Saturday, October 31, 2015

Update: Industrial Hemp Cultivation Is Finally Legal In North Carolina



October 31 has finally come and the Fat Lady has begun to sing – belching out a loud and proud ditty for a lot of soon-to-be hemp farmers in North Carolina. Thanks to Gov. Pat McCrory’s long ignored veto stamp, the hemp bill left behind on his desk when the N.C. General Assembly headed off for vacation last month … just became law.
While some politicians will hear the Fat Lady’s song and call hemp’s freedom in North Carolina a hateful noise, even though they love the idea of a new cash crop. The fact of the matter remains; the campaign to legalize hemp in North Carolina is effectively over … and HEMP WON!
Thanks to either the Gov.’s apathy or an epiphany, the passage of North Carolina’s industrial hemp legislation will put them in a rather exclusive club. Joining the other 13 states that have already established a commercial industrial hemp program, and seven that have passed laws establishing hemp programs limited to academic and agricultural research.

Kentucky farmers embracing state’s growing hemp industry

By Janet Patton

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS OCT. 31-NOV. 1 - In this Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 photo, Keenan Wiley covers several bins of hemp that had just been harvested on Andy Graves farm near Winchester, Ky.  GenCanna, which moved to Kentucky from Canada to focus on hemp, harvested the 27 acres of hemp grown this year in Winchester and processed it to produce a kind of powder they plan to sell to companies that want to put hemp in nutritional supplements. (Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
In this Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 photo, Keenan Wiley covers several bins of hemp that had just been harvested on Andy Graves farm near Winchester, Ky. GenCanna, which moved to Kentucky from Canada to focus on hemp, harvested the 27 acres of hemp grown this year in Winchester and processed it to produce a kind of powder they plan to sell to companies that want to put hemp in nutritional supplements. (Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP) 

