Monday, December 19, 2016

German harvester is major hemp advancement


Rafael Dulon has been involved in nearly all aspects of the hemp value chain since 1997, after Germany resumed legalization of hemp as an agricultural crop the year before.
Now Dulon’s firm, Berlin-based Hanf Farm GmbH, which he serves as CEO, has extended its industry footprint with the rollout of an industrial-grade harvesting system, the Multi-Combine HC 3400 — a major technological step forward that can help hemp farmers realize the full promise of the plant on a massive scale.

Solution for mid- and big-scale farms

“Our goal is the production of innovative and sustainable products with respect for ecological, social and economic aspects of agriculture and food production.” — Rafael Dulon, CEO, Hanf Farm
“Harvesting hemp on a large scale has always been complicated,” Dulon said. “We believe our harvester is a major advancement addressing this issue — which has been an ongoing challenge for the industry.”
To give birth to the MC HC 3400, Hanf Farm started working with a range of contractors and suppliers in 2014 to develop a prototype. By August 2015 the company completed its initial working model which was employed during harvests last year and in 2016.
Dulon has spent a lot of time on the road since, introducing the machine in what Hanf Farm sees as promising markets — as the the demand for hemp raw materials shifts to focus on effective collection of the plant’s flowers and leaves — a process that was only possible by hand in the past. The new MC HC 3400 system allows for the lopping off of the plant tops several times during the yearly vegetation.
In his talks with farmers thus far, Dulon has also heard from smaller growers about their equipment needs in the field. In that light Hanf Farm has already started work on a Multi-Combine Light Version — a smaller harvesting system that can be hooked up to existing tractors.

20-year hemp odyssey

For Dulon, the harvester project is just the next logical step in his 20-year hemp odyssey.
As soon as Germany freed up hemp again at the end of last century, Dulon began cultivating seeds in Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg, processing them into organic, high quality edible oils. Down through the years Hanf Farm has expanded operations — first by working closely with local farmers to expand its growing area; the company’s reach now extends to fields in eastern Germany and some Central European countries.
Along the way, the company also has expanded its product offerings, moving beyond edible oils into a wide range of teas, flour, protein powders, biscuits and hemp-seed chocolate bars, and raw materials for CBD production ground leaves, pellets and CBD-powder. Hanf Farm has extensive distribution around Europe and in several non-European countries, Dulon said.

Focus on the environment

The fields from which Hanf Farm gets raw plant material are primarily in ecologically managed areas that produce organically grown crops — an environmentally friendly process that Hanf Farm takes seriously: The company was the first European hemp processor to receive certification for hemp seeds, leaves and flowers under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC-PLUS) regime, which it was granted in January 2016. The designation guarantees that the biomass is not produced on land with high biodiversity and high carbon storage.
“Our goal is the production of innovative and sustainable products with respect for ecological, social and economic aspects of agriculture and food production,” says Dulon. “It was a logical step forward to have our products certified, as we are totally dedicated to agricultural good practices that demonstrate our commitment to the environment and to humanity in general.”

Hanf Farm GmbH

Founded: 1997
Chief Executive Officer: Rafael Dulon
Headquarters: Berlin
Profile: Vertically integrated industrial hemp grower; developer of hemp harvesting and processing technology; producer of a wide range of hemp food and other derivatives

