Tuesday, May 28, 2013

California Industrial Hemp Farming Act Approved by Senate Committee

By Thomas A. Clarke
Source: thedailychronic.net

hemp field

SACRAMENTO, CA — A bill that would allow California farmers to grow industrial hemp received a favorable report from a Senate committee on Thursday, who recommended the bill’s passage by a vote of 7-0.
The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, Senate Bill 566, was given the green light by the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and has previously been approved by the Committee on Public Safety by a 5-0 vote.  The bill will now be scheduled for a third reading by the full California Senate.
If passed, the bill sponsored by state Senator Mark Leno and Assemblyman Allan R. Mansoor  would revise the state definition of “marijuana” to exclude industrial hemp, and would establish a licensing procedure for farmers wishing to cultivate industrial hemp.
The bill would take effect upon the federal government lifting the current ban on hemp cultivation in the United States.
The United States Senate is currently considering legislation that would exclude industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act’s definition of marijuana, in addition to a seperate bill, “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013,” which remains pending as stand-alone legislation in both the House and Senate but has yet to receive a legislative hearing.
Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only trace (less than one percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.
Hemp products can legally be sold in the United States, but the hemp must be imported from other countries.   Sales of hemp products in the United States have grown steadily since 1990 to achieve over $500 million in annual sales in 2012.
California’s hemp manufacturers currently import “tens of thousands” of acre’s worth of hemp seed, oil and fiber products that could potentially be produced by California farmers at a more competitive price than the international imports, according to Sen. Leno, and locally grown hemp would create jobs for California’s work force.
Eight states – Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia – have enacted statutory changes defining industrial hemp as distinct agricultural product and allowing for its regulated commercial production.
Numerous states are considering legislation this year to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp.
Hemp use archaeologically dates back to the Neolithic Agein China, with hemp fiber imprints found on Yangshao culture pottery dating from the 5th century BC.  Historians estimate that hemp was first cultivated by humans about 12,000 years ago.
Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing. The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service.
Over thirty countries produce industrial hemp, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.
The world’s leader in hemp production is China.

Edible Schoolyard grad puts hemp burgers on map

By Alix Wall
Source: berkeleyside.com

The hemp burger, created by startup Bay Roots, includes onions, red peppers, brown rice, black beans, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, quinoa, and lots of spices — all organic — as well as hemp seeds. Photo: Bay Roots

