Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hemp advocates hope to see a resurgence of the crop that's legal for the first time in decades

By Paul Woolverton

Hemp advocates hope to see a resurgence of the crop that's legal for the first time in decades.

Hemp advocates hope to see a resurgence of the crop that's legal for the first time in decades.
Javier Rodriguez helps harvest some of the 27 acres of hemp on an 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. A law was passed in early 2014 to allow experimental hemp farming in states that conduct agricultural research.

By next summer, some North Carolina farm fields could be filled with cannabis plants - not marijuana, but hemp, which is marijuana's near-twin in appearance but has little of the ingredient that makes people high.
For the first time in decades, hemp will be a legal crop in this state.
Initially it's to be grown only on an experimental basis. But hemp advocates hope North Carolina will become part of a national revival of a hemp industry that was knocked down in the 20th century when hemp was lumped in with marijuana by national and local laws against illicit drugs.
The 21st-century American hemp revival is somewhat reminiscent of Colonial times. In the 1700s, according to historical records, leaders in North Carolina and other English colonies in North America encouraged farmers to grow hemp. They aimed to generate income with exports.
In 1766, North Carolina's legislature voted to open a hemp-inspection warehouse in Campbellton, one of the two towns that later merged and became Fayetteville. A journal of the legislative session says the lawmakers also renewed for four years a bounty paid to hemp farmers.
More than two centuries later, North Carolina and the United States were importing all of their hemp products. After encouraging hemp production during World War II to supply the military with rope and other materials, the government effectively banned hemp farming in 1970. The last known American commercial crop was reported to have been grown in Wisconsin in 1957, according to The Denver Post newspaper.
In early 2014, Congress and the president approved a law to allow experimental hemp farming in states that conduct agricultural research. North Carolina's lawmakers voted nearly unanimously in late September to join this effort. The legislation, which emerged with little warning or opportunity for vetting or public comment in the final days of the 2015 lawmaking session, creates the opportunity "to study the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp."
Including North Carolina, 27 states are pursuing hemp production, says the Vote Hemp Inc. advocacy group.
That's great news for people such Brenda Harris, who operates the The Apple Crate Natural Market health food stores in Fayetteville and Hope Mills. The hemp seed, hemp-based protein powders and hemp-based soaps, lotions and oils on her shelves are imported from Canada and overseas.
Hemp seed is high in protein, Harris said, and in essential fatty acids that people need for good health.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, is reported to reduce nausea, suppress seizures, help with cancer, tumors, anxiety and depression and other health problems, says the Leaf Science website. But it notes that most of the studies that made these findings were with animals, not people.
In addition, hemp can be used in a number of fiber-based products.
"I'd love to know my dollars were supporting a North Carolina farmer," Harris said.
"It will definitely mean the product will be more competitively priced," she said. "And it's not a terribly expensive product to start with, but still I feel like with bringing that closer to home, it'll be more sustainable, there'll be less shipping involved, there'll be less mark-up involved. That's usually the way the chain works."

Hemp advocates hope to see a resurgence of the crop that's legal for the first time in decades.
New opportunities
Organic farmer Lee Edwards of Kinston, about 90 minutes east of Fayetteville, could become one of Harris' North Carolina suppliers.
Edwards plans to become part of North Carolina's hemp pilot project and get a crop into the ground in mid-2016. He thinks hemp will make more money than the corn, wheat, soybeans and cereal grains he grows now.
"It's a lower input cost and a higher profit per acre crop," Edwards said. He estimated hemp could net him $1,250 per acre after expenses versus the $400 at most "on a real good year" from traditional grains. And he hopes that he can get two hemp crops a year.
Las Vegas-based Hemp Inc. opened a processing plant last year in Spring Hope, between Raleigh and Rocky Mount. It has been extracting fiber from kenaf, which is similar to hemp (and never was banned), and plans to process hemp as it becomes legal and available in the U.S.
The decortication plant extracts fibers that can be used in paper, clothing and other fiber-based products, even car parts and building materials, according to the Hemp Inc. website.
Back in Fayetteville, researcher Shirley Chao and her students at Fayetteville State University might be able to get North Carolina-grown hemp seed for their research into a hemp-derived insecticide. Until now, they have been buying imported seed.
Over the past several years, Chao and her students discovered that chemicals in hemp have a variety of detrimental effects on roaches, carpenter ants and grain-eating beetles.
"We found that it's very effective in controlling reproduction," Chao said. "And when they feed on it, they don't develop normally. And so they, most of them, either die or have these deformations that you can see. And then if they do survive, they don't reproduce normally."
Chao hopes that further research will demonstrate that the hemp-based pesticide has no ill effects on people or other vertebrates. That quality could make it preferable to other pesticides in use today.
The school also is seeking a patent for the pesticide.

