Thursday, February 26, 2015

Organic hemp supply can’t meet demand

Industry experts say organic hemp is a ‘big opportunity’ and commands almost double the price of its conventionally grown cousin

hemp leaf

The opportunities are big these days for the growers of organic hemp, says the executive director of Organic Alberta.
“We are seeing very strong growth in the organic sector with 58 per cent of Canadians buying organic on a weekly basis,” said Becky Lipton. “Organic hemp is right up there as one of the top commodities in high demand, and commanding a premium of close to double.”
In 2013, there were 66,000 acres in hemp production in Canada, and that number jumped to 100,000 acres last year — with 40 per cent of production in Alberta. This year, the hemp food manufacturer Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods expects production to remain stable or decline slightly.
“Over the last few years, hemp producers have experienced exceptionally good production,” said Clarence Shwaluk, director of farm operations at Manitoba Harvest. “While we expect overall hemp production could soften just a little, we expect there will be increasing production of organic hemp because of the demand.”
Organic hemp will be one of the topics examined at Organic Alberta’s annual conference in Beaumont on Feb. 27-28.
The conference theme is Sowing Success: Farming for People, Planet, and Profit. Organic hemp seed processors, marketers and researchers will be at the conference to guide both conventional and organic farmers through specialized organic hemp marketing and production sessions.
Shwaluk will discuss the latest market demand for organic hemp, and how farmers can participate.
“Hemp demand is driven by the demand for healthy food and healthy lifestyles,” he said. “There’s a big opportunity for organic hemp as there simply isn’t enough supply to meet the demand.”
In another hemp-focused session, Jan Slaski, senior researcher and program leader at Alberta Innovates–Technology Futures, will explain what farmers need to know about growing organic hemp, including best practices and new research. To register, go or call 855-521-2400 toll free.

Crop insurance coverage grows, adds hemp


REGINA — Saskatchewan is increasing crop insurance coverage to its second-highest level ever, with hemp added to its list of insurable crops.

On average, coverage levels are increasing to $183 per acre, up from $162 per acre in 2014. Premiums are going down to an average of $7.06 per acre from $7.47 in 2014.

As well, the province’s crop insurance corporation will separate out the premium on unseeded acreage so producers get a clearer idea of what they’re paying for.

Announcing the changes, Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said he’s confident the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. was charging the right amount, but added, “we were unsure we were getting it from the right people.”

As a result, about 80 of producers insuring unseeded acres will see premiums fall.

Stewart said the addition of hemp reflects its growth — from just over 25,000 seeded acres in 2013 to over 40,000 last summer — and noted that other crops’ coverage has been successfully launched on even smaller areas.

Hemp legalization bill advances in Minnesota House

By Forum News Service

ST. PAUL -- An effort to legalize hemp in Minnesota continues.
A state House committee Wednesday unanimously approved a bill by Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, to allow limited hemp growth. Hemp farming has been illegal in Minnesota since shortly after World War II.
Franson's bill would allow hemp as a crop if the producer is licensed by the state Agriculture Department and follows federal law, which now only allows researchers to grow the plant.
Hemp is used for products ranging from ropes to clothes.
It was declared illegal due to its close relationship with marijuana, although using hemp would not make a person high.
Franson said Minnesota hemp farming has a lot of potential and her bill would develop "on a very small scale" the beginnings of a hemp industry in the state.
A similar Senate bill passed its first committee test last week.

Franson's bill authorizing Minnesota hemp production clears first committee

By Al Edenloff

A bill that would authorize industrial hemp to be produced as an agricultural crop and create a state regulatory structure for its production passed its first committee today.

House File 683, authored by Representative Mary Franson , R-Alexandria, was heard during Wednesday’s meeting of the Agriculture Policy Committee and passed with bipartisan support.
“I am excited to see this pro-jobs bill pass with broad support,” said Franson. “Minnesota has an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of an emerging industry that will have exceptional benefits for Greater Minnesota and our state as a whole. Not only would it open new opportunities for farmers and those in the agriculture industry, it would move our state toward allowing for local sourcing of many products made from hemp fibers. These fibers can be used in textiles, rope, food, clothing, paper, insulation, and building materials.”
The bill has been sent to the Government Operations and Elections Committee where it awaits its next hearing.