Alice Waters’ disciples are a varied bunch. There are the chefs opening their own restaurants following the organic and local ethos. There are the fresh food evangelists planting vegetable gardens on school grounds. And then there is Will Gaudet Jr., who hopes to bring hemp burgers to the people.
Hemp is a byproduct of growing marijuana. It has long been used to make rope, clothing and beauty products. Hemp seeds are widely available at health food stores. But, because it remains illegal to farm marijuana in the United States, Gaudet’s intention with his startup, Bay Roots, is twofold; while he wants to promote the virtues of hemp seeds as a non-meat, healthy protein source, he also hopes to educate the public about the virtues of hemp, which might in turn bring more people around to the idea of legalizing marijuana.
Gaudet, himself a product of Waters’ Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, called Waters nothing short of “a revolutionary,” speaking recently in the Edible Schoolyard, as chickens and ducks wandered freely nearby.
Will Gaudet Jr. and Alexa Dennis prepare the signature product of their food startup: hemp burgers. Photo: Bay Roots
“At the time, I probably just wanted to play basketball,” he said, rather than learning how to grow food. “This program is why I’ve had such inspiration to eat healthy all these years. You get older and realize that people were trying to instill valuable things.”
Gaudet, 21, who grew up in the Berkeley Hills but moved with his parents to the Seattle area for high school, is the kind of guy who hugs everyone – including this reporter —  upon first meeting. He has peace signs and pot leaves tattooed on one forearm, pot leaves on his socks, and a pot leaf decal on the back of his iPhone.
He is joined at Bay Roots by his girlfriend Alexa Dennis, 19, from Snohomish, Wash., whom he met a folk festival.
The business idea took root while the pair lived on Maui for six months. Gaudet, who had worked in the medical marijuana industry in Washington, and Dennis, who was in the healing arts, went to Hawaii to learn organic farming. Their lodging did not pan out, and they were picked up while hitchhiking by a Silicon Valley millionaire. He let them stay on his property for two weeks until they found a new situation, and, one night, Gaudet found himself educating the man, a vegetarian who had invested in food trucks and restaurants, about the virtues of hemp.
Gaudet’s mother has severe food allergies, and had been experimenting with hemp seed burgers for years. While they tasted good, they were more like sloppy joes than burgers, Gaudet said, as their one fault was that they didn’t bind well. The investor offered to fund their test market in Maui, so they developed a recipe with a local chef using his mother’s as a starting point, and began selling them to a local health food store.
The burgers have other ingredients too (onions, red peppers, brown rice, black beans, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, quinoa, and lots of spices, including chipotle pepper — all of them organic) and have quite a zip to them. They are comparable to some of the better veggie burgers on the market (not all veggie burgers having been created equal).
While their daily run of 24 burgers continued to sell out in less than three hours in Maui, Gaudet flew to San Francisco to attend a hemp conference.
“I was intrigued by how big the industry is,” he said, “and came back so stoked.”
The idea for the Bay Roots business took root while the founders lived on Maui for six months. Photo: Bay Roots
Meanwhile, the potential investor was less stoked about Gaudet’s legalization agenda that he planned to market along with the burgers.
The one thing they did agree on was that it was better for Gaudet to find his passion and fail, rather than work for a start-up he didn’t feel passionate about.
One night, Dennis said, “We don’t need a start-up guy. We can do this together,” and the idea for Bay Roots was born.
By the beginning of this year, they had the name and the website, and they launched a crowd-sourcing campaign on IndieGoGo that’s ending soon (donors to it can get hemp burgers as a thank you perk) to help them get started here in the Bay Area. They’re currently living with Gaudet’s aunt in Orinda, and use commercial kitchen space to make the burgers there.
The couple say they moved to California because it’s cheaper to source ingredients here – though their hemp seed supplier is in Canada – and they are closer to their target markets on the West Coast.
Once Bay Roots is up and running, the pair plan to put facts and figures about hemp on the packaging as part of their endeavor.
Both Gaudet and Dennis believe that the petro-chemical and pharmaceutical industries are to blame for the fact that marijuana remains illegal. When asked why hemp products are legal to sell while it is forbidden to grow them domestically, Gaudet said, “if the production of hemp was legal in America with no limitations, there are certain industries that could be threatened.”
Casey Rettig, a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency’s San Francisco office said that hemp products made from seeds that can’t germinate to produce marijuana are exempt from the Controlled Substances Act, which is why they can be sold legally.
Hemp seeds are widely available at health food stores. But, it remains illegal to farm marijuana in the U.S., something Bay Roots is campaigning to change. Photo: Bay Roots
Meanwhile, Gaudet and Dennis hope their campaign takes off in major way, and that hemp burgers become the next big thing.
And they have a few other lofty goals.
“I want Bay Roots to be in a position where it has a voice in the community,” said Gaudet. “We want it to be a brand that moms and families can really trust. We’ve seen with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and the lies corporations are making, that people are realizing they can’t trust a lot of the old brands. We want to be a company that supplies healthy organic food from hemp.”
Added Dennis with a big smile, “We want to live on our own hemp farm and be the couple who legalized hemp.”
To learn more about Bay Roots or contribute to their cause, visit Bay Roots’ website and Bay Roots Hemp Burgers’ s campaign on IndieGoGo.

Culture Report: Hemp Allowed

By Kelly Brnnrtt
Source: voiceofsandiego.org

To sell hemp necklaces near the Ocean Beach pier is to exercise free speech, argues David Millette, a vendor who makes his own jewelry.
Mayor Bob Filner seems to agree. What’s more: He wrote the artist a personal letter granting him immunity from the police, who might otherwise ticket him for hawking his hemp without a vendor permit.
“Art is First Amendment speech,” Millette said. “Just because you sell your art, that doesn’t diminish your First Amendment rights.”
The exception didn’t sit well with a business group in OB. And Millette got a ticket last week anyway — though it was eventually rescinded.

Hemp growing legal right now? No, says Colorado Department of Agriculture

By Melanie Asmar
Source: westword.com

Is it legal to grow hemp in Colorado? Like, right now?