Regulatory system
Before anyone buys hemp legally grown in North Carolina, the state has to set up its system to regulate it and issue hemp-growing licenses to the farmers.
That process is not moving as quickly as advocates would like.
The new hemp law says a state commission must be set up to license and regulate the growers. But first, the industry has to raise $200,000 in private donations to pay for the commission.
As of mid-November, about $20,000 had been raised, said Thomas Shumaker, the executive director of the N.C. Industrial Hemp Association.
Shumaker's group led the effort at the legislature this year to pass the hemp law.
Once the money is raised, a five-person N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission will be appointed to set up the state's hemp program, the law says. It is to work with federal law enforcement or other federal agencies as appropriate, vet people seeking licenses and set rules for how the program will operate.
Because of law enforcement concerns, the GPS coordinates of every hemp farm will be noted, and the hemp will be subject to testing to ensure that it isn't actually marijuana. Under the law, hemp plants must have no more than 0.3 percent THC content, the psychoactive chemical that makes marijuana users high.
Marijuana typically has 5 to 20 percent THC and the highest grades carry 25 to 30 percent, Leaf Science says.
It will probably be June before North Carolina's hemp regulatory system is in place and farmers can start planting, Shumaker said.

Hemp advocates hope to see a resurgence of the crop that's legal for the first time in decades.
Learning from others
In the meantime, the state's farmers can learn from growers in several other states who have been experimenting with hemp.
Kentucky just finished its second year of its pilot project. It had 922 acres planted in 2015, said Adam Watson, the industrial hemp program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
The state is looking at different varieties of hemp for grain (the seeds), fiber and nutraceuticals, which are oils that are thought to have health benefits.
The program has worked with with law enforcement, Watson said. Police know the growers have hemp, not marijuana, he said, but some thieves didn't know the difference and went into a field and stole some.
Farmers have tested seed from Canada, Australia and Europe, he said. They are allowed to sell their harvest, but it's too soon to figure out yet the extent of the potential market, he said.
While hemp can be used to make paper, textiles, building materials and other items, it may not necessarily be the best raw material for those products, Watson said. Much depends on whether the hemp-based products prove to be practical and cost-effective, he said.
Watson and other industry observers said the American hemp industry is in a chicken-and-egg situation in getting started: Because there have been no growers, there is no marketplace or infrastructure to buy their product. But without growers, there is no incentive to set up a marketplace.

Hemp advocates hope to see a resurgence of the crop that's legal for the first time in decades.
But there is demand for hemp.
The Congressional Research Service this year estimated that in 2013, the United States imported $36.9 million in hemp products. The Hemp Industries Association estimated that the total U.S. retail value of hemp products in 2013 was $581 million, the research service said.
People like Edwards, the farmer from Kinston, want a piece of that market.

"I hope to start with around 50 acres," Edwards said. "That's more of just getting going the first year. Depending on how things go, I'd love to get up to a couple hundred acres."

Oglala Man Back In Court Fighting To Grow Hemp

By Kevin Woster

Oglala Man Back In Court Fighting To Grow Hemp


More than 15 years ago, Alex White Plume began planting industrial hemp near his home a few miles north of Manderson on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

It was a family effort, and White Plume traveled overseas to see first-hand how hemp was grown and processed there. He believed it held great economic potential for his family and for creating jobs on the reservation.

The Oglala Lakota Tribe approved the venture, but growing hemp was still illegal under federal law, and federal agents came on White Plume’s property and destroyed his crops. A federal court order eventually banned him from planting more.

But now White Plume is back in court and hoping to be back in the hemp business. The remnants of his previous effort still surround his home in the hills above Wounded Knee Creek.

"We cleaned our seeds out here in the yard, so today you look around the house, there's hemp plants growing all over," White Plume says. "And I'm under a restraining order not to have nothing to do with them."

White Plume planned to do plenty with the hemp he grew down along the creek. A relative of marijuana, but without the high, hemp produces fiber, oil, seed and food products. The commercial possibilities were many.

