Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Remember When the NY Times Suggested Obama Exaggerated About His Drug Use?



An artist's satirical portrait of U.S. President Barack Obama at the Hemp Parade, or 'Hanfparade', 
on August 7, 2010 in Berlin, Germany.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Last week’s “Choom Gang” excerpts from David Maraniss' upcoming Obama biography depicting the president as a one-time pioneer in the art of marijuana inhalation reminded me of this New York Times headline from the 2008 Democratic primary: “Old Friends Say Drugs Played Bit Part in Obama’s Young Life.”
The Times piece, which got widespread pick-up, suggested that the stories Obama told about his drug use in his memoir Dreams From My Father were not necessarily true:
Mr. Obama’s account of his younger self and drugs, though, significantly differs from the recollections of others who do not recall his drug use. That could suggest he was so private about his usage that few people were aware of it, that the memories of those who knew him decades ago are fuzzy or rosier out of a desire to protect him, or that he added some writerly touches in his memoir to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic.
In more than three dozen interviews, friends, classmates and mentors from his high school and Occidental recalled Mr. Obama as being grounded, motivated and poised, someone who did not appear to be grappling with any drug problems and seemed to dabble only with marijuana.
It’s funny to think that this was one of the major stories vetting Obama’s drug use during the 2008 campaign, and it actually ended up underplaying the extent to which drugs were a part of his life in order to depict him as a fabulist. The Times line about Obama only “dabbling” in marijuana could very well be true (depending on your definition of dabbling), but that does not lead to the conclusion that drugs were a “bit part” in his life.
The main lines from the memoir that were used to show Obama the exaggerator were these:
“Junkie. Pothead. That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man,” he penned in the memoir.
Mr. Obama describes a scene in that period where, in the meat freezer of a deli, he watched someone named Micky — “my potential initiator” — pull out “the needle and the tubing,” apparently to shoot up heroin. Alarmed, Mr. Obama wrote that he imagined how an air bubble could kill him. 
Again, these may or may not have been exaggerations. But the story that the Times tells of a clean-living Obama who didn’t run with too bad of a crowd was certainly one. From Maraniss’ book:
[Obama’s dealer] was a long-haired haole hippie who worked at the Mama Mia Pizza Parlor not far from Punahou and lived in a dilapidated bus in an abandoned warehouse. … According to Topolinski, Ray the dealer was "freakin' scary." Many years later they learned that he had been killed with a ball-peen hammer by a scorned gay lover. But at the time he was useful because of his ability to "score quality weed."
In another section of the [senior] yearbook, students were given a block of space to express thanks and define their high school experience. … Nestled below [Obama's] photographs was one odd line of gratitude: "Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times."
That sounds much more in line with the Obama of Dreams From My Father than the one from the Times.
I bring this up not to rag on Serge Kovaleski or the Times for running this piece four years ago, but just to say that even if what we’ve seen of Maraniss’ reporting about Obama’s drug use and poetry and ex-girlfriends so far seems trivial, it is actually very impressive and the kind of stuff that is worthwhile to accurately have on the record.

Hemp Hoe Down to take place this weekend

by Amanda Friar MCTT staff
Source: rapidcityjournal.com

The Hemp Hoe Down will take place this weekend at the Elk Creek Resort (Rapid City, South Dakota). The 12th annual event will take place Thursday, May 31 – Sunday, June 3.
A swimming pool, full bar, disc golf, hemp gear, hemp food and hemp beer will all be offered at the event, as well as various concerts. Tickets are $40 for all three days available online until Wednesday. At the gate, tickets are $45 for all three days, Friday and Saturday for $35, Thursday for $15, Friday for $25 and Saturday for $20.
Two stages will feature more than 20 bands beginning at 6 p.m. including Fancy Creek Jumpers, James Leg, Dead Larry and Violent Hippie. In addition, the film “Hempsters Plant the Seed” will be played daily, along with multiple speeches given.
A fashion show will take place on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. and there will be DJs spinning at House Stage from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. nightly. Free on Sunday will include a Hemcrete presentation, workshops and a jam session with the Hemp Hoe Down musicians.
The Hemp Hoe Down is sponsored by Herb N Legend, Twistedsage.com, Wild Idea, Common Sense, Bent CD Shop, and Hemp History Week.
Elk Creek Resort is located at exit 46 off I-90 in Piedmont. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit www.hemphoedown.com.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Effort to relax marijuana penalties could reach Kansas City


