Sunday, December 29, 2013

RICHARD FAGERLUND: Industrial hemp is more efficient, more valuable than cotton

By Richard Fagerlund

Almost 35 percent of the pesticides applied to cotton in the world are applied in cotton fields in the United States.
Close to $3 billion worth of pesticides are used on cotton worldwide each year, according to the Pesticide Action Network, and sales and uses of the product are increasing. Worldwide, cotton plays a vital role in the economies of several dozen countries.
 Many of the pesticides used on cotton have been implicated in human cancer, water contamination, soil degradations and the killing off of various animals.
In 1991, a train loaded with Metan sodium, used as a soil sterilant before planting cotton, derailed and spilled its contents into the Sacramento River, resulting in the death of every living organism in the river for 40 miles.
A few years later, heavy rains washed the chemical Endosulfan from cotton fields and into Big Nance Creek in Alabama and killed almost a quarter of a million fish.
 On the other hand, there is a product that is much more efficient and much more valuable than cotton. That product is industrial hemp: a variety of Cannabis sativa, a tall annual herb of the mulberry family, native to Asia. Industrial hemp is not marijuana (Cannabis indica), as they are two different species of plants. Hemp does not possess any psychoactive qualities as it doesn’t possess the necessary THC to get a buzz.
Colonists brought hemp seed with them to America and it was extensively grown for “homespun.” During World War II, hemp was subsidized by the government to be used for fiber and rope. Industrial hemp continued to be harvested in the U.S. up to the 1950s, when the lack of common sense took over in the government.
Using hemp instead of cotton would result in the use of 25 percent less pesticides than are currently being applied to our environment. Enormous numbers of trees would not have to be destroyed. Cotton growing is probably the largest polluter on the planet in terms of releasing pesticides into our environment since cotton occupies only l3 percent of the world’s farmland, yet demands 25 percent of the pesticides used. The chemicals go into the groundwater and poison not only the target insects but non-target organisms as well, including humans.
Hemp, on the other hand, has long been considered a weed, but it does not require pesticides to grow. Unfortunately, it is illegal to grow hemp in most states because of ill-informed politicians who lack common sense.
Hemp seed is more nutritious than soybeans, contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, and is second only to soybeans in complete protein. Further, hemp seed is high in B vitamins, is 35 percent dietary fiber and does not contain THC like its relative, the marijuana plant. Hemp fiber is longer, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, hemp is a biomass fuel producer requiring the least specialized growing and processing of all plant products. The hydrocarbons in hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gases. Obviously, development of biofuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.
Hemp also produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for making every quality of paper. Moreover, hemp paper manufacturing would reduce wastewater contamination.
By using hemp instead of cotton, we could reduce our pesticide usage by 25 percent as well as not having to destroy countless numbers of trees. It is apparently forgotten that all herbs, including hemp, have their uses and that we were given all of the means we need on this Earth to live a good, healthy life.
Another option is organically grown cotton. No pesticides, fertilizers or defoliants are used in growing organic cotton. Organic solutions such as using compost, manure, naturally derived minerals and crop rotation eliminate the need for dangerous chemicals. Organic cotton can also be bred in different colors to eliminate the need for dye. It comes in a range of earth tones, such as rust, cream, browns and greens.

Chemically dependent cotton is no longer necessary and we should seriously look into increasing our yield of organic cotton and using industrial hemp. Growing cotton with pesticides and fertilizers certainly has more negatives than positives, and if we want to live in a healthy environment, we need to re-evaluate our priorities on what we are growing.

New Study Finds Hemp Seeds Can Prevent And Treat Hypertension


hemp seed hypertension

A study published in the November issue of the European Journal of Nutrition has found that hemp seeds may not only treat hypertension, it may have the ability to prevent it as well.
“This work determined the ability of hemp seed meal protein hydrolysate (HMH)-containing diets to attenuate elevated blood pressure (hypertension) development in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs)”, states the study’s abstract. “Effects of diets on plasma levels of renin and angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) in the SHRs were also determined.”
After conducting the study, researchers concluded; “The results suggest that HMH with strong hypotensive effects in SHRs could be used as a therapeutic agent for both the prevention and treatment of hypertension.”
The study was conducted at the University of Manitoba, and received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Canada: Run That By Us Again? Court Refuses To Permit Appeal And Orders Costs Against Victim Of Trade-Marks Office Mistake.

By Cynthia Rowden 

Occasionally, results of litigation seems so surprising that you wonder if there has to be more to the case than what the decision discloses. The Federal Court in 299614 Alberta Ltd. v. Fresh Hemp Foods Ltd., 2013 FC 1245 is a case in point. After Fresh Hemp applied to register the mark HEMP HEARTS Design, the Alberta numbered company opposed, and filed its evidence. The next step in the opposition should have been for Fresh Hemp to file its evidence, however, due to a mix-up in the Trade-marks Office, the application was mistakenly allowed. The applicant, in record time, paid its registration fee, and the trademark issued to registration a mere five days after allowance.

