Saturday, May 30, 2015

Becky Dunnet of Mendip Ropemakers Ltd learns the ropes to keep church bells ringing

By West Country Life

Bell rope maker Becky Dunnett of Mendip Ropemakers Ltd. 

Dreaming of turning your hobby into a career? Tina Rowe meets Becky Dunnet who did just that after she mastered traditional techniques and founded a firm making church bell ropes
Becky Dunnett's rare skills have helped President Obama's inauguration go with a swing, and an African cathedral find its voice again.
There is no end to the celebrations in which you can play a part when you are the founder of Mendip Ropemakers one of only two companies in the world making church bell ropes.
The sound of "change-ringing" drifting over fields and rooftops is the essence of England. It is very different from the simpler style of church bell ringing found in Europe, and requires special skill.
Bell rope maker Peter Dunnett of Mendip Ropemakers Ltd

In the village of Kingsbury Episcopi, near Yeovil, some 17 years ago, it was natural for local children to literally learn the ropes. Becky was among them.
She recalls: "I started church bell ringing when I was 10. There was nothing else to do in the village when I was young, so that's what kids used to do. There was a big group of us. Then I went off to Southampton University and did a degree in psychology, and after that I was teaching autistic children and was still involved in ringing. I was aware that churches had to wait a long time for new ropes and had to think about replacing them a good way ahead, so I realised there was a niche in the market.
"At that time a friend of mine and I decided to teach ourselves how to do it. I was teaching in the day and discovering how ropes were made in the evenings. I found it fascinating. People found out that we were doing it and started to order ropes. As word got around I felt I had to decide whether it was a hobby or a business.
"I took a risk, quit my job, and established the business and its gone really well in quite a short space of time. I was probably messing around with ropes as early as 2010, and we established as a limited company in 2012.

"There is only one other company in the world that makes church bell ropes, and that is in Loughborough. The ones we make are specifically for English church bells. In Europe they don't ring bells the same way."
And so Becky established a "ropewalk" the long workspace needed for winding long strands of hemp or flax into strong, durable ropes that will last for years. At first her business was based at Radstock, because the workspace was available, but now she is based at Isle Brewers on the Somerset Levels, on a little rural business park set among trees.
"It's lovely little place, and much closer to home," she says.
Back in Napoleonic times the South West had many ropewalks, and ropes for many a Royal Navy ship were made here. A rare survivor, at West Coker, near Yeovil, has been given a rare Grade II* listing by English Heritage.
In the airy space at Isle Brewers Becky is sometimes aided by her father, Peter. Together they have made ropes for churches and cathedrals across the world.
"All our ropes are handmade using traditional and established techniques," she says.
"We always ensure we use the best materials. We have strong relationships with flax and hemp mills in Eastern Europe, ensure our stretched polyester has the minimum stretch, and are skilled in the use of Dyneema, a zero-stretch alternative to polyester.
Flax has become the most widely used natural fibre for church bell ropes. It is hard wearing and soft to handle but its quality can vary according to a wet or dry harvest. Hemp is the traditional material, is superior in quality but a little hard until it softens with use.
Both hemp and flax absorb moisture and stiffen in damp conditions, so pre-stretched polyester rope is often spliced into the top end of a bell rope where it is under most pressure, and where it is most exposed to the weather high up in a tower. Becky is skilled in the procedure.
Bells move full circle during change ringing, the ringer needs great control and the rope has to be comfortable to hold.
The thick woollen grip of a bell rope is known as the "sally". At Mendip Ropemakers it is made of 100 per cent Marino wool for maximum softness, pre-dyed in Italy and supplied by a firm in Leicester.
"We tried lots of suppliers before we found the right product," says Becky.

