Thursday, January 30, 2014
Long stigmatized because of its “high”-inducing cousins, hemp — derived from low-hallucinogenic varieties of cannabis — is making a comeback, not just as a source of fiber for textiles, but also as a crop packed with oils that have potential health benefits. A new study, which appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, details just how many healthful compounds hempseed oil contains.
Maria Fernández-Arche and colleagues note that for millennia, people around the world cultivated cannabis for textiles, medicine and food. Hemp has high levels of vitamins A, C and E and beta carotene, and it is rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals and fiber. In the early 20th century, many countries banned cannabis because some varieties contain large amounts of the high-inducing compound THC.
And although Colorado recently legalized recreational marijuana use — and some states have passed medical marijuana laws — the drug remains illegal according to U.S. federal law. But the European Union has legalized growing low-THC versions of hemp, and it’s making its way back into fabrics and paper. With increasing interest in plant oils as a source of healthful compounds, Fernández-Arche’s team wanted to investigate hempseed oil’s potential.
They did a detailed analysis of a portion of hempseed oil. They found it has a variety of interesting substances — such as sterols, aliphatic alcohols and linolenic acids — that research suggests promote good health. For example, it contains α-linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that some studies suggest helps prevent coronary heart disease. The findings could have implications in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and non-food industries, they say.
By Niels Lesniewski
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is taking credit for one provision in the five-year farm bill: industrial hemp, having led an effort to insert expanded language in the conference report.
Kentucky has enacted industrial hemp legislation at the state level. A source familiar with the negotiations said the expanded language was drafted in McConnell’s office and inserted at his behest.
The language will allow Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James R. Comer to go ahead with a pilot program allowing cultivation of industrial hemp, which is a type of cannabis that contains far less THC than is found in marijuana. It nonetheless has been similarly treated under federal law.
“By giving Commissioner Comer the go ahead to cultivate hemp for pilot programs, we are laying the groundwork for a new commodity market for Kentucky farmers. By exploring innovative ways to use hemp to benefit a variety of Kentucky industries, while avoiding negative impact to Kentucky law enforcement’s efforts at marijuana interdiction, the pilot programs authorized by this legislation could help boost our state’s economy,” McConnell said in a statement touting the provision.
His office said that McConnell worked with the conferees to make sure the language survived to make its way into the House-Senate conference agreement.
The House farm bill contained a much narrower pilot program that would’ve applied only to certain academic research ventures. It was enough in the view of parliamentary experts to make the expanded pilot program fit within the scope of the conference’s work, however.
Sen. Rand Paul was the first of the Kentucky GOP senators to champion differentiating between marijuana and industrial hemp.
When #WGDB was invited by Paul’s office to meet with Comer to discuss hemp policy during a trip to D.C. back in May, the up-and-coming Kentucky Republican made his pitch with a reference to one of the most legendary senators in history.
“You can make textiles. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper,” Comer said at the time. “It was a leading crop that Henry Clay grew and Abraham Lincoln’s in-laws grew in Kentucky.”
The hemp language in the new farm bill conference agreement comes in rapidly evolving national debate over the broader issue of decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., recently said that legalizing the hemp production could prove a bellwether for the bigger debate, although hemp advocates have said their case is a separate matter.
GERMANY — Cannabis activist George Wurth of the German Hemp Association (Deutscher Hanf Verband) has won a million-Euro prize to expand the group’s legalization activism from the German television program Millionaire Choice (Millionaerswahl).
Millionaire Choice is a reality TV program where self-selected contestants compete in a multi-stage process of elimination to see whose idea will be funded. The cross-media campaign is determined by the vote of viewers.
“The madness! George has won. We are completely overwhelmed. The work of 10 years has now finally paid off. Along with the events in the US and Uruguay, this can be the starting point for the hemp movement gaining strength in Germany,” the group’s home page exclaimed.
“January 25, 2014 will be long remembered by the DHV and raise the German hemp scene to a new level,” the group said in a weekend press release. ”When we decided to participate in the Millionaire Choice, we would not have expected this tremendous success. We thank you all for your votes and your infectious enthusiasm. You have voted for George, and without you this huge success would not have been possible.”
by Nelson Harvey
A Glenwood Springs entrepreneur with big dreams for the Western Slope’s hemp industry is warning that few Colorado farmers will plant hemp this spring if a federal ban on shipping hemp seeds across state and national lines isn’t lifted soon.
Barbara Filippone, whose Glenwood Springs-based company EnviroTextiles imports and sells hemp and other natural fibers, said hundreds of Colorado farmers have contacted her in recent months asking where to get hemp for the coming growing season.
