Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Last Remaining California Marijuana & Hemp Legalization Attempt Seeks $2M

By Thomas H. Clarke

Last Remaining California Marijuana Legalization Attempt Seeks $2M

SAN JOSE, CA — With the  California Cannabis Hemp Initiative falling short of its signature gathering goal and supporters of two other marijuana legalization initiatives deciding to wait until 2016, the last remaining ballot initiative attempt to legalize marijuana in 2014 says they need $2 million to gather the necessary signatures to put the proposal before voters.
The Marijuana Control, Legalization & Revenue Act, has until April 18 to gather more than 500,000 valid voter signatures, and is the only remaining initiative working to get the legalization of marijuana and hemp on the California November 2014 ballot.
“The only thing that stands in the way of legalization in 2014 is money, and it’s not a lot,” says San Jose dispensary operator Dave Hodges, a proponent of the measure. . “It will take an additional $2 million dollars to cover the signature gathering costs.”
“We know it can be done,” says Hodges. “The last time legalization was on the ballot the signature gathering firm collected all the signatures needed in about two weeks. If we can raise the money needed in the next three weeks, we can ensure Californian voters have a chance to make their decision in 2014.”
The Marijuana Control, Legalization & Revenue Act was approved for signature gathering earlier this month, and launched its petition drive in Southern California on February 8.  The measure has since continued to receive widespread support from activists, volunteers and citizens statewide.
“We can’t wait until 2016 and the polls indicate that the voters don’t want to wait,” stated Degé Coutee,  President of the Patient Advocacy Network in Los Angeles. ”California is moving backward with medical marijuana and the passage of MCLR in 2014 will protect patients and collectives now.”
The proposal, if it makes the ballot and is approved by voters, would legalize adult cultivation of 12 marijuana plants with six flowering per residence and allow possession of all the marijuana produced by those plants.
Hemp would also be legalized, non-violent pot prisoners’ cases would be reviewed for release and expungement, and commercial regulations would be promulgated.
For over a year Americans for Policy Reform, the group behind MCLR, has been working with thousands of Californians on a grassroots, “open source” document to legalize Marijuana for medical, industrial and adult social use. Through its open, inclusive process, MCLR has the support of dozens of attorneys and thousands of marijuana activists.
Supporters of marijuana legalization can donate to the Marijuana Control, Legalization & Revenue Act at
“Any donation via the MCLR website will help,” says John Lee, Founder of Americans for Policy Reform.
“We are calling on all marijuana users& supporters to help make 2014 happen,” added Hodges.
For further information regarding the campaign including how to volunteer or contribute, please visit

Need to be leaders in hemp revolution


Last week I spoke about the potential of industrial hemp as the best way to diversify the economy of the lower Macquarie Valley and the timing couldn’t have been better.
Just a few days later national news items began appearing on how the USA had lifted a ban on growing hemp for human consumption and universities across the country were looking to set up trial crops and processing facilities.
My resolve to promote the Macquarie as a leader in the hemp industry revolution was strengthened after attending a Monday meeting of natural resource managers and a course over Tuesday and Wednesday where the main focus of conversation was about how tight any grant funding was going to be during the next few years which will make it tough to bring in state and federal dollars to the regions.
This is why we have to speak with one voice and, while asking for government assistance, be prepared to tell all levels of decision makers how we also plan to help ourselves.
There are plenty of people who’ve spent the past couple of decades banging their heads against a wall pushing the case, now I’m hoping we can harness much of that effort and put our hand up to be the valley where a diverse range of planting and processing trials can be staged.
This will put our region in the spotlight as well as placing farmers and town-based workers in the box seat once the industry becomes commercially viable.
The daily news cycle is looking at the losses in Australian manufacturing jobs, just another major reason why hemp has to be sold as an industry where many business models can potentially be set up, utilising Australia labour and remain cost effective.
Hemp could be the breeding ground to recoup the nation’s manufacturing jobs base.
Our farmers can harvest, mow and cut crops as effectively as any others in the world and our local cotton gins are proof that this area can process raw agricultural product to a certain stage.
Through local trials a few years ago we already know our farmers can grow fantastic crops in the area.
Hemp would provide opportunities for manufacturing paper products, an industry which still exists in this country and is under increasing environmental pressure to stop cutting down trees.
Other products include hempcrete, insulation and wood replacement in the building industry along with myriad health lotions and lubricating oils. None of these require enormous investment in processing plants and no reinventing the wheel, it’s carried out across the world in many locations.
This means diversification of production from large-scale industrial factories down to one-person cottage industries selling online or at farmers’ markets.
Already trials have been successful showing current cotton gins can process hemp so there’s the chance those capital intensive pieces of infrastructure we already have can extend their working seasons, employ workers for longer periods and provide better returns for investors, as well as pump extra cash into local communities.
What it means is that we’re not putting all our eggs in one basket.
The valley which pushes the hardest at this stage may well be the one that becomes the centre of gravity for this exciting ‘new’ industry.
Let’s capitalise on the fact that most other areas in Australia seem to have put this issue in the too hard basket and work collectively to be a leader.
Email federal member Mark Coulton calling on him to lobby PM Tony Abbott to overturn the human consumption ban on hemp food products, and email state MPs Kevin Humphries and Troy Grant calling for a research grant to set up a trial processing plant in one of our towns.
And also to remove the crazy burden of paperwork and compliance on growers for sowing a crop which is not an illicit drug.