The sally is made on the same principle as the woolly bobble of a hat. Precisely cut strands of wool are fed into the rope as it is wound, held fast and twisted into place. The long caterpillar of colour is then trimmed back to a neat finish with sheep or horse shears.
A sally is traditionally red white and blue, but these days churches ring the changes, if you'll forgive the expression, with many other colours.
When I call to watch Becky and her father at work they are making ropes with brilliant blue and gold sallies.
"We did a set for Rochester in New York last week and the were purple, lilac and cream," she says.
"And we did a set for Miami Cathedral that was blue green and pink. The blue was for the sea, the green for the palm trees and the pink for the flamingos."
The story of Harare Cathedral's bell ropes is quite extraordinary. In Zimbabwe, that troubled country the cathedral bell ringers were suspected of being a secret agency simply because their methods were so English.
"It was suspected that their ringing was a secret code, so all the ropes were cut off and the bells couldn't be rung for years" says Becky. When the authorities finally relented and new ropes could be ordered they were flown out quietly in a diplomatic bag."
Other countries world-wide which the firm has supplied include South Africa and Canada, all places to which England has exported change ringing.
"The bells are rung in sequence, and learning which one of say eight bells will ring is almost like learning a piece of music," says Becky. The longest rope that she has ever made was a staggering 96 feet.
"On the whole bell ringers don't like change and some came to us for a fully natural fibre flax rope and needed it 65 feet long," she recalls. We hadn't made one that long before so we decided to make it as long as we could. We had the door open and were out across the road, that's how we got to 96 feet.
Another unusual order was a huge rope, more than an inch thick, made at the request of a boxer who wanted to pull a tractor round a field.
And now the firm is also making decorative bathroom light pulls, sweet little mini church bell ropes with their own tiny and colourful 'sally'.
Bell ringing has brought Becky so much: "It's nice when you pass a church where you know you have helped in some way," she says. "The thing about bell ringing is that wherever you are in the world, if you hear bells ringing you can walk up to a tower and you will be welcome."
For more information visit

Banking on industrial hemp

by Dan Dickson

Industrial hemp is getting a lot of ink, air time and social media attention in Kentucky lately.
In the second year of the state’s hemp pilot program, 121 farmers were selected to grow a total of 1,740 acres of the crop in demonstration projects that industry leaders hope will prove the potential of hemp. But is hemp a good investment? Should banks and individual investors be sinking money into it?
“We’re absolutely excited about it,” said Debra Stamper, counsel for the Kentucky Bankers Association. “Any new industry is great for the economy, which means it’s great for the banks.”
Stamper said she’s impressed by the wide range of products produced from hemp, everything from clothing, oils and personal care products to automobile parts and food.
“Kentucky has such a rich history of hemp production for products,” she said. “It could help farmers who used to grow tobacco, especially smaller farms.”
Bank loans for Kentucky agriculture have fallen off in recent years, according to the association.
While hemp might provide a boost, Stamper said she thinks Kentucky bankers need to be reassured that investing in hemp is safe. The federal farm bill allows certain states to operate hemp pilot programs.
“I would argue quite strongly that that allows Kentucky banks, any bank, in states where hemp is legal, to hold money and make loans for hemp projects authorized by the pilot programs,” said Jonathan Miller, of Lexington’s Frost Brown Todd Attorneys and advisor to the Kentucky Hemp Industry Council.
Some Kentucky bankers recently met with hemp industry leaders and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. They talked about a hemp education curve. Bankers must understand the differences between a legal hemp crop and an illegal marijuana crop. Officials discussed with bankers how to verify the people who approach them for loans for hemp projects, “so they’re not hesitant about getting involved in any of those businesses,” said Stamper.
Still, some bankers worry getting involved in hemp might bring the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to their door or lead to a crackdown from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
“That is something we’re working through right now,” Miller acknowledged.
But, Miller said, from an investment standpoint, now is the time to to get in on the ground floor of the state’s hemp industry.
“Given our history of world leadership in hemp a century ago, our soil and climate and the political support for it today, I would think investing in Kentucky hemp would be a wise bet,” he said.
Large and small banks have shown interest in hemp. Smaller banks might be in the best position to get into the business since they’re experienced with loaning to small farmers and business owners.
“Sometimes products and services make more sense for community banks than for larger banks,” said Stamper. “Sometimes it’s the other way around.”
Michael Lewis, COO of Lexington-based Freedom Seed & Feed, said he has been traveling frequently to New York in recent months to discuss hemp with potential investors. He’ll be growing 45 acres of the crop in this year’s pilot program. Lewis said he thinks hemp can be a moneymaker.
“And a lot of others do too,” said Lewis, who was a featured speaker in late May at
the Markham MicroCap Conference in New York City. It is dedicated to providing a forum for companies with less than $500 million in market capitalization to network with the investment community.
“We’re raising capital to expand our infrastructure,” Lewis said. “We have partnerships with an international pharmaceutical company and an international clothing manufacturer.”
Lewis’ message to bankers is clear. “It’s a valid industry. Look, every other industrial nation in the world is producing hemp — China, Russia, South Korea are leaders. This isn’t a fly-by- night money grab. There are real businesses and real business people in the industry.”
Alice Menendez took a break from planting this year’s corn crop on her Winchester farm to discuss hemp. She’ll be growing 10 acres of it this year. The seeds will be purchased for processing by a company called Dr. Bonner’s Magic Soaps.
“People are really excited about the business potential. There’s a lot of energy among businesses that are profitable [with it] elsewhere. There’s no reason to believe we wouldn’t be profitable here.”
Industrial Hemp Facts
• Industrial hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa, part of the same plant species as marijuana, but genetically and chemically different.
• More than 25,000 different products can be produced from hemp.
• Products made from hemp include fabrics, paper, carpeting, home furnishings, construction materials, foods and beverages, body care products, cosmetics, automobile parts, industrial oils, nutritional supplements and pharmaceuticals.
• Pioneers in Kentucky first grew hemp in 1775, and the state was once the nation’s leading producer. A federal law passed in 1938 banned the production of cannabis, including hemp. Kentucky is now working with the federal government to regain hemp production status.

