Sunday, September 29, 2013

Marijuana and hemp initiative cleared for signature gathering, supporters optimistic


Marijuana bud

A new voter initiative to legalize marijuana in California was cleared for signature gathering Thursday by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
Supporters of the measure, who call it the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2014, now have 150 days, or until Feb. 24, to collect 504,760 signatures to place it on the November 2014 ballot, Bowen said.
The initiative would decriminalize the possession, use, cultivation and sale of marijuana and hemp, the plant from which marijuana is made.
It would instruct the Legislature to pass laws licensing and taxing commercial sales of marijuana and setting a standard for determining when a driver is impaired and should barred from driving.
The initiative's proponents are Berton Duzy, 58, a Simi Valley contractor, and Michael Jolson, 45, a medical marijuana activist in Santa Cruz.
Duzy said the effort has been led by a core group of 10 to 15 volunteers, backed by a statewide network that now numbers 500 volunteers.
Another marijuana legalization initiative was rejected by 53.5 percent of state voters in 2010. Several similar measures, including one sponsored by Duzy and Jolson, were proposed in 2012, but none qualified for the ballot.
But the two men said they are optimistic this time.
"I'm optimistic because of the enthusiasm we're getting from people who want this legalized," Duzy said.
"We honestly feel this plant can help transform and sustain humankind," said Jolson, who said he wants to see industrial hemp legalized as a biomass fuel as well as marijuana decriminalized for personal and medical use.
Duzy said that while most pro-marijuana organizations in California decided to wait until the 2016 ballot, his group decided to go ahead with aiming for 2014.
"Put it to the people and let the people decide," he said.
The two proponents said they hope to use a combination of as many as 3,000 volunteers and, if they can obtain donor funding, professional signature gatherers to collect the needed signatures.
Last year, voters in Colorado and Washington state approved initiatives legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
Federal laws criminalizing marijuana make no exception for such laws, or for the medical marijuana laws now in effect in about 20 states, including California.
But last month, the U.S. Justice Department announced a policy change, saying it will ease off on enforcing federal laws in states that allow the use of small amounts of marijuana, so long as those states have "strict regulatory schemes" of their own in place.
Instead, said Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole, Justice Department prosecutions will focus on eight law enforcement priorities in states where marijuana is legal.
Those priorities include keeping marijuana out of children's hands; preventing marijuana operations from being used as a cover for sales of illegal drugs; keeping revenue from going to criminal enterprises; preventing violence and gun use in marijuana growing and sales; and protecting public health, Cole said in a memo to federal prosecutors.
Duzy and Jolson said their efforts to legalize marijuana in California go back to the 1990s, predating the Colorado and Washington votes and Justice Department policy change.
But Jolson said the recent events show "a momentum going across America" that he hopes will help propel the California initiative to victory.
In California, the four regional U.S. attorneys, including Melinda Haag of San Francisco, announced a law enforcement effort in 2011 to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries they considered to be large-scale commercial enterprises.
One such case is Haag's effort to shut down the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, the state's largest dispensary, through a civil lawsuit to forfeit the landlord's property. The case is on hold while a federal appeals court considers the city of Oakland's bid to fight the forfeiture through its own lawsuit.
After Cole issued his memo on Aug. 29, Haag said through a spokeswoman that the cases filed in Northern California thus far by lawyers in her office appear to meet the guidelines and that "we do not expect a significant change."

Bumper crop?


Colorado legalized hemp, along with recreational marijuana, in November. In April Kentucky legalized industrial hemp production and is now writing regulations for farmers to apply for a hemp farming permit. State legislators in Tennessee will soon consider a bill that would make hemp farming legal in that state.
Hemp is legal. The plant’s fibers can be turned into everything from rope to paper to clothing. The Hemp Industries Association reports that imported hemp accounts for about $500 million in annual U.S. sales.
According to the website, Ryan Loflin, a farmer in Springfield, Colo., has leased 60 acres of his father’s alfalfa farm to plant hundreds of hemp starters. When he planted those acres in May he created American’s first real crop of industrial hemp in more than 50 years.
But while importing hemp is legal in America, growing hemp is not legal under federal law. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, first introduced in Congress in February, is in committee.