Source: kansascity.com

Could Kansas City be next in Missouri to lighten up on lighting up?
In 2004, Columbia residents passed a measure that greatly relaxed penalties for marijuana smoking and possession. The advocacy group Show-Me Cannabis Regulation said last week that it may soon mount similar efforts in Kansas City and Springfield.
“We think those are incremental steps that could really help in getting a statewide measure passed,” said Amber Langston, the group’s campaign director and leader of the Columbia effort.
A petition drive earlier this year fell short of getting the necessary number of signatures to get a statewide initiative on the November ballot. But Langston said that was due more to lack of resources than lack of support. It takes money and foot soldiers to collect 145,000 signatures.
“This state is a lot closer than people think,” said Langston, who has served as an outreach director and international liaison for Students for Sensible Drug Policy in Washington, D.C., and worked on marijuana initiatives in California.
In Columbia in November 2004, 62 percent of voters approved making marijuana the “lowest law enforcement priority.”
The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is dangerous and has no health benefit. But now, because of states’ legislation and voter referendums, roughly 30 percent of Americans live where penalties for pot use have been greatly relaxed, either through medical marijuana statutes or decriminalization for possession of small amounts.
Connecticut is set to become the 17th state, along with the District of Columbia, to snub Washington on this issue.
The Show-Me organization is now thinking of another statewide push in November 2014.
John Hagan III, a Kansas City ophthalmologist and staunch opponent of easing of marijuana laws, is already firing back. It’s illegal for good reason, he said.
“Every study so far shows far more detrimental effects than anything beneficial,” said Hagan, editor of Missouri Medicine magazine, in which he recently wrote an editorial that attacked any effort to “make Mary Jane an honest woman.”
“Just because more states are doing it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight it,” Hagan said.
A brief history
It is a debate that has played out often in recent years across the country as more states have loosened the laws.
Opponents say marijuana is addictive, dangerous and can lead to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Proponents of change say legal weed means jobs, industrial hemp and tax revenue. Also, police would be freed up to focus on serious crime.
Not long ago on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” viewers saw U.S. Rep. Barney Frank and columnist George Will mix it up.
“If somebody wants to smoke marijuana and they’re an adult, why do you want to throw ‘em in jail, George?” Frank asked.
“I need to know more about it,” Will said. “I need to know if it’s a gateway drug.”
Frank asked him how long he needed.
“It’s been around a long time,” Frank said.
In 1937, a year after “Reefer Madness” warned parents that teenage smoking of pot would lead to sexual assault and suicide, President Franklin Roosevelt signed legislation outlawing the use, production and sale of the plant.
Turned out to be a bit premature. In 1941, Roosevelt signed an executive order rescinding part of the earlier law because the war effort needed hemp for rope and canvas.
But as soon as the war ended in 1945, the ban went back into effect. Midwest farmers, under threat of fines and penalties, plowed under their hemp crops.
On its website, NORML, a national organization working for the repeal of marijuana prohibition, has a timeline for marijuana reform. Perhaps not surprising, there are no entries for the entire decade of the 1950s.
Then came the culture wars of the 1960s. Smoking pot became part of college life. Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice hit the pipe. Bob Dylan sang, “Everybody must get stoned …”
In 1970, public interest lawyer R. Keith Stroup founded NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). Three years later, Oregon became the first state to pass cannabis decriminalization.
Since 2000, 11 states have passed various medical marijuana laws, which permit patients with a variety of ailments to possess pot, and in some cases even allow dispensaries where they can obtain it.
Other states have decreased penalties for amounts generally less than an ounce.
“We’ve largely won the hearts and minds of the American people,” Stroup told The Star.
This despite an Obama administration that has taken a hard line against the medical marijuana industry. After first saying it would end the practice of raiding clinics, the Justice Department later instructed U.S. attorneys to threaten clinic operators in California with criminal charges if they continued to violate federal law.
Obama, in response to critics, said: “We’re not going to be legalizing weed anytime soon. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana — and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law.”
Stroup said: “We are disappointed in the Obama White House. We were hoping the federal government would stay out of it.”
But his map shows what he would call great progress — in other parts of the country. States that have loosened marijuana laws are, for the most part, far out west and way back east.
Michigan is the rare Midwestern state on the list that includes most of New England, the Northwest, the West Coast and the desert Southwest. Colorado is the only neighbor of either Kansas or Missouri on the list. Down in the Deep South, possessing even small amounts of marijuana can still result in high fines and jail time.
The battle in Missouri
As for Missouri, Stroup thinks the state has a solid chance of getting something, either medical or decriminalization, done in the next few years.
“It’s a conservative state, but it’s not a Deep South red state,” he said.
Langston agrees. She thinks Missourians would pass reform if they get the information “without the propaganda.”
Hagan said he’s good with spreading information. That is, the information that marijuana harms the heart, liver and lungs, he says. It also causes mental disorders.
Hagan also rejects the notion that his health argument is inconsistent because he’s not going after tobacco and alcohol.
“A glass of red wine is good for you,” Hagan said.
Also, lungs damaged by smoking cigarettes will begin to repair themselves as soon as the smoker quits, he said.
“But this isn’t about tobacco or alcohol,” Hagan said. “This is about marijuana and if we can keep it out of Missouri, that’s a good thing.”
He’s got the head of the Missouri Highway Patrol on his side.
Of states that have eased marijuana laws, Col. Ron Replogle said: “Many states have lost this battle and my counterparts in those states are dealing with many negative results in the public safety arena as a result.”
The issue is political, if oddly so.
Montana and Alaska, both considered conservative red states, have passed marijuana reforms.
Langston, who studied rural sociology at the University of Missouri, said that’s the rugged-individualist factor. People in those states don’t want the federal government telling them what they can and cannot do, she said.
Or, as Willie Nelson has said: “I smoke pot, and it’s none of the government’s business.”
A medical marijuana bill was introduced this year in the Missouri General Assembly. It would have allowed dispensaries where patients could legally obtain pot.
The sponsor, Rep. Mike Colona, a St. Louis area Democrat, declined comment.
But Langston does not think a legislative fix is likely anyway because of the political leanings of the body.
This fight, she said, needs to go to the people. A decision on a Kansas City initiative would come soon, she said. She didn’t know what allies she might have in Kansas City.
“But with marijuana, there’s always secret supporters,’ she said.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/22/3630309/effort-to-relax-marijuana-penalties.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/22/3630309/effort-to-relax-marijuana-penalties.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/22/3630309/effort-to-relax-marijuana-penalties.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/22/3630309/effort-to-relax-marijuana-penalties.html#storylink=cpy