Hemp ʻOhana Open House to Showcase Industrial Hempcrete


George Rixey

The Maui Hemp Institute for Research & Innovation Organizing Committee invites the public to a free open house in Kīhei on Sunday, June 7, showcasing Maui’s first home built with hemp construction materials.
Homeowners Don and Joy Nelson, and Lee McBride will host public viewings of their hemp ʻohana from noon to 2 p.m., and answer questions with the home’s builder and Architect George Rixey.
The open house is one of many events throughout the state being organized by the committee to celebrate the 6th Annual Hemp History Week, a national grassroots education campaign. Hemp week, celebrated from June 1 to 7 this year, is held to help renew strong support for hemp farming in the US.
Local hemp advocates Simon Russell, vice-president of Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United, and Denise Key, director of, will also be available for interviews and discussion.
Light refreshments provided by Whole Foods Market and Manitoba Harvest will be served, and free hemp product samples from Dr. Bronner’s will be distributed to attendees.
Hemp History Week will feature a national retailer program with over 1,000 participating stores, local events, restaurant participants and hemp product sampling. The campaign will also feature a Take Action petition drive to encourage the Obama Administration and Congress to change federal policy and allow American farmers to once again grow industrial hemp.
The hemp ohana is located next to Sugar Beach Events Villa, 101 N. Kīhei Road.
For more information about Hemp History Week, go online.
For more information about the Hemp Industries Association, go online.
For more information about Vote Hemp, go online.

Hemp History Week Remains Strong In 2015


With the total retail value of all hemp products sold in the U.S. exceeding $620 million in 2014, the Hemp Industry Association (HIA) and Vote Hemp will look to use the sixth annual Hemp History Week as an opportunity to grow and promote the hemp industry.
Throughout the country on June 1-7, Hemp History Week will be the host to more than 1,100 events that will involve documentary film screenings, cooking demonstrations, retail promotion, educational outreach, spring hemp plantings and hemp home building courses, according to the press release.
One of the biggest events of the week is the S.E. Region Hemp Symposium that is held in Columbia, SC on June 4. The event will inform attendees about hemp legislation, farming techniques, business practices and community involvement. Some of the speakers at the event will be representatives from Tennessee, a hemp farmer from Canada and entrepreneurs from different sections of the hemp market, according to Catherine Hearn, the event coordinator for the Symposium.
“I moved to South Carolina a couple of years ago and found there were a lot of questions being asked about legislation, farming, required infrastructure and market opportunities,” Hearn says. “The goal of the Symposium is to provide answers to as many of those questions as possible.”
Other main events, both educational and entertaining, include: the Chenango Hemp Forum in Morrisville, NY; a Hemp Fashion Show and screening of hemp documentary Bringing It Home in Sacramento, CA; the Charlotte Hempfest in Charlotte, NC; and the Hands-on Hemp Crete & Building Materials Class in Seattle, WA.
Many celebrities and high-profile wellness experts have gone on to endorse Hemp History Week, including Dr. Andrew Weil, Ashley Koff R.D., Alicia Silverstone, Ziggy Marley, Jason Mraz and author Doug Fine.
This is the first Hemp History Week since it was announced in January that the U.S. government has introduced the Hemp Farming Act into both the Senate and House. If passed, according to the press release, “this bill would remove federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp.”
“It is difficult to look around the globe at all the countries that grow hemp, and have for decades, even centuries, without issue and not be frustrated by the irrational laws in the United States,” says Hearn. “This is business the farmers in the US do not have an opportunity to compete for.”
Published by WholeFoods Magazine Online, 5/28/2015