Pennsylvania should not consider legalizing production of hemp unless and until the federal law is changed. Federal law enforcement agencies have enough to do without having to round up hemp farmers.

EUROPE: Bast Fibre Authority to promote linen, hemp, ramie


As part of efforts to raise the profile of linen, hemp and ramie fibres in the fashion industry, a new industry body has been set up to emphasise the fibres' eco-friendly credentials and establish a benchmark for their identification.
The Bast Fibre Authority (Observatoire des Fibres Liberiennes) was announced last week at the Première Vision fabric fair in Paris by the European Confederation of Linen and Hemp CELC).
Its aim is to communicate with consumers about the origin and composition of the products they use, with an emphasis on positioning European flax and linen as green fibres of the future.
The move also supports the European Flax and Club Masters of Linen labels.
The Bast Fibre Authority will also work with laboratories and technical and research centres in establishing standardised tests to identify and differentiate the three fibres, even after passing along different stages of the textile production chain.
This means that quality control teams will, for what is thought to be the first time, have access to laboratories across Europe all using a standardised method of identification.
The move follows the launch of the European Flax label, a consumer-facing mark intended to position the fibres, yarns and textiles as a premium product with a uniquely European heritage.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Surprisingly Traditional Faces Of Marijuana And Hemp Legalization Advocates


A diverse variety of Americans have found medical, recreational and practical uses for the plant.

Wearing their wedding rings, Kimberly Bliss, left, and her wife Kim Ridgway, right, pose for a photo, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 at their home in Lacey, Wash. On the table in front of them is medical marijuana and a water pipe that Ridgway uses to treat arthritis and severe anxiety. The couple got married on Dec. 9, 2012, thanks to the state’s new gay marriage law, and now they are trying to take advantage of another measure voters approved in November by planning to open a state-licensed marijuana store. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Wearing their wedding rings, Kimberly Bliss, left, and her wife Kim Ridgway, 
right, are two of the many diverse faces of marijuana advocates in the nation. 
At their home in Lacey, Washington, medical marijuana and a water pipe that 
Ridgway uses to treat arthritis and severe anxiety sits on the table Feb. 27, 2013.  
The couple is planning to open a state-licensed marijuana store. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

As marijuana and hemp is legalized in more and more states, the end of marijuana prohibition seems inevitable. With an increasing acceptance of marijuana use, an interesting phenomenon is occurring: the face of marijuana users is changing.
Gone is the image of the shaggy-haired teen boy, who would toke up on a couch in his parents’ basement with his buddies. Instead, the face of legalization is a mix of people from all races, ages, income levels and professions.
To shine a light on the new face of legalization, Mint Press News spoke with individuals in the marijuana and hemp legalization movements. These are their stories.