Diligence Pays Off for Canadian Hemp


Industrial Hemp,Canada,Rules Revised,Hemp,Canada

Pressure from the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA) has finally paid off for the country’s domestic industry as government officials this week removed a key requirement that hemp grain and fiber crops be tested for THC, and introduced other changes aimed at simplifying hemp regulatory and licensing rules, HempToday has learned.
The changes come after years of efforts by CHTA aimed at freeing up the industry to reach its broader potential. The Alliance had issued a blistering critique of Health Canada last week when Health Minister Jane Philpott canceled an appearance at CHTA’s annual conference.
It looks like our message was heard by the Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau),” one source told HT. “He simply walked across the hall and ordered the Minister of Health Canada to fix it.”
A THC testing requirement remains for cultivators of hemp for certified seed, or for inclusion of varieties on Canada’s List of Approved Cultivars (LOAC). Under an existing rule that was not changed, tests for certified seed and LOAC-destined crops must still be submitted by Nov. 15 of the year the test was performed, unless the cultivar is exempted from the LOAC, according to Health Canada’s notice informing the industry of the changes.
In addition to dropping the primary THC testing requirement, other changes include:
  • Cultivation licenses will be issued without the need to pre-identify planting sites. Instead farmers can now choose planting sites at the time of planting, and simply notify the Office of Controlled Substances within 15 days of seeding.
  • Minimum acreage requirements for hemp cultivation have been dropped.
  • One hemp growing license will now cover all cultivation sites and activities, reducing the number of licenses and license amendments required.
  • License expiration rules have been extended to March of the year after planting to allow for the sale and purchase of products grown in the previous year.
  • Required criminal record checks are now valid for one year from the date they were issued.
  • Less information will be required regarding registration, and that process has generally been simplified.
  • Farmers can now submit their growing applications by email.
Under the revised rules scheme, those who may require licenses include seed, grain and fiber producers; hemp plant breeders; distributors and re-resellers; processors; any entities that test for grain viability; and importers and exporters, Health Canada said.

New Plastic ‘Zeoform’ Turns Hemp Into Almost Anything

By Joe Martino

New Plastic ‘Zeoform’ Turns Hemp Into Almost Anything | zeoform | Science & Technology

What if todays plastics could be made from materials that were not only sustainable but non toxic? Today, our plastics are made from oil which means not only are we putting toxic chemicals into our atmosphere, but we are also filling our environment with products that cannot bio-degrade. 

A company out of Australia has created a promising new product called Zeoform and it is made only from water and cellulose take from hemp plants. This means their plastic is not only eco-friendly in production but is also biodegradable!
As stated on their website:
Zeoform is a revolutionary material that changes everything. Made from cellulose fibres and water – and absolutely nothing else! Our patented process converts cellulose fibres into a super strong high tech moulding material capable of being formed into a multitude of products. ZEOFORM is 100% non-toxic, biodegradable and ‘locks up’ carbon from waste into beautiful, functional forms.
New Plastic ‘Zeoform’ Turns Hemp Into Almost Anything | zoeform_chair | Science & Technology
According to Zeoform, their product is very durable and relies only on the natural process of hydrogen bonding that takes place when cellulose fibres are mixed with water. No glue or bonding material is necessary because the bond created is already so strong. The final material can be formed into almost anything and can be cut, routed, machined, drilled, screwed, nailed and glued in the same way wood and wood composites can be. It can also be coloured/dyed, and finished in any way creators like.
The material is water and fire resistant inherently and can be enforced further in both categories with some small adjustments to ingredients. The product can be made into anything from car parts to paper, moulds, furniture, and even musical instruments – the possibilities are endless.
New Plastic ‘Zeoform’ Turns Hemp Into Almost Anything | zeoform_guitar | Science & Technology
Given the practicality of the product, the company hopes to expand their patented technology and begin offering manufacturing licensees to larger facilities around the world. Given the fact that there is a lot of infrastructure already set up where this type of product can be built, switching over from non-sustainable and toxic methods to methods Zeoform uses is very possible and should be a high priority given our environmental state. Sure it might mean disaster for big oil, but isn’t it time we put us and the environment before profit?