Lawmakers working to fix Oregon’s broken hemp law

By Taylor W. Anderson

Bill would ban hemp, pot within five miles of each other

SALEM — Hemp farmers and an expert say a bill moving through Salem that’s proposed as a way to get Oregon’s hemp industry off the ground is too restrictive and would make marijuana the state’s favored cannabis plant.
Oregon lawmakers passed a law in 2009 to legalize hemp, which has been classified as a drug federally for decades because of its relative: marijuana.
But bureaucratic delays since 2009 and changes in the last year in how federal authorities view the plant have kept Oregon farmers from getting seeds in the ground.
Amendments to House Bill 2668 were presented as a way to research the plant and lead to a thriving commercial market for the plant that’s grown for its myriad benefits, but a hemp expert says the bill caters to medical marijuana growers rather than hemp growers.
“It’s very clear that only the concerns of medical marijuana growers and future recreational marijuana growers have been addressed,” said Courtney Moran, a Portland attorney who is considered an expert on hemp. “The actual concerns regarding industrial hemp should be addressed.”
The bill was scheduled for a preliminary vote in committee Wednesday that was postponed until today. It has received vocal opposition from some farmers and county commissioners.
Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, who also sits on the committee regulating marijuana before it becomes legal July 1, said he proposed the hemp bill as a way to launch a commercial hemp industry that has sputtered while states such as Kentucky, Tennessee and Colorado have grown the industry.
The bill would prohibit growing hemp and marijuana outdoors within 5 miles of each other. That so-called buffer zone would prevent cross-pollination between the THC-rich marijuana plant and hemp, which has virtually no psychoactive ingredients.
“We’re trying to find a way for coexistence to make sure nobody’s crop is damaging anybody else’s crop,” Buckley said in an interview.
Cross-pollination between the plants is ruinous for both crops. If a male hemp plant pollinates a female, bud-producing marijuana plant, the buds would turn to seeds.
But Cheryl Walker, a Josephine County commissioner, said the buffer zone would amount to a prohibition of hemp growing in her county.
“There is not a single valley or a single location in our county that would work,” Walker said.
Oregon has legalized three cannabis industries despite their designation on the federal controlled substances list alongside heroin and other drugs. As more states enact cannabis laws that contradict federal laws, Congress and federal agencies have set guidelines for states to follow to prevent problems.
For hemp, federal law prohibits sending live seeds across state lines. Seeds must be sterilized before they can be sent. Plants are also considered illegal in most circumstances.
In last year’s Farm Bill, Congress put a provision that allows states to set up hemp research programs run by the state departments of agriculture or public universities.
After taking more than five years to create rules for the hemp industry in Oregon, the state Department of Agriculture came up with rules that would still leave hemp farmers vulnerable to federal criminal penalties. One amendment to Buckley’s bill would provide protection.
The state has given 13 hemp licenses to farmers and businesses, some of whom want to grow hemp for its medicinal ingredient, CBD, that has been shown to help cancer patients and people who suffer from seizures. They’ll all lose their licenses under provisions in Buckley’s bill.
One farmer, Cliff Thomason, has planted hemp seeds on some of his 43 acres after receiving a license earlier this year. He wouldn’t say where he got the seeds, which may have been in violation of federal law, but he said it’s not difficult to find seeds to plant.
Thomason would likely have to plow under his newly planted farm because it’s too close to a high school in Josephine County, Buckley’s office said. Thomason said Buckley is favoring marijuana over hemp despite years of available research where hemp is legal, such as in Canada and Europe.
“The research has already been done. This is just a way to cut us out of the opportunity in favor of the medical marijuana growers,” Thomason said in an interview.
An amendment to Buckley’s bill would nullify the 13 licenses and require farmers who have planted hemp seeds to plow under their plots. The state would reimburse them for any money they lost because of the change in state law. Prospective hemp growers would then reapply to become one of just six test plots that would research the plant alongside Oregon State University.
“The amendments that have been put forward would essentially put us out of business,” Thomason said, adding an investment of several thousand dollars could easily multiply into hundreds of thousands if hemp were harvested for CBD rather than for another of its uses, textiles.
A provision in Buckley’s bill that might be taken out would also prohibit hemp from being grown outdoors anywhere in Josephine, Jackson and Douglas counties, which are considered one of the best regions in the world to grow hemp and marijuana.
Jackson and Josephine counties have a disproportionate number of registered medical marijuana growers and cardholders, according to data from the Oregon Health Authority.
With a population of just over 82,000, Josephine County is home to nearly 4,000 medical marijuana growers. Jackson County, with a population of about 206,000 that is nearly four times smaller than Multnomah County, has about three-quarters as many growers. Much of the pot in those areas is grown outdoors because of the climate.
“We’re going to have to share this land between hemp and marijuana,” said Rep. Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass, who said he opposed some components of Buckley’s bill.
Other farmers agree something needs to be done to clarify the plant’s legality here before they plant. But with or without Buckley’s bill, Oregon may likely miss another growing season.
“Now would be the time if we’re going to move forward with it,” said Eric Lund, a license holder who plans to grow a hemp strain that is high in the medicinally valuable CBD. “We’re unsure as of right now just because of what the law is.”
— Reporter: 406-589-4347,