Medical marijuana

Patrick McClellan suffers from mitochondrial myopathy — a rare and genetic muscular disorder that causes severe and painful spasms. Though he’s had the condition since birth, he says it has become extremely debilitating in the last four to five years.
“I take 26 pills a day,” he said, adding that he wears two emergency medications in a pill case around his neck. But even with all of his medications, McClellan still has severe muscle spasm attacks.
About three years ago McClellan suffered a debilitating attack that left him trapped between his bed and the wall for two-and-a-half hours until his wife came home.
“I had violent muscle spasms in both legs and abdominal muscles,” he said. “I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t even dial 911.”
In search of a way to keep such a severe attack from occurring again, McClellan says one of his friends suggested he try using marijuana. A recreational marijuana user when he was in his 20s, McClellan said he eventually quit using the substance because he no longer enjoyed the high. But he says he remembered his uncle who suffered from multiple sclerosis (MS) would use marijuana to help with muscle spasms, so he bought a vaporizer.
For the next six months, McClellan conducted an experiment. When he felt his muscles start to twitch — which he says is what happens about 30 minutes to an hour before an attack — he would alternate taking the emergency medications he wears around his neck with vaporizing a small amount of marijuana.
Seven out of 10 times his medications would prevent the attack from occurring, but marijuana worked 100 percent of the time. “Cannabis completely eliminated the attack,” he said. “It just shut it off like a light switch.”
McClellan says when he told his neurologist about his experiment, his doctor wasn’t surprised at all and shared with McClellan that others who had conducted similar experiments had found similar results.
Since McClellan lives in Minnesota — a state that has yet to legalize medical marijuana — he only feels comfortable using a vaporizer prior to an attack if he is at home. When McClellan is away from the privacy of his own home, he says he uses the medications he carries around his neck. Unfortunately, one of those pills has a side effect known to make some symptoms of mitochondrial myopathy worse, and the other could be fatal for McClellan since it is not supposed to be used for muscle spasms.
If marijuana were to be legalized for medical use in Minnesota, McClellan says he would use marijuana daily instead of just three to four times a week, since the substance helps him sleep, which helps his muscles.
Forced to purchase his marijuana on the black market, McClellan says he uses about a gram of marijuana every two weeks and spends about $80 every two months on marijuana. All of his other medications are covered by health insurance.
“The main thing I don’t understand is why I can’t take a seed and put it in the ground like I do with a tomato,” he said. “My wife and I grow organic tomatoes. So why can’t I take a seed for an all natural plant that’s also an effective medicine and plant it?” If he were able to grow his own marijuana, McClellan estimates it would cost him about $20 for a year’s worth of marijuana.
But it’s not just the financial aspect of medical marijuana legalization that is concerning for McClellan. If Minnesota had a dispensary, McClellan would have more options when it comes to the types of marijuana he wanted to buy, including finding a strain of marijuana low in THC, the main psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana.
McClellan says he has been involved for about a year with the Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and said he didn’t expect to become an activist. “I just went to a meeting to see what was happening,” he said. But when local medical marijuana advocates were looking for patients to share their stories, he says he decided to volunteer.
When asked why he has become so involved in the legalization movement, McClellan said he needs a place to access the specific strains of marijuana he needs without going to the black market and without danger of prosecution.
“I don’t want to be driving home because I had to go on an illicit deal and be caught with it,” he said. “There’s no reason that I should be made a criminal in treating my disease,” especially if I have the complete support of my doctors and medical team at the clinic where I get treated.

Recreational use

Matt Brown is the owner of the only marijuana tourism company in North America, My 420 Tours, and is a recreational marijuana user and advocate. Though most people would be afraid to publicly acknowledge they use an illegal drug, Brown says he’s not afraid to share he smokes marijuana because smoking pot doesn’t make you a bad person.
Modeled after wine tours in California, Brown’s My 420 Tours business allows marijuana enthusiasts to stay in pot-friendly hotels, tous marijuana dispensaries and growing operations, and attend several cannabis-themed events and concerts.
Brown said a company event in April cost $499 for a three-day tour, while 5-day VIP tickets cost $850 per person.
“It’s an opportunity for people who prefer marijuana to alcohol to come to Colorado and know that they’re not going to have to walk around downtown asking strangers for pot,” Brown said.
Brown started smoking marijuana recreationally when he was 18 and says he liked it more than alcohol. Living in New York at the time, Brown says when he wanted to buy marijuana he would call a number and 45 minutes later a guy would show up with 10 different types of “overpriced weed” in jars.
A year later when Brown was 19, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and began to see the medicinal benefits of marijuana. Brown says instead of making 10 trips to the bathroom during the day, marijuana would calm his stomach. However it wasn’t until Brown moved to Colorado — a state that had legalized medical marijuana — that he was able to legally obtain his medicine.
In November 2012, Colorado residents voted to pass a piece of legislation known as Amendment 64 that legalized marijuana for recreational use. Now because of that legislation, Brown says he doesn’t have to explain anymore why he uses marijuana and doesn’t have to annually prove why he needs marijuana.
“I don’t have to explain that using marijuana helps me not take 10 trips to the bathroom a day and that I also find it a fun way to relax at the end of the day,” he said.
Brown called Amendment 64 “incredibly powerful” and said the passage of the law has allowed people to publicly admit they smoke pot without worry they will be shamed. “You don’t have to explain yourself,” he said. “You don’t have to prove it works better than a dozen other medications. You don’t have to prove it’s safer than alcohol. As long as you behave like an adult,” Brown says anyone should be able to use it.
Using marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes, Brown says he uses about a gram of marijuana per day, and spends about $150 a month on the substance.
“I wake up in the morning, go to the bathroom, smoke a little weed and regroup,” Brown said, explaining that his stomach is “grumbly” when he wakes up as a result of his Crohn’s disease.
Brown says he smokes every day because if he doesn’t smoke, he’ll likely be awake all night with painful stomach cramps. He says smoking marijuana stops those cramps within seconds and daily use allows him to avoid spending so much time in the bathroom.
He said a nice thing when you use marijuana regularly is that you don’t get high because you build up a tolerance. Brown says when he uses marijuana he isn’t laughing his ass off or suffering from a case of the munchies. In fact, he says the opposite happens to him, and if he uses a little bit of marijuana, it keeps him focused.

