
All the rugs of the new collection are hand-crafted in India and are ideal for use in indoor areas. The new rug range is coloured with pure vegetable dyes to provide a host of new earthy shades. It can also be customised in seven patterns to meet individual tastes. A piece with dimensions of 6x9 will be available at a cost of $1199.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hemp cheese on sale at Borough Market

by London SE1 website team

Hanfmutschli (which translates as "The Joint") is a cheese produced in the Emmental region of Central Switzerland and now on sale at Borough Market.
Hemp cheese on sale at Borough Market

Brought to London for the first time, the unique feature of the cheese is the use of hemp in its production.
Made of unpasteurised cows' milk, the cheese is smooth and creamy and the small hemp seeds pop between your teeth like a cross between popcorn kernels and flaxseed.
The texture of Hanfmutschli is semi soft and slightly springy with an interior paste the colour of old ivory, punctuated with hemp seeds. The rind is a soft orange-brown, with the distinctive hemp leaf design on the top surface.
The Joint is just one of the extensive range of artisan cheeses available from Borough Market's newest traders, Jumi. You can find their stall in the Jubilee Market on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Drinkin' Green is Sexy and Delicious!

By , Contributor

Green Drink of the Day

No one made a green drink sexy until Renee Russo started guzzling them in the 1999 version of The Thomas Crown Affair.
Whether bottled or hand-made by her lover’s cook, they all had a similar When Harry Met Sally effect: “I want what she’s having…”
I have juiced at various periods in my life, but never stuck to it for more than a year or so. I have tasted the store-bought green drinks which I find horrid, like most smoothies of that sort.
I’ve also had periods of smoothie mornings with various powders that were promising to cure my ills. But, now that I am dealing with a health issue, and I’m looking for solutions in all different forms, I thought it was worth trying what Dr. Oz has been long-time touting: a green drink to start your day.
I am in love. Green drinks are delicious and super easy to make. Sure, you can juice a bunch of fruits and veggies, but why not do it the Lazy Way - shove it all in a blender and make a smoothie. You will never green_smoothie_with_sprig.jpgbelieve what is in this smoothie that is pictured:
  • Water
  • 1 Apple (cored)
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 Huge Handfuls of Kale
  • 2 Huge Handfuls of Spinach
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vitamin C
  • 1 Scoop of a Powder (to help me with the altitude sickness I always get in Denver - leaving tomorrow) - vitamins, protein, amino acids, etc.
  • 1 Tablespoon of Hemp Seeds
  • ½ cup of ice (because I like it cold)
Hemp seeds are the latest craze to get up on the platform with flax seed, a long since encouraged addition to our diets. I had never heard of hemp seeds until last week. Don’t get excited, they don’t make you high. But, they are delicious. I had them sprinkled over an avocado with just lemon and salt and I was in heaven. They are loaded with essential fatty acids, including those omegas they are always wanting us to ingest.
Whatever you choose to add to your fruits and veggies, it’s easy. The only work on this one was coring the apple! Throw it all in a blender and whip it up into a smooth, light, refreshing brew. Scrumptious! I change it up every day, throwing in different fruits and veggies, with kale and spinach as my base. I will keep experimenting. Most days I think “That’s the best one yet!”
I have to say I feel amazing when I drink it. And, it has caused me to very easily give up my coffee. The old ritual was wake up and make one pot of French press coffee. The new ritual is going in and whipping up a green drink. I don’t even crave the coffee any more. I was a serious addict! I am not saying I’m never having it again, but I have to say the green drink -- as hard as this is to believe -- gives me a great big jolt. Not the same as caffeine, of course, but a definite boost. 
It’s not that easy “bein’ green,” as our friend Kermit the Frog says, but drinkin’ green is extremely easy. Even better, it’s sexy, because healthy is sexy.