London is getting a cannabis-inspired restaurant

Cannabistro is London's first weed-inspired restaurant and hopes to reinvent what it means to get high

By By 

As if the Breaking Bad inspired cocktail bar wasn't pushing enough boundaries, London will soon be home to a restaurant inspired by "the fine art of getting high".
Grub Club and the chefs at Grub London have teamed up to create 'Cannabistro', a two night pop-up event coming to London in June.
Diners at London's first weed-themed restaurant will be treated to a four-course gourmet meal of dishes inspired by "hazy memories of teenage years combined with the clichés of getting high - 'The Way Up' - and coming down - 'The Munchies'."

The evening will be split into two halves, with the first half based around the different techniques and ways of getting high. The menu includes: oxtail ravioli, homegrown herb, hemp and beef bone broth and hemp-cured mackerel, samphire, beetroot and horseradish.
The second half of the evening re-imagines the apparent go-to meal for those suffering from 'the munchies': a kebab and a Snickers bar.
The Cannabistro will be open for two days from June 26th and, due to high demand, those interested must register their interest on the Cannabistro website.

Editorial: Washington farmers will profit from hemp crops


If George Washington were farming today, he would be busted.
One of the crops our first president grew on his Virginia estate was hemp, which was widely cultivated for its use in rope-making and other industrial products. Drafts of the U.S. Constitution were written on hemp. Henry Ford once made an automobile body from hemp.
But hemp was a victim of reefer madness. Swept up in anti-marijuana hysteria, hemp’s cultivation was banned even though it has negligible quantities of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which provides the high in marijuana. Despite that important difference, federal and state authorities have never bothered to make the distinction in law, so what was once a valuable crop has been denied American farmers.
The United States has become the No. 1 importer of hemp products. Now, that’s madness.
But the laws are finally changing.
The 2014 Farm Bill allows colleges and universities to grow hemp for research purposes, but only in states that have legalized industrial hemp farming.
The Washington Senate responded by unanimously passing Senate Bill 3012, which authorizes the growth and possession of industrial hemp, and authorizes Washington State University to study the feasibility of developing a commercial hemp industry. Secondarily, it would study how best to prevent cross-pollination of hemp by marijuana, possibly increasing its THC.
Restricting marijuana growing to greenhouses is the simple answer. Tight regulation is another, and the more detailed and comprehensive House bill, HB 1552, which is sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, would require farmers to be licensed and pay an initial $10-per-acre fee to cover oversight costs. Expensive, but the potential payoff is significant.
The Hemp Industries Association estimates the value of hemp-based products sold in the United States exceeds $600 million. In addition to its use as fiber in clothes, auto parts and building materials – ever heard of hemp-crete? – oils derived from hemp seed are praised for their benefits in food and health care products.
On the frontiers of technology, the American Association of Mechanical Engineers reports hemp nano-fibers could be critical to the development of inexpensive supercapacitors that may revolutionize electricity storage.
One witness told the House Committee on Commerce and Gaming that she gets inquiries about her beauty products from as far away as Japan, but has to source the raw material she uses from Canada.
That money could be going to Washington farmers, she said. In fact, Washington was one of the biggest, if not the biggest shipper of hemp before it was carelessly classified as a drug.
Several other states have already seized the opportunity created by the Farm Bill to put hemp back into American soil, which, not incidentally, benefits from the crop’s ability to absorb pollution, including radioactive debris. This is a natural for Washington, and perhaps the final step toward rationalizing the production and use of all hemp/marijuana after decades of counterproductive bans.