WINCHESTER, Ky. (AP) - Tucked away off a narrow country road in Clark County, in the middle of a farm, 27 acres of hemp grew all summer. Now, the plants will be harvested and processed.
Kentucky, hailed as a leader by industrial hemp advocates, has grown the hemp. Now the state is working on growing the industry.
“In two years, we’ve come a long way,” said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is now running for Congress. “We’ve proven first of all that it’s not a drug, which was very important for the opposition to realize. And we’ve proven it’s economically viable, or there wouldn’t be 22 companies that have made an investment in the state. … What we’re doing now is working with the companies that want to go to the next step to commercialize the product. “
The plants in Winchester are part of the 100 acres of hemp - high in cannabidiol and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (the high-inducing chemical in marijuana) - grown this year for GenCanna, which moved from Canada to Kentucky to be in the heart of the hemp revolution. It deliberately chose to come to Kentucky over other states, including Colorado, because of the agricultural resources and the climate, both meteorological and political.
“We have been in this industry for many years, and we are setting a new bar in Kentucky,” GenCanna CEO Matty Mangone- Miranda said. “Kentucky’s kept the focus on industrial hemp” rather than cloud the issue with other forms of cannabis cultivation, as Colorado has permitted.
Mangone-Miranda, who estimates that hemp could become a billion-dollar industry, said his group is in hemp for the long run.
“The industry is likely to have a bubble, then stabilize with a market of diversified products,” he said, citing potential uses in sports drinks, nutritional products, supplements and more.
GenCanna has invested more than $5 million in Kentucky, according to company officials, although it has yet to see any revenue. That will come once the company is able to deliver a stable source of low-THC/high-CBD hemp.
“The only way to have hemp become an agricultural commodity is to grow lots of it and see what happens,” said Steve Bean, GenCanna’s chief operating officer.
Coming to Kentucky had other benefits, too. Many farmers were eager to get into the crop, which decades ago proliferated in the Bluegrass; hundreds applied to be part of pilot projects to grow hemp. The crop still can legally be grown only in affiliation with the state Department of Agriculture and entities that sign detailed memos of understanding.
Kentucky also has resources that in the past were used for tobacco that have converted well to hemp cultivation.
In fact, GenCanna’s headquarters is now in part of a former Philip Morris office building stuffed with former labs. The place was practically abandoned as the cigarette maker began retreating from Central Kentucky.
And next door is a processing center in a former tobacco seed plant, where GenCanna built a system to turn the chopped-up hemp plants into a sort of dried powder to sell as a nutritional supplement.
The Shell Farm and Greenhouses in Lancaster is turning its fields away from tobacco, growing 157,000 hemp plants on 40 acres outdoors and 3,500 plants in a greenhouse.
“And we’ll be growing it indoors all winter,” Giles Shell said. Shell’s greenhouses once raised flowers; now he’s working on hemp genetics.
“There’s no seed crop, so we have to take cuttings to get the plants in the field. So I’m selecting genetics, for a hardier plant - bigger, fuller,” Shell said. “We’ve got a problem with variegation or chimera, so I trying to select away from it.”
Next year, Shell intends to grow even more hemp.
“We’re going to quit raising our tobacco crop, and if we do any flowers, it will be downsized,” Shell said. “Last year, we raised 120 acres of tobacco. This year, we dropped to 80. Next year, we will drop to none. There’s not a market any more for tobacco and not enough money once you factor in labor and chemical costs.”
Both the offices and the processing center are shared with Atalo Holdings, another hemp entrepreneur company, this one formed by Andy Graves and other Kentuckians working on crushing hemp seed for oil and other fiber production. Graves also grew the 27 acres of hemp for GenCanna.
Other groups, including the Stanley Brothers of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil fame, also are pursuing the hemp’s potential.
Kentucky could be on the cusp of a green revolution - a hemp boom that could go in myriad directions or spiral into a bubble of speculation.
“It could,” Comer acknowledged. But, assuming that sometime in the next two years, Congress makes it legal for anyone to grow hemp, he said Kentucky should be well-positioned, with a jump-start on the infrastructure.
“We get requests every day for companies that want to start processing hemp. I worry that some may not have the credibility of some of the others, and that’s why it’s taking longer to certify, to get more background info,” Comer said. “We’re not picking winners and losers, but those that have credibility. Our reputations are on the line here, too.”
GenCanna has more contracts with farmers than any other company at this point, Comer said. It’s the only one in the cannabidiol business with signed contracts with national chains to buy their hemp product, he said.
“GenCanna is the real deal,” he said. “And they’ve given me assurances everyone will be paid, and all the farmers are happy.”
The Shell family, which has a three-year contract with GenCanna, certainly is now.
“We were very leery - I was the most reserved in my family of starting to do this,” Giles Shell said. “But … I felt like we were the best route to help commercialize this crop. Demand is really high, and supply isn’t there. Basic economics will tell you that’s profit.
“We’ve got a year ahead of everybody else that’s going to get into the game.”

Hemp business wins government grant

By Gayle Bryant

Paul Benhaim, founder of Hemp Foods Australia, is  hoping hemp products will be approved for consumption in Australia.
Paul Benhaim, founder of Hemp Foods Australia, is hoping hemp products will be approved for consumption in Australia. Photo: Supplied

Hemp Foods Australia has been awarded nearly $600,000 in the government's Accelerating Commercialisation grants announced this week.
Based in Bangalow, the manufacturer received $589,337, which it will use to buy a state-of-the-art processing plant to help process hemp seed products. 
That's the strangest part of the story... in Australia and New Zealand you cannot buy these products as a food; only for external use. 
Paul Benhaim, founder of Hemp Foods Australia
Founded in 2000, Hemp Foods Australia is the largest hemp food wholesaler, retailer, manufacturer and exporter in the southern hemisphere. Its products include hemp seeds, oil and protein.

"Our business has been growing year on year," founder Paul Benhaim says.

"We needed to introduce new technology to improve efficiencies on the production line, so we will be using the grant money to invest in new machinery."

Other grant winners

Other recipients of the latest round of Accelerating Commercialisation grants include Boardcave, which was given $466,000 for its innovative modular software solution that connects manufacturers, retailers and customers online via the cloud; $500,000 to Effusiontech for the development and commercialisation of a kinetic manufacturing 3D printer; and $352,025 to ScribblePost for its communication software that shares task and project information.