Petition Filed – Idaho’s New Approach To Marijuana (and hemp)


new approach idaho marijuana

A press release from my hardworking friends at New Approach Idaho:
New Approach Idaho is pleased to announce that we submitted a citizen’s initiative petition named “Idaho’s New Approach to Marijuana” to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office on Friday, February 20th, 2015.
It will be available for circulation at the beginning of April, 2015.
Our petition includes:
The Idaho Medical Marijuana Act, which will create a safe access program for Idaho’s qualified patients to utilize Marijuana as a beneficial medicine. The petition will allow for 12 plants, 3oz of usable marijuana, and medical marijuana organizations.
Decriminalization of 3 oz or less of marijuana for responsible adults, as well as Decriminalization of Marijuana related paraphernalia and a medical exclusion for qualified patients. This makes marijuana an infraction like a traffic ticket, with a fine, instead of a misdemeanor with jail time.
50% of all money collected through the fines from Marijuana and Paraphernalia related possession tickets will be made available to Idaho Public Schools through the Idaho Department of Education.
And an Industrial Hemp program to allow Idaho farmers to participate in the new “green rush” that has emerged through industrial hemp production throughout this country.
We need 6% of the voting population in 18 of Idaho’s legislative districts, or 6% of the general voting population in the state (which ever is greater), in order to get the petition on the ballot for voting in November 2016.
We need these signatures by the end of April 2016 and
Please help us get this petition on the ballot so that we can tell our government what we really want when it comes to Marijuana in Idaho.
~ RSVP to this event, invite your friends and family, and share the link!
~ Register to vote today so that you will be ready to sign the petition when it is released for circulation this April!
If you’ve moved, changed your name or it’s been over four years since the last time you registered/voted, chances are you probably need to register again.
You can download/print a voter reg card at or you can pick one up from your county’s elections clerks office.
Don’t worry, all the instructions on how to fill it out is attached to the card!
(If you do not know if you are registered to vote, you can also check your status at
~ Awareness is our greatest hurdle, and you our greatest asset in getting past that hurdle.
Please help us by telling everyone you can that the petition is coming and to get registered too!
~ Check out the petition page of our website to stay up to date -
(The petition will be uploaded soon for review and comment!)
~ Follow our facebook page -
~ Become a volunteer and help circulate the petition when it is ready! Join our volunteer group here to stay in the loop!
If your court ordered sentence is complete, you are free to register, sign petitions & vote!
Thank you for your help. If we combine our voices, we can finally make enough noise to bring logic and justice to Idaho’s archaic and harmful Marijuana Laws!
new approach idaho marijuana legalization

Hemp store to open, Jamaican alliance made

By Griffin Swartzell
Hemp from Granny
A pair of Park County paramedics are bringing hemp back. Karen Kinne and JoDee Weaver will soon open Colorado's first cultivation and retail hemp store, Granny's High Altitude Super Hemp (38321 Hwy. 24, Lake George).
"The [state] Department of Agriculture is just so excited for the hemp industry to come back," says Kinne. "It was a huge industry all the way up to the '50s. It was shut down when marijuana was classified as a Class I drug, and hemp went with it."
Legalized hemp production returned with Amendment 64 in 2012, and 2014 marked the first year of state-authorized cultivation of the plant, which is defined as cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC. The Agriculture Department had 130 registered hemp growers in the state as of December, but no retail hemp stores before Granny's.
Kinne says she and Weaver got into the business to work on the medical side, using CBD and cannabinol (CBN) extracts — think low-THC Charlotte's Web and its use as a treatment for seizures. Kinne also notes CBD and CBN are good for pain.
"As paramedics, we saw a lot of narcotics abused, intentionally and unintentionally," says Kinne. "We wanted to offer a product to give them another route, so to speak."
When Granny's opens March 21, its stock will include CBD oil cartridges and e-cigarettes (for customers 18 and up), but also essential oils, soaps, clothing, food and drinks — all made from hemp. Kinne says the department's agents will be visiting to make sure her hemp is up to standards. As for the general public, she and Weaver hope to offer tours of their all-organic growing facilities, Mozart and all — their plants listen to classical music from seed to cultivation.
"We've found with research that plants respond well to classical music," says Kinne. "Their CBD levels increase, as does their growth rate."
Roots research
Denver-based Ganja Labs, USA has teamed up with the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech), according to the Jamaica Observer. The plan, outlined in a memorandum of understanding, is to build a lab and greenhouse for research on MMJ in Jamaica. Long-term, the facility will act as a resource for the local industry.
"This collaboration will allow us to determine different unique marijuana strains that can be produced in the Jamaican environment, potentially enlarging the internationally recognized brand Jamaica," Dr. Claire Sutherland, UTech's senior director of international and institutional linkages, told the Observer. She added, "This partnership will ultimately have a positive influence on the livelihood and knowledge of small rural farmers by making knowledge of international best practices and standards available to them in this emerging legal environment and regulated industry in Jamaica."