Life's great inside our new 'hemp house'

By Michael Holder »
Life-changing: the new home in West Drayton
Life-changing: the new home in West Drayton 

A HILLINGDON pensioner is living with his family in a new environmentally-friendly 'hemp home' for people with disabilities.
The house in Mulberry Crescent, West Drayton, was built with Hemcrete, a blend of a lime-based binding and hemp that absorbs CO2 during the manufacturing process.
It has water-heating solar panels, extensive insulation and emits 100% less CO2 than a standard building.
Father-of-four Sharif Omar, 37, who lives in the house with his 79-year-old disabled father, said: “It has changed my life - my whole family is very happy here.
"We worked with Hillingdon Council to make the access better for my father and he can use the garden and other rooms now.
To date, 47 new bespoke borough homes have been created, including several bungalows for people with disabilities.
Cllr Philip Corthorne, cabinet member for social care health and housing, said: “Not only does it use cutting-edge materials and processes to create an environmentally friendly property, it also looks at the specific needs of the resident - something that will ultimately empower them to live as independently as possible."
The project is part of a programme launched by the council in 2008 to redevelop derelict and under-used spaces, previously targeted by vandals, into affordable housing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How hemp got high: Canadian scientists map the cannabis genome

by Michael Robin

A team of Canadian researchers has sequenced the genome of Cannabis sativa, the plant that produces both industrial hemp and marijuana, and in the process revealed the genetic changes that led to the plant's drug-producing properties.

Jon Page is a plant biochemist and adjunct professor of biology at the University of Saskatchewan. He explains that a simple genetic switch is likely responsible for the production of THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, the precursor of the active ingredient in marijuana.

"The transcriptome analysis showed that the THCA synthase gene, an essential enzyme in THCA production, is turned on in marijuana, but switched off in hemp," Page says.

Tim Hughes, co-leader of the project, is a professor at the Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research and the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. He explains the team compared the potent Purple Kush marijuana variety with 'Finola' hemp, which is grown for seed production. Hemp lacks THCA, but does contain another, non-psychoactive substance called CBDA, or cannabidiolic acid.

"Detailed analysis of the two genomes suggests that domestication, cultivation, and breeding of marijuana strains has caused the loss of the enzyme (CBDA synthase), which would otherwise compete for the metabolites used as starting material in THCA production," Hughes says.

Essentially, this means that over thousands of years of cultivation, hemp farmers selectively bred Cannabis sativa into two distinct strains – one for fibre and seed, and one for medicine. Marijuana has been used medicinally for more than 2,700 years, and continues to be explored for its pharmaceutical potential.

"Plants continue to be a major source of medicines, both as herbal drugs and as pharmaceutical compounds," Page says. "Although more than 20 plant genomes have been published, ranging from major food crops such as rice and corn, to laboratory models like Arabidopsis, this is the first genome of a medicinal plant."

The researchers expect that sequencing the Cannabis sativa genome will help answer basic questions about the biology of the plant as well as furthering development of its myriad applications. These include strains for pharmaceutical production, high-producing industrial hemp plants, and hemp seed varieties to produce high-quality edible oil. Hemp seed oil is rich in omega 6, an essential fatty acid, and its fibre is used in the production of textiles.

According to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, about 25,000 acres of the crop were sown in Canada in 2010, much of this in Manitoba. Due to hemp's association with marijuana, farmers need to be licensed through Health Canada to grow the crop. Canadian medicinal marijuana is currently produced under Health Canada contract with Prairie Plant Systems, a biotechnology company based in Saskatoon.

The article describing the research findings, "The draft genome and transcriptome of Cannabis sativa,'" will be published October 20, 2011 in the BioMed Central open access journal Genome Biology available at

Hemp may not be exciting, but it makes for a lightweight, durable, and sustainable seating option.

By Avinash Rajagopal

Two years ago, when the engineers at the German chemicals company BASF invited the designer Werner Aisslinger to work with some new materials they’d developed, they didn’t think that he would choose to pair a water-based binder called Acrodur with hemp fibers. But Aisslinger was convinced of his choice. “You don’t think it is that exciting,” he told them. “But as an outside eye, I see it as the most important new material here.”