The opponent, no doubt wondering what had happened, appealed the decision of the Registrar to allow the application. However, Justice Zinn of the Federal Court, relying upon a decision with equally unusual facts, found that once a registration has been issued, it can only be challenged by expungement. An expungement proceeding requires a Federal Court application, on specific grounds, with accompanying evidence and written submissions. It did not matter that in this case, the decision to allow the mark was admitted by the Registrar to have been in error. The Judge specifically noted that under the Canadian Trade-marks Act there is no cost-effective and expeditious way to correct the Registrar's errors.  
Adding insult to injury, the Alberta company was ordered to pay Fresh Hemp's costs. This seems particularly harsh considering both that the situation originally arose from an error by the Registrar, and that the law regarding how to remedy the situation, e.g., by appeal as opposed to an application to expunge, is not terribly clear since there are few (thankfully) precedents. However, as noted above, there could be more to this than is apparent from the decision. 
It should be noted that in a trademark opposition, the onus to justify a registration is on the applicant, should the opponent file suitable evidence supporting the grounds of opposition. That onus remains in any appeal of an opposition decision. Also, there are no cost awards ordered by the Registrar in opposition proceedings. On the other hand, in an expungement application, the onus is switched – an applicant for expungement has the onus of proving the facts to justify the expungement. Plus, parties in Federal Court expungement proceedings are exposed to costs. 

As an interesting aside, correcting the Registrar's errors has turned out to be a difficult procedure for other applicants. Occasionally, during examination, the Trade-marks Office will drop wares or services from an application by mistake. If the error is not caught before registration, the current view of the Trade-marks Office is that such errors cannot be fixed by the Office. Instead, a Federal Court application must be brought to amend the registration. Despite submissions from both applicants and organizations representing IP practitioners and owners that the Act could be read in a way to allow the Registrar to correct such errors, the Trade-marks Office has maintained its position. Needless to say, the prospect of bringing an application to the Federal Court has implications in costs, timing, and convenience that are unreasonable to applicants who find themselves in this situation as a result of errors by the Trade-marks Office. 

Some relief from errors is found in Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act, currently before Parliament. It proposes to amend the Trade-marks Act to permit Registrar errors to be corrected on application by the registrant, but only within six months of registration. Recommendations to extend the time limit were not accepted. 

The lesson for trademark owners or practitioners from this decision (unless overturned on appeal) is that any issue regarding a registered mark versus application, including issues arising from Registrar errors, can only be remedied by application to the Federal Court under section 57 of the Act. As it stands, that means that parties before the Trade-marks Office may end up paying for the mistakes of the Office. Possibly, keeping a careful watch on an opposition file might help, but more importantly, vigilance by the Trade-marks Office is required.

Industrial Hemp Commission to discuss legalization, drafts, working group efforts


Kentucky’s Industrial Hemp Commission will meet Monday, Dec. 30, at 1 p.m. in the office of Agriculture Commissioner James Comer at 111 Corporate Dr. in Frankfort. The meeting is open to the public.
Attorneys for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will present the letters and other communication the state has had with the Justice Department on this issue, as well as communication between Kentucky and the Oregon Attorney General.
There will be a report from various committees including legislative, educational, staffing and public outreach. A draft of the bill to clean up the hemp legislation, a draft of the annual commission report and drafts of notices to entities with representation on the commission will all be presented. There will also be discussion of medical marijuana efforts and potential commission action.
The floor will also be open for members of the commission to discuss the latest news and developments in the hemp industry.
In other business, the commission will hear reports from groups working to develop hemp industries in certified seed, oil/seed and fiber. There will also be an update from Sen. Rand Paul’s team on his efforts and one from KDA Budgeting Director Steve Kelly on the hemp program fund.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tip of the Spear: Cannabis Hemp History in the Making