Marijuana Meets Moonshine

Source: nytimes.com

A DIFFERENT SIP The Jamaican Me Crazy, a cocktail using marijuana.
SPEAKEASY-STYLE bars with secret entrances and Prohibition themes may be popular, but their illegality is only an illusion. That wasn’t the case when 100 guests gathered in a Los Angeles loft for a party celebrating April 20, which has emerged as a national holiday for marijuana users.
During dinner, the host offered a selection of innovative cocktails: one featured moonshine and a shiso leaf dipped in marijuana-laced sesame oil, and another was a Gibson infused with cannabis smoke.
“When you put THC in alcohol, you feel it immediately,” said Daniel K. Nelson, the designer of the cocktails and an owner of Writer’s Room (a Hollywood bar), referring to tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. “I definitely got mega-high. I had to tone it down for the guests.”
Good thing the police didn’t show. While medical marijuana dispensaries are permitted in California, and a flier advertising the party said that dispensary cards would be checked at the door (it’s unclear if they were), few were under the impression this event was legal. After all, it’s harder to make a case for compassionate use when vodka and martini shakers are involved.
Still, the combination of marijuana and alcohol dovetails with the popularity of mixology and speakeasy-style bars.
“Cannabis cocktails are relatively recent phenomena,” said Elise McDonough, author of the “Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook.” Her book, released on April 20, includes recipes for drinks like the Jamaican Me Crazy (a piƱa colada with cannabis) and a Bonghitters’ Mota Mojito, made with cannabis-infused rum, mint and lime.
For decades, farmers in places like Northern California and upstate New York have made private batches of wine steeped with marijuana. “Grapes are grown in the same land where the nation’s finest ganja is grown,” Ms. McDonough said. “They were just putting pot in everything.”
More recently, marijuana-tinged beverages like the potsicle (vodka and marijuana-spiked fruit punch, shaken with ice) have been served at the Cannabis Cup, an annual contest that was started in Amsterdam in 1987 and now takes place in Denver, Detroit, San Francisco and other cities where marijuana dispensaries have been allowed. Attendees must be older than 18 and need a valid state ID and doctor’s note to enter “medication” areas.
Such drinks have even shown up on some store shelves — sort of, as novelties for law-abiding citizens. A brewery called Nectar Ales in Paso Robles, Calif., produces a hemp ale with “herb-accented flavor.” And Alaska Distillery in Wasilla sells a spirit called Purgatory vodka made from hemp.
Neither product contains THC, but they generate considerable notoriety.
“People are acting like I’m selling crack by the side of the street,” said Bella Coley of Alaska Distillery. “They’re going crazy for it.”
The trend has its critics, not least of all marijuana dispensaries that argue that cocktails like marijuana margaritas dilute the message that the plant has medicinal value.
“I don’t like the idea of associating cannabis with alcohol,” said Steve DeAngelo, the director of Harborside Health Center, a marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. “We believe it’s a wellness product, not an inebriant.”
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has not detected a rise in marijuana-infused alcoholic beverages.
“I’m not aware of anything recent,” said Casey Rettig, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco division.
But she recalled a 2006 case in which drinks with names like Toka-Cola and Bong’s Root Beer were seized.
“They had Nutella and called it ‘Budtella,’ ” she said of the contraband.