Hemp advocates

For more than 30 years, Tim Davis has been actively working to legalize hemp.
Commonly mistaken for marijuana, hemp is the stock of the plant, while marijuana is the leaves of the plant.
Though a person can’t get high even if they smoked an entire garbage bag of hemp, the organic material was once the most important cash crop in the U.S. economy — more valuable than corn and wheat combined — the production of industrial hemp was banned by the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which also led to the classification of hemp as a Schedule I drug.
Davis says his first introduction to hemp came after he started smoking marijuana. “You start looking at the history,” he said, “and you see [hemp] is not even marijuana … It’s in the encyclopedia — all you have to do is look it up.”
Unlike any other material on Earth, hemp can be used to create anything from oil to plastics to materials to build homes, to fabrics such as silks and canvas, and food products.
When it comes to hemp-based foods, Davis said they are “very nutritious” and “full of amino acids.” Hemp can also be used to create shampoos, turpentines, paints and lotions. “It’s producing just about everything we need: food, fuel, fiber – what other plant can do that?”
Davis said hemp is a drought-resistant plant that provides medicine for sick people and jobs. “You have a whole economy here,” he said. “It makes no sense to poo poo this right now.”
When asked if Davis has ever found himself in trouble with law enforcement for advocating for the legalization of hemp, he said he hasn’t because he’s not a danger to society.
“I’m not advocating overthrowing government or breaking the law,” he said, adding he is merely looking to change the law. “I am no different from a MADD [Mothers Against Drunk Driving] mother … there is no reason why police or law enforcement should come after me or anyone else in the hemp or marijuana legalization movements.
“DJ” is another hemp and marijuana legalization advocate. Last week she hosted the first-ever Hemp Fest in Austin, Minn. in order to educate people about a plant that she says people have been eating, using and wearing for thousands of years.
“People are already using it,” she said, “so why can’t we grow it?”
In addition to the shampoos, lotions, oils, laundry detergents, cleaning supplies and foods one can make from hemp, DJ said hemp also helps protect our Earth.
She said she chose to host the first-ever Austin Hemp Fest because “We’re in a critical time where education [about hemp] is important.” Between islands of garbage floating in the oceans, fracking and hazardous oil spills, she says legalizing hemp is one venue to help get our planet back on track.
In order to put on the event though, DJ had to promise the city that the event would solely be about hemp and not marijuana. Though she obliged, DJ said it’s “hard to separate the two since they are male and female” parts of the same plant. But she added that legalization advocates are “doing what we have to do to get to where we need to go.”
“The more people see hemp,” she said, “the less they will be afraid and see it’s not hurting anyone … I’m alive today because of cannabis, that’s why I’m involved.”

DOJ Statement Opens Door to Industrial Hemp


Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) (L), and Kentucky Agriculture 
Commissioner James Comer say Kentucky’s industrial hemp 
farmers will begin planting as early as 2014. (Ben Droz, Vote Hemp)