Hemp as Indiana's next cash crop?

Editorial: Tribune-Star, Terre Haute. Feb. 23, 2014.
State's next cash crop?
It's historical. It was cultivated in Mesopotamia as early as 8000 B.C.
It's resilient. It was widely used to make ships' rigging, sails, tents, ropes, parachute webbing and military uniforms.
It's patriotic. Betsy Ross is said to have used material made from it in the first U.S. flag from it.
It's artistic. Rembrandt and Van Gogh painted on canvases made from it.
It's newsmaking. The colonists printed our fledgling nation's first newspapers on paper made from it — paper that can last hundreds of years without degrading.
It's documented. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution on paper made from it.
It's presidential. George Washington grew it and encouraged all citizens of his era to sow it widely.
It's fuel-efficient. Rudolph Diesel is said to have extracted its oil to power his engines.
It's environmental. Paper made from it can be recycled many more times than paper made from trees, and cultivating it for paper takes fewer toxic chemicals during manufacturing than does paper made from trees.
It's all that.
And it's banned in Indiana and 39 other states.
It's hemp, a fast-growing, copiously spreading commodity that a reporter in our newspaper last week called "pot's less potent cousin."
The cousin connection is that hemp comes from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, as marijuana. But it lacks the drug effects that pot packs. The science of the matter says that hemp, compared with pot, contains much, much, much less THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical that induces a marijuana high. Hemp typically contains less than 0.33 percent THC, compared with 20 to 30 percent in marijuana.
Despite this significant difference, hemp was banned as part of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. That came after hemp had been widely cultivated and used for decades in the United States, including for many products, military and domestic, during World War II. During World War I, Indiana was among states growing hemp.
Now, as mellower perspectives are prevailing, 10 states have legalized hemp.
More states may soon follow suit, because the new federal farm bill, passed by Congress on Feb. 4 and signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 7, will let universities and state agriculture departments start industrial hemp research programs. But only in states in which hemp is legal.
Indiana needs to become state No. 11 to legalize hemp production — because of hemp's amazing versatility as a source of a wide range of commodities, its ability to grow like a weed (because it is one) in all sorts of ground, and because there are millions of dollars for Hoosier farmers and businesses to cash in on from hemp sales.
An advocacy group called Vote Hemp estimates the U.S. market for hemp at $500 million in annual sales. Our southern neighbor, Kentucky, a hemp-legal state, appears ready to begin to tap into that market. Just last Monday its agriculture commissioner announced five state university projects to test whether planting hemp on sites formerly poisoned by industrial toxins — brownfields — can decontaminate the soil.
Hemp growth in our state and others could help meet a domestic need in which American-grown hemp could drastically cut into the $11.5 million in hemp products that our nation imported in 2011, according to The Associated Press.
In Indiana, it is legal to import hemp, as does an Elkhart County business that spends $1 million a year to import hemp for use inside auto doors and armrests. Yes, it is legal to import hemp to Indiana, but not to grow it.
That appears about to change. Advancing in the Indiana Legislature is a bill that would allow hemp to be grown as "an agricultural product . subject to regulation by the state."
Under that bill, hemp growers and handlers would have to be licensed, the Indiana State Police would regularly visit hemp fields to test that they meet the agricultural definition, and other stringent standards would have to be achieved and maintained.
The bill passed the Indiana Senate, 48-0, on Feb. 3 and has been sent to the House of Representatives' Agriculture and Rural Development committee. Fortunately, Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Seelyille, is vice chairman of that House committee, and Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, is a minority member. We hope both help advance the bill to the House floor and ultimately to the governor for his signature.
The bill seems to have wide bipartisan support, which it should, because it is not a partisan issue.
Hemp is not pot. Hemp is a cash crop with the potential to help Indiana's farmers, its manufacturers, its workers, its economy, its ecology and its employment numbers.
Hemp should become legal in Indiana, so our state can join Kentucky and nine other states in sowing its seeds and reaping its benefits.