Hemp - The non-alcoholic cultivar of cannabis


Marijuana, a cannabis strain, has two important components that determine the effect it has on the body. The two components are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – there are other cannabinoids as well, but these are especially important.

Without getting too technical, it is the THC that is responsible for the “high/stoned” feeling accompanied by the use of marijuana. The CBD in essence counteracts the psychoactive effects caused by THC. In addition to counteracting the effects of the THC, the CBD also alleviates inflammatory problems and has “pain-killing” properties. The CBD in marijuana is the main peanut in the pack responsible for the “medical” properties of marijuana. Basically the ratio of CBD to THC determines the potency of marijuana. Hemp is an excellent example of a cannabis cultivar with a low THC, high CBD content.

Hemp is the cannabis cultivar that the “pro-marijuana” News24 readers typically refer to when saying “marijuana” is a valuable commodity both medically and agriculturally. People refer to the superior biological attributes of hemp (“marijuana”) that make it more suitable for various industrial applications in comparison to the commonly used cotton plants or spruce trees. I am certainly not denying the hardened biological traits of hemp – this is where the non-alcoholic beer comparison enters the picture.

I presume all will concur with the fact that non-alcoholic beer is safer to use than alcoholic beer. Non-alcoholic beer is simply normal alcoholic beer that has been distilled to a point where it contains almost no ethanol (alcohol). If the reason for using beer is say to keep people hydrated during a hot day beside a cricket field (note, probably not the Proteas playing, because then I would justify the use of pure heroin) then non-alcoholic beer would suffice. For those that do not know, ethanol has a dehydrating effect because it causes excessive urination (again something probably not that bad when Proteas stuff up). Alcohol has the added effect of causing one to become intoxicated upon excessive consumption; that is not a good thing in public places. The best option is to stick with non-alcoholic beer.

What this analogy means is that although alcohol may be deemed a more potent drug than marijuana with a high THC content, the contrary cannot be stated for non-alcoholic beer and high CBD content marijuana. The playing field becomes equal.

There seems to be no justification for using high content THC marijuana, except for getting plain stupidly “stoned” (same goes for alcohol except when Proteas choke). The conclusion that one can draw is that the pro-marijuana people have an ulterior motive for supporting the legalisation of “marijuana” – or maybe they haven’t realized that they should rather use the word “hemp” or say “marijuana with a low THC content” when referring to agricultural or medical related topics.
Family. Religion. Friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.”
C. Montgomery Burns