Benhaim says there was a lot of work involved in applying for Hemp Foods Australia grant – "over a year's work", he says. "It was a significant amount of effort and it cost us a significant amount to get it but it was worthwhile." 

Not just about the free money

Applying for the grant wasn't just about getting "free money".  It was also to get recognition for the industry, something Benhaim says being awarded the grant gives Hemp Foods Australia, as the application process has to go through high-level federal government due diligence. 

"That is what we want to get across," he says. "Hemp foods are not just another hippy idea from Nimbin. We are a serious business and industry. In North America the turnover of the industry is in the hundreds of millions."

Australian ban on hemp products as a food

Ironically, while Hemp Foods Australia's products are sold all over the world, it's against the law to eat them in Australia and New Zealand. "That's the strangest part of the story," Benhaim says. "I have been working with industrial hemp for 22 years all over the world but in Australia and New Zealand you cannot buy these products as a food; only for external use."

This condition is under review and he is hopeful hemp products will be approved as a food by early next year. "We already have a number of manufacturers, gyms and juice bars that want to use our products," he says.

"We want to be able to support these industries and also support more local Australian farmers."

The demand is clearly there for hemp products. Since 2012, Hemp Foods Australia has generated a compound annual growth rate of 105 per cent. "We have a monthly growth rate that is equivalent to most companies' annual growth rate right now," Benhaim says.
The company is private and 100 per cent owned by Benhaim with a turnover "in the low millions".

"We are still a relatively small business but we're growing rapidly," Benhaim says.

Hemp growth potential 

If hemp products do receive approval for food use, Benhaim expects his organisation's growth to improve even more dramatically.

"This is what we are partly planning for with the upgrade of our machinery," he says. "As well as wanting to become more efficient and to have higher throughput, we want to be able to deal with the growing demand. Even if the growth doesn't happen in Australia, it will continue around the world where the demand for hemp foods is growing faster than most other industries."

Hemp Foods Australia already has more demand than it can keep up with. 

"Our biggest export market is Asia," he says. "We haven't targeted America as we're scared of the volumes involved. Part of our business plan is to get private investors into our company so we can continue our growth."

Because of the Hemp Food Australia's growth potential, Benhaim is interested in taking on outside investors. 

"We have been approached by a number of private investors," he says.

"But the bottom line is that we are not only looking for money but are keen to have good secure partners who have an active interest in the environment, organic farming, healthcare or something similar that can support our business. Where we get the money from is very important to us."

Bernie Sanders' Stance on Marijuana Can Pave the Way For Pollution Free Transportation