15 Mind-Blowing Ways Hemp Can Save the World

By Rachel Garland

Hemp is one of the world’s oldest crops. It also happens to be one of the most versatile. From plastics to paper, the hemp plant provides the means for humanity to live in harmony with the environment and the ecosystems that support it — without us wanting for anything.
Just to give you an idea how far this plant can take us, here are 15 amazing ways hemp can be a game-changer for planet Earth…

#1) Growing hemp prevents pesticide pollution

Did you know hemp is naturally resistant to pests? Unlike cotton or flax (which are estimated to consume 50% of all pesticides) growing hemp does not require pesticides or herbicides.
When pesticides are sprayed on land, they can easily seep into water sources such as a river, ocean, or pond. If pesticides contaminate a body of water it can harm the living creatures within that water source (fish, frogs, insects, and more) along with anyone ingesting it.
Pesticides have been linked to cancer, birth defects, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s Disease to name a few. So not only are pesticides dangerous for the environment, they are also a hazard to our health.
By integrating hemp, we can significantly reduce our exposure to unnecessary toxins and pollutants.

#2) Hemp helps restores soil fertility

Hemp can grow in a wide variety of terrains and soil types. It forms deep roots helping to hold the soil together. This in turn prevents soil erosion. In fact, hemp also increases the microbial content of the soil. And the incredible benefits don’t end there.
The stem and leaves of the hemp plant are rich in nutrients. After harvesting, these nutrient-dense remnants of the hemp plant can be returned to the soil, rejuvenating it for a richer yield the following year.

#3) Hemp can produce biodegradable plastics

Americans used over 45 billion plastic water bottles in 2015 alone. Even crazier: plastic water bottles can take anywhere between 400 and 1,000 years to decompose.
Considering the United States’ recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, there is room for improvement to say the least. [Recycling is also a one-time-only deal, meaning plastics are actually down-cycled into other forms of plastic before ultimately reaching landfill — Editor.]
The basic building blocks of plastics are cellulose derived from petroleum. Yet petroleum is highly toxic. Hemp on the other hand happens to be the greatest cellulose producer on earth. It also happens to be biodegradable.
Why not use non-toxic and biodegradable hemp for producing plastics? Instead of stuffing our landfills with toxic chemicals we could reuse and recycle natural products.

#4) The hemp plant absorbs toxic metals

Soil sustains life. The plants that feed, clothe, and house us originate from the earth. Yet we’ve become increasingly detached from this basic human need. Meanwhile, man-made waste has contaminated soil across the globe. Both our planet’s health and our personal health are under duress, and the need for change is imminent.
It has already been proven that hemp can eliminate toxins from the environment. Hemp is so effective at absorbing toxic materials it has even been used for removing nuclear radiation from Fukushima and Chernobyl.

#5) Hemp is an outstanding renewable biofuel

Imagine if there was a non-toxic fuel source that could be domestically produced and was totally renewable. Turns out that material already exists. It’s been on this planet for hundreds and thousands of years.
Hemp converts to biodiesel at a 97 percent efficiency rate. It also burns at a lower temperature than any other type of biofuel. Plus, when burned in a diesel engine, hemp eradicates the exhaust odor of petroleum with the pleasant smell of hemp.
With over 4,000,000 miles of roads in the United States, transitioning to hemp biodiesel could help heal our planet one mile at a time.

#6) Fabrics made from hemp do not contain chemical residue

Did you know the majority of synthetic fibers we use today are manufactured from polymer-based petrochemical materials (AKA highly toxic materials)? Producing these synthetic materials requires an energy-intensive process, burning large amounts of gas, coal, or crude oil. And if that wasn’t enough, this type of manufacturing process releases toxic emissions into the air while also leaving toxic residues within the fibers. Not exactly a pleasant notion.
Yet, this problem can be avoided by switching to hemp. Hemp fibers are easily removed from the plant and can create clothing with zero chemical residue. Hemp is also a highly durable fabric and UV resistant.