By John Dvorak

Tip of the Spear: Cannabis Hemp History in the Making

Congratulations!  If you’re reading this, you’re one of the few people that actually gives an aeronautical intercourse about cannabis, hemp and it’s prohibition.  An overwhelmingly large swath of the population couldn't care less about it.  Actually, they could care less and they will if we let them.  Fortunately, hardly a day goes by without news touting hemp’s nutritional and environmental benefits or studies showing how medicinal cannabis is treating different ailments.
A few years ago, after giving one of my Cannabis Curriculum talks for a medical marijuana group in Rhode Island, an older man came up to me and thanked me for what I was doing. He really liked all of the hemp products and samples that I had in my Traveling Hemp Museum and he knew that cannabis was a safe and effective medicine for him.  I felt so good that he was thanking me for being such a forward-thinking person. He then told me that I was 20 years ahead of my time. He said that society just wasn’t ready for all of the radical changes I was describing: legalizing marijuana, taking advantage of all of the therapeutic properties of the cannabis flower and growing millions of acres of hemp.  
I thought: “Dang! I’ve already been working on this for 20 years.  Does that mean I’ve got another 20 years ahead of me talking to small groups of true believers?”  But he could be right.  
PHOTO: Dan Iggers
PHOTO: Dan Iggers
The negative stigma of marijuana use and the brainwashing of Reefer Madness runs deep. The cannabis hemp movement is growing but historically speaking, it is still in its infancy. We are at such an early stage of development with so many opportunities in so many areas.  There is a need for people of all persuasions and interests: researching the myriad uses of medicinal cannabis, growing and selling cannabis, exploring the burgeoning recreational market, inventing new hemp products, starting hemp companies, developing machinery to harvest and process hemp, utilizing hemp’s ecological benefits, incorporating the humble hemp seed into our diets. The list goes on and on.
Find a subject that you are passionate about and integrate cannabis hemp into it. That’s what the Cannabis Curriculum is all about: Showing people the many ways that they can highlight  the beneficial aspects of cannabis hemp while also recognizing the devastating effects that its prohibition has on society and communities of color in particular.  
In the (hopefully) not too distant future, we’ll be using hemp for everything.  Hemp is the Green Buffalo, after all.  We’ll be remembering when it was illegal, and people will say: “wow, you’ve got to be kidding to me.”  I think we’re still in the dark ages, but believe it or not, these are the “good old days.”  
More and more products are hitting the market every day.  The potential for growth truly boggles the mind.  We are literally creating several entirely new  industries  from the ground up.  That doesn’t happen very often or without a lot of fits and starts.  However, as long as we continue to move forward we’ll begin to see ever increasing rates of growth.  With sales of legal medical marijuana in America estimated at $1.5 billion a year and hemp products chipping in another $500 million, we are 0.2% (1/500th) of the way to making cannabis hemp a Trillion Dollar Crop.   And that’s not counting the unprecedented growth in ancillary businesses that range from gardening supplies and hydroponics to delivery systems such as vaporizers.  
Fortunes made by “selling picks to the minors” during California’s Gold Rush will pale in comparison to the Green Rush.  The recreational use scenario is set to explode as more states (and countries) realize the win-win-win situation associated with legalizing marijuana:  lower law enforcement & incarceration costs, higher tax revenue from sales and an overall increase in public health due to a reduction in the use of alcohol and pharmaceuticals.   
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow often can someone look at what they are currently doing and visualize that in “x” years, people will look back at them as a trailblazer, a pioneer, a trend setter? That is quite a moment of self-awareness.  We are the vanguard. We are literally making history. Consider that phrase for a minute. Making history. We’re setting society on a new path of peace, understanding, compassion and cooperation.  We have an opportunity to be at the forefront of a movement that has vast social and economic implications.
But for this is to happen in the future, I need you to step up today.  YOU need to make history.  Who will be the Rosa Parks of the Hemp Revolution?  There are tremendous opportunities but also great responsibility. Because the cannabis hemp industry is emerging from the shadows of the black market we are under increased scrutiny.  We will be held to higher ethical standards.
Those who benefit from prohibition as part of the pharma-prison-industrial complex are not about to go gently into the night. Rather, like a cornered and wounded animal, they will lash out in any way they can, without regard for their actions.  They will use their Catch-422 logic to put more barriers in our way.  Their efforts will fail because truth, fairness and education will prevail over greed, subjugation and ignorance.
WE are the Tip of the Spear that is going to pierce the heart of prohibition: releasing the prisoners, healing our bodies, opening our minds, cleaning our environment, and strengthening our economy.  The Tip of the Spear will burst their bubble of control and expose their abuse of power.
Come on, let’s make some history together!

Interest in hemp grows in S.C., while Georgia takes a pass


A new bill in the South Carolina Legislature is the latest sign that the smaller state may be more progressive than Georgia on matters of hemp.
A Republican state senator introduced a proposal Dec. 10 that would make it lawful in South Carolina to grow the plant, which is a variety of cannabis.
Although its odds of passage are hard to gauge before lawmakers return to the capitol next month, Tom Murphy of the nonprofit Vote Hemp said bills like South Carolina’s have an advantage: They go before agriculture committees, where lawmakers are knowledgeable about crops, if not farmers themselves.
“They know you cannot do wishful agriculture,” he said. “Planting industrial hemp and hoping to get marijuana is like planting sweet corn and hoping to get popcorn.”
Murphy said the law enforcement community presents the central opposition to hemp legislation.
Still, if the bill, S. 839, became law in South Carolina, farming would have to wait.
It’s not illegal to grow hemp under federal law. But the there are tight restrictions on its production, which requires a permit from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
But bills like South Carolina’s still represent progress to Vote Hemp members. States pushing industrial hemp legislation are getting themselves in position and sending a signal to federal lawmakers to change the laws, said Murphy.
He pointed to two efforts in Congress that would free up states. The farm bill could be amended to allow institutions of higher education to do research and development on hemp, if their states have already legalized hemp farming.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act is another front. It would remove hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act.
Even if South Carolina lawmakers debate the hemp bill next year, the regional agriculture community may remain quiet. Reggie Hall, an official with the SC Farm Bureau Federation, said hemp wasn’t raised at two large meetings, including one this month in Myrtle Beach.
“That issue didn’t come up at all,” Hall said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not on some farmers’ mind.”
The organization itself has no position on hemp, which is used in fabrics, paper, home furnishings, cosmetics and foods. The bureau also had no research indicating if it could be a cash crop for South Carolina farmers. Bill sponsor, Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, did not return messages last week.
In Hall’s view, hemp may offer no edge over traditional crops, but could provide a niche market for some farmers.
The climate is cooler in Georgia.
“We have not been involved in that subject matter,” Georgia Farm Bureau assistant director Jeffrey Harvey said.
Vote Hemp has tallied almost three-dozen states that have introduced “pro-hemp” legislation, including 20 that have passed bills. Georgia has yet to introduce any, according to Vote Hemp and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, South Carolina tried to create a hemp study committee in 2007 with a resolution by Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton.
The lawmaker is the chairman of the Jasper County legislative delegation.
“I’m very interested in it,” he said in an email Saturday. “The study committee went nowhere, as most tend to do.”
But Herbkersman added: “What a great added job creator that would be!”
Hemp has piqued some curiosity across the Savannah River.
“We have fielded several inquiries from citizens over the years, but there have been no strong pushes that we are aware of,” Georgia Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Mary Kathryn Yearta said.
As for whether there’s potential in South Carolina, Hall said there are farmers who are always eager to diversify and discover new markets. He pointed to switchgrass, which has been touted as a source of biofuel in recent years.
But hemp isn’t switchgrass.
“We can see how a bill like the proposed hemp legislation could become stalled because of the historical and botanical similarities between industrial hemp and its association with marijuana,” Hall said.
Hemp is a variety of cannabis grown as an agricultural crop for seeds and fiber, and byproducts such as oil and seed cake. It has a small amount of marijuana’s primary psychoactive chemical, THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) — about 1 percent, compared to marijuana, which can have 10 percent or greater than 30 percent.
Hemp is on the rise. At least products that contain it. Sales of hemp-based foods and personal care products are growing. Thats’s according to industry information a Congressional Research Service report cited in July. The report said sales of hemp milk and related dairy alternatives are partly driving the increases in hemp specialty foods. The stores the Whole Foods Market and The Body Shop are two major markets for hemp products. The U.S. retail value of hemp products last year was nearly $500 million, according to the Hemp Industries Association.