"We had all these great plans and visions of happiness and sovereignty and beauty," he said. "And that was our goal. It was a whole family affair."

It ended with government raids and a standing court order preventing White Plume from growing hemp anywhere in the United States. Asserting tribal sovereignty, Oglala Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele still considers the raids an illegal taking.

"I say they still owe Alex White Plume for that crop," said Steele, who opposes any effort on the Pine Ridge Reservation to grow marijuana.“They tested it every which way, no THC in it."

White Plume said there was a trace amount of THC in one sample, according to the government. He questioned that result and said the plants were grown to not contain THC, the ingredient in marijuana that can produce a high.

With a shifting legal landscape on both marijuana and hemp, White Plume is back in federal court in Rapid City. He hopes to get the court order lifted and start planting hemp again. He says it has the potential to help ease the grinding reservation poverty.

"It's a solution plant," he said. "And everybody needs to recognize that."

Former North Dakota U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon and the Minneapolis-based Robins Kaplan law firm represent White Plume. Former South Dakota U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson also works for the firm but can't be involved in cases against his former office for two years following his departure from the office last March.

The U.S. Attorney's office declined comment for this story, citing the litigation.

County minimizes role in Menominee hemp raid

By Paul Srubas

WIS 0817 Casino 01
 Tribal chairman Gary Besaw 

KESHENA - Menominee County officials want the Menominee Tribe of Indians to know they have no gripe with the tribe’s hemp-growing operation.
In a letter to the tribe, officials said the county’s role was minimal in a federal raid on the tribe’s hemp operation last month and should not be taken as a threat to relations between the county and tribe.
County sheriff’s deputies and Highway Department workers were on hand Oct. 23 when federal and state agents executed a federal search warrant on the tribe’s hemp operation and confiscated thousands of plants. Federal agents claim the hemp contained prohibited concentrations of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, a plant closely related to hemp.
The county said in a press release explaining the letter it was responding to tribal inquiries about why the county participated, under what authority and what that participation might mean to future relations between them.
It’s unclear whether those inquiries were made formally. Tribal chairman Gary Besaw said tribal government, tribal members and non-members all have been wondering about the county’s involvement.
“We’ve asked, but … it was not in any kind of adversarial way,” he said. “It was, ‘we have a relationship; can you explain what happened, what your role was?’”
The tribe hasn’t met to discuss its official reaction to the county’s explanation, Besaw said.
The growing of hemp is illegal in the state of Wisconsin, but the tribe believes it is allowed under the federal farm bill to grow it for research purposes. Despite its legal issues, the plant has huge potential for textiles, body-care and building material products, and Besaw said the tribe wants to explore how it could possibly use it as a way to build its struggling economy.
Its decision to grow the plants for research was entirely independent from and unrelated to the tribe’s referendum this summer on whether to legalize marijuana within tribal boundaries, Besaw said. The tribal government has taken no steps toward legalizing marijuana following the August referendum, in which a majority of tribal members voted in favor of legalizing the drug for medicinal and recreational use.
According to the federal warrant, at least some of the tribe’s hemp plants exceeded the 0.3 percent THC level that marks the legal difference between hemp and marijuana. Besaw denied that.
“We don’t want to grow it illegally,” he said. “We have a tribal ordinance that says anything that goes above that definition of 0.3 percent would be destroyed, that we’d destroy it and we offered all federal authorities to be there to witness it.”
Hemp plants that are under stress from drought or cold could possibly climb to that level, he said, but in any case, “there’s no way hemp would be anywhere close to anything that could be considered marketable marijuana, which has approximately 30 percent (THC levels). This was industrial hemp, and if it were over by 0.1 of a percent, it would still be under 1 percent, which wouldn’t give anyone any kind of effect and we’d have destroyed it. But that’s not how it played out.”
Instead, drug agents removed about 30,000 plants that were growing or drying, and left maybe 100 pounds of it, Besaw said.
The county, in its letter, wanted to make it clear that the raid was a federal operation, not a county one, said county Emergency Government director Shelley Williams.
The state Division of Criminal Investigation asked the sheriff’s department to help as state and federal agents executed a federal search warrant but never indicated beforehand where or on whom the warrant was to be served, Williams said. The sheriff’s department routinely gets such requests as part of a mutual aid agreement among law enforcement agencies throughout the state, she said.
It was only after the staging part of the operation, which took place in a neighboring county, that the sheriff’s department learned the warrant was to be served on the tribe, she said.
The sheriff’s department has no jurisdiction over the tribe or tribal members but learned it was brought in because it has jurisdiction over the nontribal members who might have been involved in the hemp-growing operation, Williams said. When it turned out those nontribal members weren’t present during the raid, the sheriff’s department’s role became that of assisting with perimeter security only, she said.
State agents asked the sheriff’s department to request help from the county’s Highway Department, she said. That department, believing it was complying with a county request, also agreed without knowing the focus of the operation, Williams said. When the operation commenced, highway department crews worked under the direction of U.S. Drug Enforcement agents by helping to load and transport confiscated plants, she said.
All costs incurred by use of county employees and equipment are to be reimbursed by the federal government, and no tribal funds or equipment were used, Williams said.
Because of its jurisdiction over the nontribal people thought to have been involved in the hemp growing operation, the sheriff’s department could not have refused participation, Williams said.
“But hindsight being 20-20, this is one of those things, I do believe, that if they had known in advance, I think the county’s preference, including that of the Highway Department, would have been that they contact perhaps Oconto or some other county,” Williams said.
“The county wants to make it clear that everything we did, we did with the best intentions in terms of executing the duties the sheriff’s department has and, from the standpoint of the Highway Department, in executing what they felt to be a responsibility to help a fellow county agency.”
Williams said the sheriff’s department takes no position on whether the tribe’s hemp was legal.
The tribe filed suit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Department of Justice over the hemp raid, he said. There might eventually be legal action over the taking of this year’s crop, but the current legal action is to get clarification on the tribe's right to grow hemp, Besaw said.
“Our priority is the ability to cultivate industrial hemp next season, and for that to happen, we first want clarification from the federal courts that we have the right to cultivate industrial hemp,” he said.
“The real impetus is so we can get the next crop in,” he said. “That’s my focus.”
Tribal officials will probably discuss Menominee County’s letter and role in the raid when they meet Dec. 3, Besaw said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has until Dec. 11 to file a written answer to the Menominees’ lawsuit.