The product that Aisslinger finally created out of the hemp-based composite vindicates his choice. Displayed at the exhibition Poetry Happens during this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, the Hemp Chair is a lightweight seat with several interesting properties. “At a wall thickness of five millimeters,” Aisslinger explains, “it is as strong and durable as fiberglass.” But unlike fiberglass, it releases no harmful chemical fumes during the manufacturing process, only water. The material, which is 70 percent natural fiber, comes in square sheets that can be layered and easily molded under heat and pressure.

The form of the chair is a natural extension of the material’s properties. A continuous surface required the least manipulation and was the easiest to manufacture. But it also puts the Hemp Chair in the tradition of the monobloc—a chair type that came out of the earliest attempts by designers like Eero Saarinen, Charles Eames, and Verner Panton to create furniture out of plastic. Of course, the aesthetic is very different from that of the Tulip or Panton chair. “I like that it looks so rough,” Aisslinger says. “It’s not rich, it’s honest.”

Composition: The sheet material consists of more than 70 percent natural fibers, such as hemp and kenaf, bound by a water-based acrylic resin called Acrodur.

Properties: It can be easily molded at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius, and releases no toxins. After curing, the material is lightweight, durable, and very strong at a thickness of about five millimeters.

Applications: Aisslinger also displayed a modular wall system made out of the same material. Natural-fiber composites are already used in the automotive industry to make door linings, glove compartments, and rear shelves.

The War on Drugs Has Become the War on the American People

By John W. Whitehead

"On July 29, 2008, my family and I were terrorized by an errant Prince George's County SWAT team. This unit forced entry into my home without a proper warrant, executed our beloved black Labradors, Payton and Chase, and bound and interrogated my mother-in-law and me for hours as they ransacked our belongings… As I was forced to kneel, bound at gun point on my living room floor, I recall thinking that there had been a terrible mistake. However, as I have learned more, I have to understand that what my family and I experience is part of a growing and troubling trend where law enforcement is relying on SWAT teams to perform duties once handled by ordinary police officers."—Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo in testimony before the Maryland Senate

Insisting that the "damage done by drugs is felt far beyond the millions of Americans with diagnosable substance abuse or dependence problems," President Obama has declared October 2011 to be National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. However, while drug abuse and drug-related crimes have unquestionably taken a toll on American families and communities, the government's own War on Drugs has left indelible scars on the population.

Indeed, although the Obama administration has shied away from using the phrase "War on Drugs," its efforts to crack down on illicit drug use—especially marijuana use—have not abated. Just consider—every 19 seconds, someone in the U.S. is arrested for violating a drug law. Every 30 seconds, someone in the U.S. is arrested for violating a marijuana law, making it the fourth most common cause of arrest in the United States.

So far this year, approximately 1,313,673 individuals have been arrested for drug-related offenses. Police arrested an estimated 858,408 persons for marijuana violations in 2009. Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 89 percent were charged with possession only. Moreover, since December 31, 1995, the U.S. prison population has grown an average of 43,266 inmates per year, with about 25 percent sentenced for drug law violations.

The foot soldiers in the government's increasingly fanatical war on drugs, particularly marijuana, are state and local police officers dressed in SWAT gear and armed to the hilt. These SWAT teams carry out roughly 50,000 no-knock raids every year in search of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia. As author and journalist Radley Balko reports, "The vast majority of these raids are to serve routine drug warrants, many times for crimes no more serious than possession of marijuana... Police have broken down doors, screamed obscenities, and held innocent people at gunpoint only to discover that what they thought were marijuana plants were really sunflowers, hibiscus, ragweed, tomatoes, or elderberry bushes. (It's happened with all five.)"

Take the case of Philip Cobbs, an unassuming 53-year-old African-American man who cares for his blind, deaf 90-year-old mother and lives on a 39-acre tract of land that's been in his family since the 1860s. Cobbs is the latest in a long line of Americans to find themselves swept up in the government's zealous pursuit of marijuana. On July 26, 2011, while spraying the blueberry bushes near his Virginia house, Cobbs noticed a black helicopter circling overhead. After watching the helicopter for several moments, Cobbs went inside to check on his mother. By the time he returned outside, several unmarked police SUVs had driven onto his property, and police in flak jackets, carrying rifles and shouting unintelligibly, had exited the vehicles and were moving toward him.