Bill To Allow Nebraska Industrial Hemp Farms Passed in Committee


LINCOLN, Neb. -- In a 7-0 vote with Sen. Al Davis not voting, the judiciary committee advances Sen. Norm Wallman's priority bill (LB 1001) to allow Nebraska to use industrial hemp as a commodity.
"I'm excited and I think we can work it on the floor and I think it will be good for Nebraska. It's another alternative crop. Now we import some of this stuff from China and we'll just grow it here," said Wallman.
LB 1001 would allow industrial hemp to be planted, grown, harvest and sold in the state.
"I think it can really help small America and that's why I introduced it and hopefully it can help somebody," said Wallman.
If a farmer wants to plant this hemp they would have to pass a criminal history check and pay $150 
 for a license.
This industrial hemp can only contain less than 1-percent THC.
The next step for this bill is to hit the floor sometime this session to be debated on.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How hemp can help



What if there was some kind of super crop that cured fatal diseases such as cancer and epilepsy, made great building materials, was a renewable eco-friendly resource and could seriously bring in some money?
There is such a thing, but our government spends $8.7 billion a year enforcing laws against it (that amount of money can fund more than 1.5 million Pell grants for college students, FYI.)
It is called cannabis and it is one little plant with a million possibilities.
Firstly, marijuana treats countless diseases better than most pharmaceuticals, and with far less chemicals entering the body. Medical marijuana stops the growth of cancer cells, decreases pain and increases appetite inHIV/AIDS patients, lowers intraocular pressure in those suffering from glaucoma, acts as a phenomenal sleep aid to insomniacs and the list goes on.
Popular arguments, though, are that consuming tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) will lead to psychological or social problems. However, there is currently no evidence that directly links marijuana to be the cause of such issues. Also many believe that marijuana kills brain cells, but in reality it stimulates the growth of new ones.
The cannabis plant is not only useful for medicinal purposes though, it also produces hemp, which is the strongest natural fiber in the world. Hemp is the non-psychoactive part of the plant and is nature’s answer for textiles, fuel, building material, paper, oil, food and nutrition. Just imagine the money you would save pumping hemp seed oil into your car instead of gasoline, or heating your home with it instead of using coal or oil.
It can totally eradicate our dependence on these rapidly disappearing resources and is better for both your pocket and the planet. Hemp can even be a substitute for plastic, creating a stronger, natural, biodegradable “plastic.”
The best part is that growing cannabis to harvest hemp is completely eco-friendly.
Using hemp to build instead of wood or concrete puts less strain on the environment.
Hemp can grow in almost any kind of environment, grows quickly, prevents soil erosion, does not require herbicides or pesticides and also converts more CO2 into oxygen than trees.
So aside from medicinal and industrial reasons, would legalizing marijuana help in any other ways?
The answer is yes, legalization can truly do financial wonders. Ever since the plant was legalized in Colorado for recreational purposes, the state has saved anywhere between $12 and $40 million in just one year by simply removing criminal penalties for possessing it.
They are also taxing it 25 percent, bringing in extra millions. Needless to say, I am 100 percent for Pennsylvania legalizing pot. Legalization would without a doubt help Pennsylvania’s sick and suffering, make us a more environmentally friendly state, and would boost our economy tremendously.
Someone is arrested every 37 seconds for marijuana possession, which is far more than arrests for every violent crime combined. 
Think police should be focusing on far more serious offenses? How will that affect your future voting?