Supervisors to state: Declassify hemp as controlled substance

By Jamie Munks

Hemp Plant
Hemp Plant (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

FORT EDWARD -- Most Washington County supervisors joined Dana Haff Friday in urging the state and federal governments to legalize industrial hemp, a measure the Hartford supervisor has been pushing for months.
The county Board of Supervisors voted 11-4 in favor of the push for allowing industrial hemp to be grown on American soil, a move a growing number of states are making as the federal government has indicated it would ease restrictions and defer to states on the issue.
“This is up to the state to decide,” said Jackson Supervisor Alan Brown, who voted in favor. “What we’re saying with this is it’s an option we might like to take some time in the future.”
Growing industrial hemp, a form of cannabis, is illegal in the U.S. under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which lumps industrial hemp in the category with marijuana. Hemp has a wide range of uses — in food, paper, cosmetics and rope — but doesn't create the psychoactive effects marijuana does when smoked or eaten.
According to a University of Vermont study on industrial hemp, the THC levels in marijuana can vary from 3 percent to 15 percent, but are below 1 percent in plants grown for industrial hemp. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Bills were introduced this year in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, as well as the state Senate, to remove industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana.
The Department of Justice indicated earlier this year it would generally defer to states on the issue of cannabis, and a growing number of states have begun declassifying industrial hemp as a controlled substance and allowing it to be grown and processed.
Haff on Friday pointed to neighboring Vermont as one such example — Vermont is taking applications from farmers looking to grow industrial hemp in 2014.
“I would like to see New York state do the same thing,” Haff said.
According to Haff, Washington County is the first county in the state to pass such a resolution.
The resolution urges the state and federal government to recognize industrial hemp as “a valuable agricultural commodity,” and to define it as non-psychoactive.
While growing hemp is illegal, finished hemp is legal in the U.S. and is frequently imported from other countries to use in a wide range of products produced domestically. The resolution also says legalizing industrial hemp to be grown here will “promote the balance of trade,” because the option to buy it domestically would then be available.
Greenwich Supervisor Sara Idleman, Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks, Hebron Supervisor Brian Campbell and Putnam Supervisor John LaPointe voted against the measure on Friday, and Easton Supervisor John Rymph abstained from voting. Idleman cast her vote against the measure, because she wanted more information about industrial hemp processing, and consideration of the value of the crop per acre.
“I would like to see a more comprehensive look at this and more discussion on the topic with our growers and producers,” Idleman said.
Idleman chairs the county Board of Supervisors Agriculture and Planning Committee, which voted 4-3 last month to move the resolution along to the full board. Before the committee vote, supervisors hosted a discussion with some farmers from the county, who presented diverse views on whether supervisors should take up the industrial hemp cause.
Some of the resolution’s opponents have questioned whether a market for industrial hemp exists, while others see it as a potential cash crop for the agricultural county.
“This resolution doesn’t mandate anything,” Haff said. If legalized, it would be up to farmers whether to grow industrial hemp, he said. “Why would you not allow it?”

Hemp composites as new tractor parts


The Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) in Winnipeg has completed an evaluation of a series of tractor parts based on hemp composites as an alternative to traditional glass.
The biocomposites were made from hemp and agave plants sourced from Manitoba and used to build a tractor hood, shields, fan shroud and fenders.

“We didn’t know if it would be possible yet or not, so we engaged industry to see if we could put our trial biofibre mat into a test tractor to see if it would endure the application it was meant to,” explained CIC project manager Andrea Kraj. The CIC partnered with Buhler, which manufactures Versatile farm equipment, and the Eastside Group of Companies to produce and test the components.

Kraj said the parts had performed well during the past harvest season and in testing on a ‘bump track’.

“The biotractor survived the environment and the conditions of the bump track, which is great because it shows that it can succeed in its application,” she said.

“There are numerous benefits associated with bio-based composites instead of the traditional petroleum-based materials,” added Simon Potter, CIC sector manager for production innovation. “Many of the largest agricultural equipment manufacturers globally are moving towards greater sustainability in their products and, as part of this strategy, are developing natural fibre-filled biocomposite and bioplastic advanced materials. These materials not only have reduced weight, they also assist in cost-reduction and in replacing non-renewable petroleum-based synthetic components with materials grown on the farm itself. In short, they are better for the environment and better for the rural economy.”

The project did not compare the cost of producing the tractor parts with biofibre instead of fibreglass.

“This was a prototype, so we don’t have any of that information yet, especially since the supply chain isn’t developed,” said Kraj, noting there are no private companies currently in a position to convert the raw materials into the biofibre mat that could be used by equipment manufacturers.

“What we’ve done with this project is prove the concept and the method of making biofibre parts in the manufacturing end of it. We now need to some of the pre-work in getting that material to the manufacturing stage.”