#7) Hemp can balance effects of carbon emissions

Industrial hemp has the power to transform the environment. Hemp is unique in that it is one of the few crops capable of balancing human carbon emissions through rapid carbon dioxide uptake. It does this through a process known as carbon sequestration.
When cultivated, hemp actually captures carbon emissions from the atmosphere. Essentially, hemp helps sequester or “trap” carbon from the air into plants. For every ton of hemp produced, 1.63 tons of carbon is removed from the air.
#8) Cultivating hemp prevents deforestation
Deforestation is increasing across the globe at alarming rates. Scientists now believe the rate of deforestation equates to a loss of 48 football fields every minute. Within 100 years, it is estimated there will be no rainforests. Shamefully, the United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but consumes more than one-third of the world’s paper.
But there is hope. Hemp can easily replace trees as the source of raw material for wood and paper. Once acre of hemp can produce as much paper annually as four acres of trees. While trees take years to mature, hemp can be grown and rapidly reproduced within months. Hemp paper is also more durable than paper produced from trees.
In other words, this is a no-brainer – transitioning to hemp could literally save our trees, and ultimately, our planet.

#9) Industrial hemp conserves water

It can take more than 5,000 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of cotton. In fact, cotton is one of the most water-dependent crops around and is quickly depleting our limited freshwater sources.
Meanwhile, hemp requires minimal irrigation in comparison to cotton. A study in the UK comparing cotton production to hemp production found that hemp required 634-898 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of hemp.
Considering hemp is suitable for fiber production, it is clear to see the superior option.

#10) Hemp supports sustainable farming practices

Farmers who practice sustainable farming techniques know the importance of rotating crops by season. Not only does it keep the soil nutrient-rich, it also increases the overall yield.
Hemp happens to be an ideal plant for crop rotation. It enriches the soil while also removing toxins. Growing hemp helps keep the soil and air more habitable for years to come.

#11) Growing hemp prevents soil compaction and erosion

Did you now soil compaction and erosion are some of the biggest problems plaguing farmers today? This is particularly true for farmers within the Midwest who depend on two staple crops – soybeans and corn.
Corn contains a deep and fibrous root system that penetrates the ground deep below the surface. Over time, these roots can lead to soil compaction during the winter and spring. Soybeans also have a strong root system but do not penetrate below the topsoil. As a result, soil erosion can frequently occur.
However, hemp is capable of repairing damaged soils. In fact, introducing hemp into crop rotations not only adds diversity but can also reverse the effects of soil compact and erosion. Hemp contains deep roots that can reach up to nine feet below the surface. These hearty roots help to break up soil compaction while also increasing nutrient absorption.

#12) Hemp builds stronger and healthier homes

The use of the hemp plant can extend into every aspect of our lives – including our homes. Fiberboards made from a hemp-based composite are stronger and lighter than those made from wood. Not to mention the combination of hemp and lime (hempcrete) results in a soundproofing system and insulation superior to that of concrete.
Hemp homes are also shown to have incredible durability. One hemp home in Japan is estimated to be over 300 years old!
Perhaps even more astonishing, hemp homes also provide a healthier living environment. Unlike fiberglass or drywall, hempcrete is nontoxic and mold-resistant.
If we’re smart about this, hemp homes will be the future of green living.

#13) Hemp reduces air pollution

Air pollution is not only harmful to human health but can also cause a number of devastating environmental effects. While China is the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide, the United States is close behind at number 2.
Should we choose to ignore this reality, these problems are likely to increase even further. Meanwhile, hemp can break down pollutants and improve air quality. Hemp can even be used as a paper source, eliminating the need for chlorine bleaching – a direct cause of excess carbon dioxide in the environment.

#14) Hemp grows in almost any environment

Imagine if there was a crop that could be cultivated almost anywhere in the world. In fact, this crop required zero pesticides and could produce over 25,000 products. Better yet, this crop could mature within months and keep producing for years to come. Surprise – that crop is hemp. Hemp is an incredibly durable plant. While hemp thrives in a mild climate and humid atmosphere, it can survive almost anywhere.
From China to Colorado, hemp can grow in a broad range of climate types, which means hemp has the potential to be sourced locally. A source of food, income, and more – hemp farming could change lives for the better. Hemp can also lead to more sustainable farming, which in turn will bolster local economies while having a positive impact on the environment.