Easing back into the ethanol world with news of hemp

By Holly Jessen

Hello, Ethanol Producer Magazine readers. It has been a while since I have written anything about ethanol or, honestly, even thought about ethanol.
Now I’m back at work, learning to balance my new role as mother and my job as managing editor of EPM. I definitely feel like I have a lot of catching up to do to get back on top of what’s going on in the ethanol world. After writing about ethanol exclusively for nearly four years it does feel strange to have missed so much.
As I was scanning the thousands of emails I received while I was out, a couple in particular caught my eye. One was from Vote Hemp, a nonprofit organization working to legalize growing industrial hemp in the U.S. Hemp is far from the first thing to come to mind when most people think about ethanol. However, there is one biofuels company, Patriot Bioenergy Corp., that sees value in hemp as a biomass energy crop. In January, the company released a whitepaper on the subject.
I first wrote about hemp the first time I worked for BBI International, when I wrote a feature story for the February 2007 issue of Biodiesel Magazine, called “Hemp Biodiesel: When the Smoke Clears.” Not a lot has been written about biodiesel production from hemp oil so I still occasionally hear from people that want more information. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything more I can tell them because hemp biodiesel hasn’t become a commercial reality and, secondly, farmers could still get arrested for growing it in the U.S.
Hemp is an extremely misunderstood crop. People confuse it with marijuana but, although the plants have the same plant genus name of Cannabis, hemp doesn’t get you high. Vote Hemp lays out and knocks down various myths about hemp at its website.
Still, progress to clear the way for a free market for industrial hemp has been slow. In early February, President Obama signed the farm bill, which included an amendment that would allow industrial hemp to be grown in the U.S. for research purposes. It’s a small step forward in a long fight to legalize industrial hemp, even though the plant was grown in the U.S. during WWII to produce products like rope and other war materials.
Also in early February, Patriot Bioenergy announced it intends to work with the U.S. EPA on classifying hemp as a biomass feedstock for the production of transportation fuel, such as cellulosic ethanol or possibly butanol. The company previously announced it would undertake a research study on the viability of blending hemp pellets with coal for power generation. “We are energized by the potential of hemp and we believe it can underpin the rural economies of Appalachia by both strengthening fossil fuels and building new energy and manufacturing opportunities,” said Roger Ford, CEO of Patriot Bioenergy, adding that “industrial hemp is an extremely versatile biomass feedstock with thousands of applications.”

South Dakota lawmaker expects another push for hemp

The Associated Press

One of the South Dakota lawmakers behind a failed effort to ease restrictions on hemp production said he expects the issue to come before the Legislature again next year.
A resolution urging the federal government to reconsider hemp's status as a controlled substance and recognize its viability as a crop was approved overwhelmingly in the state House but failed in the Senate last week.
"Next year, we'll probably see another bill come forward," said Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, who co-authored this year's resolution with Rep. Elizabeth May, R-Kyle. "As people get educated on it and understand more, I see it not being a problem in the future."
Hemp is a non-hallucinogenic cousin to marijuana, but federal law doesn't distinguish between the two. That means farmers can't grow the plant that can be used for a variety of products, from rope to lotion.
"It's a pretty versatile crop that, if you had it here in South Dakota, it could spur further agriculture-related businesses, just for the processing of it," Nelson told the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan ( ).
A provision in the new federal farm bill allows for research plots of hemp in the 10 states that permit its cultivation. North Dakota is one, but South Dakota isn't. North Dakota State University in Fargo has long wanted to research the crop.
Peter Sexton, supervisor of the South Dakota State University Research Farm near Beresford, said he questions whether hemp could be a viable crop.
"I know there's a market on the fibers for making cloth and rope, the seeds can be crushed for oil, but I don't really think those things are really going to be competitive with synthetic sources," Sexton said. "There's a lot of things that can be grown when you're looking at new crops, but the limiting factor is the economics of whether there's a big enough market to justify the startup costs."
Retail sales of imported hemp products in the U.S. total about $500 million annually, according to the Vote Hemp nonprofit advocacy group.
Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan,