Community rallies behind hemp plant

By: Bill Redekop

Robert Jin shows off bales of hemp straw set to be shipped to China to make clothing.
Robert Jin shows off bales of hemp straw 
set to be shipped to China to make clothing. 

GILBERT PLAINS -- Of the purported 25,000 products made from hemp, a new facility here hopes to manufacture at least six of them.
There will be hemp home insulation; hemp building foundations (mixed with limestone); hemp absorbent for cleaning up oil spills, from small garages to industrial accidents; hemp pellets for wood stoves; and hemp bedding for pets and horses.
But those will be just from the byproducts. The primary purpose of the new facility is to process hemp fibre for manufacturing clothes in China.
It's the venture of Chinese businessman Robert Jin. He expects to open the roughly $12-million plant, that promises to employ about 30 people, starting in 2014 in Gilbert Plains, 345 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.
Jin's family operates a large hemp textile plant in China. But it can only access 6,000 tonnes of hemp fibre within China, where farms are small and not mechanized. The facility needs another 3,000 tonnes, he said.
So the company began looking overseas. In Manitoba's Parkland, Jin found an area where farmers have been pioneers in growing hemp.
Hemp is the hottest crop on the Prairies. "Right now, a farmer can make more from growing hemp for food than any other crop," said Russ Crawford, president of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance.
And these are still early days for hemp production. "I've been in Canadian agriculture for 40 years (including 20 years at Cargill) and I've never seen a story like this one," Crawford said. "The closest thing was rapeseed (now canola) back in the 1960s and '70s when it was called the Cinderella crop. Hemp goes way beyond that."
But delays in opening Jin's Plains Industrial Hemp Processing plant -- it was supposed to open a couple years ago -- have created skeptics, especially with so much government funding involved. The Harper government has put up $6 million for Jin's project through the vaunted Economic Action Plan -- vaunted by $113 million in tax dollars the Harper government has spent advertising the action plan.
This marks the second large foray into hemp processing in Manitoba by the Harper government's action plan. The first was a disaster. The $6 million the feds loaned to a company in Waskada called Farm Genesis vanished faster than a puck from a faceoff circle. A federal government source admitted the business plan of Farm Genesis was a joke and the money should never have been approved.
But Jin has put up his own money, too. He has spent more than $4 million, he said. The province has also chipped in $500,000 and the RM of Gilbert Plains another $400,000 for land, site preparation and a road.
The Gilbert Plains facility is being delayed by building code issues. And while Jin has imported all-new equipment from China, the technology is not new by North American standards.
No one is more frustrated than Jin. "I work for this project eight years," said Jin, who lives in Gilbert Plains.
The project is about more than just Jin and the federal government, too.
"It really has been a community project, how the community has rallied," said Marnie Kostur, executive director of Parkland Agricultural Resource Co-op (PARC), a group of local eight municipalities that has worked with Jin.
For example, when Jin needed a forklift to unload 20 containers of equipment from China, the local co-op volunteered to drive a forklift down the highway to do the unloading, she said.
Jin arrived in Manitoba under the provincial nominee program's business class, which requires a certain level of investment by newcomers. "He's considered one of the major successes," said Kostur.
Local growers are also pulling for Jin. "Anything that's going to further the development of turning industrial hemp into fibre is a terrific thing," said Chris Dzisiak, president of the Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers Association.
Jin will pay growers $80 to $90 per tonne for hemp straw the farmers don't normally use after they cut their crop for seed. However, he will have to find markets for hemp byproducts for his facility to succeed, he said. Co-op stores have already started taking some of its hemp absorbent. Hemp is also in demand for insulation and building foundations because it breathes, allowing moisture to escape.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Bringing It Home" documentary film review