If we're growing pot, why not grow hemp?

By Bob Hagan

Gov. Susana Martinez, (R) New Mexico, is apparently okay with tripling the state's medical marijuana harvest but adamantly opposed to growing hemp. Why?
The variety of cannabis commonly known as "industrial hemp" is cousin to marijuana but without the psychoactive components. You could burn a bushel in your bong without inducing anything more than a dull headache.
Although lacking medicinal value or recreational appeal, hemp is an enormously useful plant. The seeds are a high-protein food source, and the oil can be used in cooking as well as in paint, wax and numerous other applications. The fiber from the stalks is similar to linen and is used in clothing, insulation, carpeting, paper and rope.
Hemp could be "a hugely beneficial cash crop" for New Mexico farmers, according to Stuart Rose, founder of the Bioscience Center, a business incubator in Albuquerque. It requires much less water than cotton and literally grows like a weed, without expensive pesticides and fertilizer. "You can grow twice the value of alfalfa for half the water," Rose said.
And the economic potential extends beyond agriculture, he added. "I'm an entrepreneur, not a farmer, and I see substantial investment opportunities in processing hemp for fabric, paper and other uses. It could potentially mean hundreds of jobs for New Mexico."
Only the similarity of names led to hemp being included with marijuana on the federal list of "controlled substances." It's like being placed on the "No Fly" list because your name is Benny Laddin.
Congress belatedly recognized that this last year and added a provision to the Farm Bill encouraging universities and state ag programs to research hemp's potential as a commercial crop. Sen. Cisco McSorley's industrial hemp farming bill set rigorous conditions for oversight of any research projects and required the program to be self-supporting. The bill passed the Senate and House with large, bipartisan majorities only to be killed on the governor's desk.
In her veto message, Martinez cited "the contradictions it would create between state and federal law And, given the similarities between growing hemp and marijuana, this legislation could also create serious challenges for law enforcement in investigating drug crimes."
Since the bill proposed a program already approved by the feds, and there are virtually no similarities between growing hemp as a field crop and cultivating commercial marijuana in a greenhouse, it's hard not to view these objections as either ill-informed or simply specious.
While the governor was defenestrating industrial hemp, her Department of Health was expanding production of medical marijuana. The new rules allowed the current 23 licensed commercial growers to triple their production and opened applications for new growers to join the program. The department received 85 applications but hasn't decided how many will be approved.
In the first three months of this year, New Mexico's licensed growers (not including individuals growing plants for their own use) harvested 1,100 pounds of medical cannabis and reported revenues of about $5.7 million. They employ more than 500 people and paid $2.3 million in salaries and $426,000 in gross receipts taxes for the quarter.
Could industrial hemp provide a similar boost to the state's economy, particularly in the rural counties hard hit by the drought? It would certainly be far less valuable per pound, but on the other hand it wouldn't require the onerous regulatory oversight that burdens the medical pot business.
I respect people who have principled objections to legalizing recreational pot, although I believe the benefits far outweigh the potential negative consequences. But killing a modest and cost-free research proposal that could ultimately benefit the state's struggling farmers simply because of a confusion of names seems to me insupportable.


Thank you for continued support to legalize industrial hemp in the United States.  It's been a very important year as states continue to develop new hemp legislation and modify existing laws to be in accordance with SEC 7606 of the Farm Bill. There is more work to be done this year, and we need your help.

Once again this year, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps has generously agreed to match every dollar you donate, doubling the impact of your contribution!

Twenty-four states have introduced industrial hemp legislation to amend law or introduce new law, and legislation has passed in Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, North Dakota, Virginia. Bills have been introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. And this year alone, Vote Hemp activists have sent nearly 3,000 letters of support directly to Congress.

Please help us keep working towards a commonsense renewal of hemp farming in the U.S. We need and truly appreciate your continued support.


Thanks for you support!

Eric Steenstra

About Vote Hemp
Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp, low-THC oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow the crop.

Support Vote Hemp
Vote Hemp depends entirely on donations to support our work. Please consider making a donation today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Slovenia Allows Use of Hemp in Food


Ljubljana, 25 May - Slovenian hemp growers will at last be able to use their crop in food products under new rules taking effect on Tuesday. With hemp currently grown on at least 600 hectares, the change is a step forward allowing the sector to become economically viable, said Agriculture Minister.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Windsor couple makes safer germ-resistant blankets

By Bridgett Weaver

Christine Johnson cuts some of the fabric for one of their hemp fur baby blankets as her husband Dave and their son Charles watch Wednesday at their home in Windsor. The blankets have an antibacterial quality because they're made of hemp fur and the couple hopes to integrate chips into blankets for quick information access in emergency situations.