Hemp food touted for health benefits

By Barbara Duckworth

Those who replied to a recent international hemp market survey cited inconsistent government regulations as a weakness inhibiting industry growth.  |  File photo
Those who replied to a recent international hemp market survey cited inconsistent government regulations as a weakness inhibiting industry growth. | File photo

Consumers have a wide selection of hemp based food and cosmetics, but regulations and scientific information have not kept up.
Commercial hemp production was not allowed for many years because it was confused with other types of cannabis, and authorities did not want products with high levels of the intoxicant tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), said Daniel Kruse of Hemp International in Germany, which sells seeds, hulled nuts, oil, cosmetics and hemp garments.
Canada lifted its ban in 1998 with a set of regulations on allowable limits of THC. The European Union also allows hemp cultivation, but there are inconsistencies across the region when it comes to THC levels in food products.
“Of all the European countries, there are only three countries that have seed regulations with limits or guidance,” he told the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance’s annual meeting held in Calgary Nov. 17-19.
“Everything else is a grey zone, much different from Canada, where it is regulated.”
He said Canada, Switzerland and Germany allow THC levels at 10 parts per million, while countries such as Australia have much lower levels at five p.p.m., which is hard to achieve.
Canadian regulations define hemp as having less than .3 percent THC, which is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Sales of hemp food products such as milk, pasta, bread, beverages and oil are growing. They are considered a healthy alternative with higher levels of fibre, protein and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Kruse’s company recently conducted an international survey in Europe, the United States and Canada to assess market potential to promote hemp as a healthy food.
Respondents said the main market weakness was inconsistent government legislation on allowable THC limits.
They also agreed that more research is needed on safe ingestion of THC that takes into account the variations in people’s diets and the kind of products they consume.

Uttarakhand To Become First Indian State To Legalise Cannabis Cultivation

By Bobins Abraham

Uttarakhand government's decision to allow farmers to cultivation of hemp plants is the first of its kind in India.
Uttarakhand To Become First Indian State To Legalise Cannabis Cultivation
Farmers from across the state except Terai and Bhabhar regions can now legally grow hemp. While in countries like the US, many states have legalised the cultivation of cannabis for smoking purpose, in Uttarakhand the permission is only for industrial purpose. Farmers will have to get a licence by the excise department to grow cannabis. 
Hemp with a tetra hydro cannabinol (THC) content of 0.3 to 1.5 percent can be used for industrial purposes like in the manufacturing of fibre.
Uttarakhand To Become First Indian State To Legalise Cannabis Cultivation
The government has however made it clear that the farmers can only sell their produce to the government and not to private buyers. The move is expected to bring in some much needed cash into the rural economy of Uttrarkhand which is in a dying need for cash crops. 

Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance Wants Regulations Changed

By Cory Knutt

Hemp Seed Cookies - File Photo

The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), which held its national convention in Calgary last week, says the current Industrial Hemp Regulations need to be changed.
Under the current rules, Canadian farmers are only permitted to harvest the seeds and bare stock.
CHTA Executive Director Kim Shukla says although hemp contains low levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC, there is another beneficial cannabinoid known as cannabidiol or CBD that is contained in other parts of the plant.
"That has been shown under research to have some pretty significant beneficial health impacts," she said. "This is being supported by research studies that have been done in Canada and abroad."
In a CHTA press release, Dr. Steve Laviolette of the University of Western Ontario states, "Cannabidiol may serve as an effective treatment for devastating psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, emerging evidence is revealing potential benefits of cannabidiol for the treatment of epilepsy."
Shukla says other jurisdictions, including parts of the US, are permitted to harvest other parts of the hemp plant, which puts Canadian farmers at a disadvantage.
"What's really quite frustrating is that Canada has been the leader in hemp production for the past 15 years. It's a market advantage that we have but we are very close to losing that advantage because of these antiquated regulations under which we operate," she said.
CHTA is asking for immediate action from the newly elected Liberal government. Shukla is hoping the Liberals stance on legalizing marijuana will have on positive impact on the hemp industry.
She estimates losses to Canadian farmers to be in the billions of dollars.

Industrial Hemp Coming to NC

By Loretta Boniti

RALEIGH -- North Carolina farmers may soon have a new crop to consider.
A last minute law passed by state legislators opens up North Carolina to get into the industrial hemp industry. 
This could means more jobs and opportunities for the state.
“North Carolina being such an agricultural state, it just makes sense,” said Davidson Co. State Sen. Stan Bingham.
Bingham is a long time proponent of industrial hemp in North Carolina.
For many, images of hemp conjure up thoughts of marijuana. But those associated with the hemp industry say the differences could not be more clear. Most specifically, that one can get you high, the other simply cannot.
Now, North Carolina farmers could get a chance to expand into this marketplace.
“No one is making money growing tobacco,” said Thomas Shumaker with the NC Industrial Hemp Association. “No one is making money growing soy beans. No one is making money growing corn this year. Hemp is a crop that our farmers can grow, and it’s an alternative.”
In the final days of this year's legislative session, lawmakers introduced and approved a law which says industrial hemp production is legal in North Carolina.
There are some I's to dot and T's to cross, making sure the production is in line with federal law which was approved a few years ago. But this was a big step forward for those interested in the industry.
“Thomas Jefferson is quoted that anywhere tobacco grows well, hemp will grow well,” said Shumaker.
Before being banned, North Carolina was one of the top hemp producing states. It is poised to be ready to jump right back into the business again. And with over 25,000 uses for the plant, from textiles to food, supporters say the market could be vast.
“Of course all of this is already being used, it is being imported from China,” said Bingham. “So it will be a good opportunity for North Carolina to take over the market and take it back from China.”
It's a market that could mean some big bucks for the state.
“Some reports indicate hemp is a billion dollar industry,” said Shumaker. “My guess is it is a $500 million industry for the next 10 years."

Hemp group says producers are missing out due to red tape


WINNIPEG — Government regulations are costing Canadian hemp producers a potential billion dollar market opportunity, says an industry group.
Canadian hemp farmers are permitted to use only certain parts of the plant: the stock and seeds.
Kim Shukla, executive director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, said that means farmers are missing out in the market.
Shukla said the alliance is pushing for reform and is hopeful that a new federal government has the potential to bring change.
Hemp plants contain low levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC, about .3 percent. Marijuana plants typically contain more than five percent of THC.
The parts of the plant that cannot be harvested also contain cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), which can treat schizophrenia, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Dr. Steve Laviolette of the University of Western Ontario.
“While we are struggling and fighting against these archaic regulations, other countries are beginning to really come on as powerhouses,” Shukla said.
There is a strong market demand for hemp, but the Canadian industry has struggled with its ability to process product and move it through the channel.
Shukla names a 2013 fire at a major hemp processor as a setback. The processor wasn’t able to work at full capacity until 2014. She said next year’s acreage will likely stay static at about 100,000 acres.
“So we can begin to manage some of our processing challenges, and as more processors come on board, and as more folks are involved in the marketplace, we’re looking forward to 2017.”