Read more here:

Birthday Present for George Washington: Bring Hemp Back to Mt. Vernon

A New Posting by Stephen Young on the Bryan William Brickner Blog

Hemp and whiskey on George Washington’s Birthday – and farms – are the focus of a new essay by Stephen Young, producer of Government Grown (2009) and part of Publius and The Cannabis Papers (2011). Young notes attempts are underway to reproduce Washington’s whiskey at Mt. Vernon and suggests replanting his fields of hemp as well.

Press Release

George Washington’s 282nd birthday and hemp’s colonial and current popularity are the focus of a new posting on the Bryan William Brickner blog by Stephen Young.
Young produced the 2009 hemp documentary, Government Grown: How Polo Illinois Helped Win the War, and authored Maximizing Harm: Losers and Winners in the Drug War (2000). The documentary film tells the story of how the US government needed hemp during WW II and built a hemp industry, part of which is still standing in Polo, Illinois. Young’s book noted that policies supporting the prohibition of drugs, and thereby a hemp economy, often made matters worse and not better.
In “Birthday Present for George Washington: Bring Hemp Back to Mt. Vernon,” Young connects Washington’s farming to his fondness for hemp and whiskey: “As initially reported by Reason a couple years ago, a group is using Washington’s historical recipes and methods in an effort to accurately recreate his whiskey. But I propose a more family-oriented way to relive the past that gives a different sense of Washington’s entrepreneurial spirit: bring back hemp to Mt. Vernon.”
Young continued: “As noted in The Cannabis Papers, Washington succeeded at his hemp business, and he expressed interest in it that seemed to go beyond mere profit. Washington described visiting the hemp plots regularly and seemed disappointed when he missed parts of the growing cycle.”
“That interest is easy to understand today,” Young added: “Hemp was crucial to the colonies and the new states; hemp could be crucial now to our economy, if only it were allowed to be grown by American farmers. There’s no better place to start a new – hemp – tradition than at Mt. Vernon.”
Young’s article appears on the Bryan William Brickner blog, an ongoing resource for the political science of constitutions and the biological science of cannabinoids.

Bill Would Legalize Industrial Hemp in South Carolina

By Robert Kittle

These hemp seeds at a local health food store came from Canada, since it's illegal to grow hemp 
in most U.S. states.

A bill making its way through the South Carolina Statehouse would legalize growing industrial hemp in the state. Hemp is the same species of plant as marijuana, so it was outlawed when marijuana was.
But botanist Dr. John Nelson at the University of South Carolina Herbarium says, "There's definitely a genetic difference between the industrial fiber source and what people are growing for the drug use, whether it's legal or illegal. The thing is, it's the same species but there can be some pretty profound genetic differences."
Hemp contains only small amounts of THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the mind-altering chemical found in marijuana. Dr. Nelson says, "If there was a field of this industrial hemp plant, you can't really get high from smoking that anyway, just because there's not much of the compound within the foliage."
Industrial hemp is useful for its stalk and fibers throughout the plant, while marijuana is used just for its leaves and buds.
The bill at the Statehouse is sponsored by two of the most conservative senators there, Republicans Kevin Bryant of Anderson and Lee Bright of Spartanburg. But supporters say besides the fact that industrial hemp is different from marijuana, it could also mean big bucks for the state if it's legalized.
Wayne Borders, president of the state chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says, "The Hemp Industries Association has actually estimated for 2012 that the retail value of hemp in the United States that was sold and transferred was about $500 million." Since it's illegal to grow hemp in most states, most of that money went to other countries.
Ten states have already legalized growing hemp: California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. Eleven others, including South Carolina, have bills pending to legalize it.
Hemp can be used for: food, like hemp seeds and protein powders; fibers to make clothing, shoes, and jewelry; bio-fuels; and in the building industry, since hemp can be used to make insulation and its fibers can be used to strengthen other building materials.
Pee Dee senators say some farmers who are growing less tobacco are interested in growing industrial hemp.
The bill was passed by a Senate subcommittee Thursday. That means it now goes to full committee. If it passes there it goes on to the full Senate and then on to the House.