In September the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would not challenge state laws regarding marijuana, but what about hemp? On Sept. 10, state officials said they believe the new policy may finally open the door for non-drug cannabis cultivation. 
Until the 1950s, hemp was a leading U.S. crop, and many foresee a profitable return to American hemp farming. In July, the Congressional Research Service estimated a market potential of $500 million a year for domestic hemp production. 
Colorado, North Dakota, Vermont, and other states have already put industrial hemp regulations in place. But farmers still need approval from the federal government to go forward.
According to Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, the DOJ’s new marijuana policy is a green light for his state’s industrial hemp law.
“The ruling the DOJ came out with pertains to states that have passed a regulatory framework pertaining to cannabis. We feel that that would include hemp as well,” Comer said at the press briefing.
Commissioner Comer and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will draft a letter to the DOJ at the behest of Kentucky’s industrial hemp commission. Their goal is to get a clear blessing from the Obama administration, or at least tacit consent.
“We intend to proceed with industrial hemp next year in 2014 growing season. We intend to try to get the processors to set up shop in our state and have the farmers plan on making preparations to grow hemp in 2014 unless the DOJ tells us otherwise,” Comer said.
With U.S. hemp imports totaling $300 million a year, Comer’s homegrown message resonates with many Kentucky farmers who can no longer rely on tobacco crops. China, Canada, and several other countries grow hemp for textiles, paper, building materials, even for auto parts—German carmakers now use hemp fiber for the dash and door panels—and struggling U.S. farmers see a promising future in the versatile crop.
Hemp is related to marijuana, but only has negligible amounts of psychoactive THC. However, hemp is still classified as a Schedule I drug—designated more dangerous and addictive than cocaine and heroin—so farmers looking to grow hemp on an industrial scale face enormous penalties if the federal government decides to crack down.
Kentucky legislators sent a letter to the Justice Department earlier this year requesting a reconsideration of hemp’s Schedule I status. In June, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear sent a letter to President Obama explaining that his state was looking to hemp to create jobs without undermining efforts to combat drug abuse. Neither letter received any response.
The Obama administration’s most recent statement regarding hemp comes from a reply to a 2012 White House petition for hemp legalization. Gil Kerlikowske, then director of the office of national drug control, expressed concern over any THC content, no matter how small. 
“The Administration will continue looking for innovative ways to support farmers across the country while balancing the need to protect public health and safety,” he wrote.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) described overcoming similar obstacles with Kentucky’s hemp bill (SB50) passed earlier in 2013. Conservative Kentucky lawmakers adamantly opposed to relaxed marijuana laws balked when SB50 was introduced. Later, a statewide education campaign highlighting the difference between the two plants led to a landslide victory for the measure.
“It’s like mushrooms. There’s a difference between psilocybin mushrooms and portabella. It’s still legal to buy portabella or button mushrooms in the store,” Massie said at a press conference. 
For aspiring hemp farmers who require more assurance than a hopeful interpretation of a DOJ statement, Massie and other lawmakers are working on legislative strategies to realize a domestic hemp industry. As Kentucky’s education campaign moves to Washington, HR525—a bill that seeks to remove industrial hemp from Schedule I status—is gaining support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. 
A better understanding of hemp may soon come from a farm bill amendment accepted by the House in June. Introduced by Massey, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), the measure allows universities to do research on industrial hemp without the hassle of a DEA license. 
However, when it comes to interpreting the Justice Department’s stance on industrial hemp, actions may speak louder than words. When the hemp research amendment was introduced, the DOJ lobbied lawmakers against it. According to Massie, the judicial branch is not supposed to influence Congress, and the department “promptly retracted when they got their fingers slapped.” 
Comer said that if the DOJ doesn’t intend to bother states with marijuana regulations, state hemp regulations deserve the same respect. “That’s our message: we want every state to be treated the same,” he said.

Change in laws and attitudes towards hemp could benefit society

By Devin Keehner

Hemp is not marijuana, and that can’t be stressed enough. It is not a drug scientifically, it’s not a drug medically, and it is not a drug legally. It is, however, an incredible economic resource that has been held down by its stoner cousin for far too long. Its opponents are misinformed, invested in its continued prohibition or simply afraid if they appear weak on hemp they will also appear weak on drugs.

Hemp of the variety we are talking about is of the same species as marijuana. These plants are known collectively as cannabis sativa. A chemical in these plants tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short, is the cause of marijuana’s psychoactive effects. However, according to Dr. David P. West, who has a PHD in plant breeding from the University of Minnesota, the levels of THC in hemp are negligible. Furthermore, he goes on to say “The washed hemp seeds contain no THC at all. The tiny amounts of THC contained in industrial hemp are in the glands of the plant itself.” This is important because hemp-based foodstuffs are typically made from sterilized seeds in which any THC in those products would be both incidental and trace.