“I have notebook with contact for at least 100 interested farmers, and three to five more calling me every day,” Filippone said.
Few growers can source seed from within Colorado, since only one rogue farmer — Ryan Loflin of Springfield — harvested a major hemp crop in 2013. Under federal law, which classifies hemp as a controlled substance alongside its psychoactive cousin marijuana, shipping non-sterile hemp seed in from neighboring countries like Canada is also illegal.
That means that Colorado farmers determined to plant hemp in the spring may have to bend or break the law to get their seed, and risk losing federal crop insurance, farm subsidies or other aid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the process.
“Farmers are risk averse, and you’re asking them to take a big risk by planting hemp,” said Mick McAllister, communications director for the Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union.
McAllister said he knows of only one farmer of his 3,500-member organization with definite plans to plant hemp this spring. Farmers, he said, are intimidated by raids like the one that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration conducted on an industrial hemp operation run by South Dakota’s Lakota Sioux Indian tribe in the year 2000.
“Don’t know if we will [plant hemp] yet,” wrote Ken Sack, the owner of the Silt-based organic farm Eagle Springs Organic, in an email. Sack has expressed interest in growing hemp this spring, but said he’s still deciding whether to go forward. “Will have to see if seeds are available in [Colorado],” he wrote.
Like marijuana, hemp is a variety of cannabis sativa, but it contains almost none of pot’s intoxicating THC. The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world to ban industrial hemp, which can be used to make food, fabric, building materials and a wide range of other products.
Colorado’s hemp-related legal limbo endures despite the fact that Colorado voters legalized industrial hemp alongside recreational marijuana when they passed Amendment 64 in 2012. The Colorado Department of Agriculture finalized the state’s industrial hemp rules last fall.
Under the rules, hemp farmers can begin registering with the state starting on March 1. They’ll have to pay a fee of $200 plus $1 for every acre planted, and submit to random inspections by state officials meant to insure that their hemp crop contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
Yet despite its regulatory framework, the state has little to say about where Colorado farmers ought to look for seed. In fact, state officials have adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” philosophy on the matter.
“How farmers are getting seed is a good question,” said Ron Carleton, Colorado’s Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture. “We are just doing a registration and inspection program. We are not asking, in the registration process, the source of the seed.”
Carleton said the ongoing seed shortage would likely affect enrollment in the first year of the state’s hemp production program, and the shortage could even endure into next year’s growing season if shipping hemp remains federally illegal.
“In order to avoid breaking federal law a farmer would have to get [the seed] from within Colorado,” Carleton clarified. He said that neither his department nor the office of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper have yet made a formal request to the federal Justice Department to lift its ban on shipping hemp.
There are glimpses of hemp legalization on the federal level: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently asked Attorney General Eric Holder to review hemp’s legal status as a controlled substance, and a bill called the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 is set for review by legislative committees in both houses of Congress.
Until the federal law changes, though, Filippone wants the Justice Department to issue an executive order declaring that farmers will not be prosecuted for sourcing seed from countries like Canada, whose hemp industry is thriving, or for planting seed sent to them by anonymous hemp activists who may have sourced the stuff illegally.
Filippone recently heard from an eastern Colorado farmer who had received a mysterious shoebox full of hemp seeds from someone called “the hemp stork” who didn’t list a return address.
The farmer planted some of the seeds, Filippone said, before realizing that it was illegal to ship hemp and that he could be complicit in a federal crime.
“He was terrified,” Filippone recalled, speculating that the seeds probably came from a hemp legalization activist “who was not considering things like federal regulations, federal subsidies or crop insurance.”
An executive order from the Justice Department, Filippone said, could protect such farmers from prosecution and allow Colorado’s hemp industry to get off the ground.
McAllister of the Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union agreed, but he said such an order wouldn’t completely protect Colorado’s farmers from prosecution since it could be undone by a future presidential administration.
“If that happened the gates [of Colorado’s industry] would start to open, but technically you are still not safe,” McAllister said.
By Rosemary Grant
PHOTO: Seed from this industrial hemp crop in Tasmania will be crushed for oil in 2014 (Rose Grant)
It's arguable the hemp plant has more uses than any other species under broadacre cultivation today.
And at the Jackey's Marsh Forest Festival in northern Tasmania, talk of its potential for profitable and sustainable farming pulls an attentive crowd.
PHOTO: Klara Marosszeky led a workshop on industrial hemp building at the Jackey's Marsh Forest Festival in Tasmania(Rose Grant)
"If you look at Canada, they're producing hemp pastas, hemp milk, hemp cake mixes, hemp breads,"
"And it is known to be incredibly nutritious," Klara Marosszeky says.