By Chuck Jaffee

Linda Booker and Blaire Johnson, co-directors of the industrial hemp film "Bringing It Home."
Linda Booker and Blaire Johnson, co-directors of the industrial hemp film "Bringing It Home."
Hemp is marijuana. No it isn’t. That’s pretty much the debate in a nutshell, and the closest the “hemp is marijuana” side can get to the facts is an entrenched guilt by association.
We’re talking industrial hemp. Marijuana drips with psycho-active THC. If a drug dealer sold industrial hemp, he’d trash his drug dealer reputation (20 percent THC for getting high; 3/10 of 1 percent in industrial hemp).
The film “Bringing It Home” carries a well-crafted “Hemp is hope” message. It reveals seriously silly obstacles to the profound contributions industrial hemp could make to America’s future if it were legal to grow it. We can and do legally import hemp products.
Debate legalizing marijuana elsewhere. We’re talking industrial hemp.
We’re talking jobs for farmers. We’re talking a range of American jobs in clothing and accessories, rope and paper, building materials and insulation. We’re talking foods – foods high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp products include oils, soaps, lotions.
Growing hemp doesn’t demand pesticides the way other crops (seem to) need to. Wearing hemp and building with it doesn’t involve toxic chemicals the way other materials (seem to) need to.
The list of possibilities is compelling. The film “Bringing It Home” engages with far more than list making. For instance, a father concerned about his autistic and illness-prone daughter talks about “canary kids,” kids with more delicate, sensitive, and indicative needs that tell us something about everybody’s vulnerability.
Hemp is also a canary in the politics mine. If we can’t shake off reefer madness about industrial hemp, what chance do we have with more complicated issues for the future of our children?
Distilled from conversation with “Bringing It Home” director Linda Booker
Chuck Jaffee: Can we get past the “reefer madness” obstacle to legalizing industrial hemp in America?
Linda Booker: Though 20 states have passed or introduced legislation, federal law that lumps it with marijuana trumps state law. After close to 12 years of trying, it looks like federal law may change in two to five years.
CJ: Do you have favorite hemp products that are now routinely part of your life?
LB: I use oils, nuts, powders for the nutritional value. I prefer plant protein, and hemp is high in omega 3 fatty acids. I feed my dog hemp. It’s getting on super-food top 10 lists. Whole Foods says the market for hemp products is growing fast. Dr. Oz promotes it.
CJ: Your film talks about hemp contributing to a more sustainable world. Is “green” where the traction is for industrial hemp, or is it just good economics?
LB: It’s both; a huge part is the environmental and health benefits. The building sector is very excited about the potential for removing carbon emissions. This and the benefits of working with hemp materials is a main motivation.
CJ: Tell us one of the things you learned making “Bringing It Home.”
LB: Making documentaries, you ask what do I want a film to do. With a topical film, you ask how do I reach beyond people who are already into the issue. I wasn’t a hemp activist. I was skeptical. I had to be convinced beyond the hype. Working on this film made me more of an optimist.
Growing Cities
More than 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln said, “Before long the most valuable of all arts, will be deriving subsistence from the smallest area of the soil. No community whose every member possesses this art can ever be the victim of oppression.” I may not have as much quote cred as old Abe, but I say, “America needs a million new farmers fast – and they have to stick with it – for us to have any chance at a better future.”
The film “Growing Cities” starts with the Lincoln quote. In the realm of smart farming for the future, this film covers familiar territory, but we need a perennial diet of good films like this. The filmmakers visit Will Allen, an exemplar of spirit and commitment. He posits 50 million new farmers.
Numbers aside, the point of the travelog “Growing Cities” is that people across the country are delving into myriad ways to plant the seeds of a sustainable farming future, especially in cities. In cities, where 80 percent of the people live, there are vacant lots, empty warehouses, rooftops, lawns, balconies. Bring on the compost.
The best community efforts, especially in disadvantaged areas, cultivate attitude. Through inclusion and mentoring, people occupy a better time and place that reaps not only healthy food, but healthier connections, including connections to a bigger picture.
“Growing Cities” wonders whether young urban dwellers will become farmers, whether they’ll stick with farming. It connects us well to a needed sensibility by the thousands that hungers to germinate by the millions.
“I do care, but I’m ignoring that I care.” In the film “GMO OMG,” a mother buckles some under the weight of finding her kids worry-free foods. This isn’t just any mother. This is the wife of the filmmaker.
Jeremy Seifert is trying to educate his wife, kids … everyone … about genetically modified organisms. He laments that “everyone was getting tired of my obsession with GMOs.” When Seifert tells a health-oriented, very veggie interviewee that 97 percent of soy is GMO, you get yet another flash of the “Oh My God” factor in this film.
Seifert’s son has a fairly adorable obsession with seeds, and this is one of many ways the film maintains a personable keel. Monsanto – a worldwide leader in corporate evil – also has an obsession with seeds. They brilliantly engineer plants that don’t produce seeds for farmers to grow more plants, besides forcing farmers to buy Monsanto seeds.
Harm from genetically modified foods is hardly settled controversy, but efforts like $45,000,000 to defeat a California proposition to label such foods as GMO causes Seifert to pose the question, “Aren’t they proud of their products?”
Can’t corporations do the marketing thing they’re so good at, boastfully promoting their Gene-tampering Modus Operandi, then watch sales soar? Shouldn’t corporations want extensive peer reviewed research on GMOs so they can better tout their commitment to healthful, world-feeding mega-profits?
If you’re familiar with the issue and especially if you aren’t, look up a flagship term of the century, the “precautionary principle” and see the film “GMO OMG.” You’ll have plenty of time left over to ignore how much you should care.
Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at


With Washington state on the cusp of history, an abridged look back at how we got here