It’s not illegal to buy and sell hemp products in the United States, nor is it illegal to consume hemp- based products. According to a 9th circuit court ruling Hemp Industries Association U.S.A. LLC v. Drug Enforcement Administration, non-psychoactive hemp products are not schedule 1 products and therefore are not illegal. This is why you can buy sterilized hemp seeds, hemp oil and even hemp chips at almost any whole foods store in the country. That being said, there are still laws regarding hemp, and it is illegal to grow hemp in the United States, which is a shame given the economic potential that hemp possesses.

Hemp represents a truly valuable economic resource. Hemp can be used to make paper, corn, building materials and biofuels. It’s a hearty plant and can grow in a variety of environments. Also, as a foodstuff it might just be the next big super food and, more importantly, and it can’t get you high. I’m not going to pretend like hemp is some magical plant or pretend like it’s going to solve any of our country’s problems. That being said, it is a valuable product with genuine uses.

The least we can do is give the hemp industry a chance and on that front support is coming from some unlikely sources. Historically Republicans tend to be skeptical of anything that could make them look even a little soft on crime, but that isn’t stopping high-profile Senators from speaking out on hemp. Senator Rand Paul, a Tea Party darling, and the Senate’s Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have come out in support of industrialized hemp both in their home state of Kentucky as well as nationally. Yet even with support at this level adverse laws and poor attitudes remain.

As a matter of fact, some negative attitudes and misinformation have unsurprisingly made their way onto campus. Students for Sensible Drug Policy, or SSPD, have a bake sale scheduled for Monday Sept. 23, 2013 along Fairfield Way. What makes this noteworthy is that the scheduled bake sale is supposed to have a rather special theme:SSPD wants to cook with hemp. So they did what any club would do--they got a food permit, reserved a spot and sought out all other necessary permissions. Problems arose when Student Event Services and the UConn Police Department raised concerns about the use of hemp as an ingredient. UConn event services, under advisement from UConn PD, established that because hemp contained THC, the active chemical in Marijuana, it was illegal.SSPD made the case for hemps legality, but the UConn PD seemed concerned that any amount of THC was subject to Connecticut DUI laws and represented a major liability to the University.

However, “A person is under the influence if his ability to drive is affected to an appreciable degree” according to’s summary of Conn.’s DUI law. That would mean trace amounts of THC that are unlikely to be detectable would not be included. Simply put, if the police are right about the law, the law needs to be changed. In any case, the attitudes, the suspicion and the fear surrounding hemp needs to be put to rest.   

Two Oregon Marijuana/Hemp Initiative Petition Drives Start Strong


oregon cannabis tax act octa hemp crrh

The national wave of marijuana law reform is gaining momentum every day, and it isn’t going to leave out Oregon. More than 30,000 people came to Kelley Point Park on September 7 and 8 for the ninth annual Hempstalk Festival, and more than 5,000 of them signed two marijuana initiative petitions while they were there.
Initiative 21 would amend the Oregon Constitution, ending criminal penalties for cannabis and permitting adult marijuana use, possession and cultivation.
Initiative 22, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2014, creates a commission to regulate the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the Oregon General Fund, helping to pay for schools, roads, and social services.
The groups HEMP in Oregon (Help End Marijuana Prohibition in Oregon) and CRRH (Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp) have kicked off a vigorous volunteer and paid petition drive to get both initiatives on the ballot for November 2014, according to director Paul Stanford.
“Marijuana prohibition does not work and is expensive to maintain,” Stanford said. “We must move forward on a better path for hemp and marijuana in Oregon.”
To get involved, visit