Klara Marosszeky is a hemp advocate who is based in the NSW Northern Rivers region and led a hemp masonry building workshop at the 2014 forest festival.
She mentions a range of uses for hemp and its by-products, including building materials, industrial oils, land remediation and biofuel production, in addition to hemp's potential for food.
Fifteen years ago Klara Marosszeky started doing agronomic research to establish hemp was a viable crop in NSW.
Having accomplished that, she became involved in building material research with the University of NSW and runs a hemp masonry supply company and consultancy.
She says her particular interest is in making the crop available as a profitable and sustainable alternative for small-scale Australian farmers to grow.
"When we're talking about moving to sustainable economies, we're actually looking for new crops," she says.
"And hemp has got an enormous amount of attributes, if we're talking about issues - for example greenhouse gas emissions.
"The biomass it produces is the equivalent to a similar area of forest [per year], but it's produced in a four month period of growth.
"We're really looking for opportunities for small to medium-sized farmers who have no value-adding industry.
"In NSW, I worked really closely with one particular community in Ashford in the central west to develop a system, where they're processing hemp on their farm and earning what they see as a viable income.
"They're farming six hectares of hemp, they have some sheep and grow a little bit of lucerne.
"They process that hemp, so that it's ready to go into a building material for me.
"It's really an opportunity for farmers to earn a good income because they have the opportunity to value-add on farm."
Klara Marosszeky says there are few barriers preventing Australian farmers from growing low THC varieties of hemp, and she's optimistic a forum of Australia's state and federal health ministers will soon agree to allow the cultivation of low THC varieties for human consumption in Australia.
Canberra communique calls for more information on hemp issues
Tasmania's Industrial Hemp Association president Philip Reader is pushing to end a government ban on growing hemp for use as a human food.
He says the plant's potential is being thwarted by the politicians and bureaucrats.
Phil Reader is one of about 10 Tasmanian farmers growing low-THC hemp on about 100 hectares for Midland Seeds and EcoFibre Industries.
He says the latest communique from the Australian and New Zealand Ministers responsible for food regulation states they require further investigation by FSANZ of potential issues relating to the use of low THC hemp in food products.
"One of the things that's really concerning us too is that they've delayed the meeting another month to consider these issues," Phil Reader said.
"This seems to be a complete delaying tactic. It's now been taken out until June.
"If we're not careful, we're going to go through the whole process again. Nothing will be in place or change before the next growing season. This is totally unacceptable.
"We want a decision, and it is time. The facts are all out there.
"All the information is there in Australia and world-wide. We want a decision 'yes' or 'no' now."
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
By Gaty Anderson
The world’s financial system is going to disintegrate. Who can say when? Yet we all know it is just a matter of time. A FIAT currency system based on the U.S. dollar with the U.S. government spending itself into oblivion with a global imperial military agenda and expenditure, has to crumble. It is undeniably inevitable. Australia’s financial system is currently joined at the hip with the U.S., and our banks have similarly gone off the gold standard, and been deceived into enormous risk on the speculative paper-based banking system — through which London and Wall St. have subtly been raping the world.
We will have to ease back to a more secure gold and/or silver-based system. Yet even with the gold standard there is a downside. Gold in principle is very sound. It doesn’t degrade or rust. It is rare and will hold value. Yet, despite a few industrial purposes, it is of little practical value. You can’t eat it, keep warm with it, or build with it to add practical value to human life.
Industrial and medicinal hemp is the best of both worlds in that it is stable and durable yet also enormously useful and beneficial. With national industry based on industrial hemp, farmers could have an eternally stable income, and industry would have a constant supply of the earth’s best raw materials.
With complete legalization of medicinal hemp, hemp bud oil could be produced at such a low cost as to be able to save the country (Australia) approximately seventy billion dollars annually, and in conjunction with industrial hemp, produce many hundreds of billions in local industries and exports. We could create an enormous industry and draw millions of the most creative generous people from around the world to our shores, with obvious long-term benefits.
Sustainable and Equitable Distribution
I am highly critical of the divide-and-conquer breach of trust, where the government gives power to the corporations/banks rather than exercising the power to set up structures that create a symbiosis and mutually beneficial relationship between the government, the corporations/banks, we-the-people, and all the individuals within the society.
The fundamental model of the People’s Hemp Bank ensures the enormous wealth and benefit of embracing the earth’s most useful and medicinal plant is sustainably and equitably managed and distributed. We have to create the wealth to invest and expand the hemp-based industries, provide tax to the government to cover all of its costs and more, be generous to workers, give incentive to investment, yet not allow the wealth to ultimately be in the hands of any individual, corporation or government with an excessive profit motive. The hub of the wealth should lie with the people and be used for the benefit of the community and the nation.