#15) Hemp can help curb world hunger

Around 795 million people are undernourished globally. In developing countries (where 92 percent of children live) 30 out of every 100 will experience stunted growth due to a lack of nutrition.
Now, imagine if hemp were in the picture. Not only is hemp inexpensive, it can be grown almost anywhere. In fact, hemp seeds are considered to be one of the most nutritionally dense food sources on this planet. A complete protein – hemp seeds supply the body with amino acids, vitamins, and much more!
In addition, hemp seeds can also produce two vital food products – oil and flour. So not only is hemp nutritionally rich but also versatile.
Cultivating hemp as a staple crop could change people’s lives for the better worldwide, especially if you consider the vast number of people that could not only be fed but also nourished by this superfood.

It’s Time We Return to Our Roots.

Humankind have been cultivating hemp for thousands of years. Some anthropologists even believe hemp was the first agricultural crop domesticated by humans over twelve thousand years ago.
It is time we return to our roots.
Switching to hemp products may not solve all of the world’s problems but it is a start. Hemp has the potential to leave a cleaner and greener planet for future generations. So what are we waiting for? It is high time to let the hemp shine once and for all.
If you agree that hemp could change the world, please share this article with the people in your life. Let’s spread the word!

Cannabidiol: Marijuana's Other Magic Ingredient

By Joel Warner

For decades the only part of pot that mattered was tetrahydrocannabinol, a.k.a. THC — the chemical component that gets you high. But weed users are now turning their attention to another ingredient: canna­bidiol, or CBD. It doesn't get you stoned, but it may help you feel better.
Think of CBD as what puts the "medical" in medical marijuana. Unlike THC, which is responsible for cannabis's euphoric effects by triggering the body's cannabinoid receptors, CBD acts on other cell receptors that cue a variety of therapeutic benefits. Low-THC, CBD-rich strains of marijuana, for example, have been shown to reduce seizures in people with epilepsy. Advocates also argue that CBD-rich cannabis can help NFL players with brain injuries, veterans struggling with PTSD, and opioid addicts going through withdrawal. Pharmaceutical companies are even developing CBD-based medicines for epilepsy disorders, osteoarthritis, and general pain relief.
Now CBD-rich products can be found in health food stores and online retailers: pills to prevent insomnia, lotions to ease muscle aches, creams to clear up acne ­— and priced from $10 for stress-relieving chocolates to $100 oils for fighting pain. Many of these products are made from hemp, a low-THC cannabis variety that can be legally grown in 26 states. According to the Hemp Industries Association, sales of hemp-derived CBD products hit $65 million in 2015 and are projected to reach $450 million by 2020.
The science, however, is still playing catch-up. Initial studies suggest that CBD can work as a painkiller, help ease anxiety and insomnia, and protect and strengthen neurons in the brain. But while cannabidiol may clearly help those with epilepsy, its benefits for healthy people are less clear, and larger, more comprehensive studies are still needed — tough to do in the current political climate. Not only is marijuana federally prohibited but the sole facility permitted to grow cannabis for research, the University of Mississippi, only recently began producing high-CBD strains. "When you think about studies on cannabinoids, maybe 5 percent have been on CBD," says Marcel Bonn-Miller, executive director of the Institute for Research on Cannabinoids.
But products with CBD already have strong advocates, including former Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer. Last year the 42-year-old started taking a cannabidiol oil daily (a few dropperfuls under his tongue) because his old Bronco teammate Nate Jackson told him the stuff worked to address chronic pain. "I had a lot of inflammation in my joints from injuries playing ball — achy shoulders, knees, and lower back," Plummer says. "Once I'd been taking the oil regularly, I noticed I didn't feel those pains anymore. Even my wife, who gets migraines occasionally and would have to sit in a dark room alone, took the tincture and 10 minutes later was out cooking dinner."
Plummer says he uses Charlotte's Web Everyday Plus hemp oil (the company now sponsors his podcast), which advertises 28 milligrams of cannabinoids per serving and is made in an FDA-approved production facility. That's worth noting. Thanks to marijuana's legal limbo, there are no industry-wide standards for CBD products, and FDA investigations have found that many of them contain far less of the substance than advertised. Consumer advocates also worry about uncontrolled production, since hemp has a tendency to absorb heavy metals from the soil, and extracting CBD can involve harsh chemicals if not properly processed.
That's why Jill Lamoureux, an industry consultant and the chair of the Americans for Safe Access's Patient Focused Certification program, recommends sticking with CBD items sold at state-licensed dispensaries — because laws require them to come from cannabis that is thoroughly tested. If you don't have access to such stores, do your research when buying products online or at health food stores: Call the company or manufacturer to ask where its hemp was grown and if it was tested and meets specifications.
Finally, while the science may still be coming in on CBD's benefits, Bonn-Miller points out that the compound is harmless and nonaddictive. Just like chamomile tea or arnica cream, it's another tool to try for mild aches and pains. "Even if it doesn't help much," he says, "it's probably not going to hurt."