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Marijuana Laws by State

By Arkady Bukh

Asking the question, "What happens when a cop pulls you over for marijuana," is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string. The crazy, Aunty Sally-like quilt of laws, rules and regulations which blanket America is another contributor to the difficulty in answering what appears to be a very simple, straightforward question.
First, what happens depends on where you are.
If you're two feet inside the Idaho/Washington state line, nothing will happen if you're on the Washington side. If you are on the Idaho side, you're looking at anything from a ticket to prison time depending on how much pot you have on you and what your prior convictions are.
If you are in California or Utah, and you're pulled over, with a certified, medical marijuana user get-out-of-jail-free card in your wallet, then nothing will happen. If you don't have the card, then well, you might as well be in Idaho, Virginia, North Dakota or the other states where pot is still considered taboo.
Second, it depends on who pulls you over
According to some surveys, roughly 10 percent of Americans report using marijuana in some form during the past month. 
The odds are one-in-ten then that the cop that pulls you over has enjoyed a little downtime with pot and a beer, so if you're not too obnoxious with him, he might just let you go with a nod, a smile and an offer to share a joint the next time you're in town.
Be unlucky enough to be caught by one of the 90 percent of cops on duty that, statistically, haven't tried pot in the last month, well, you might as well be in Idaho.
To better understand the patchwork of laws in existence today, it may be helpful to know some of the legal history surrounding marijuana.
How did marijuana get to be illegal?
Most people probably think that scientific experiments, medical research and government hearings were all held to protect the good citizens from such a dangerous drug. In reality, it's much different. The people that voted on the legal outcome of the plant never had the facts but relied on information supplied with the express purpose of lying to the lawmakers.
The history of the criminalization of marijuana is replete with:
1. Racism
2. Protection of corporate profits
3. Mainstream media
4. Ignorant and incompetent Legislators - not to mention corrupt
5. Good old fashioned greed
For most of history, pot has been legal. It wasn't recently discovered - documented use goes back over before 8,000 BC and it was legal in the early 1900ss when Ronald Reagan was a kid growing up in Dixon, Illinois.
Marijuana - or hemp - has a wide range of uses. The earliest known cloth was hemp and the plant has been utilized for food, incense, cloth, rope and more. The plant was well known in America since the early 1600s, but the public didn't become aware of hemp as a recreational drug until 300 years later.
America's first marijuana law was written at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. The law commanded all farmers to grow hemp and for the next two centuries, a farmer could be jailed for not growing hemp during shortages.Hemp was such a crucial crop that the government wanted to promote and encourage its growth, and people responded. In the census of 1850, over 8300 hemp plantations were counted.
In the early 1900s, things started to change. During the Mexican revolution in 1910, American General Pershing went to the border to fight with Pancho Villa. Later in the same few years, small farmers started to resent the large farms that used cheaper Mexican, immigrant labor. Then the depression piled on and tensions increased as jobs and resources for welfare became scarce.
Marijuana was seen as the principle means of recreation by the Mexican immigrants. Legislators, tired of constituents yelling for them to do something, started looking at outlawing marijuana, a distinctively anti-Mexican and xenophobic act.
Swiftly, state legislatures followed suit as the medical field entered the fray with claims that marijuana would turn Mexicans - and later, in the 50s, African Americans - into drug-ravenous, sex-crazed monsters. The media, led by William Randolph Hearst, wanted to sell more newspapers, so they gleefully smacked their hands together and pumped the stories about marijuana-fueled mobs, rapes, wanton killings and other non-sense. The result? More papers flew out the door, publishers got richer, legislators were bribed to further tighten the laws and marijuana, as a no-no, entered history in America as a drug to be avoided, at all costs.
Marijuana has been an illegal drug for less than 1/10th of one percent of the total time it has been used by humans. The pendulum - and common sense - appear to be swinging in the other direction after decades of idiocy. But who knows precisely what will happen if a cop pulls you over and busts you for possession.

Limetec Group Exhibits Eco-Efficient Building Products at National Self Build & Renovation Centre


Sustainable building systems company Limetec Group has become a permanent exhibitor at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon, providing an opportunity for visitors to learn about its eco-efficient building products and solutions.

Limetec Group's stand at the National Self Build 
& Renovation Centre

Limetec Group's stand at the unique, free-entry NSBRC exhibition facility provides visitors with information on its Hembuild hemp-lime bio-composite building system, and Limetec traditional lime renders and mortars. Limetec Group specialises in helping customers create buildings which are eco-efficient: conserving energy use - and saving on heating and cooling bills - through thermal management, by employing natural, organic materials which reduce waste and are recyclable.

Ian MacCarthy, HemBuild sales and technical executive, said: "Our presence at the NSBRC allows us to provide visitors with information about our HemBuild and Hemline systems for new-build and renovation projects, and our Limetec traditional, natural lime renders, mortars and plasters, suitable for all building projects."

Harvey Fremlin, General Manager of the NSBRC, said: "We are delighted to welcome Limetec as the latest key exhibitor at The National Self Build & Renovation Centre. Their new display looks fantastic and will no doubt create a lot of interest from our visitors with life-size cross sections of sustainable building systems, dressed with hemp plants and lit with the latest LED lighting. 

The key messages of breathable building materials, good thermal values and reducing energy consumption fit exactly with the requirements of today's self-builders who are looking to achieve bespoke, modern and efficient homes."

The National Self Build & Renovation Centre opened in January 2007 and has since welcomed over 200,000 visitors through its doors. The permanent Visitor Centre is unique, with no other venue like it in the UK, designed specifically to help self-builders, renovators and people adding space and value to their existing homes, make the right choices during each step of their project. 

Visitors can get free and impartial advice from the NSBRC's in-house experts, walk through their life size exhibits showing the latest building systems and technologies, and browse the 'Trade Village', featuring thousands of products from over 200 exhibitors. The Centre runs self-build courses throughout the year, providing in-depth information and knowledge to help self-builders.