Industrial Hemp: An Historic Cash Crop That Is Good for the Environment

By Christine Maddox
Slowly, the battle to reconstitute industrial hemp has been sweeping across the nation. States such as Colorado now have committees to govern the inspection of industrialized hemp to ensure its proper growth and safety. The committee in Colorado has until the beginning of 2014 to devise a method in which to register prospective farmers.
Even research conducted from colleges and universities for the use of industrial hemp has been approved in a very close eight-vote margin. Many other states are joining this collection of hemp production and future development as legislature is being passed to enable the industrialization of this misunderstood plant.
Kentucky is the latest of 19 states to make industrial hemp legal.  Why doesn’t the U.S. government understand the difference between the hemp that helped us win World War II—and marijuana joints?
Although hemp is nearly identical to marijuana, it is indeed a separate plant. The THC levels within hemp are miniscule in comparison to its twin. Because these two plants are so closely related, the have been both deemed as “marijuana,” although they are significantly different.
What are some good aspects we can see in the future for hemp farmers that can affect the environment in a positive way?
1. Health Benefits - Hemp seeds contain a great deal of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which promote various health benefits for body and mind. Proteins and minerals contained within these seeds also promote healthier bone structure and improved skin conditions as they are loaded with high levels of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
2. Replacing Wood - You may have heard how a single acre of hemp can produce as much materials as four acres of trees. This is partially because a single acre of hemp can be harvested up to four times per year. The fibers of hemp can be used to replace many of the products made from trees such as paper while adding a great deal of longevity to the paper’s use.
3. Heartiness - Hemp can be grown in nearly any environment without the use of toxic chemicals, pesticides or the use of hazardous weed killer. The plant can survive with prolonged exposure to drought allowing farmers to still cultivate the crop even in some of the most barren of locations.
4. Plastics - Although humankind has embraced recycling plastics, hemp plastic can be manufactured to be 100-percent biodegradable. This could greatly reduce the amount of hazardous components that are constantly thrown away regardless of recycling methods. Plastics using hemp fibers as a reinforcing agent have been found to be up to ten times stronger than petroleum-based applications. This could greatly improve construction and durability of specific items to reduce the amount of refuse from breakage.
5. Fuels - Hemp oil has been used in the past to illuminate everything from lanterns to fueling some of the earliest of automobiles. As there would be no drilling, hemp oil could be achieved without further destruction of the Earth’s crust through fracking methods or oil slicks to worry about in the Gulf of Mexico.
A handful of states already have methods and regulations in place for the production of medicinal marijuana and recent laws have been passed to legalize the drug in specific amounts for use by the general public. As hemp has a severely limited THC level, many speculate that it never should have been deemed as illegal in the first place. During the development of the country, and for a brief time during World War II, farming hemp was a way of life. It may only be a matter of time before we benefit from the cultivations of the past.
Christine Maddox is currently pursuing her Master’s degree from University of Texas as well as blogging for She loves to write anything related to parenting, kids, nanny care etc. She can be reached via email at: christine.4nannies @

Hope for Oregon hemp production


PORTLAND (AP) — People who would like to grow hemp in Oregon for fiber and textile production say a federal decision not to challenge marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado gives them the green light.

U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall in Portland told The Oregonian her office would not interfere with hemp production so long as the state creates robust controls and enforcement.
A state law legalizing hemp production has been on hold since it was passed in 2009, but a co-sponsor said the Obama administration’s new approach to state marijuana laws should allow Oregon regulators to start making rules for growing hemp.
“Sounds like we will be having a conversation with the Department of Agriculture and figuring out what the next steps are,” Democratic Sen. Floyd Prozanski of Eugene said.
An Agriculture Department official, Lindsay Eng, said it would seek an opinion from the state attorney general’s office.
Oregon is one of seven states with laws that permit the production of industrial hemp, a relative of marijuana grown for its sturdy fiber and seeds. Hemp and marijuana both are cannabis sativa, but hemp has only a negligible amount of the ingredient in marijuana that produces highs.
But hemp faces considerable challenges to becoming a major crop in Oregon. A congressional report said the international market is small and the competition stiff.
Experts at Oregon State University say it would likely require irrigation, meaning farmers might choose to grow higher-value crops instead.
State officials held off implementing the 2009 law, saying they would wait until the federal government reclassified marijuana from a substance prone to abuse and lacking medicinal value.
The government’s power to file forfeiture proceedings against assets of people suspected of breaking the law has been a hurdle, hemp advocates say.
“You would literally be betting the farm to find out if you could grow hemp,” said Tom Murphy, national outreach coordinator for Vote Hemp.
Marshall said the government would require states to provide the same stringent rules for hemp production that federal officials expect of states that allow recreational and medical cannabis.
“And if they fail to do that, then my office would come in and take action, either by criminally prosecuting individuals or civil forfeitures or potentially attacking the regulatory scheme in court,” she said.