That's a complicated question -- and one that the Colorado Department of Agriculture is trying to clear up in a statement issued this week: "Amendment 64 did not authorize the immediate cultivation of hemp. It instead directed the General Assembly to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp. This they have now done."
So can farmers start planting? Not yet.
Ron Carleton, the state's deputy commissioner of agriculture, admits that there's "considerable confusion" about whether pot-centric Amendment 64, approved by voters in November, authorized the immediate growing of hemp, marijuana's sober sister. "We've been getting a lot of questions about, 'What does this mean?' and 'Can I start cultivating now?'" Carleton says.
Ron Carleton.
As noted above, the answer to that second question is "no." Amendment 64 merely directed the state legislature to "enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp" by July 1, 2014. Lawmakers beat that deadline earlier this month when they approved SB 241, a bill that requires the state Department of Agriculture to put in place a process to register hemp farmers by March 1, 2014. Governor John Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill into law, though he has not yet done so.
Here's the rest of the department's statement, which quotes Carleton:
"This legislation delegates to the Department the responsibility for establishing registration and inspection regulations and to have the rules finalized by March 1, 2014. The bill also creates an advisory committee to help the Department in developing the regulations. The measure is now awaiting action by Governor John Hickenlooper," [Carleton says].
"Once SB13-241 becomes law, we will begin the rulemaking process, working in consultation with the advisory committee. While we will work diligently to complete this process as quickly as possible, it is unlikely that we will have rules setting up a registration and inspection system in place until early 2014.
"The General Assembly ... has made it clear that cultivation, for either commercial or research and development purposes, is not authorized unless the prospective grower first registers with the Department. That will not be possible until early 2014 as we do not expect the registration program to be in place before then."
Individuals with questions concerning the upcoming rulemaking process may contact the Colorado Department of Agriculture at (303) 239-4100.

 Part of the confusion involves a groundbreaking hemp phytoremediation study approved by lawmakers in 2012. The purpose of the ten-year study is to test whether industrial hemp can remove pollutants, such as metals and pesticides, from contaminated soil in order to make it "more conducive to crop production." The law authorizing the study specifies that the hemp is to be grown at a "secure, indoor growing site."
ditchweed feral hemp toke of the town 550x365.jpeg
Toke of the Town, via Diana Sunshine Wulf
Feral hemp growing wild in Nebraska.
SB 241 expands the state's hemp-studying possibilities by allowing farmers to grow up to ten acres outdoors "for research and development purposes." However, farmers wanting to study how hemp grows outside will have to wait to plant any until the Department of Agriculture registration process is in place, just like everybody else. Some farmers and advocates were initially confused; they believed (and therefore, we reported) that farmers wishing to grow hemp for research purposes could now do so because SB 241 had expanded the phytoremediation study to allow them to plant outdoors.
The inside of a hemp stalk.
Sam Walsh, a lobbyist who worked on SB 241, credits the confusion to "the earnestness of a lot of these farmers who've been economically destitute for the last ten years [and who] want to immediately jump on an opportunity presented to them. But we have to make sure this is done correctly. While we're sympathetic and we understand, we don't want people to jeopardize themselves or put themselves in harm's way."
Especially since hemp is still illegal at the federal level. The Controlled Substances Act classifies both hemp and marijuana -- collectively referred to in the law as Cannabis sativa -- as Schedule I drugs. Thus far, the feds have been silent on how they'll react to cannabis growth in states that have legalized it.
The next step is for Hickenlooper to sign SB 241. Once that happens, the chairs of the House and Senate agriculture committees will appoint nine members to the committee; they'll be tasked with helping the Department of Agriculture create a hemp-farming registration process. The bill specifies that farmers wishing to grow hemp must submit an application that includes the GPS coordinates and a map of the land on which they plan to grow. They would also be required to pay a fee, to verify that their crop would have a THC concentration of no more than three-tenths of 1 percent and demonstrate that they have "entered into a purchase agreement with an in-state industrial hemp producer."
Advocates stress that even though it will likely be another year before farmers can plant vast commercial fields of industrial hemp, Colorado is still on the leading edge of the movement to resurrect a once-popular source of fiber and food. For his part, Carleton admits that the department, in being directed to regulate the state's impending hemp industry, is "in uncharted territory here, to some extent."
"We want to get this right," he says. "We want to make sure we have a...good program [that] helps promote and provide for cultivation and inspection of industrial hemp."