Hemp crops coming to New York as early as spring?

By David Hill

Hemp seen as a potentially valuable addition to New York's crop mix but it has a long way to go and market uncertainties remain.

Kentucky farmers embracing stateƂ’s growing hemp industry

Farmers in the Southern Tier and elsewhere in New York may be able to legally grow a version of the marijuana plant for the first time in decades as early as the coming spring.

The Coloradoan Library
A Colorado State University
The Coloradoan Library A Colorado State University graduate research assistant handles a plant during a tour of a nearly half-acre test plot with 17 hemp varieties on Aug. 27. Brian Campbell, a Colorado State University graduate research assistant who helped design and execute the experiment, handles a plant during a tour of the nearly half acre test plot with 17 hemp varieties, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, in northern Colorado. (Photo: Morgan Spiehs/The Coloradoan)

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets has developed proposed regulations to govern experimental growing of a cultivar of cannabis, the plant most known today as the source of marijuana. Industrial hemp, as it’s sometimes known, has too little of the active ingredient  tetrahydrocannabinol, often referred to as THC, to produce a recreational high yet is seen as having enormous potential.
Hemp has edible and oil-producing seeds, and its fibrous bark and internal core can be used as a building material. Parts of the plant are used in making plastics, paper, insulation, animal bedding and cosmetics, eaten and burned as biomass fuel. It also provides a chemical seen as having medical potential.
Two state lawmakers from the Southern Tier sponsored bills to get trial plantings started: Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, and Sen. Tom O'Mara, R-Elmira.
“We are on the frontier of a major new industrial crop, and that’s why I’ve been pushing New York to get out in front of it,” Lupardo said.
Federal law was changed in the 2014 national farm-policy bill to allow states to permit hemp research. Lupardo and O’Mara sponsored bills in New York to do just that. The measure was adopted with near-unanimous support, but rules governing the experiments were not adopted in time for the 2015 growing season.
Up to 10 projects will be allowed in 2016 in the state. They likely will consist of trials to see what varieties of Cannibas sativa, as the plant is known formally, will do best for seed, oil and fiber production, said Jerry Cherny, the E.V. Baker Professor of Agriculture at Cornell University.
It’s unclear if Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will be involved in 2016 because there has been no funding budgeted for CALS hemp trials to date, Cherny said.
Twenty states have legislation allowing farmers to grow hemp or allowing experimental growing, according to Cherney, but Colorado and Kentucky are by far the farthest along. Kentucky, in particular, is developing a hemp industry already. It was the major hemp growing state, raising it for textile fiber primarily, in the early 20th century.
Kentucky farmers are finding hemp is a good replacement for tobacco, a major cash crop there, said Susan Cody, president of the New York Hemp Industries Association, and a Madison County farmer.
Hemp has appeal and potential for many reasons, according to Cody. It’s fairly easy to grow, and its leaves, stem and seed have many uses.
“The seed can be harvested and you can either save that for next year’s planting or people eat it and you can either shell it or eat it unshelled,” Cody said. “It’s high in omega threes and people will press it into oil and those are used for cosmetics, and people eat that, too, the oil. When you press it into oil you get a hemp meal and sometimes you can make that an animal feed a supplement for animal feed or people will make a protein powder out of it.”
The thick, woody internal stem can be combined with a binder to form blocks used as a building material. Hemp can be made into paper, its essential oils and seeds go into cosmetics, lip balm and hand cream; the car maker BMW uses it for floor mats and event door parts.
The plant has a very long tap root and can pull nutrients from deep in the soil, helping to replenish fields used for more common commodity crops like corn and soy beans. Used this way, it can also help fend off insect and fungal diseases that feed on repeated plantings of the same crops.
“It’s really kind of a huge potential here for people to specialize in certain strands and certain varieties and we’re really just kind of tip of the iceberg at this point,” Cody said.
The challenge will be to find varieties that are suited to the climate, soils and growing techniques, and to set up processing facilities, Cody said.
Legal resistance tied to the intoxicating variety of the plant remain. Initial rules required barbed-wire fencing around test parcels, which would be impractical and costly, Lupardo said. Those were eventually removed, however.
The rules the state Department of Agriculture and Markets made and published in the state register Sept. 30 require test hemp not contain more than .3 percent THC, the high-inducing ingredient, and that samples be tested at an approved lab. Any plants with more than that are to be destroyed, harvested plants have to be kept in and transported under security. Only institutions of higher education can apply for the permits, but they can contract with growers.
In Vermont, some farmers have been planting hemp using supposedly sterile food seeds, according to Rob Manfredi, a small farmer who advocates for the crop in that state. His small sustainability-oriented vegetable farm near Killington took seven pounds of food seeds and despite a 5 percent germination rate produced at least 40 pounds of seed in a season. The plan is to gradually build a seed supply system for farmers without them having to get federal narcotics licenses to have hemp seed.
Vermont farmers have to register with the state agriculture agency to grow hemp, he said. It’s no panacea for the rural economy in the Northeast, but hemp can have a role for growers willing to experiment, he said.
“I don’t think we look at this as the end all be all savior to humanity at all,” Manfredi said. “It’s a strong big part of the picture for getting the small farmers back to work.”
The market may be an obstacle, too. Canada is farther ahead in developing its hemp industry.
In the U.S., as states open to hemp, oversupply may become a problem, as happened in Canada at first, though its market recovered from a price crash and is stable and growing, according to Cherney.
“Most of the world’s hemp is grown in China, with extremely cheap labor, and they would be happy to supply an expanded market,” he said.
Still, hemp is seen as a crop worth trying. Lupardo said a chemical component is being researched for treating medical and psychiatric disorders and is of interest at the Binghamton University School of Pharmacy.
“I got an email from a local entrepreneur yesterday. He sent me research about hemp as a phyoto-remdiation plant. You can plant it in contaminated soil. And it extracts pollution from soil.”
“There’s also applications for hemp for battery storage believe it or not. it’s the most remarkable plant in terms of multi-use.”
The proposed rules were published in the State Register Sept. 30. The comment period ended a month later, and Ag and Markets expects to publish the final rules before the end of the year.