The time for industrial hemp is now

Gordon faces 3 challengers in 24th Assembly District

By: Aaron Kinney
Source: mercurynews.com

Assemblymember Rich Gordon is running for re-election to the 24th Assembly District.
Assemblyman Rich Gordon is taking on three inexperienced challengers in the June 5 primary for the newly drawn 24th Assembly District.
Gordon won the 21st Assembly District seat in 2010 after serving 13 years on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. Now he's looking to make a sideways leap to the 24th district, which has been reshaped by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission but still has much of the same territory as Gordon's old district.
Gordon, 63, touts his effectiveness as a lawmaker. Fifteen of his 19 bills were signed into law in 2011. He's particularly proud of AB 1149, which provided incentives for California-based companies to recycle plastics in-state rather than ship them overseas.
"I think I've learned to work in a way that is productive," said Gordon, adding that he would focus in a second term on education, the environment, solving the budget crisis, and increasing transparency in budget deliberations.
Gordon raised $178,360 in campaign donations from Jan. 1 to May 19, according to filings released Thursday. Up-to-date information for his competitors was not available.
Gordon's opponents include Geby Espinosa, who co-owns The Contenders Gym in Mountain View. The 47-year-old Democrat supports tougher immigration laws and promotes the legalization of industrial hemp production as a possible solution to the state's budget problems.
"We're sitting on a gold mine," Espinosa wrote in an email. "The time for industrial hemp is now."
Chengzhi "George" Yang, a 35-year-old software engineer, lists education and pension reform as his top priorities. The Menlo Park Republican is skeptical of high-speed rail, saying the much-criticized project, approved by voters in 2008, should head back to the ballot.
"I believe after four years of debate we have to give the project back to the voters, because we know a lot more about the project now," said Yang, who served on the San Bruno Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
Rounding out the field is independent candidate Joseph Antonelli Rosas Jr., a 22-year-old network-security adviser from Sunnyvale. Rosas has also worked as a community organizer with Peninsula Interfaith Alliance and the Occupy movement.
Though he does not list a party affiliation, Rosas insists he is the only liberal in the race. He decries the influence of campaign money on politics and proposes increasing funding for the UC and CSU systems by $1 billion, paid for with tax increases on the wealthiest Californians and by closing loopholes on commercial property assessments.
"I am willing to fight side by side with my constituents for what I believe in, and all my campaigning has been one-on-one, not glossy mailers from Oz," Rosas said in an email.
The California Secretary of State's Office designated Gordon the incumbent because of the overlap between the old 21st district and the new 24th, which consists of southern San Mateo County, including the coast, and northern Santa Clara County. It runs from Menlo Park to Sunnyvale.
The top two vote-getters in the primary will move on to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.
Websites of the 24th Assembly District candidates
Geby Espinosa -- none
Rich Gordon -- http://richgordon2012.com
Chengzhi "George" Yang -- http://gcyang.com
Joseph Antonelli Rosas Jr. -- http://jrosas4ad24.com

HEALTHY BOOST: Talking protein powder

Source: insidetoronto.com

Many people admit to feeling overwhelmed when deciding on what protein powder to purchase.
There are so many different varieties, brands and flavours, how do you know which one is right for you? And why is everyone using protein powders any way?
We need protein in our diet, either from animal or plant sources. Protein powders help build lean muscle, endurance and strength, muscle recovery and supports healthy weight management.
Supplementing breakfast or lunch with protein shakes and smoothies has become popular as many active people are looking for quick nutrition on the go. Protein shakes are no longer synonymous with body building types; many people are adding protein and meal replacement powders to their diet as a way to cut back on animal protein. Let's go over some of the different proteins available.

Whey protein
Probably the most popular and recognizable protein, whey protein comes from the watery part of milk separated from the curds during the cheese-making process.
Whey protein has a great creamy taste and texture and mixes well in smoothies. Whey protein powders provide a high amount of protein and contains all eight essential amino acids. It's important to choose a high-quality whey powder and to be aware of where the whey is coming from.
Few companies are able to make claims such as "organic" on whey protein because it involves tracking the source from soil, to grass, to cows, to how cows were raised. However, whey sourced from New Zealand has earned the reputation for being produced by cows who are fed hormone- and antibiotic-free diets.

Hemp protein
Hemp protein is a great vegan/vegetarian option and is growing in popularity. Hemp protein is isolated from the hemp seed and contains eight of the essential amino acids as well as essential fatty acids. Hemp protein is not known for its taste, but can make a good addition to baking and to smoothies by adding frozen fruits.
Hemp protein does not have as high of a protein content as some others, but it has high amounts of fibre, making it a filling protein powder option.