Ron Wyden Introduces Hemp Legalization Amendment To Farm Bill

By Ryan Grim and Amanda Edwards-Levy
Source: huffingtonpost.com

Wyden Hemp

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), has introduced a farm bill amendment that would allow farming of industrial hemp.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced an amendment to the farm bill Monday that would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, an aide told HuffPost.
The "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013" would exclude industrial hemp, which is not a drug, from classification as "marihuana," removing it from the federal laws against growing pot, and allowing for regulation by the states.
Wyden told HuffPost he planned to talk to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who is floor-managing the farm bill, about the provision. "For me, what's important is that people see, particularly in our state, there's someone buying it at Costco in Oregon," Wyden said in a brief interview in the Capitol. "I adopted what I think is a modest position, which is if you can buy it at a store in Oregon, our farmers ought to be able to make some money growing it."
The amendment was cosponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Its introduction follows a failed effort by the two Republican senators to insert a similar provision into the base of the bill. The attempt was blocked by Democrats, amid a flurry of palace intrigue, who insisted McConnell press forward with a vote. Inserting it into the bill would have made it more likely for the provision to become law. The floor approach will require 60 votes.
Wyden has long been an advocate for allowing American farmers to grow hemp, which he said will create jobs and economic growth.
Last June, he introduced a farm bill amendment that would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, but couldn't get it to a vote.
“I firmly believe that American farmers should not be denied an opportunity to grow and sell a legitimate crop simply because it resembles an illegal one," Wyden wrote at the time. "I’m confident that if grassroots support continues to grow and Members of Congress continue to hear from voters then common sense hemp legislation can move through Congress in the near future.”
Several states, including Oregon, Vermont and Kentucky, already allow for hemp licensure, but need the federal law amended before farmers can begin planting.
"We are optimistic that the hemp amendment to the farm bill will pass and be attached," said Tom Murphy, the national outreach coordinator for Vote Hemp, which aims to legalize hemp farming. "We just received word from [farm advocacy group] Rural Vermont that Sen. Patrick Leahy will support the amendment."
Sabrina Siddiqui contributed reporting

The Booming Business of Hemp

Source: huffingtonpost.com

AMERICAN farmers are promised a new cash crop with an annual value of several hundred million dollars, all because a machine has been invented which solves a problem more than 6,000 years old. It is hemp, a crop that will not compete with other American products. 

Instead, it will displace imports of raw material and manufactured products produced by underpaid coolie and peasant labor and it will provide thousands of jobs for American workers throughout the land. -- Popular Mechanics, Feb. 1938

A mighty crop, banned from being grown in the United States for over 75 years, is making a comeback thanks to momentum in the cannabis law reform movement. Recent political advances in Colorado and Washington have led to attempts at industrial hemp legislation in several states; in fact, legislation was recently successful in the state of Kentucky.
Despite being banned, a large and growing hemp industry exists in the U.S. This is because hemp is legal to import from other countries; countries smarter than us when it comes to letting their farmers cultivate hemp. So, American companies are forced to pay other countries for their hemp, while U.S. farmers are cut out of the market.
One of those American companies is Forbidden Leaf Hemp Seed Oil, based in California. "If hemp were legal to grow in the U.S. -- we would be creating more jobs here in the U.S. and generating more money for our own country instead of giving our money to other countries," Dana Dwight, of Forbidden Leaf, told The 420 Times. "The high cost of shipping would be cut out of the equation and I could lower the prices of my products for my customers. In 1619 there were 'must grow' laws passed in America; if you were a farmer back then and you didn't grow hemp you would have been jailed or kicked out of the country as a non-patriot. Our government has been so hypocritical over hemp. It just doesn't make sense."
It doesn't make sense. Billions of dollars flowing out of the U.S. when it could be going to American farmers and creating more jobs in this country. A burgeoning industry lays in wait, ready for the day that is it unleashed.
Despite the handicaps, Dana has seen growth in the industry. "Since I started Forbidden Leaf I've seen tremendous growth," she said, "more and more people are coming out of the so called 'cannabis closet' and banding together, the more people that come out to stand up for hemp the stronger our voice will be to be heard -- strength in numbers -- it's only going to get stronger as more people come out."
The prospect of legalization in the future means the hemp industry has unlimited potential. "If the federal government were to legalize hemp in the future the growth for employment would rise in so many different ways," Dana told us, "it would be such a great economic advantage for our own country. As of now the U.S. is the biggest importer of hemp products in the world! Why not help our own country and grow it here and become more self-sufficient? It would benefit all of us in more ways than one!!"
But the companies that would face direct competition from legalized hemp have spent several decades and billions of dollars making sure that industrial hemp legalization doesn't happen. But in this area, as it has been in many others, the Internet is a game-changer.
Brainwashing was easy when there were only a few TV networks and very little information on the radio. Now billions of people share information instantly and continuously around the world.
Convincing the masses that hemp is evil and harmful is quite impossible going forward.
Because of that, the future is bright for the industrial hemp industry in the U.S., since hemp law reform has great momentum and, most importantly, truth on its side.