Whether you still think marijuana can turn people into crazed maniacs, Reefer Madness style, or you're about to use this very page as a rolling paper (bad idea), you've probably realized by now that we're at a major crossroads in marijuana history. As Washington becomes one of the first two states to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana, a national tidal wave is surging. For the first time since the polling firm started asking, Gallup reports that a majority of Americans say they support legalizing marijuana and nearly 40 percent say they've tried the drug. Twenty states have medical marijuana laws on the books, and this fall, a year after Washington voters passed Initiative 502, four cities in Michigan and Maine legalized or decriminalized recreational marijuana. Earlier this month, lawmakers in Uruguay voted to legalize and regulate pot. This week, as the Washington State Liquor Control Board plans to close the application window for the state's first legal marijuana entrepreneurs, let's remember how far we've come. Consider this your cannabis CliffsNotes. (HG)
Around 2700 BP: Taking cannabis to the grave
Among the earliest known instances of the plant's use, cannabis was used to make paper or rope in ancient Asian civilizations. It was ground into flour and used in gruel; later, it was prescribed as medicine. But a tomb studied by researchers over the past decade suggests ancient civilizations may have been waking and baking too. Researchers tested a stash of plants they found buried with a well-off 45-year-old shaman in northern China, part of a roving clan of blue-eyed, light-skinned nomads near the Gobi Desert. Believed to be from around 2700 BP (that's Before Present, calculated as before 1950), the plants, lightly pounded in a wooden bowl and still surprisingly green, were cannabis. While ancient hemp clothing and rope have been found in the area, they've been dated to years after these plants were buried, leading the team to conclude in the Journal of Experimental Botany that, "The cannabis was presumably employed by this culture as a medicinal or psychoactive agent, or an aid to divination." (HG)
Aug. 2, 1619
Lawmakers in the colony of Virginia declare that every household with hemp seeds must grow them the following season.
July 4, 1776
The Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which was signed on paper made of hemp.
1700s: George Washington was growing fields of this stuff...
It's true that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew cannabis plants in their fields. But it's not like they shared a blunt during breaks of the Continental Congress. The sort of cannabis they grew was hemp, which they harvested — with varying levels of financial success — for its oil, seeds and fibers, used to make rope, clothing and other old-timey goodies. It was considered a good supplement to tobacco farming, which could damage a farm's soil.
Industrial hemp was used widely in the United States until 1937, when Congress banned marijuana, which also extended to hemp. It remained legal to import processed hemp into the country, which American businesses continued to do. When imports of hemp and other useful fibers from Asia were cut off during World War II, the U.S. government released a short film in 1942 entitled Hemp for Victory, which instructed farmers how to plant and care for the crop in the hopes of making up for those lost imports. But as drug prohibition ramped up in the following decades, industrial hemp crops were eradicated from the country.
In 1998, Canada introduced regulations by which farmers could grow industrial hemp, a possible reason why seemingly every high schooler on the continent wore hemp necklaces that year. In 2011, the country's agriculture departments reported almost 40,000 acres of the plant.
Hemp production is still banned by federal law, but several states have passed laws legalizing industrial hemp. However, hemp farming has not become a reality in those states because the Drug Enforcement Administration has hampered such efforts. With Colorado legalizing marijuana in 2012, farmers in the state harvested their first crop of industrial hemp this year. (MB)
Early 1900s: Pot might make you kill people?
Americans weren't always terrified of cannabis. They had to be taught to be terrified through the first few decades of the 20th century. Cannabis had been used for medical and recreational purposes with little, if any, regulation up until the early 1900s, but few people were using weed, so nobody paid much attention.
But the Mexican revolution had sent immigrants north into the border states of the U.S. and they brought their pot with them. Over the next couple of decades, authorities in Texas, California and other border states characterized these immigrants' "marijuana" (the new, Spanish name for the drug) use as being responsible for violent crimes. At the same time, pot was arriving in port cities around the country by way of sailors and immigrants from the Caribbean, and the burgeoning jazz scene, comprised almost exclusively of African Americans, was getting in on the reefer, too. The racial thread seen here has not been lost on historians.
Harry J. Anslinger, the commissioner of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, was an outspoken proponent of marijuana prohibition, often giving sensationalized speeches and articles in which he culled gruesome details from police reports, attributing these crimes to their perpetrator's use of marijuana. Newspapers around the country willfully bought into the notion of marijuana as a gateway to insanity and murder.
This sensationalism is best remembered in the form of the 1936 film Reefer Madness, in which seemingly ordinary young Americans become murderous psychopaths after a few puffs on a joint. The film was not widely circulated to mainstream audiences upon its release, but gained a cult following in the 1970s — as a comedy.
By 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed by the U.S. Congress, effectively making the drug illegal in the country.
There remains a racial element surrounding marijuana. A recently released American Civil Liberties Union study found that between 2001 and 2010, blacks were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana as whites, despite the fact that the two groups use the drug at about the same rate. (MB)
Dec. 29, 1925
A news brief in the New York Times explains that Mexico has just outlawed marijuana, ending on this note: "Marihuana leaves, smoked in cigarettes, produce murderous delirium. Its addicts often become insane. Scientists say its effects are perhaps more terrible than those of any intoxicant or drug."
States across the country adopt tough penalties for marijuana possession and sale. In Georgia, a second conviction for selling marijuana to minors could result in the death penalty.
1970: "The most dangerous drugs of all"
America's journey from a love affair with hemp to a gripping fear of marijuana reached new heights with the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug. According the DEA, Schedule 1 drugs have "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence."
The next year, President Richard Nixon called drug abuse "public enemy number one" and declared the need for a "new, all-out offensive." Spending on the drug war increased. Concerned parents formed anti-drug groups; Nancy Reagan launched her "Just Say No" campaign. And despite concerns in the '70s that they didn't work, the 1980s saw a return of mandatory minimum sentences, linking criminal punishments to the amount of drugs involved in an offense. Federal penalties for "trafficking" 100 marijuana plants became the same as those for 100 grams of heroin. (Other trademarks of the massive drug war, like "three strikes, you're out" laws and incentives for snitches, soon followed.)
In a 1986 speech, the Reagans stood in the West Hall of the White House, and the president counted his successes: Marijuana use among high school seniors had decreased from 1 in 14 to 1 in 20; meanwhile, the nation was spending triple what it had five years prior on the drug war.