Brown rice protein
This another great vegan/vegetarian option. Brown rice protein is a great alternative to whey protein because of its high protein content, consisting of 80 per cent protein.
Brown rice is high in enzymes and easy to digest. Brown rice protein is minimally processed and not treated with chemicals, bleaching agents or high heat. Brown rice is rich in B vitamins, manganese, phosphorous, iron, fiber and essential fatty acids. It's also high in manganese, a trace mineral that helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates.
Brown rice protein is also rich in glutamine, which is great for muscle cell repair. There is a great selection of brown rice proteins available in some really delicious flavours. They can be shaken up with water for a quick snack or meal on the go, or blended with a milk drink and fruit for a great tasting smoothie.
There are definitely many choices. This should help in narrowing down which protein powder is best suited for you and your dietary needs. The recommendation is to have a couple of different proteins (plant and whey) available. Remember - in order to get the best results from protein supplementation, it's necessary to alternate your proteins at least every day. For example, Monday, use whey protein; Tuesday, brown rice protein; Wednesday, hemp protein and Thursday, back to whey.

Abhay Deol: The world needs hemp!

By: HT Media Limited
Source: india.nydailynews.com

Abhay Deol at PVR Nest screening. (Photo: IANS)
Abhay Deol at PVR Nest screening. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, May 24 -- Conspiracy theorists will have you know that the "war" on drugs is just a way to keep drugs in the black market so that their value remains "high". Comparing cannabis (marijuana/hemp) with hard drugs like cocaine, crack, heroin etc is a way to demonise the drug further.
The downfall of the plant started early last century in the US. Ironically, it was illegal NOT to grow hemp in a few states in the early part of US history. Even George Washington grew it. Its uses were many - as fiber for ropes and sails, to make paper, its seeds are high in proteins, it makes for a stronger, longer lasting material to make clothes with, than cotton. It was possibly the first agricultural crop. It can be grown in most climates, is drought resistant, requires little fertiliser, pesticides and herbicides. Its seeds can be used to make hemp oil.
A little known fact is that it can also be used to produce fuel! Henry Ford's first Model-T (the people's car) was even constructed from hemp! He said it was "grown from the soil" and its impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel! Hemp fuel is also biodegradable, does not contribute sulphur dioxide to the atmosphere and is non-toxic. Farmers around the world would greatly benefit from growing it. But alas, we live in a market driven economy and I personally have come to believe that the market is driven by scarcity.
If upon further research it is proved that hemp can provide us with so many alternatives, it would drive many companies out of business. Think about it, it can replace trees for paper, that would not be good for companies who make profit from cutting down trees. Being a weed, it grows really fast and outcompetes other weeds. Hemp strains produce their own resins that make the crop naturally pest free. Not good for companies that make pesticides! It can be used as a fuel! This is one of the major threats! Oil companies are some of the biggest giants in the corporate world. Both Henry Ford and Rudolf Diesel designed cars that ran on vegetable oils and hemp oil. This was a century ago!
Ford even said that the fuel of the future is going to come from weeds and fruits, anything that can be fermented to produce ethanol/ethyl alcohol. But as gasoline emerged as the dominant transportation fuel in the early part of the last century, as more and more oil fields were discovered, there was intense lobbying by the petroleum companies to maintain steep taxes on alcohol thereby killing the market for alternative fuels.
The rabbit hole goes deeper. The case for hemp as mankind's (and the Earth's) saviour cannot be made by me in a 300 word article (which I have far exceeded). Before the western influence started to dictate our laws, we were happy to spark up, drink, and even eat the damn drug with no one having any objection. Our festival of Holi is proof of that. Today it is illegal. So how is it that bhang is sold at government outlets during Holi? Why is it that sadhus who smoke chillums are not arrested? When and why did we bring a law to ban it? Was it to benefit us, or the US?

Hempcrete - Another Victim of the War on Drugs

By: Jon Walton
Source: constructiondigital.com

This versatile, green building material is banned from commercial production in the U.S.

The farcical war on drugs that has incarcerated millions, cost taxpayers billions, and led to the deaths of untold numbers of domestic and international civilians, is also smothering an industry with the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of the building sector, one of the largest polluters on the planet.
Hemp, the fibrous material from low-TCH strains of the Cannabis plant, has uses ranging from food to medicine, clothing, paper, and even construction. When hemp is combined with lime, you get a carbon-negative building material with greater flexibility and only 15 percent of the density of traditional concrete. Called hempcrete, this insulating and moisture regulating mixture is hard to come by in the United States, as the Cannabis plant is currently federally prohibited from being used in industrial production.

Hempcrete lacks the compressive strength of traditional concrete, however, and requires an additional framing element to support vertical loads – but its other properties would make it an attractive alternative building material, if not for hemp’s legal status.
Cannabis plants grow 15 times faster than trees, and produce as much cellulose fiber pulp per acre as over four acres of forest. The long list of environmentally-friendly industrial applications put even more pressure on failing drug legislation. Someday soon, hopefully, hemp will become an integral part of the green building movement and the search for more sustainable building practices.