Herein are my seed thoughts which I place on the enquiry table, inviting input from others to refine and develop the concept. The figures are just an initial guide to possibility. Yet because of the enormous intrinsic worth of the hemp plant, one can see that there is then ample scope for all people to benefit – from the growers to the processors, retailers, end-users, to those providing capital, and to the government also. There would naturally be a range of prices for industrial hemp materials and medicinal oils based on quality, but to simplify the initial calculations I will only use a single value.
Implied is complete legalization and de-criminalisation of industrial and medicinal hemp – absolutely minimal regulation, like growing sorghum or grapes, or selling alcohol or tobacco. Set up People’s Hemp Bank (NSW) as a starter, with the responsibility of centralizing and managing all hemp materials state-wide, with storage and processing facilities set up regionally. Currently industrial hemp price to growers is $250 per metric ton. I suggest set an initial buying price by the People’s Hemp Bank (PHB) of $300 p/MT with all quality-confirmed production guaranteed to be purchased. This would provide security and extra capital for local growers to develop co-operative processing facilities, which would function hand-in-hand with the PHB and produce high quality textile fabrics, seed oil, fuel, crete, woodchips flour etc. Basic processes. The PHB on-sells at average $370 p/MT to secondary processors and manufacturers.
Manufacturers could be assured of a continuous supply of virtually unlimited quantity of good-quality environmentally sound primary-processed raw materials at a workable consistent price. Given the dynamics of production, market forces and fluctuating costs, prices paid to farmers could rise and fall seasonally, but with the overall intention of harmony working in a oneness paradigm. In contrast to the competitive divide-and-conquer screw-everyone-from-the-top-down paradigm, the price would be always fair and sustainable, and so profitable. The PHB is intended to give a good price to the farmers, but with a free unregulated production and guaranteed sale to the PHB, the price that PHB pays could reduce to current levels or lower and still be a good win for the farmers. The goal would be to be able to supply the industrial hemp materials to processors and manufacturers as cheaply as possible so that their businesses could be quickly viable, generous to employees, and grow to export capability, while not later levering the farmers unfairly. The hemp medicine could feasibly support the industrial so there could be just 10% to 15% markup from farmer to PHB to manufacturer.
We are one country, all needing our whole system to work well. Constant communication, transparency and honesty between all those involved will ensure that the whole country ultimately benefits. If an individual loses his or her job because their industry is no longer needed or viable, initially there will be discomfort, yet if another more useful and purposeful job was offered them, and they could see a great positive transformation of society happening at the same time, surely they would ultimately have a smile on their face. For many the smile would be huge because they have always wanted to move to a country area but have been prevented by employment factors. Now the door is open wide, the opportunity is right in front of them, and the air is very fresh my friends. The Great Southern Land! Oh Yeah!
The PHB purchases medicinal strength hemp buds from specially licensed growers at $3,000 p/MT to cover the extra costs of producing high quality medicinal grade hemp strains and separating the buds. The PHB pays the government $3,000 p/MT in tax. (50% state, 50% federal) If we add $1,500 p/MT for all storage and administration costs, we can say that a realistic cost price to the PHB would be $7,500 p/MT or $7.50 p/KG. (The current black market bulk retail price is $8,000 per kg)
With unlimited production of industrial hemp and licensed medicinal hemp, only those producing medicinal hemp will know which fields it is in, and with raw buds for smoking available legally at a very low cost there would be no need for high security, as the illegal trade would be wiped out. Simultaneously I believe the hard drug trade would be greatly diminished, by availability of low-cost medicinal hemp combined with a social model that functions as a more harmonious unit. Farmers who were licensed to produce medicinal grade hemp would face harsh penalties and lose their license if they traded with anyone other than the PHB. I feel these farmers would be very happy, indeed feel privileged to be a licensed hemp medicine supplier, and the extra profitability of the farming for hemp medicine, though not extraordinary, would encourage the highest quality of production standards and ethical transparency.
The PHB could sell the raw unprocessed buds for $100,000 p/MT ($100 p/KG) to PHB wholesale/retail. PHB W/R pay $100 p/KG in tax. (50% state, 50% federal) A retail price set at $350 p/KG ($10 p/OZ) for unprocessed buds, and $560 p/KG ($16 p/OZ) for the hemp medicine component of all processed products such as cookies, chocolate, drinks. No GST. The retail business makes profit, pays tax. The PHB wholesales raw and processed medicine to selected independent stores, with standardized retail pricing the PHB and independents.