By Wade Norris


The Washington Post reports that Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders proposes to remove Marijuana from the Schedule 1 Federal list of dangerous drugs:
Sanders's plan would not automatically make marijuana legal nationwide, but states would be allowed to regulate the drug in the same way that state and local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco. And people who use marijuana in states that legalize it would no longer be at risk of federal prosecution.
His plan would also allow marijuana businesses currently operating in states that have legalized it to use banking services and apply for tax deductions that are currently unavailable to them under federal law.
I am sure a lot of people are talking about this because of several reasons, Marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco, lots of people especially minorities are doing time in prison for non-violent offenses related to Marijuana use, and as evidenced by the multiple thousands of people who have moved to my state of Colorado to seek Medical and now Recreational Marijuana, its a big deal.
However there is something profoundly revolutionary about this -- by providing a way for Marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin Hemp to be a legal product for its various uses, from paper, to clothes, biofuel, food and especially reducing our carbon by CO2 absorption.
Consider this information provided by blogger Texas Twister's link
Hemp cultivation and production do not harm the environment. The USDA Bulletin #404 concluded that hemp produces four times as much pulp with at least four to seven times less pollution. (Popular Mechanics, Feb. 1938).
Consider a few more facts about hemp:
• Hemp does not require herbicides or pesticides.
• Hemp can be grown in a wide range of latitudes and altitudes.
• Hemp replenishes soil with nutrients and nitrogen, making it an excellent rotational crop.
• Hemp controls erosion of the topsoil.
• Hemp converts CO2 to oxygen better than trees.
 Hemp produces more oil than any other crop, which can be used for food, fuel, lubricants, soaps, etc.
• Hemp nut is a very healthy food, being the highest protein crop (after soybean) and high in omega oils.
• Hemp can be used for making plastics, including car parts.
• Hemp makes paper more efficiently and ecologically than wood, requiring no chemical glues.
• Hemp can be used to make fiberboard.
• Hemp can be used to make paint.
• Hemp can produce bio-fuel and ethanol (better than corn).
• Hemp can be grown more than once per year.
• Hemp fibers can make very strong rope and textiles.
Of all the reasons for Corporations to make weed 'scary' from conspiracy theories that I have heard, DuPont wanted to make synthetic Nylon replace Hemp rope, to Wood Pulp companies wanted to do away with their competitor Hemp paper (which apparently our Constitution was written on), the most obvious might be Big Oil
Consider this evidence:
14) Henry Ford's first Model-T was built to run on hemp gasoline and the car itself was constructed from hemp! On his large estate, Ford was photographed among his hemp fields. The car, 'grown from the soil,' had hemp plastic panels whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel. (Popular Mechanics, 1941.)
15) In 1938, hemp was called 'Billion Dollar Crop.' It was the first time a cash crop had a business potential to exceed a billion dollars. (Popular Mechanics, Feb. 1938.)
16) Mechanical Engineering Magazine (Feb. 1938) published an article entitled 'The Most Profitable and Desirable Crop that Can be Grown.' It stated that if hemp was cultivated using 20th-century technology, it would be the single largest agricultural crop in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
The well known 'Reefer Madness' propaganda movie released in 1936 was integral to reducing the Billion dollar hemp industry to Zero, and Fossil Fuel Oil stepped in and became the polluting Trillion dollar industry.
One of my fellow musicians that I got to know this past year at our 420 performance, wrote a song which celebrates this issue

"Cannabis Car"
And new companies are bringing this concept to reality.
And not just the car made from hemp, but what is more dangerous to Big Oil's bottom line, powered by hemp biofuels.
But surely if it was mass-produced, this one drawback could be overcome and its many benefits as an efficient biofuel could be harnessed.
As far as research and implementation of hemp for biofuel, the US is way ahead of Europe and there are a range of websites dedicated to the use of hemp as a fuel for cars.
In the UK, companies such as Hemp Global Solutions have been set up very much with climate change and the reduction of carbon emissions in mind, but there is little, if any, research in this country that has looked into the viability of the hemp plant as a fuel for cars.
So why was there not a single mention of this miracle crop, that, in addition to being able to be used as fuel, can also be used as paper, cloth, converted into plastic and is a rich food source containing high levels of protein?
While we environmentally concerned citizens await the mass distribution of affordable electric cars, in the meantime if we were able to cheaply grow and produce Hemp biofuel, then in a few years we could eliminate the need for Fossil Fuel based Diesel.
And unlike fossil fuels, Hemp has many other uses than just a source of fuel, and it eats Carbon Dioxide, rather than produce it.
Bernie Sanders is on to something big, and its not just about the War on Drugs, it's about revolutionizing our Fuel Energy supply.