Farm Bill promotes hemp growth


Ted Warren/AP Photo Maija Szmanowski works at a stand in Seattle that sells products made with industrial hemp grown in Canada. A recent farm bill could help bring the industry to Kentucky.
Maija Szmanowski works at a stand in Seattle that sells 
products made with industrial hemp grown in Canada. 
A recent farm bill could help bring the industry to Kentucky.

Industrial hemp could be another growing source of revenue in Kentucky.
Alongside four other universities, Murray State has been selected by the Department of Agriculture to pilot projects concerning the product.
On Feb. 14, President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill, which contained Kentucky Republican senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul’s amendment to allow states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law to do so.
Prior to this signing, Kentucky joined 32 other states last April by passing pro-hemp legislation, legalizing hemp production in the Commonwealth.
Since that time, senators McConnell and Paul have pushed federal legislation by petitioning the Drug Enforcement Administration to allow Kentucky to grow hemp. Growing the crop, although removed of its psychoactive agent, is still considered a federal crime.
Now, Murray State, Kentucky State University, the University of Louisville, the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University have been charged with examining, testing and planting test hemp crops to study their ability to remove environmental toxins, as renewable energy and in medical research among other uses.
Murray State specifically will oversee the study of the hemp fiber.
Tony Brannon, Dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, said he is pleased Murray State was selected to be involved in the pilot hemp research trials in Kentucky.
He said since discussion of allowing the cultivation of hemp in Kentucky’s institutions of higher learning and state departments began, he and Murray State had been in contact with the KDA and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer.
Brannon said pioneering pilot hemp research is in line with the Hutson School of Agriculture’s mission.
He said he also recognizes the school’s important mission to enhance the agricultural, educational and economic opportunities for the farmers and people of the service region.
“As part of our West Kentucky AgBioworks initiative, one of our objectives is to identify, study and conduct initial trials of alternative niche crops that capitalize on Kentucky’s unique capabilities for growing and handling specialized crops,” he said.
Brannon also cited Murray State’s recent endeavors through the BioEnergy Demonstration Center researching new crop opportunities on the University farms such as energy beets, sweet sorghum, energy sorghum, miscanthus, switch grass and kenaf, as precedent for their involvement in this project.
He said there is much more planning to be done before the research program can begin and he expects the KDA to begin holding meetings with all partners in the next month to finalize all the details by the end of March.
All universities are scheduled to begin their given projects on March 31.
This pilot project will be the state’s first legal hemp production in more than 50 years. Each project will be paid for through private contributions, according to the bill.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NDSU to Research Hemp Options With New Federal Farm Bill