Industrial Hemp 101

By Duane Sinning

What was once counter culture is quickly becoming a mainstream agricultural market.

In 2014, with the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, one of the fastest emerging agricultural industries began. What was once counter culture is now becoming mainstream as more states implement industrial hemp programs. But industrial hemp was never really absent from the U.S. market, it was only absent from American growers’ pallet of crop choices.
The American market is the largest market for industrial hemp in the world with an abundance of products being imported from countries like Canada, China and a host of European countries to meet the demand.

Imports of hemp fiber have grown from about 1,500 metric tons in 2013 to almost 4,000 metric tons in 2015. At the same time the oil and grain market grew from less than 500 metric tons to almost 3,500 metric tons.

It isn’t that hemp won’t grow in the United States. It’s because you couldn’t legally grow it in the United States. Hemp is the low THC (the component that gets you high) sister to marijuana. With a THC content of 0.3 percent or less, you simply can’t get high from hemp. Yet it remains a Schedule I drug along with heroin and marijuana that can reach 30 percent or more THC. It is that tie to the higher THC marijuana that demonizes industrial hemp. And since you can only tell industrial hemp and marijuana apart by doing a test in the lab, the task of separating them in the eyes of many is difficult.

Things Are Changing

Congress continues to reduce the restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp and more states are allowing the cultivation of hemp within their borders. And the industry is emerging. In Colorado alone in 2014, the state had 259 registrations for 1,811 acres. Many of those registrations never intended to actually plant industrial hemp but applied for historical purposes as applicants wanted a historical document authorizing the cultivation of hemp in more than 70 years. Of the registered acres, only about 200 acres were actually planted. In 2015, there were 301 registrations accounting for 3,657 acres outdoor and an additional 570,000 square feet of indoor production space. And that growth has continued in 2016 with more than 400 registrations totaling 9,020 acres outdoors and 1.2 million square feet indoors. Those growth trends are reflected nationally. Since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, the industry is now estimated to be more than 16,000 acres of industrial hemp grown in 2016.

In any emerging industry things change rapidly. In 2014, many registrants were enthusiastic but undercapitalized, had limited agronomic or horticultural experience and had no long term business plan. Operation size was relatively small, most under an acre. That is changing.
Crop and business consultants are entering the market so agronomic practices are improving and business plans are better developed. Many operations are more financially stable as investors and venture capitalists look for the right opportunities. And individual registered areas are much larger, many into the hundreds of acres and indoor sites of 10,000 square feet or more isn’t uncommon.

Opportunities to Consider

For a product that the Congressional Research Committee has identified more than 25,000 uses, the hemp industry has a lot of opportunities for growers as well as others to explore. Long used for fabric that stands the test of time, hemp can also be found in products that unsuspecting users wouldn’t recognize as hemp.

On a recent trip to Utah and Montana, I found the shampoo and conditioner to be hemp based. Many car manufacturers use hemp composites for their strength and the light weight adds to the vehicles fuel efficiency. There are protein powders and health food snacks that contain hemp seed, which is rich in Omega-3 and Omega 6 oils. Hempcrete, a combination of hemp fiber and lime adds a new lightweight building material option for home or office construction and the fiber alone makes a great insulation.