Workers co-op wants to use North East industrial cannabis for clothing

By Anthony Bunn

A WORKERS' co-operative wants to establish a hemp clothing business using industrial cannabis grown on the Border.

Its organiser Dave Kerin, who has a union background, said he wanted enterprise bargaining agreements for uniformed personnel to specify that protective clothing comes from Australia, opening the door to hemp-based apparel.Earthworker Co-operative is pursuing a plan to have clothing for construction workers and emergency services made from hemp as part of a push for greater manufacturing in Australia.
"If we were aimed a the private market, we couldn't compete, but the idea of the social market, where workers can take it as part of an EBA is different," Mr Kerin said.
A material difference: Earthworker Co-operative organiser Dave Kerin is looking to start a hemp clothing business. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE
A material difference: Earthworker Co-operative organiser Dave Kerin is looking to start a hemp clothing business. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE
"We're putting out feelers with workers to see if they can have that option and...we're putting feelers out  in Albury-Wodonga to see if there's interest from the growing side.
"It's early doors but we're keen to get our textile industry going in this country again."
The Melbourne-based co-operative took over a solar hot water business in Dandenong and has been attempting to build up that enterprise and would like to have a textile mill on the Border for hemp processing.
Mr Kerin said he was attracted to the Border through the environmental enthusiasm of the region's school children that he had hosted on tours in Melbourne.
The president and founder of the Industrial Hemp Association of Victoria, Lyn Stephenson, said there should no impediment to propagating the crop on the Border.

However, Ms Stephenson said Australia had no hemp fibre processing, with the plant largely grown for its seed which is formed into oil."Theoretically you should be able to grow hemp wherever you grow wheat," Ms Stephenson said.
"At the moment the only real option is to export for processing overseas," Ms Stephenson said.
The Kyneton grower said it was tricky to export hemp for processing as current methods meant the lightly weighted fibre was uncompacted and there was excess airspace in containers.