Monday, February 23, 2015



Weaving hemp in Nepal
Weaving hemp in Nepal

Colorado might be on the cutting edge for adult-use marijuana laws, but if you chat with Phyllis Ripple, you'll quickly realize that when it comes to hemp, this state — and the entire country, in fact — are far behind the times. Ripple runs ecoFiber Custom Rugs out of Boulder, and her rugs can be found in upscale boutiques in New York, San Francisco and select other cities. She started working in the carpet business in 2005; prior to that, she was raising children and collecting rugs in Pakistan, Indonesia and Egypt — which is how she got the idea for her current business.

"There wasn't a lot to buy, but you could always get handmade things, and we started collecting rugs," Ripple explains. "They're easy to move, you can always roll them up, and you may not be able to bring everything you own, but you can bring rugs pretty easily. I became familiar with what a good rug looks like and how one is made." And hemp is one of her favorite fibers.
"Hemp has been used in rugs for centuries," she explains. "It's a very traditional fiber, and it’s so sustainable. When you live in countries that have a limited economy, you see so much pollution and deforestation and detrimental effects on water supplies. I didn't want to participate in that to any strong degree, so hemp was an obvious option for me."
As a rug-making fiber, hemp's appeal stretches far beyond dorm room or head-shop decor. "It's really versatile," Ripple says. "The color is almost a vibration; there is a variation in the color of hemp from season to season when you treat the fibers naturally. Hemp can be used for a very sophisticated look in interior design and in rugs, and I think that most people don't think of it as a fiber that would be a fine fiber. But it's all in where you source the fiber and how that fiber is released."
One of Phyllis Ripple's hemp rugs.
One of Phyllis Ripple's hemp rugs.
courtesy Phyllis Ripple
Ripple also works with cactus, hemp, nettle and other plants, many of which grow wild in western Nepal in remote areas; that's where the hemp that Ripple uses in her rugs is grown and spun. "They don't require any irrigation, cultivation or use of pesticides or fungicides," she explains. "They're very hardy."
She also appreciates the use of traditional methods to treat the hemp fibers. "My personal philosophy on rug-making is that the finest and most valuable rugs in the world have been made in a very low-tech way," Ripple notes. "We don't even rely on the availability of electricity. My suppliers only work during the daylight hours and don't use factories. All the looms are communal looms, so families can stay together and don't have to travel into a city. It's very much a cottage industry, but the supply of hemp is superior and plentiful." She imports the fair-trade, ecologically sourced hemp to this country, where she uses it to create custom rugs.
"It gets softer as it ages," she continues. "Hemp isn't stiff and prickly feeling when you walk on it because of the way we work with the fiber."
One of Ripple's rugs made with hemp and cactus fibers.
One of Ripple's rugs made with hemp and cactus fibers.

Ripple designs and makes each rug to order; prices depend on the size of the rug and materials used. Find more information here.

Universities are high on growing hemp

By Ken Root

Yes, we can use every colorful and humorous metaphor that can be imagined to describe the cannabis plant which was criminalized to reduce drug abuse but also denied to farmers as a fiber producing crop. Now that states are legalizing marijuana, the prohibition of hemp as an industrial crop seems a little ridiculous. What lies ahead for legal cultivation? The seeds are being sown, but what commercial agriculture may reap is still unknown.