Although the officers insisted they had sighted marijuana plants growing on Cobbs' property (they claimed to find two spindly plants growing in the wreckage of a fallen oak tree), their real objective was clear—to search Cobbs' little greenhouse, which he had used that spring to start tomato plants, cantaloupes, and watermelons, as well as asters and hollyhocks. The search of the greenhouse turned up nothing more than used tomato seedling containers. Incredibly, police had not even bothered to secure a warrant before embarking on their raid of Cobbs' property—part of a routine sweep of the countryside in search of pot-growing operations that had to cost taxpayers upwards of $25,000, at the very least.

Thankfully for Cobbs, no one was hurt during the warrantless raid on his property. However, that is not the case for many Americans who find themselves on the wrong end of a SWAT team raid in search of marijuana. For example, on May 5, 2011, a SWAT team kicked open the door of ex-Marine Jose Guerena's home during a drug raid and opened fire. Thinking his home was being invaded by criminals, Guerena told his wife and child to hide in a closet, grabbed a gun and waited in the hallway to confront the intruders. He never fired his weapon. In fact, the safety was still on his gun when he was killed. The SWAT officers, however, not as restrained, fired 70 rounds of ammunition at Guerena—23 of those bullets made contact. Guerena had had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.

Tragically, Jose Guerena is far from the only innocent casualty in the government's War on Drugs. Botched SWAT team raids have resulted in the loss of countless lives, including children and the elderly. Usually, however, the first to be shot are the family dogs. As Balko reports:
When police in Fremont, California, raided the home of medical marijuana patient Robert Filgo, they shot his pet Akita nine times. Filgo himself was never charged. Last October [2005] police in Alabama raided a home on suspicion of marijuana possession, shot and killed both family dogs, then joked about the kill in front of the family. They seized eight grams of marijuana, equal in weight to a ketchup packet. In January [2006] a cop en route to a drug raid in Tampa, Florida, took a short cut across a neighboring lawn and shot the neighbor's two pooches on his way. And last May [2005], an officer in Syracuse, New York, squeezed off several shots at a family dog during a drug raid, one of which ricocheted and struck a 13-year-old boy in the leg. The boy was handcuffed at gunpoint at the time.

Clearly, something must be done. There was a time when communities would have been up in arms over a botched SWAT team raid resulting in the loss of innocent lives. Unfortunately, today, we are increasingly coming to accept the use of SWAT teams by law enforcement agencies for routine drug policing and the high incidence of error-related casualties that accompanies these raids.

What's more, the government is providing incentives to the SWAT teams carrying out these raids through federal grants such as the Edward Byrne memorial grants and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants. As David Borden, the Executive Director of Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet), pointed out, "The exact details on how Byrne and COPS grants are distributed has not been studied, at least not to my knowledge, but an examination of grant applications by one of my colleagues found that they overwhelmingly focus on the number of arrests made, particularly drug arrests. Byrne grants also fund the purchase of equipment for SWAT teams."

Unfortunately, while few of these raids even make the news, they are happening more and more frequently. As Borden notes, "In 1980 there were fewer than 3,000 reported SWAT raids. Now, the number is believed to be over 50,000 per year…About 3/4 of these are drug raids, perhaps more by now, the vast majority of them low-level." Balko's research reinforces this phenomenon. Based on more than a year's worth of research and culled only from documented SWAT team incidents, Balko cites "40 cases in which a completely innocent person was killed. There are dozens more in which nonviolent offenders (recreational pot smokers, for example…) or police officers were needlessly killed. There are nearly 150 cases in which innocent families, sometimes with children, were roused from their beds at gunpoint, and subjected to the fright of being apprehended and thoroughly searched at gunpoint. There are other cases in which a SWAT team seems wholly inappropriate, such as the apprehension of medical marijuana patients, many of whom are bedridden."