By Caleb Werness


President Obama recently signed a $1 trillion federal farm bill granting colleges and universities permission to study industrial hemp, and North Dakota is one of 10 states that are currently allowed to produce the crop.
Although North Dakota is one of few states that can grow hemp, it does not see a large harvest due to a mass of regulations.
Burton Johnson, professor of plant sciences and a crop production agronomist, emphasized these regulations. “The issue is that farmers have many restrictions on where and how they can grow it,” Johnson said. Johnson said industrial hemp plants may look like hemp cannabis marijuana, depending on the variety.
For most farmers, these regulations are more trouble­some to deal with than the benefits of planting hemp.
Hemp contains 0.3 to 1.5 percent tetrahydrocannabi­noids, or THC, the hallucinatory agent that gives marijuana its intoxicating effects, compared to five to 10 percent or more found in marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Agency has a high number of regulations on the growth of hemp due to its relation to marijuana. Officials claim it can make drug enforcement difficult.
The Hemp Industries Association estimated the hemp market’s value in 2012 at more than $500 million. The U.S. currently imports hemp from Canada rather than growing it in mass on its own.
Hemp has been in North Dakota news recently due to the crop being brought to universities across the country, includ­ing NDSU. Universities will test the plant for its economic benefits. “(NDSU’s role is) to research industrial hemp, to test its growing capabilities in different parts of the state to see if it is a viable option,” Johnson said.
President Obama recently signed the latest farm bill that will allow colleges and universities to find ways to effec­tively grow hemp on an industrial level. Researchers at NDSU, however, began their preliminary studies over the last 15 years and have found that hemp may have large economic benefits. This new opening in the mar­ket could provide a wealthy boom to the economy.
David Ripplinger, assistant professor in agribusiness and applied economics, cited the positive results of the research, and said he believes the opportunity is likely still there. “What NDSU would do is look at different varieties of industrial hemp grown in other countries around the world, varieties that are well suited to North Dakota,” Ripplinger said. Ripplinger is also North Dakota’s bioenergy and bio­products specialist.
One way hemp is used is for its strong fibers. Hemp fi­bers are 10 times stronger than cotton, and it can grow in less-friendly conditions. Hemp seeds also produce protein-rich oil that can be used for different products, including food. If the research proves conclusive, additional steps toward progress may occur.
“Industrial hemp has different varieties, which can be used for different purposes so we look at that,” Ripplinger said. “So likely, in the long run if deemed a viable industry, develop varieties of our own.”
However, getting hemp to be a potentially mass-pro­duced crop in North Dakota will, more than likely, not occur soon. It will take some considerable time for the DEA to outline and reduce restrictions and for researchers to pro­duce their results.
“There is a concern that an industrial hemp plant, de­pending on the variety, might look just like hemp cannabis, the psychotropic drug known as marijuana. The DEA wants to manage that,” Ripplinger said.
“I imagine it is going to take them months if not years to develop their own regulations. That way, United States Drug Administration and DEA can manage research and make sure they have their rules in place before they allow anyone to do this.”

New farm bill has Hemp-trepeneurs seeing green

Press Release

BOSTONFeb. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Hempest, a Boston based chain of hemp clothing stores, has their sites set on greener pastures, and according to them, nothing is greener than industrial hemp.  Since 1995, the company has offered a plethora of hemp goods for men and women, as well as hemp accessories, food and body care.  Their website,, boasts "the largest selection of hemp clothing on the planet". is hoping to use US grown hemp in their hemp clothing line.

Until now, The Hempest has been forced to depend on industrial hemp grown in China to manufacture their clothing line, but all that may be about to change.  The new farm bill, signed into law earlier this month by President Obama, has in it an amendment, which relaxes the restrictions on growing and researching industrial hemp.  According to the amendment, individual states that have passed bills allowing hemp to be grown, will now be allowed to do so under federal law.   One of the states with such legislation is Vermont, which is also home to a Hempest outpost in the state's largest city of Burlington.

According to Hempest owner Mitch Rosenfield, the Green Mountain State may be about to get greener.  "We are actively seeking to acquire land for the purpose of growing hemp in the state of Vermont." Rosenfield said, "Hemp is one of the only industries that is both economically and ecologically viable, and we believe it would be a great fit for the farmers of Vermont.  Hemp requires no pesticides or chemical fertilizers. It improves soil and air quality, and leaves the land in better condition than when it arrived.  Hemp is a great bio-mass crop and can be used for fuel, food, fiber, building materials and more."

Though it may be premature to say whether American grown industrial hemp will be economically viable, The Hempest has managed to thrive on it for 18 years, and now reaches customers all over the world looking for hemp and organic clothing.    

"It seems everyday you see another story in the news about climate change, chemical spills, oil spills, and pollution.", added Rosenfield,  "Here we have a whole industry staring us in the face that counteracts all those things, creates a cleaner environment, and creates jobs doing it.  Seems like a no-brainer to me."