At this time, there are 19 states eligible to do research on industrial hemp. In Illinois, the law says state institutions with four-year agriculture degrees may cultivate hemp under the auspices of the State Department of Agriculture. Several states that have “ditch weed” growing wild are not on the list, notably Oklahoma and Kansas. So keep in mind that in Kansas there is no special protection for hemp farmers (or anyone else for that matter). Nebraska, however, is on the “grow” list, South Dakota on the “no grow” list and North Dakota “OK to grow.”
The last time hemp could be cultivated legally was during World War II. Supply lines to tropical countries were cut by conflict so the U.S. lost its source of sisal, used for making rope. Even though federal marijuana laws had been passed in the 1930s, the government needed hemp fiber to make industrial materials, so the ban was waived. Farmers indicated it was easy to grow but required a lot of labor to harvest and transport. Once the war was over, legal cultivation stopped but the plant can still be identified alongside country roads in many states.
The promise of hemp is probably overstated by health food enthusiasts, but its potential to be used for products ranging from paper, to carpeting, to clothing looks promising. Hemp may also be used as a biofuel and could have benefits in crop rotation and in improving water quality.
The question that has to be asked is whether a market exists for hemp or can one be created. It is known the fiber is superior to some others used in clothing, but if we can’t make cotton shirts or pants competitively in the U.S., how can we expect to be price competitive with hemp for utilitarian clothing? Will we export it as a cheap commodity and then buy back the finished products at a higher price?
A research project that is being developed at Bradley University, in Indiana, combines hemp fiber, sawdust and cotton, bonded with a recyclable solvent to replace polypropylene, a plastic that is widely used to make car parts. Luke Haverhals, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Bradley, is working with Brent Tiserat, a researcher at the USDA, to find natural ways to make building materials. Imagine land that now grows pine trees for pulp wood being converted to growing hemp.
One of the arguments against hemp has been it could be grown as a cover for an illegal marijuana growing operation. Changes in state laws that allow production of medical or recreational marijuana for legal sale have pretty much negated that argument, but I suspect there will be pushback from the Drug Enforcement Agency to protect jobs more than to protect the public.
As a farmer, what if you could rotate hemp into your production system? Would it pay its way? Would waterways planted to hemp be unwieldy or would hemp do a better job of filtering outflow to streams? Hemp is known to grow well on rough land but would planting it as an annual crop break the USDA Sodbuster provisions and cause denial of farm program benefits?
Kentucky may be the state to watch as there has been an aggressive effort to do hemp studies there for years. David Williams, professor of agriculture at the University of Kentucky, said studies are being focused on finding the best variety to grow in the local climate. He says hemp is in sync with the schools agricultural mission. It seems likely taxpayer money is going to be invested in research projects in most hemp legal states. It seems logical they will yield some pathways toward commercialization of the crop, but its acreage would remain limited unless there is a breakout technology for competitive food, feed or fiber production.
Findings from university research may set the stage for private industry to genetically modify the plant for expanded uses. Millions of Americans believe it has medicinal purposes in its current form. Who knows?—Pot stores may have to mark their products “GMO Free” to please their patrons.
Certainly there are some students at our major universities who could step forward with knowledge of small scale production of the crop. The question is whether they would be more interested in the resin than in the fiber. I hope we can get those jokes behind us as hemp gets a fair chance to prove its worth.
Editor’s note: Ken Root has been an agricultural reporter for 40 years. Root now does daily radio and television programming and is a columnist. He can be reached at, or send mail for him to High Plains Journal.

Russia’s Economic Self-Reliance: Yes to Hemp, No to GMO

By Alex Levin


When not long ago Mr. Obama said that Western sanctions had left Russia’s economy «in tatters» he probably was not aware of one congenital creed so very intrinsic to the country he has been provoking into war. Russians have one peculiar saying for hard times – «the worse it seems the better it is», meaning that deprivation fosters ingenuity. The tough present brings Russians a unique opportunity to temper the national character and master self-reliance, regardless of politics and whether one is for or against Putin. In fact, Russian president has recently marked utmost importance of reviving the national economy by means of inner resources: natural, human and technological. As Russian food becomes of equal strategic importance to Russian energy, the national food security will be bolstered by a number of opportune measures.
Without much ado the government has banned both domestic cultivation and imports of GM products, the draft law awaits approval by the Russian Parliament. Apart from several cases in southern Russia when big agriholdings secretly planted GM corn and sunflower seeds (without approval of the government authorities), genetically modified seeds are not welcome in Russia. As prime minister Medvedev’s Cabinet has already suspended negotiations with foreign biotech companies (including Monsanto and Syngenta), the main focus remains on traditional sustainable agriculture, integrated with effective farming and processing facilities. The priority is set to enhance production of Russia’s traditional staple crops like wheat, rye and buckwheat both for local consumption and export demand. On entering the World Trade Organization, Russia was expected to allow genetically modified organisms (GMO) for food production and distribution within its market. Vladimir Putin declared that the country would stay GMO-free without violating its obligations to the WTO. The main reason why the government is opposing incursion of GMO into the country is that Russia owns some of the most precious non-destroyed top soil on our planet and it is worth being maintained GMO-free, free from chemicals like Roundup or Atrazine, which are clandestine tools of ecological disaster. However, what can’t be underestimated is that Russia has a considerable export potential for staple crops, while a tremendous lack of organic food in the world is expected in the future.
Hemp Production in Easter Siberia
All new is well forgotten old. A promising venture, initiated by the Russian government in 2013, was the reappearance of hemp production in eastern Siberia – Buryat Republic and Altay. Historically speaking, Russian economy leant on cannabis, known as pen’ka, which was used in local industries as well as exported to Europe and the Americas: international trade in hemp profited Russians for centuries. Lately Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service has confirmed its plans for advanced farming of cannabis hybrids low in THC. Currently Russian hemp is processed for multiple purposes, including clothing, health care and defense.
This article was written on February 15, 2015.
Alex Levin, a Moscow-based international trade negotiator and investigative journalist. 