Lenzing looking at flax blends

Source: sustainablenonwovens.net

Naturally Advanced Technologies (NAT) is now working with Lenzing to evaluate the blending of its Crailar flax and hemp fibres with Tencel and Modal cellulosics.
Potential applications for such blends in nonwovens, as well as in apparel end-uses, will be explored by the two companies.
“With Lenzing, we can now evaluate the opportunity to expand the host fibres with which Crailar can blend to identify new performance attributes, applications and industries,” said Ken Barker, NAT’s CEO. “This is truly a new frontier for the future of our natural fibres, and working with the global leader Lenzing creates a very powerful industry platform in both sustainability and performance. This partnership will have applications in industry sectors where polyester fibres have been the norm, in addition to our existing applications as a sustainable complement to cotton.”
The initial intentiobn of the agreement is to create a range of yarns suitable for the fashion and sport performance industries.
NAT supplies its CRAiLAR Flax to HanesBrands, Georgia-Pacific and Brilliant Global Knitwear for commercial use, and to Levi Strauss, Cintas, Carhartt, Ashland, Westex, Target and PVH Corp for evaluation and development.
The company is currently building its first full-scale production facility in Pamplico, South Carolina, and anticipates it will be delivering fibre from the plant in the third quarter of 2012. It will partner with Tintoria Piana and Barnhardt on the processing of the fibre. The company’s current fibre is being produced at its pilot facility in nearby Kingstree, South Carolina.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Hemp Comeback

By: Sean Murphy
Source: abc.net.au

PIP COURTNEY, PRESENTER: Hemp is one of the oldest crops known to humankind. 

The Hemp Comeback 
And some historians believe the need for material to make ropes and sails for the Royal Navy was the real reason behind the establishment of Australia as a penal colony more than two centuries ago. 

Now hemp is making a comeback of sorts, with licensed production in most states supplying growing markets in masonry, fibreglass replacements and textiles. But a push to legalise foods made from hemp seeds could be the key to Australia's hemp industry taking off. 

ONSCREEN: The Hemp Comeback

SEAN MURPHY, REPORTER: At Ashford in the New England region of New South Wales they used to grow tobacco on the verdant plains of the Severn River but now farmers like Leon Minos are growing industrial hemp.

LEON MINOS, HEMP GROWER, PONDA: Traditionally my grandparents and parents grew tobacco here, and that was predominantly tobacco. And then the tobacco industry folded and yeah, we're just looking at another industry to get up and running and hopefully be good for the Ashford area.

SEAN MURPHY: With his wife Connie, they're growing about six hectares of hemp under licence, providing hurd for a growing market in masonry material for building.

CONNIE MINOS, HELP GROWER, PONDA: We really like the crop. It's something that's been a really interesting industry, I guess, for to us get involved in over the last three years. We've learnt a lot about it in that time and I guess we're always impressed with just how diverse the product can be, and it's something that we're hoping really does take off. 

As far as the farming side of it goes, we find that because we've previously just grown lucerne here, that it's less time consuming, it uses a lot less water - so there's a lot of benefits for that side of it as well.

SEAN MURPHY: Even if it needs irrigation, hemp uses about a third of the water needed to grow lucerne and its low cost benefits extend well beyond water savings. 

(Sean Murphy in front of tall fronded hemp crop)

This crop was planted about 90 days ago. It's about 4m tall and is ready for harvest now. 

It's planted in beautiful alluvial soil and there used to be free range pigs running in this paddock. But other than that there have been no inputs at all - no fertiliser, no pesticides, no herbicides, no fungicides, not even irrigation, just sunshine and rain. 

SEAN MURPHY: And the returns are attractive too. Industry advocates reckon a crop like this could fetch about $1,500 a tonne when its raw material is separated. 

KLARA MAROSSEZKY, AUSTRALIAN HEMP MASONRY COMPANY: So the farmer is getting $500 for their hurd, $500 for their fines and then additionally they can get $500 for the short bast. 

And the short bast is something that can be fed into the fibreglass industry very readily - so its major market is in Europe is in the automobile industry. 

(Klara Marossezky starts hemp processing machine)

SEAN MURPHY: Klara Marossezky is a sustainability educator. She runs the Australian Hemp Masonry Company and has developed an award winning formula for converting hemp hurd into a carbon sequestering building material.

KLARA MAROSSEZKY: This is actually a carbon sink. So it's harvested carbon out of the air in the field, that's been chopped up and it's being put into this lime-based material and then locked up in that. So it's literally carbon locked into a wall.