Despite the government's current fanaticism about marijuana, America has not always been at war over the cannabis plant. In fact, in 1619, all farmers of the Jamestown colony were required to grow cannabis for rope and other military purposes. Over the next 200 years, a variety of laws required hemp harvesting. In some cases, landowners could be imprisoned for neglecting their duty to grow hemp. Oftentimes, a surplus of hemp could be used as legal tender, even for paying taxes. In 1850, there were 8,327 hemp plantations in the U.S.

It was only later, during the early 20th century, that the government embarked on an all-out assault on marijuana, largely due to corporate business considerations that favored the production of cotton over hemp and racist policies that tied Hispanics and blacks to marijuana use. For example, even though blacks only account for 15% of the drug using population (with whites making up a growing part of the market), the vast majority of drug arrests and convictions affect black drug users. Incredibly, more than 70% of prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug offenses are black or Latino.

The time has come to put an end to the government's racially-weighted, militant war on marijuana. It is a failed, costly and misguided program that has cost the country billions. As critics rightly point out, the war on marijuana has also resulted in a massive increase in incarceration rates. According to Joe Klein, writing forTime, "We spend $68 billion per year on corrections, and one-third of those being corrected are serving time for nonviolent drug crimes. We spend about $150 billion on policing and courts, and 47.5% of all drug arrests are marijuana-related."

Worse, the government's War on Drugs seems to have actually exacerbated the drug problems in this country, funding criminal syndicates and failing to restrict its availability or discourage its use. Indeed, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that as recently as 2005, 58% of the public found marijuana readily available, with 50% of 12 to 17 year olds declaring it easy to get.

A growing number of legal scholars, including Bruce Fein, who served as a high-ranking Justice Department official during the Reagan administration, are calling to end the prohibition on marijuana and treat it like alcohol by regulating and taxing it at the state level. Their rationale is that instead of allowing marijuana to flourish as a profitable black market crop, it should be taxed and regulated in a manner similar to tobacco and alcohol, which many in the medical community believe to be far more harmful than marijuana. Not only would that lessen violent criminal activity associated with the manufacture and sale of marijuana, but it would also provide an economic boost to ailing state and federal coffers. As it now stands, marijuana is the United States' largest cash crop (it brought in an estimated $35 billion in 2005), with a third of this production coming from California where it is the state's largest cash crop.

Recently, over 500 economists led by Nobel Laureate George Akerlof, Daron Acemoglu of MIT, and Howard Margolis of the University of Chicago, signed an open letter to the President, Congress, State Governors, and State Legislatures expounding the immense economic benefits of legalization. They pointed out that if marijuana sales were taxed at the same level as cigarettes and alcohol, the government would make up to $6.2 billion annually. Additionally, a repeal of the prohibition of marijuana would save federal, state, and local governments an estimated $7.7 billion annually by ending the need for enforcement of drug laws.

Acknowledging the medical benefits of marijuana, especially for those who suffer from Alzheimer's, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, 16 states as well as the District of Columbia have also legalized it for medicinal purposes. Most recently, the California Medical Association, which represents more than 35,000 physicians statewide, called for the legalization and regulation of the plant.

As always, the special interests have a lot to say in these matters, and it's particularly telling that those lobbying hard to keep the prohibition on marijuana include law enforcement officials and alcoholic beverage producers. However, when the war on drugs—a.k.a. the war on the American people—becomes little more than a thinly veiled attempt to keep SWAT teams employed and special interests appeased, it's time to revisit our drug policies and laws. As Professors Eric Blumenson and Eva Nilson recognize:
During the 25 years of its existence, the "War on Drugs" has transformed the criminal justice system, to the point where the imperatives of drug law enforcement now drive many of the broader legislative, law enforcement, and corrections policies in counterproductive ways. One significant impetus for this transformation has been the enactment of forfeiture laws which allow law enforcement agencies to keep the lion's share of the drug-related assets they seize. Another has been the federal law enforcement aid program, revised a decade ago to focus on assisting state anti-drug efforts. Collectively these financial incentives have left many law enforcement agencies dependent on drug law enforcement to meet their budgetary requirements, at the expense of alternative goals such as the investigation and prosecution of non-drug crimes, crime prevention strategies, and drug education and treatment.