As Marijuana Legalization Continues, Industrial Hemp Legalization May Be Next


With National Cannabis Conversation, American Hemp May Be Next
Hemp was once a popular crop among American farmers, but it has been outlawed along with marijuana for decades. But farmers are advocating for the crop's return based on its economic potential. 
Kentucky farmer Andy Graves recently brought his father to see the latest crop on the family farm. Moments before the 89-year-old saw the plants, he could smell them.
“When my dad walked back to see the first fields, his eyes just lit up,” Graves says. “He said the smell was so distinct. There’s no other smell like hemp.”
Hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant, once grew by the acre on the Graves’ family farm, but disappeared after authorities outlawed the crop along with its sister species of marijuana. Even though it contains nearly none of the chemical that gives marijuana its intoxicating agent, hemp has been illegal for decades in the U.S.
But Graves, who planted a small crop last year, was the first of a handful of American farmers allowed to do so under a government research program. Although his latest crop is nothing compared with the 500 acres that once stood during his grandfather’s time, it represents the beginning of a long-awaited economic revolution.
“The business that we’re talking about today is so far and above the business my father saw and knew,” Graves says.
Hemp was once a mainstay for American farmers such as those in the Graves family, but has been outlawed for generations under regulations fearing marijuana cultivation. After decades of advocacy, a boost from the growing national interest in cannabis, rapid legalization and recent bipartisan support from lawmakers, hemp could be coming back in a big, and lucrative, way.
Most people associate hemp with braided bracelets and itchy shirts worn by college students who sip organic green tea in dormitory common rooms across the country. But hemp’s biggest advocates nowadays are more interested in economics than in philosophy.
“The economics alone are enough to convince anyone,” says Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association. Despite the fact that hemp farming is illegal, the U.S. is the world’s biggest consumer of it, importing $580 million worth in 2013, with predicted double-digit percentage growth, according to Steenstra.
Hemp is legally grown in 30 countries around the world. Most of the world’s supply comes from Canada, Steenstra says. After farmers and universities started researching hemp in 1994, Canada authorized industrial production in 1998 -- and it’s been paying off.
Canadian farmers are selling hemp for CAD80 cents (64 cents) per pound, while canola sells for roughly CAD18 cents (14 cents) per pound, even though the input costs are roughly the same, according to CBC News.
The marijuana used for smoking and the hemp used for other purposes are both varieties of the same cannabis plant, but different in terms of their chemical makeup and the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is responsible for inducing a high, they contain.
Canada and the European Union define hemp as containing less than 0.3 percent THC, while marijuana can contain anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent. Generally, about 1 percent THC is considered the threshold for marijuana to “have intoxicating potential.”
When harvested, hemp can be used in a variety of ways. The seeds can be processed to create a nutrient-rich oil or a protein-rich meal, while the stalks can be turned into fiber that can be used in products such as fabric or paper.
Opponents of hemp legalization say the plants look too similar to marijuana plants used for other activities, and would give criminals an opportunity to cultivate illegal drugs in plain sight. U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, recently told Politico that the “confusion and potential commingling lends itself to an easier path for illegal marijuana growth across the country.”
However, a recent report by the Congressional Research Service outlines a few key differences. Marijuana is cultivated to stay short and bushy to facilitate as many flowers, or buds, as possible, and the plants grow close together. Hemp farmers give their plants more space and encourage them to grow tall and produce one long stalk with just a few leaves.
Hemp_Crop_in_Peasenhall_Road,_Walpole_-_geographHemp plants are cultivated to grow much taller and thin, unlike marijuana plants meant to produce buds, or flowers.
This approach was the most common one used for the tens of thousands of tons of hemp grown every year by American farmers once upon a time.
American farmers have been growing hemp since the late 1800s, according to the Congressional Research Service, citing the Hemp Industries Association. But state governments did have a problem with people growing the flower for psychotropic reasons and sought to restrict its recreational use.
In the 1920s, it was among a handful of regulated drugs in many states. The Uniform Narcotic Drug Actnoted that “there is little or no connection between the use of hemp drugs and crime, and that consuming it in moderation “very rarely” led to violence.