One product that has attracted early attention in this emerging market has been cannabidial or CBD. Made famous on the show “Weed” on CNN by Sanja Gupta, this high value cannabinoid is extracted from the flowering portion of the cannabis plant. CBD is used for a variety of purposes most notably the treatment of epileptic seizures. Researchers continue to explore the values of this and other cannabinoids for their healing or wellness value.
Most often varieties selected for CBD production are produced through vegetative propagation. Some of this material is planted outdoors in the field, but it is also being produced in greenhouses using the same high technology greenhouse practices and crop scheduling used for bedding plant production. Cuttings are transplanted into large containers and “programmed” to finish in time to meet processing schedules.

More to Come

Professional breeders are assisting in those efforts to make industrial hemp a programmable product. They are developing new varieties that can be dialed in and a crop can be schedule for days in the vegetative state before inducing flowering and days to harvest after flower induction. The same thing bedding plant growers use in making variety selections and scheduling their crops.

Where will the industry be next year, in five years or even 20 years remains unclear. There are no answers in the crystal ball to what products will be the most profitable, which ones will disappear quietly and what new products that haven’t even been dream of today will be on the horizon.

What is becoming increasingly clear is this emerging industry is here to stay. The opportunities are almost endless and the road ahead will have a number of curves we can’t even see yet.

Saracinesco A Tiny Hemp Capital Off Italys Beaten Path


Many parts of Europe have a cultural legacy of cannabis use and cultivation. A famous example is Hanfthal, the picturesque hemp valley seventy miles north of the Austrian capital of Vienna. But what about Saracinesco, a tiny Italian town on the hills of the Ruffi Mountains, in the area of Rome?
The name Saracinesco stems from the Saracen pirates, who devastated the region in the year 876. The Arabic group settled in the hills and became part of the local fabric. Even today some inhabitants of Saracinesco still have family names based in Arabic.
Almost a thousand years later, the Saracen Mountain has become a sort of Mecca for cannabis and hemp lovers from all over Italy. They consider the village as almost a promised land and a possible safe haven for cannabis therapies. A big reason the tradition continues is the strong passion of Mayor Marco Orsola. He leads one of the smallest municipalities of Italy—Saracinesco has just 187 inhabitants—and cherishes the local hemp-harvest festival held in his town every autumn.
Saracinesco has turned into a place where activists, farmers, and freethinkers flock together in a pleasant and serene atmosphere. Local traditions mingle with the sounds and lifestyles of a modern metropolis. Some of the cannabis activists are also looking forward to developing new strains bred to suit the area’s soil and climate. The burgeoning industry has already had a positive impact on the local economy.
Leafy asked spoke to Mayor Orsola about his commitment to cannabis and about the fledgling idea to create a so-called Hemp Village in the town.
“The project came out of the will to revamp for agricultural and productive use the long-deserted parts of the land that, once recovered, could be used for the original historical cultivation, including hemp,” the mayor said. “This could yield occupational results in a community whose population is declining. The young locals’ agricultural cooperative will surely benefit from industrial hemp cultivation that has been receiving strong signs of interest from the market as to the multiple possible uses of this plant at the industrial, alimentary, and pharmacological level.”
The rediscovery of the hemp plant could be a potent opportunity for the small, isolated area, but Orsola will have to navigate a landscape shaped by decades of misinformation and prejudice. “Our project wants to spread a message aimed to wipe out the inconsistent prejudices that have encircled this incredibly noble plant for so many years,” he told Leafly. “We have carried out a science-driven information campaign during the numerous public occasions where we have been invited to introduce our project that, it must be stressed, concentrates on the therapeutic use of cannabis.”
He added, “Our plan contemplates the construction of a health village that, under medical assistance and in cooperation with the universities, aims to offer the freedom of treatment with nutritional and herbal therapy principles of hemp derivatives. In addition the therapeutic bio-park will allow us to develop a production site where the production goals will go hand in hand with science and education, much like the way a botanical garden operates.”