Kentucky announces 5 hemp pilot projects

By Gregory A. Hall

AP Farm Bill Hemp
Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin harvests hemp during the first known harvest of the plant in more than 60 years, on Loflin's farm in Springfield, Colo., on Oct. 5, 2013, The federal farm bill agreement reached Monday Jan. 27, 2014, reverses decades of prohibition for hemp cultivation. Instead of requiring approval from federal drug authorities to cultivate the plant, the 10 states that have authorized hemp would be allowed to grow it in pilot projects or at colleges and universities for research. On Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, Kentucky announced five hemp pilot projects.(Photo: P. Solomon Banda, AP)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky's first legal hemp production in at least 50 years will include five projects in conjunction with state universities to test whether the crop can help clean soil on former industrial sites, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said Monday.
Each of the projects will be paid for through private contributions and will focus on different possibilities for hemp, which has long been illegal in the United States along with marijuana — its more potent cousin. A provision in the new farm bill allows for the pilot projects.
In Louisville, Ky., the state's Department of Agriculture will oversee hemp farming on an as-yet-undetermined former industrial site to see whether the the crop can help clean tainted soil.
The project is expected to be in conjunction with the University of Louisville, Comer said, adding that more projects could be authorized. University of Louisville spokesman Mark Hebert said the university hasn't agreed to its role yet but said officials plan to talk more with Comer and city officials about how the university can help research new ways to reclaim polluted property.
Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said hemp can help pull many contaminants out of the soil of former industrial sites, a valuable step toward potentially redeveloping so-called brownfields.
Poynter confirmed that Comer and Fischer talked in recent weeks and that Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad has consented to the idea of a pilot effort, though no site has been decided.
"The mayor is interested in anything that can help us remediate brownfields, and this could be a pretty innovative, unique way to do it," Poynter said.
Research first
Comer hopes that the farm bill will allow hemp production for sale, not just research, but he said his staff is researching the question with Attorney General Jack Conway.
"When we get that question answered, that's going to determine how much hemp's planted," Comer said.
But the first year of hemp production probably will focus on research and development, he said.
"You're not going to see any major industries spring up, I don't think, because we've got a lot of research and development to do, from a basic agriculture production standpoint, before we can really encourage farmers to move (forward) with this," he said.
Despite the lack of details, Comer said he made the announcement Monday because some of the initial projects involve Eastern Kentucky, and he was in Knott County to announce a new agricultural marketing initiative.
The other projects:
• A study of a "Kentucky heirloom hemp seed" at a plot in Eastern Kentucky. The project will work with what is believed to be old Kentucky hemp seed, in conjunction with Kentucky State University and the department's Homegrown by Heroes program for military veteran farmers.
• A Western Kentucky effort, in conjunction with Murray State University, to examine how well European seed for hemp grows in Kentucky.
• A Central Kentucky pilot program, with the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University, focused on basic agricultural issues involved in industrial hemp production. Those include production cost and machinery for planting, harvesting and transportation.
• A second project through the University of Kentucky will focus on cultivating hemp in Eastern Kentucky for medical research.
Comer spokeswoman Holly VonLuehrte said farmers will be able to sign up through the Agriculture Department's website and be linked to one of the university-affiliated pilot programs that will grow the hemp. The department will administer the program, while the universities will conduct the research.
Questions remain
Hemp once was legal and did well in Kentucky, which was the nation's dominant producer in the mid-19th century, according to a University of Kentucky study last year, before the plant's fiber lost out to cotton and other imports.
That study questioned the modern potential of hemp in Kentucky, saying it could be profitable for farmers in some areas — but not all — and probably wouldn't result immediately in the thousands of new jobs that supporters predict.
The study said hemp's greatest potential is cultivating its seeds as an ingredient in food, fuel, paint and personal-care products.
Questions about the extent of the market for hemp products may not be answered by the pilot projects, Comer said. But he said he hopes that early involvement might result in Kentucky's being among the first states to increase hemp production, which would encourage processors to locate in the state and lead to more jobs.
"We have farmers that ... don't expect to make a penny on it," he said of the pilot projects, but will participate "to help with the cause, because they believe in it."
The pilot projects are made possible by a provision in the new farm bill that President Barack Obama signed into law. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader from Kentucky, worked with a farm bill conference committee to get the pilot project language.
Last year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 50, championed by Comer and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to provide a regulatory framework for hemp production in Kentucky — should the federal government legalize it.
Nine other states allow the cultivation of hemp: California, Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.
Contributing: The Associated Press