The Federal Government Needs To Allow Native Tribes To Grow Hemp And Marijuana


dea marijuana eradication

I will never forget the first time I heard about the plight of Alex White Plum and the Lakota Nation, and their problems with the United States government in regards to trying to grow hemp. In the 2000’s, the Lakota Nation decided to legalize hemp production because they thought it would be a good crop. The Native American tribe needed a solid source of income to support tribe members, and growing hemp seemed like a good idea. Hemp is very versatile, grows fast, doesn’t require as much as other crops, and it’s completely harmless if consumed.
However, the United States government did not allow hemp cultivation, and even though the Lakota tribe is a sovereign nation, the feds came in, cut down the plants, and ordered Alex White Plume and his tribe to never grow hemp again. Political fears of reform were so great that the federal government treated a sovereign nation like they were criminals. That is obviously unacceptable.
Fairly recently the Obama Administration issued guidance on the issue of Native American tribes and hemp and marijuana cultivation and sales, which was celebrated by many in the reform community as an enormous victory. Tribes should absolutely be able to grow hemp and/or marijuana on their lands, and do whatever they want with it on their lands. After all, they are supposed to be sovereign nations. But, despite the guidance from the Obama Administration, raids have continued on tribal land. The latest of which occurred on the Menominee tribe’s land located in Wisconsin. Per US News:
Federal agents swarmed the Menominee Indian tribe’s Wisconsin reservation Friday and eradicated 30,000 cannabis plants, confusing and alarming tribal leaders, policy reformers and attorneys who work with other American Indian tribes considering growing marijuana or hemp.
Menominee leaders say the plants were intended for lawful research into growing industrial hemp, which is processed and utilized for fiber, food and oil and is distinguishable from marijuana by its lower levels of the high-inducing compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Regardless of if the plants were marijuana or hemp should not matter. The Obama Administration stated that if tribes wanted to grow and/or sell marijuana on tribal lands, that they should be allowed to do so. So why are DEA agents, again, defying the administration and going after tribes on tribal land? This is absolutely disgusting. The DEA needs to be reigned in, and there needs to be a Congressional hearing during which some very tough questions are asked and people at the DEA are held accountable. Native American tribes are sovereign nations, and the current administration has said that they should be treated as such. Close down the DEA!

Industrial hemp poised to become NC’s newest legal crop


Legalization bill will become law unless McCrory vetoes
Spring Hope has one of the only hemp processing plants in the country
Supporters battle stigma: ‘We’re for rope, not dope' 

Workers do final assembly of a decortification line at the Industrial Hemp Manufacturing Company in Spring Hope, NC, on Wednesday. The facility hopes to begin full-scale operations when a bill becomes law at midnight Friday, without Gov. Pat McCrory's signature. The law legalizes industrial hemp in North Carolina. Farmers are eager to grow the crop, which can be used in textiles, oil drilling fluid and other products. It has virtually no THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that is smoked. This group of machines separates the outer fibers from the inner core. The outer fibers are used in the textile industry, the core fibers are used by the oil and gas industry. The plant currently processes kanaf, a plant similar to hemp. It is used to make door panels in cars and trucks.
Workers do final assembly of a decortification line at the Industrial Hemp Manufacturing Company in Spring Hope, NC, on Wednesday. The facility hopes to begin full-scale operations when a bill becomes law at midnight Friday, without Gov. Pat McCrory's signature. The law legalizes industrial hemp in North Carolina. Farmers are eager to grow the crop, which can be used in textiles, oil drilling fluid and other products. It has virtually no THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that is smoked. This group of machines separates the outer fibers from the inner core. The outer fibers are used in the textile industry, the core fibers are used by the oil and gas industry. The plant currently processes kanaf, a plant similar to hemp. It is used to make door panels in cars and trucks.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Goodbye Cotton, Hello Hemp?