Hemp oil and hemp oil capsules (10% extraction yield) could be produced by the PHB and held in the medicinal bank, and sold at $1,800 p/KG direct to PHB retail outlets, who pay $700 p/KG tax. (50% state, 50% federal) Retail price to end user would be set at $3,000 p/KG or $3 p/gram. A tonic dose of 0.5 grams per day would be $1.50 p/day, and a highest dose cancer-treatment of 3 grams p/day would cost $9 p/day. (No GST) Given the high profit on medicinal hemp oil, there is extensive scope for subsidy and indeed charity in the supply of hemp oil medicine to disadvantaged people.
PHB profits would be used on expanding regional storage facilities, research, education, health and happiness building, holistic healing programs, and maintaining the industrial hemp price as low as possible – while still being generous to the farmers. Gold and silver would also be purchased to partially secure the bank with interchangeable currency while hard stocks of industrial and food hemp materials, and medicinal hemp oil are steadily increased. Individuals could deposit funds into the PHB and earn standard interest, yet they would also be able to redeem the deposits for real materials essential and useful.
The PHB could be the nation’s true insurance against the uncertainties of the global financial system. If and when the uncertainties of the greed economy finally hit home, the people of the nation will be able to redeem their investment in real and useful goods such as food, cloth and fibre materials, building materials and hemp-crete, hemp fuel, the earth’s best medicine, seed-stock etc. Individuals could grow their own hemp for personal use. Commercial scale private growing of medicinal hemp would be discouraged because of the low returns, availability at low price, with little enforcement needed. There would be virtually no black market. Given the value of the PHB to the people, the people would be the policers of regulations.
There is plenty of emerging science on the health benefits and medicinal applications of hemp. If the nation’s average use of medicinal hemp bud oil for preventative and curative use was 0.5 gram per day per person, national usage would be 11,500,000 grams x $1.50 x 365 = $6.3 billion per annum. At a rough guess I suggest this would reduce by 1/2 our total personal and governmental expenditure on health, estimated to be $150 billion, being a saving of $75 billion, net $68.7B p.a. We would be healthier, happier, and more productive as a nation. Of this $6.3B the bulk of the residual profit would remain in the hands of the people through the Peoples’ Hemp Bank, with generous taxes paid to state and federal governments, a healthy price paid to farmers, and reasonable retail distribution profits. For Australians who would lose current employment treating disease ineffectively, there would be creative, productive opportunities enhancing community health practices, as well as creating sustainable wealth in industrial or medical hemp production, processing and product manufacturing. This is win-win for everyone, except multinational pharmaceutical companies, and medical technology companies.
Not a difficult decision….
I haven’t touched on the more delicate issue of protecting children, and the side-effects experienced by a small portion of people. That will take further more complex debate, however the essential points are covered in the documentaries I refer to above. The reader has to make enquiry and do study of their own to share my conclusions passionately. This is such an important issue, every Australian should encourage every other Australian to do the research. I wanted to focus in this article on the big clear issues, so that if the concerns are considered, we remember the total cost of not thinking we are intelligent enough to manage them.
I am also not promoting the smoking of hemp. Hemp oil is an oral medicine. In 1937, 40% of all modern medicines had hemp bud oil in them. Prohibition of hemp oil is simply a measure to protect the profits of the pharmaceutical industry.
In an honest, open, intelligent society surely educating and encouraging the proper use of the most effective natural medicines, able to be grown locally or in-house, is the simplest, most efficiently viable, low cost, most responsible health and well-being approach possible for every family, community and country.
Because of its legal situation, the hugely inflated cost, and a lack of real understanding and education on the matter, the smoking of the medicine in an unrefined state is the reality of current use in our society. As raw buds contain 80-90% non-medically active organic material, for health reasons (legalities aside), it would therefore be preferable for those who currently smoke the raw buds to switch to vapourising oil or resin, or ingest the buds or oil, rather than smoking this material.
About the author:
My past is irrelevant. What matters is whether we can work together to create a better future. Life begins at 60, so some wise ones have said, and I agree in that I now know who I am and can understand this life and my purpose. I am a person who hopes to make a significant difference from here on.
I have a peak concept; The People’s Hemp Bank which I reckon is worthy of intelligent scrutiny and debate. I intend to continue singing and dancing songs of freedom and peace, while educating my audience, collecting signatures for my petitions (in Martin Place Sydney and elsewhere) and progressing my ideas as far as possible, before my journey here ends.
For more information, email Gary Anderson at email@example.com
BY JANET PATTON
A Central Kentucky man broke hemp with a hand brake circa 1920.
A Central Kentucky man broke hemp with a hand brake circa 1920.