"These are ... emerging signs that we can defeat this enemy," the president told the nation. "But we still have much to do." (HG)
March 22, 1972
Marijuana has become more socially acceptable among young people and increasingly among the middle class. Convened by President Richard Nixon, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse presents its report to national lawmakers calling for the country to reevaluate its views of marijuana and consider decriminalization.
Oregon becomes the first state to decriminalize marijuana possession. Other states, like California, Colorado and New York, as well as the Netherlands, follow.
Willie Nelson is arrested for marijuana possession in Dallas, the first in a long string of arrests for America's favorite outlaw/country superstar/pothead. He's now on the advisory board of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Cheech and Chong's first feature-length movie, Up in Smoke, follows the super-stoned duo to Mexico to buy a van made entirely of marijuana.
L.A.'s police chief and school district launch Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), now taught in schools across the nation.
Aug. 16-17, 1991
What we now know as the massive pro-pot "protestival" Seattle Hempfest starts as Washington Hemp Expo in Seattle's Volunteer Park.
March 29, 1992
Meanwhile, the drug war continues, marijuana arrests increase and New York City cops focus on "quality of life" crimes, including pot. Loud condemnation of marijuana is becoming a new tactic for baby boomers to separate themselves from '60s hippie culture. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, famously says he "experimented with marijuana a time or two, and didn't like it. I didn't inhale and I didn't try it again."
1998: The prescriptions for what ails you
Marijuana prohibition in Washington began to crumble in the late 1990s, most notably in 1998 when the state's voters made possession and use of cannabis for medical purposes legal. Initiative 692 passed by a convincing 58.97 percent of the vote, winning in all but nine counties, with 54 percent of Spokane County voters supporting it.
With Oregon passing a similar medical marijuana law that same year and California having done so two years prior, the entire West Coast had become medical-marijuana friendly. The trend would spread east over the next 15 years, to the point that now 20 states have some sort of allowance for medical marijuana, with Illinois and New Hampshire being the latest to join in this year.
Washington's medical marijuana laws have led to a lightly regulated and at times confusing system with plenty of gray area, especially when it came to medical marijuana dispensaries, which had at different times been shut down by the federal government.
Now with marijuana becoming legal for anyone over the age of 21, the state has had to re-evaluate its medical regulations. This fall, a multi-agency panel provided a list of recommendations to the Washington State Liquor Control Board — the agency overseeing the implementation of Initiative 502 — as to how to deal with medical marijuana in a landscape where the drug already will be widely available at state-supervised stores.
On the list were recommendations that the state create a database of medical marijuana cardholders who would be exempt from paying taxes on marijuana, that patients be re-evaluated, and to disallow medical groups from working primarily in the field of medical marijuana authorization. The panel also suggested that medical patients no longer be able to grow their own marijuana plants, and would drastically lower the amount of usable cannabis a cardholder could possess from 24 ounces to 3 ounces. (MB)
April 7, 2002
The Simpsons episode "Weekend at Burnsie's" airs, following Homer as he tries medical marijuana. Doctor's instructions: "Toke as needed."
October 2006
Illinois Senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama distinguishes himself from Bill Clinton at a meeting of the American Society of Magazine Editors: "When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point."
Nearly half of all drug arrests in the U.S. are for marijuana, up from 34 percent in 1995.
2012: Lighting up legally
Fast forward to what may be the most exciting time for marijuana since its discovery. Last December, under a night sky and the light of the Space Needle, Seattleites bundled in winter jackets and gathered to light up. The night marked the first phase of implementation of Initiative I-502: possession of an ounce or less by someone 21 or older was now legal in the state. (While it's never been legal under 502 to smoke in public, we all know things work a little differently on the west side, where Seattle police have all but ignored pot since 2003.)
And with that, the nation's eyes turned to Washington — and Colorado, where voters also legalized recreational bud — as state and local regulators began crafting and implementing the laws that would govern a newly above-board economy. This week, the window closes for applicants looking to take part, but unanswered questions remain. For one, how will marijuana businesses store their cash, since federally certified banks are unable to accept what's still considered illegal money?
Ask Mark Kleiman, a UCLA professor who's written extensively on drug policy and consulted for the state on its new pot policies this year, about our chances of getting this whole thing right, and he'll start by rattling off the things he worries we're getting wrong. There are flaws in the law, he says, like too few protections against marketing to minors, too few training requirements for those selling pot, and a tax model that will drop as the price drops, which he says will increase the number of heavy users accessing the drug. But he believes the liquor board is prepared to adapt, and he calls Colorado and Washington "good places to have started" because they're more isolated than smaller states like those on the East Coast. (The Department of Justice has emphasized its worries about pot crossing state borders.) Plus, he adds, Washington "has that progressive-era, honest, competent public administration, and that matters."
"Whatever happens," Kleiman says confidently, "we're going to learn from the experiences in Washington and Colorado." (HG)
December 2012
After November's elections in Washington and Colorado, President Barack Obama tells ABC's Barbara Walters "we've got bigger fish to fry" than cracking down on states that have legalized marijuana.
March 27, 2013
With overwhelming support in both the state Senate and House, the Idaho Legislature voted to pass a resolution reaffirming its "opposition to efforts to legalize marijuana for any purpose in the State of Idaho."
Sept. 23, 2013
The Spokane City Council passes an ordinance to outline marijuana zoning. It will keep all new recreational and medical marijuana businesses out of certain mixed-use areas like Garland and allow them in industrial zones.
Dec. 10, 2013
Uruguay's Senate approves legislation to allow the legalization and state-run regulation of marijuana.
2014: Growing and Buying in the New Market
When it starts granting licenses in February or March of next year, the Washington State Liquor Control Board will start with growers and processors in hopes of creating a market able to meet the (who knows how high) demand for legal weed. Then the board will move on to licensing stores. While there will be no limit on the number of growers or processors licensed, each county in the state has been assigned a number of retailers allowed. (Spokane County will get 18.) There's no formal launch date when stores can open, but the board thinks we'll be shopping by the summer. The year is also likely to bring more moves to legalize. Oregon, for one, is already seeing an effort to get a 502-like initiative on the 2014 ballot. (HG)