Hemp Waste Could Yield Super-Cheap Graphene

By Beth Buczynski
Source: earthtechling.com

Graphene has the potential to revolutionize nearly every energy-generating technology on the planet, from batteries to solar panels. It’s lighter and stronger than almost any other material on the planet. Here’s the problem: graphene is still extremely expensive to make, so while its potential is boundless its applications have been limited.

Now, researchers at the University of Alberta are working on a way to reduce the price of making a graphene-like nanomaterial using hemp fiber, an agricultural byproduct that’s usually sent to the landfill.

Hemp Fiber Graphene

Graphene is an ideal material for batteries and supercapacitors, energy storage devices designed to deliver short burst of power. Because of its high cost, however, most manufacturers must choose commercial supercapacitors that use activated carbon electrodes instead.

University of Alberta chemical engineer David Mitlin knows that finding a way to make graphene cost-competitive with activated carbon could mean huge advances in technologies that create and store energy. So, Mitlin is working on a way to “transform waste from the cannabis plant into a carbon nanomaterial that had similar properties to graphene and with a much smaller price tag,” writes Katherine Bourzac for Chemical & Engineering News.

To do so, Mitlin and his team focused on a barklike layer of the hemp plant called the “bast”, a nanocomposite made up of layers of lignin, hemicellulose, and crystalline cellulose. “If you process it the right way, it separates into nanosheets similar to graphene,” Mitlin told CEN.

By super heating the processed bast, the researchers were able to produce a thin, porous materials capable of providing a quick path for charges to move in and out, an essential characteristic of any supercapacitor. Using this material as electrodes, Mitilin built a supercapacitor with more than twice the maximum power density of activated carbon.

NSW Trade & Investment congratulates Hemp Foods Australia

Press Release
Source: eco-business.com

Hemp Foods Australia is on the verge of a potential employment boom that could see its work force jump by 600 percent in the next couple of years as the company explores new overseas markets.
Managing director Paul Benhaim said much of the employment projections for the Bangalow-based business on the NSW far north coast, rested with interest shown in the company’s products by Asia and North America.
“We should have a decision in three months or so,’’ he said, "The company is going very well. It has its challenges but people are loving our products. We’re struggling to keep up with current demands.’’
He said the company’s initial expectations of increased future employment had jumped from a current level of five people plus contractors to around 30 in a couple of years.
“We’re confident we will become market leaders in the southern hemisphere in our specialised products.’’ Mr Benhaim said.
He said assistance and advice from the NSW Trade and Investment Department had been invaluable in improving financial stability and credibility to move ahead. The Department’s funding of six new employees for six months had provided the impetus for the company’s increased expectations.
Local member Don Page said Hemp Foods was a prime example of the NSW Government’s success in helping regional businesses move forward and boost employment.
“If things go according to plan there will be a significant boost in local employment and that is always a good thing,’’ he said.
“Jobs are always a priority in NSW, especially in the bush, and this Government is working hard with bright initiatives to provide them.’’
Hemp Foods Australia is an importer and retailer of hemp based food and nutritional products. It has just invested $230,000 into its new facility at Bangalow that is already working to near capacity.
Mr Benhaim, who arrived in Australia 13 years ago from England, said the initial expectation of additional employment was only the six employees funded by the Department of Industry and Investment, if it was feasible when the funding expired.
Now all six would be retained and the company would be looking for more if the export agreements were signed.
Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said the performance of Hemp Foods would hopefully be a story repeated over and over in NSW as the Government’s incentives and strategies became established.
“There is still work to be done to restore regional NSW as an economic powerhouse,’’ he said.
“But with stable, competent Government, we can do it.”

Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Push For Hemp Legalization In Senate Fight

By Ryan Grim
Source: huffingtonpost.com

WASHINGTON -- Kentucky's two senators, Republicans Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, have been working to include a provision that would legalize industrial hemp into the farm bill, according to Senate and Kentucky sources, an effort that is likely to result in a floor vote on the issue this week.
Paul and McConnell had hoped to insert the measure into the farm bill as it was being considered by the Agriculture Committee, but a jurisdictional spat broke out, as often does in the Senate. McConnell, a member of the committee, approached Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) last Monday night about inserting the provision, according to Senate aides, and was told that the Judiciary Committee had jurisdiction and he would need a waiver from its chairman, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.). Hemp laws are the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration, even though hemp is not a drug and has no psychoactive potential, no matter how much a person smokes.
McConnell faces reelection in 2014, and has been working so closely with Paul that some aides have begun to refer to the libertarian newcomer and tea party favorite as the "shadow minority leader" -- a term that presumably expires if McConnell wins his race. McConnell brought Jesse Benton, a longtime aide of Rand Paul and Ron Paul, onto his campaign. With Rand Paul in his corner, there is little chance for a tea party candidate to successfully challenge McConnell, and Paul's energized base may boost turnout in the general election. If McConnell's effort on hemp is any guide, he's taking nothing for granted.
McConnell approached Leahy to ask for the waiver, but was rejected, sources said. McConnell returned to Stabenow and again asked that she insert the provision, and Stabenow said no. She offered, instead, to allow a vote on an amendment, and said that she would introduce it on his behalf. (Minority leaders rarely appear at committee hearings in person.) McConnell declined the offer and by proxy voted against the farm bill in committee. Holly Harris, chief of staff to Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a strong hemp advocate, said that her office had been told by Senate Republican leadership that Leahy had refused the waiver request, citing Judiciary Committee turf, confirming what several Senate sources told HuffPost.
A Judiciary Committee spokeswoman wouldn't address the details, but confirmed the broader dispute, noting that the industrial hemp bill was referred to Judiciary, not Agriculture, because it amends the Controlled Substances Act, referring to a bill cosponsored by Paul, McConnell and Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. She noted that no amendment was offered during the Agriculture Committee debate, and said that Leahy had no objection to McConnell or Paul offering an amendment on the Senate floor. A second source said that Leahy has privately expressed support for industrial hemp. Indeed, Vermont's Agriculture Secretary, Chuck Ross, is a strong hemp backer and was previously Leahy's state director. And Leahy would be an unlikely enemy of hemp, given that he is the Senate's most out-of-the-closet Deadhead.
The Kentucky hemp backers are mystified at the procedural complications in the Senate, but are pushing hard against them. "Commissioner Comer is making a lot of well-placed calls to Vermont," said Harris Friday, noting that senators should know that when he ran for commissioner on a hemp platform as a Republican, he was laughed at in the state capital. He won in a landslide, the highest vote-getter on the ballot for any office. The Kentucky legislation was similarly underestimated, but with bipartisan backing and the help of the group Vote Hemp -- which Harris called "the greatest grassroots operation I've ever seen" -- it became law this year.
After the committee vote, aides to McConnell asked the staff of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to insert the provision into the bill before putting it on the floor, but Reid's aides declined, adding that he is welcome to offer the provision as an amendment, said a Democratic aide familiar with the talks.
The full Senate will begin debating the farm bill on the floor next week. McConnell's backing, which came as a surprise this year, gives hemp a credible chance of passage if it comes for a vote.
The push to legalize hemp has made dramatic strides in recent weeks. A serendipitous encounter at the Kentucky Derby connected prominent local advocates with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer, a Republican, was at a private pre-derby party when he found himself informally lobbying Boehner and his chief of staff Mike Sommers. Boehner and Sommers were interested enough to invite Comer and backers of Kentucky's successful hemp legalization law to meet in Washington.
Boehner subsequently sat down with Comer and state Sen. Paul Hornback, a Republican, and state industrial hemp commission member Jonathan Miller, a Democrat.
Boehner told the trio he would talk with McConnell about how a federal bill might be moved forward. "I was impressed with his knowledge of this issue," Comer said of Boehner. "At the end he said, 'This is funny, because this issue's been around a long time: My daughter was talking about this 15 years ago.' So this is something he knows a lot about. And the difference today as opposed to 10 years ago, is the only people who were pushing this issue 10 years ago were the extreme right or left, or people who wanted to legalize marijuana." Boehner discussed the idea of including it in the farm bill.
Kentucky's hemp bill, Senate Bill 50, allowing Bluegrass State farmers to grow industrial hemp for the first time in decades, became law in April. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and local police had expressed concern that allowing farmers to cultivate hemp would enable them to disguise the cultivation of illegal marijuana, which looks very similar to hemp, but contains much higher levels of THC, the psychoactive agent in cannabis. Experts dismissed that argument, noting that cross-pollination between hemp plants and marijuana plants would significantly reduce the potency of the marijuana and devalue the crop. Beshear and Kentucky police remained skeptical, though the governor did not ultimately veto the legislation, letting it become law without his signature.
The chief objection, Miller said, came from a small element of law enforcement "based on the fear that this is a slippery slope, that they would lose money with marijuana eradication." The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, however, backed the bill.
Now Kentucky awaits federal action to approve the plant's cultivation. The DEA currently classifies hemp as a Schedule I substance with "a high potential for abuse" alongside heroin and LSD, even though industrial hemp has no potential for abuse.
A similar effort to Paul and McConnell's in the House, boosted by members of Kentucky's congressional delegation -- everyone but Rep. Harold Rogers (R) -- is underway. Should those efforts fail, the senators have vowed to seek a waiver from the DEA granting Kentucky special dispensation to grow hemp.
Other states to pass laws allowing hemp licensure include Vermont, North Dakota, Maine, Montana, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia and Colorado. While some have sought federal validation of state laws from the DEA, those efforts to date have been unsuccessful.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A nanotechnology use for hemp