The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act defined hemp, along with marijuana, as a narcotic. Although it did not criminalize its production, it did require that all farmers only grow it for medical or industrial use, and register before growing it. They also had to secure a special tax stamp.
Marijuana StampImage of a Marihuana revenue stamp $1 1937 issue from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing 
Regardless, production still flourished. In 1943, the U.S. grew 75,000 tons of hemp fiber on a little more than 146,000 acres, and Popular Science estimated the crop size would more than double the next year.
In fact, it was a big part of the World War II effort. In 1942, a U.S. government film urged farmers to grow “hemp for victory,” after outlining how the plant had once been used for everything from the ships at sea to covered wagons of the pioneers, while typically being imported from abroad. But since sources in the Philippines and other parts of Asia were “in the hands of the Japanese,” “American Hemp must meet the needs of our Army and Navy as well as our industries.”
According to the above video, “patriotic farmers” planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp at the government’s request in 1942, with plans for more.
Production continued into the next decade, but soon petered out. By the 1950s, the federal government had imposed mandatory jail time for possession of illegal cannabis. And in 1970 came the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, which included cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance, a category defined as “drugs with a high potential for abuse,” which also included heroin and LSD.
But that didn’t stop Americans from buying hemp products. Advocates have been lobbying to bring hemp cultivation back to the U.S. for decades, and things finally seem to be picking up steam.
“It’s becoming ever more ridiculous,” says David Bronner, CEO and president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a longtime advocate of hemp legalization. “Nobody brings up opium when they eat a poppy-seed bagel; this is a very similar situation.”
Bronner Hemp Protest 2012 Bronner: David Bronner tends to his industrial hemp as he stages a protest inside a steel cage, in front of the White House in Washington June 11, 2012. Bronner was protesting federal policy that prevents U.S. farmers from growing industrial hemp. Bronner is CEO of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps 
Bronner gained notoriety in 2012 when he locked himself in a metal cage outside the White House and proceeded to process a handful of hemp plants into enough oil to spread on to a piece of bread. According to the Washington Post, police had to cut him out of the cage with a chainsaw, and he was then charged with possession of marijuana.
But things are slowly changing.
“We’ve had a lot of allies doing a lot of hard work,” Bronner says. “Plus, as marijuana itself is being rescheduled, the debate is moving forward.”
As of February, marijuana is legal for use in some form in 23 states, including two, Colorado and Washington, that allow for recreational use among adults, with Alaska and Oregon planning to join them this year. The past few years have seen marijuana brought to the forefront of policy narratives and public discussion, which has been helping raise hemp’s profile.
In 2013, a majority of Americans polled by Gallup said they were in favor of marijuana legalization for the first time ever, and their sentiments keep going strong.
“They should be separate conversations, but they are influencing each other,” Bronner says.
He’s one of many who have been advocating local production of hemp for decades now. And over the past few years they’ve gotten more and more people on board -- including a few politicians.
The 2014 Farm Bill, aka the Agricultural Act of 2014, included a provision to allow some people to begin growing industrial hemp, provided it is for “purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research,” and complies with state law.
This means that a handful of universities and small groups of farmers, including Graves, have grown their first crops this year. With special permission from the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, of course.
But that seems to be just the beginning. And the cause has been gaining traction.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who introduced his first bill on the subject in 2007, has been leading a bipartisan movement to remove hemp from the legal definition of “marihuana.”
This January, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, and Rep. Thomas Massiel, R-Ky., introduced a companion bill with 50 co-sponsors on both sides of the political aisle.
“Allowing farmers throughout our nation to cultivate industrial hemp and benefit from its many uses will boost our economy and bring much-needed jobs to the agricultural industry,” Paul said in a press release last month.
And farmers such as Andy Graves certainly hope that’s true. While he knows the economic benefits of hemp, he’s also quick to point out that he takes a spoonful of the nutritious oil every day.
The family farm used to grow tobacco, but its owners ultimately decided against it more than 15 years ago.

“We realized that we were promoting the use of a product that could kill you,” he says. “Hemp, on the other hand, is nothing but good.”