Hemp cooperative hopes to grow industry

Seeks to provide information, resources to farmers

Members of the newly formed Northeastern Colorado Hemp Farmers Association board of directors: (front row, from left) David Roth, Mike Sullivan, Leonard
Members of the newly formed Northeastern Colorado Hemp Farmers Association board of directors: (front row, from left) David Roth, Mike Sullivan, Leonard Reskog, attorney David Bush, Mia Desmedt; (back row, from left) Mike Werner, Chad Pfitzer, David Serrano and Bethlene McCall. (Sara Waite / Sterling Journal-Advocate)

A group of individuals interested in the hemp industry came together Friday at the Sterling Public Library and made history, officially creating one of the first cooperatives in Colorado for hemp producers.
"We have this opportunity to really pave the way for future farmers in giving them a profitable crop, and that's our mission. That's our vision," said David Serrano, a hemp advocate from Sterling who brought the group together.
The bulk of the meeting was spent reviewing the initial draft of bylaws for the Northeastern Colorado Hemp Farmers Association. David Bush, an attorney based in Wheat Ridge who has experience with the industrial hemp laws, filed articles of incorporation and employer identification number. He also put together the rough bylaws based on his experience with other organizations; he said he opted to keep the bylaws fairly simple for now to "get the organization formed and operating." In the future, the coop can add to the bylaws to meet its needs.
Bush noted that one topic the draft bylaws just touched on was membership; he suggested using a membership agreement to set forth terms for joining and participating in the coop. One reason for that, he said, was that the bylaws are intended to be like a "constitution," or a stable document addressing how the organization is structured and how it's run. The membership agreement can be revised as needed, because "that's going to change all the time. The issues that we have this year are not going to be the issues we have next year," he said. "We don't know what Colorado is going to be good at — we don't know if we're going to be fiber farmers, or seed oil farmers or CBD farmers, or all of the above or two out of three.
It's just impossible to say right now."
The agreements can be redone annually to allow them to address the current market and climate conditions. He did put together a basic, draft membership agreement to start from.
Another, related topic he said the board will need to figure out is the capital structure for the coop. "Do you want the coop to basically be owned by stock, which means we have to issue some private stock, and we have to define what classes of stock would be appropriate for that, and we have to figure out how does someone own that stock, and what are their voting rights?" he said.
Bush reviewed each section of the bylaws to get input from the board. One item the board decided to change was to allow for voting and non-voting members, to keep it open to those who might want to support the coop but are not actively engaged in hemp or ag production. They will discuss at future meetings how to define membership, what the benefits to members will be, as well as the benefits to the board of directors.
"That is an extremely important topic and it's a huge topic," Bush said. "It deserves a lot of attention, by itself."
Serrano noted that the coop will be able to act as "a collective bargaining unit" on behalf of member farmers, to ensure they get the best price.
Bush also encouraged the board to define its service area, warning that he has had experience with two other coops that have been unsuccessful. "Both of them tried to do too much," he said.
His advice: "Pick the direction you want to go in and run in that direction. Don't pick 12 directions and go in all 12 at once."
After some discussion, the board decided to include the 15 counties in the Progressive 15 area — Adams, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Douglas, Elbert, Kit Carson, Larimer, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld and Yuma — and add Denver, Boulder, Jefferson and Broomfield counties because they believe there is support in those communities for the hemp industry. They also talked about forming relationships with hemp coops that might form in other parts of the state, and eventually participating in a state association of hemp cooperatives, should the industry reach that point.
Serrano said the coop will have first right of refusal on buying the crop from its members. Their goal is to be able to negotiate the best price on behalf of the farmers. If a farmer does find a better price, he said, they can bring it to the board so the rest of the coop can take advantage.
One concern raised was that if the coop provides seed to its members, would the organization be liable if the crop goes "hot," or the THC level in the plant exceeds the 0.3 percent maximum set by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. The board discussed having safeguards in place to help prevent that problem, as well as contingencies to address if it does happen.
At this point, the board has nine members. In discussing the leadership of the coop, Serrano said he would like to serve as president for at least the first year, and then the board could elect a new leader if they felt someone could do a better job. He added that he would like to have a co-president who has an agriculture background to represent the farming community. He has appointed a vice president, Ashley Weber, who was unable to attend Friday's meeting. Serrano recommended naming his partner, Mia Desmedt, as treasurer, due to her experience with bookkeeping.
Also serving as members of the founding board are Chad Pfitzer, Mike Sullivan, David Roth, Mike Werner, Leonard Roskog and Bethlene McCall.
Anyone interested in more information about the Northeast Colorado Hemp Farmers Association can contact Serrano at 720-499-6219 or