By Michael Berger
Source: nanowerk.com

(Nanowerk Spotlight) Research on electrochemical energy storage devices is driven by requirements for both energy density (how much energy can be packed in a cell) and power density (how fast the cell can deliver the energy).Standard capacitors that regulate flow or supply quick bursts of power can be discharged and recharged hundreds of thousands of times. Electric double-layer capacitors – generally known as super- or ultracapacitors – are hybrids that hold hundreds of times more energy than a standard capacitor, like a battery, while retaining their fast charge/discharge capabilities.

These supercapacitors are emerging as a key enabling storage technology for use in fuel-efficient transport as well as in renewable energy. Supercapacitors offer a low-cost alternative source of energy to replace rechargeable batteries for various applications, such as power tools, mobile electronics, and electric vehicles.

Researchers have come up with various electrode materials to improve the performance of supercapacitors, focussing mostly on porous carbon due to its high surface areas, tunable structures, good conductivities, and low cost. Emerging carbon nanomaterials, such as graphene (read more: "Graphene supercapacitor holds promise for portable electronics") and carbon nanotubes (read more: "Solid-state energy storage takes a leap forward with nanotube-based supercapacitor"), show great potential especially for high power applications. However, for large-scale commercial application, materials with similar structures and properties but much lower cost are highly desirable because even the most economically produced graphene-like material is nowhere near cost competitive with petroleum- or biowaste-derived carbons achieved via simple pyrolysis or hydrothermal methods.

Researchers in Canada have now reported ("Interconnected Carbon Nanosheets Derived from Hemp for Ultrafast Supercapacitors with High Energy") the successful hydrothermal-based synthesis of two-dimensional, yet interconnected, carbon nanosheets with superior electrochemical storage properties comparable to those of state-of-the-art graphene-based electrodes.

carbon nanosheets
SEM micrograph highlighting the interconnected 2D structure of 
hemp-derived carbon nanosheets. (Image: Mitlin group, University of Alberta)

"We were able to achieve this by employing a biomass precursor with a unique structure – hemp bast fiber," Zhi Li, a post doc researcher in David Mitlin's group at the University of Alberta, tells Nanowerk. "The resultant graphene-like nanosheets possess fundamentally different properties (pore size distribution, physical interconnectedness and electrical conductivity) as compared to conventional biomass-derived activated carbons."

In a previous Nanowerk Spotlight ("Converting eggshell membranes into a high-performance electrode material for supercapacitors") last year, we reported on the group's innovative use of biomaterials to fabricate supercapacitor electrode materials. With their eggshell membrane they achieved excellent electrochemical activity.

In their new work, driven by their search for simple process and cost-competitive precursors to prepare stacking-free graphene-like carbon materials, the team went one step beyond the eggshell work to work with the nanostructures naturally existing in hemp fibers.

"The abundantly available biomass in nature is mainly composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin," explains Li. "These three compositions are organized in unique micro- and nanostructures, depending on the type of biomass. These structures could play a very important role if we can properly utilize the slight chemical activity difference between these three compositions."

Hemp bast fiber (bast fibre is collected from the inner bark – or 'bast' – surrounding the stem of the plant), for instance, has a multi-layered structure composed of cellulose, semi cellulose, and lignin. While the inner and outer layers are are mainly composed of semi cellulose and lignin, the middle layer is primarily crystalline cellulose. This middle layer represents more than 85% of the total wall thickness and is itself a layered structure consisting of microfibrils that are 10-30 nm in diameter. The microfibrils consist of bundles of highly crystalline cellulose elementary fibrils ( about 2 nm in diameter) surrounded by semi cellulose.