SEAN MURPHY: Once the material sets it undergoes carbonisation or petrification and continues to soak up carbon.

KLARA MAROSSEZKY: When we talk about Australia not being ready for a low carbon future, we are actually ideally poised for a low carbon future. This is probably one of the most powerful resources that we have to us and one of the most powerful tools we have for addressing carbon. 

And so we've got this equation. We've got you know, huge impact from just- If I only talk about the building sector, 40 per cent of our carbon footprint in Australia from building. If we replace that, that's something that's immediately being addressed. 

SEAN MURPHY: This prototype building is at Mountain View near Nimbin in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales. It's cheap, easy to build and has high thermal qualities and energy efficiency.

LIZ JOHNSON (working on building): Just coming home and smelling the beginnings is great, makes you feel like you're doing something for Mother Nature.

SEAN MURPHY: Aboriginal community Elder Liz Johnson says it's a perfect fit for remote Aboriginal communities. 

LIZ JOHNSON, ABORIGINAL ELDER: I've searched a long time for what I think is a culturally appropriate building material for Aboriginal people. Since the change of cultures in our country, Aboriginal people have been imposed upon so far as building is concerned. And traditionally we lived in healthy living conditions.

And all my life I've built houses out of different things. I've lived in different houses, and I've seen the health of Aboriginal people deteriorate with the houses that are built specially for public housing.

So I'm hoping that with our venture into the hemp housing, that we will be able to influence regional governments and eventually the Federal Government with a prototype of this sort of house.

(Close up of hemp crop)

SEAN MURPHY: Hemp is one of the oldest and most versatile crops in existence and was the world's most ubiquitous textile fibre before the invention of the cotton gin in the American South in the 19th century.

It's still grown for fabric making but until now, the process of separating the bast fibre from the stem has been expensive and burdened by archaic technology.

ADRIAN CLARKE, TEXTILE AND COMPOSITE INDUSTRIES: You cannot do anything with hemp until you have separated the hurd from the fibre. The fibre is in the bark on the outside. The hurd is the woody pith in the middle.

(Extract from Textile and Composite Industries corporate video showing a decortication machine at work and the resulting fibre)

SEAN MURPHY: Victorian inventor Adrian Clarke is working on a decortication machine which can process hemp in a field.

It produces material that can be adapted to existing cotton spinning technology and Mr Clarke says its potential is revolutionary.

ADRIAN CLARKE: Our method theoretically, you could cut it today and be spinning it tomorrow - and we recover over 90 per cent of the fibre. But we do it in a way that will spin in cotton machinery. 

They're making advances with cotton spinning machinery every day. Billions of dollars gets spent on improving the cotton spinning - so we link into the most modern technology out of the oldest technology. We bring more fibre per hectare and we bring a better fibre. 

And it's not stained, it can be spun and dyed just like cotton. And most of the goods you will see around in the hemp shops is actually a blend of cotton and hemp, so it gets the benefit of both. 

(Extract from BBC TV show on hemp)

VOICEOVER: This particular machine is just a prototype but its Australian inventor thinks it could revolutionise textile production throughout the world.

REPORTER: It will be a drivable machine?

ADRIAN CLARKE: It will be a drivable machine that harvests and what comes out the back will be ready to go straight into a cotton system.

(End of extract)

SEAN MURPHY: The BBC showed interest in Adrian Clarke's invention after he moved to England 12 years ago when licensed hemp production was stopped in Victoria.

Now that it's resumed, he's returned to Australia with a refined device that can fit onto a tractor.

ADRIAN CLARKE: We have developed a decorticator that is very small and very efficient, and it was actually designed to go inside a harvester so that the harvester immediately feeds it into the decorticator and separates the fibre from the hurd as it's going through.

SEAN MURPHY: He's now seeking investors but says the biggest boost to Australia's fledgling hemp industry would be to follow the lead of countries like Britain, Canada and the United States and legalise hemp food.

(Montage of hemp products)

ADRIAN CLARKE: To deny Australians the right to eat these very healthy foods and use the oil is just quite ridiculous. I can go into Sainsburys or Tesco in London and buy hemp spaghetti, hemp salad dressing, hemp ice cream, hemp soaps. 

The foods are just there. Hemp breads, it's all just there. And you can't buy it here. You can't consume it here. 

SEAN MURPHY: Food Standards Australia and New Zealand has recently recommended that hemp seed foods be made legal in Australia and this is now being considered by a ministerial council.

It comes a decade after a similar recommendation was rejected. 

SEAN MURPHY: Food Standards Australia and New Zealand found there would be no public health and safety concerns with hemp as a food product. 

New Zealand accepted the advice but the Howard Government rejected it. It said legalising hemp as a food would send mixed messages about drug abuse and it would be difficult for law enforcement agencies to police. 