Dave and Christine Johnson say they’re a “fly-by-night” kind of couple, and their recent business venture reflects their lifestyle.
“We think of something we want to do and research it and figure out how to do it,” Christine said.
That is exactly what the 29-year-olds are doing with their business, Nuhni Blanket Co, which offers organic and germ-resistant receiving and security blankets for children.
With white boards all over their Windsor home and bedroom and a garage full of material, cutting stations and sewing equipment, they are figuring it out.
Every morning the couple wakes to a poster hanging above their bed that reads “Rise and Grind.”
Oh, and with two young children adding to the chaos of working from home, they need the daily encouragement — plus lots of coffee and Monster.
It’s a little messy, but it works.
After five years in Texas, the Johnsons, originally from New Hampshire, moved to Colorado to execute the baby blanket idea and really start nailing down a business plan.
Colorado has a better market for their product, they said. Their target audience for these blankets is millennial mothers. The Johnsons think that group will appreciate their use of organic materials.
The two tentatively agreed they’ve tasted success with Nuhni, but with only 200 sales so far, they have a long way to go.
Dave said he’s confident in the uniqueness of Nuhni’s blankets.
“You kind of create your own lot by taking educated risks,” he said. He said when he decided to venture into business, he needed to find a product that is completely different from anything on the market. Hemp fur blankets fit the bill, he said, because no one else is making a product like theirs.
Since arriving in Colorado last fall, the Johnsons are working on getting the word out about the Nuhni blankets.
Dave has been putting finishing touches on the website to make it more user-friendly. Christina has been making blankets by hand. She is working with a Colorado manufacturer who will soon take over for her.
They have both been working to get their products into stores. So far they are in The Grey House in Estes Park and in the Tree House Gift Shop at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas.
Dave said he’d rather take the risks of starting a business than work for someone else.
“I learned early I would rather work 60 hours a week for myself than 40 hours for someone else,” he said. “It’s not about money. I just want to be able to plan my own day.”
Dave has a few failed business ventures behind him, but he said he doesn’t think that’s a bad thing because it’s experience he wouldn’t have otherwise received.
“I don’t think bad experiences are a bad thing,” he said. “There’s opportunity in failure.”
The Nuhni Blanket Co. name comes from how the Johnsons’ kids used to say good night to them.
Instead of saying good night, the two youngsters said “nuh-nite.”
That quickly morphed into the Nuhni name of the company.
The Johnsons plan to continue working with stores to get the blankets into retail spaces, but their hope is to support a social mission after they get their footing.
After working in the emergency shelter for children in Texas, they decided they wanted to do something to help those kids.
With profits from Nuhni, they plan to help end the cycle of child abuse and neglect. They will do this by donating money to help provide children with full tummies, warm clothes and safe nights.
The company also offers blanket options with an embedded microchip, which responds to the touch of an Android phone.
On the microchip parents can store information such as special needs, medicines, allergies for care providers. The care provider can just touch their phone to the marked square on the blanket and the information comes up.
This is targeted toward children with health issues as some medical information can be stored on the microchip.
If the blanket is lost information can be wiped off the chip from a home computer.
Available features of the microchip include: quick contact information, geolocation pings and emergency information availability.
» Nuhni blankets are all made from 100 percent Global Organic Textile Standard fabrics. This means the fabrics are produced using healthy non-GMO seeds and nontoxic chemicals.
» All Nuhni blankets come in eco-friendly, sustainable packaging.
» Hemp fur naturally kills and reduces the spread of bacteria such as staph and pneumonia.
» Hemp fur also is resistant to fire, mold, mildew and UV light.
» Roo- 25x35 inch blanket with microchip: $75
» Cub- 17x17 inch blanket with microchip: $45
» Kit- 25x35 inch blanket (no microchip): $67
» Pika- 17x17 inch blanket (no microchip): $37
» 3 hemp fur washcloths: $21
Dave Johnson folds one of the completed hemp blankets on Wednesday while at his home in Windsor.

Christine Johnson works on sewing some of the fabric for one of their hemp fur blankets on Wednesday at their home in Windsor.