Cotton. You love it, I love it, but Mother Nature freakin' hates it.
About 20 million tons of cotton are produced each and every year, making it far and away the world's most profitable non-food crop. But it's resource intensive in a big way.
It takes about 20,000 liters of water to produce just one kilogram of cotton. To put that in perspective: The average American drinks about 214 liters of water per year, which means you'd have to live into your early 90s to consume as much water as a single T-shirt or pair of jeans. There's also the issue of chemicals. A combined 35 percent of the world's insecticides and pesticides is applied to cotton plants, which grow on less than 3 percent of the crop land on Earth. Runoff can destroy sensitive ecosystems, even if chemicals are "properly applied according to technical instructions."
Fashion's dependence on cotton has led to a monocropping problem in India, the world's second-largest producer of cotton, behind China, and one of the worst environmental offenders in the apparel industry.
But a quick fix might be found in the non-psychoactive plant in the cannabis family, hemp.
Hemp is not only a textile-ready natural fiber, it is also UV resistant, antimicrobial, and requires less water and pesticides than the cotton plant. "It's so high value and so much lower impact in every other way that it eclipses the carbon generated through shipping," hemp clothing line founder Isaac Nichelson told the Los Angeles Times in 2010.
What's more? Hemp grows wild on the Indian landscape. Imagine what could be possible if the plant were cultivated with the same attention cotton receives.
"Hemp is the most underutilized natural fiber crop in India," social entrepreneur Sanvar Oberoi said. "Hemp belongs to central Asia. The entire Himalayan belt--Tibet, parts of China, parts of northern India--is home to the world's largest wild cultivation of hemp yet our economy has literally less than 0.1 percent of the global market share. There's literally no industry."
Hemp as a substitute for cotton and polyester was social entrepreneur Sanvar Oberoi's vision for founding the Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO). It could be a life-saving shift, for some. Organic cotton has given up ground to cotton hybrids--local seed varieties have been replaced by genetically modified seeds from companies like Bayer CropScience, which demand more water and nutrients which, given soil depletion, must come from more chemical fertilizer. Higher-than-ever prices for farming inputs have hit growers hard, despite better yields. More than 270,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1995 after falling into "unmanageable debt."
Given the human cost of cotton, a move to hemp is more than sensible. Demand for natural fibers is being driven by eco-conscious brands like Stella McCartney andLevi's, which already incorporate hemp into clothing lines. Yet, a lack of hemp supply is a key bottleneck to larger scale adoption by the apparel industry, according to Oberoi. Despite hemp's native plant status in India, the country's government has banned industrial hemp production since the 1980s.
In a shock move, however, the Indian government has granted BOHECO an exception in an effort to jumpstart the country's natural fiber industry. Oberoi is currently working with research institutes to breed new seed variants that will allow for large-scale hemp production. BOHECO is also helping to craft the legislative environment to allow other players in the subcontinent to join the push for a more sustainable apparel industry.
Poverty alleviation is just as important as the environmental benefits of BOHECO's sustainability outfit. Oberoi's team is training women in rural villages along the Himalayas to produce hemp fabric for the apparel industry on their very own farms. This saves them the trouble, and time, of having to hike to the Indo-China border and hump bales of hemp back to their villages.
"Agriculture is one industry where the gap in per capita income between the first entity in the value chain is significantly lower than the one in the second and third, for example. The disparity between what a farmer makes versus what a mill or processing company in the middle makes can be as great as 92 as to 8," Oberoi said.
That's not to mention the stark contrast in profit margins when you consider the sometimes outrageous prices tagged to merchandise at retail outlets around the world.
"The hemp fiber becomes yarn, the yarn becomes fabric, and then we connect women hemp entrepreneurs to buyers," Oberoi said. So far, BOHECO and its network of Himalayan producers have created a shoe, which has generated interest from Internet has-it-all retailer giant Amazon, as well as T-shirts which are just as comfortable as anything made from cotton--hemp is no simple, scratchy marijuana fabric. New technologies are emerging that soften the fibers and stand to place hemp fabric in direct competition with cotton.
"The biggest change that we want to see, other than increasing per capita income, is to change the status quo of farmers and rural artisans in India, very often women," Oberoi said. "The way our social pyramid is structured today, farmers and people who work in agriculture are at the bottommost rung, which is not fair: they're some of the noblest people on the planet, because they're providers."
Attitudes around alternative fabrics are changing because of greater recognition of the apparel industry's negative impact on the developing world and the millions of people it employs. Unfortunately, legacy pressure from the U.S. government's (unwinnable) war on drugs caused countries like India to prohibit regular hemp cultivation and research.
If hemp were to be taken seriously by both industry and government, it could replace thirsty and chemically-intensive fibers like cotton, reducing the environmental costs of fashion and creating a budding but profitable textile market. More fair compensation for small-scale farmers and artisans would be a boon to rural communities. The planet would smile, too, because eco-friendly apparel should always be in style.
For more on sustainable fashion solutions, visit Fabric of Change: Innovating for a Sustainable Apparel Industry.