Now police agencies across Australia are objecting on the grounds that hemp food could corrupt roadside drug testing. And the New South Wales Government says it might also encourage cannabis consumption, which is already the highest in the world. 

ANDREW KAVASILAS, HEMP GROWER: They talk about undermining efforts made to eradicate cannabis, it will send the wrong messages to people about the safe use of cannabis.

But those arguments aren't getting anywhere overseas. Overseas we're looking at markets that are just expanding tenfold. 

(In front of hemp fields)

You could smoke an ounce of this and still walk home- still drive home, yeah! (laughs)

SEAN MURPHY: Andrew Kavasilas is one of 34 licensed hemp growers in New South Wales. He is specialising in hemp seed production. 

He says there's no THC in hemp seeds and he believes fair trade laws will eventually open the hemp food market up in Australia. 

ANDREW KAVASILAS: They probably won't get up this time. I think what will happen is something like what happened in the US and Canada, where there will be a trade issue, there will probably be a court case, and the truth in fact will come out about the nutritional benefits of hemp seed and the government will have no option but to facilitate the introduction of hemp seed food in Australia. 

(Andrew Kavasilas opening a sac and showing hemp seeds)

That's the seed, Stewart.

STEWART LARSSON, MARA SEEDS: What sort of germinations do you look at? 

ANDREW KAVASILAS: Eighty per cent, 90 per cent plus, generally. Sometimes fresh enough, it will go 100 per cent.

SEAN MURPHY: Stewart Larsson is Australia's biggest organic soy bean producer, processing about 7,000 tonnes a year. 

At his new stockfeed and biochar facility at Mallanganee in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, Mr Larsson has been working with local hemp growers. He believes there's huge potential for broadacre hemp seed production, if the Government legalises hemp foods. 

STEWART LARSSON: We can't take it any further until basically that happens. I mean, we can do the trial areas and the growing of the crop and even the methodology of how we do that. But we need that tick for it to happen. 

If we look at what the world says we're going to have a food shortage in years to come. 

I mean, it's a crop we can grow well here, it appears, and it's suited to this environment as well. And I guess our interest is in taking it to a commercial crop, in that using standard equipment that we're using now in growing soy and also to be a rotation with soy - in soy being a nitrogen crop and the end level for growing food grade hemp is certainly a plus.

SEAN MURPHY: Even on a small scale like this, the economics of hemp seed are impressive. Andrew Kavasilas says a one hectare crop will yield about 1.5 tonnes of seed worth up to $6,000.

ANDREW KAVASILAS: Well, that's what keeps my enthusiasm up, because it is a high potential plant. As a broad acre crop, it integrates well into what farmers are doing anyway. 

And when you're growing a crop that in effect can produce oil at the same quality as fish oil, in terms of its omega ratios, yeah, why wouldn't you be going for it? 

I think what happens, is people haven't got a grasp of the full facts, and politically I don't think there's any votes for any politician to say that our kids should be eating hemp foods. 

SEAN MURPHY: At Ashford, Connie Minos is hoping to integrate her fat lamb production with hemp growing but under her current licence conditions this is forbidden. 

CONNIE MINOS: We're personally interested in being able to use it as fodder for stock because we grow lucerne and hemp here. Hemp being so high in protein, we're interested in being able to combine the two and make pellets and chaff available for the stock. And we believe that they'll do very well on that, the fat lambs we've got at the moment. 

We're really keen to try that but we can't do that until the Government basically approves the use of hemp as a human consumption, which has been approved in many other parts around the world. 

SEAN MURPHY: Hemp growers are strictly monitored and their crops are tested regularly to ensure they have low THC levels but growers say there's an imbalance between compliance and technical advice and support. 

ANDREW KAVASILAS: For instance in New South Wales the hemp issue is being handled by Invasive Species Department of the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. 

That's a department that's in the business of eradicating plants not fostering an industry to catch on to what the rest of the world is doing. 

In compliance and regulation, yeah, they'll be out there, they'll be testing your plants, they'll tell you what you can't do - but in terms of any support to make representations to the minister, it's just not there.

SEAN MURPHY: The New South Wales Government says it's planning a round table meeting with the hemp industry's major players in the coming months to formulate a strategic plant. 

Leon Minos says it's the kind of support that could create a thriving local industry and see Ashford prosper again as it did during the heyday of the tobacco industry.

LEON MINOS: Obviously we need to promote it in the area and get the community on board and allow the farmers to be able to have enough crops and that growing to cater for the market. And eventually get a processing plant of some sort in Ashford so we can create some employment for the future, and for the town, and sort of turn things around. 

We've lost a lot of industry, lost the coal mine and the power station, tobacco industry - so it's basically a retirement village. Old people are good but we need some young people too. 

And we'll need to be able to keep them around if they have the will to stay.