"We used a hydrothermal process to remove the inner and outer layers while at the same time loosen the connections between the microfibrils in the middle layer," explains Li. "In a subsequent activation process at 700-800°C, potassium hydroxide (KOH) melt penetrates into the loose connection between the microfibers, causing full separation of layers as sheets. Meanwhile, the layers are carbonized and activated by the KOH, further reducing their thickness and generating micro and mesoporosity."

The resulting carbon nanosheets (CNS) have a graphene-like, thin layer structure filled with large amount of pores. The layers are organized in a three-dimensional way, which makes it a very promising electrode materials for high-power (high-current) applications.

"When used for supercapacitor electrodes, this material exhibits great electrochemical performance comparable to state-of-art activated graphene materials – at a much lower cost," emphasizes Huanlei Wang, the first author of the paper. "Thanks to the unique layer structure of hemp fiber, which has been partially preserved in our work, the CNS material can work at much higher power density. For example, the maximum power density of CNS based supercapacitors is more than 3 times higher than commercial supercapacitors (49 vs 14 Kw/Kg). In addition, the supercapacitors we developed can work in a wide temperature range of 0-100°C, which makes them an ideal high-power energy storage solution working in harsh environments."

Given the vast number and varieties of nanostructures that exist in nature, taking advantage of these structures and materials for fabricating carbon nanomaterials could become a very promising strategy.

The team's next step, which they actually are already working on, is trying to achieve thinner carbon nanosheets by optimizing the synthesis procedures."We are very curious to find out what level of power density the materials can delivery if we can make them less than 5nm thick," says Wang.

Hemp, Inc. Signs Letter of Intent with One of China's Largest Agricultural Producers, Yasheng Group

By Hemp, Inc.
Source: heraldonline.com

 — /PRNewswire/ -- Hemp, Inc. (OTC: HEMP) is pleased to announce an agreement with the Yasheng Group (OTC:HERB), one of China's largest agricultural producers. The signed agreement specifies that Yasheng Group will grow and process into finished product 637 mu (108 acres) of a specific cultivar of industrial hemp in China.  According to Hemp, Inc. executives, the cultivar will be very high in CBDs (a non-toxicating group of compounds with proven medical benefits and no serious contraindications) with less than .05% THC.  This level of THC is legal for import into the United States. Final seed products such as hulled hemp seed possess THC levels too low to have an intoxicating effect on anyone consuming it. 

The harvested crop will be processed into finished products to be comprised of approximately 75,000 kilograms of top quality hemp. Hemp, Inc. (OTC: HEMP) will have final determination of the processing of the end product as the crop progresses to maturity. CEO Bruce Perlowin stated, "Hemp seed, hulled or pressed into oil has the most monetary value at market, but the possibility of providing a quality source of protein to the Chinese population that consumes a great amount of the world's food, is something we are working on. Yasheng representatives have showcased our Herbagenix hemp protein blend to interested buyers at a recent trade show in Hong Kong that could lead to a large sales presence inside China."
Hemp, Inc.'s President, David Tobias, is thrilled with the new agreement, "Yasheng Group is one of China's leading agricultural producers. They've been in business for over 30 years. We're especially proud that we've been able to join the ranks of major corporations McDonald's, KFC, Tsingtao Beer and Pepsi, who partner with the Yasheng Group."
Yasheng Group conducts business operations in China in three major segments: agriculture, livestock, and biotechnology and specializes in developing, processing, marketing, and distributing a variety of food products processed primarily from premium specialty agriculture products grown in North West China in 6 agricultural segments: field crops, vegetables, fruits, special crops, seeds and poultry.
Hemp, Inc.'s TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE Hemp, Inc. (OTC: HEMP) seeks to benefit many constituencies, not exploit or endanger any group of them. Thus, the publicly-traded company believes in "upstreaming" of a portion of profit from the marketing of their finished hemp goods back to its originator. By Hemp, Inc. focusing on comprehensive investment results—that is, with respect to performance along the interrelated dimensions of people, planet, and profits— our triple bottom line approach can be an important tool to support sustainability goals.

Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2013/05/16/4868434/hemp-inc-signs-letter-of-intent.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2013/05/16/4868434/hemp-inc-signs-letter-of-intent.html#storylink=cpy