Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tararua farmers ponder hemp option as a new cash crop


A paddock of hemp.
A paddock of hemp

Industrial hemp crops could be grown across the Tararua district as the council looks for alternative farming ventures.

Manuka, saffron, flax, feijoas, hazelnuts and now hemp have been identified as suitable crop options for the district, as part of the Go Project by the Tararua District Council.

Economic development and communications manager Lianne Simpkin said the point of the project was to increase the options for farmers and people living on lifestyle blocks to make more money.

A workshop was held in Dannevirke to encourage farmers, business owners and interested people to learn about the benefits of growing industrial hemp.

"Industrial hemp can be used for so many things, like oils or fibre. There's a huge market out there for it. So we are just trying to get people to look at their options. It's about getting people to make the most of their land and maximise their potential for business and revenue options."

Simpkin said Tararua had great soil for growing crops such as hemp, hazelnuts and feijoas, but a lot of the land was being under utilised.

In New Zealand hemp was unable to be used in food, but there was a huge market for it overseas, she said.

As industrial fibre and material, it was a cost-effective crop that was growing in popularity and use in New Zealand, she said.

The Go Project was encouraging traditional farmers like sheep and beef farmers, to plant a small crop as a trial. Then they could see for themselves whether it was a venture that could potentially increase their revenue in the long run, she said.

"There is a market for industrial hemp and we have the right people in the right places to help farmers along the way, so what we are asking people is to just trial it, see if they like it."

Penn State to Develop Pennsylvania Industrial Hemp Guidelines

By Geoff Rushton

Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences will work with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to develop policies and procedures to guide research projects for industrial hemp.
Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law last week Act 192, which will allow the state agriculture department and colleges and universities to grow hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) for research. Industrial hemp is unlike marijuana in that it has reduced levels of THC, significantly decreasing or eliminating any of THC's intoxicating, psychoactive effects. The federal 2014 Farm Bill allowed for universities and state agricultural departments to grow industrial hemp in research pilot programs, and the new state law could give Pennsylvania entry into a growing industry.
“William Penn himself was an advocate of hemp growth, and in 1683, one of the first laws passed by the General Assembly in Pennsylvania was a law to encourage every farmer to grow hemp,”  Wolf said upon signing the law. “The U.S. industrial hemp industry has been estimated at over $500 million in annual retail sales and is still growing. Supporting this industry in Pennsylvania is a smart investment in the commonwealth’s economy.”
The new Pennsylvania law creates an Agricultural Pilot Program for the study of the growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. It may only be grown by the state agriculture department or higher education institute, and only on sites that are certified by the agriculture department.
"The ability to grow industrial hemp could benefit farmers in Pennsylvania by allowing them to diversify their crop bases," said Gary Thompson, Penn State College of Ag Sciences associate dean for research and graduate education, in a news release. "Our research in the Agricultural Pilot Program could help farmers to be more successful if and when the law allows them to grow industrial hemp for profit."
Industrial hemp can grow without much land and and can be used in making "products such as paper, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food and animal feed," according to Penn State.
Thompson will begin work with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to develop guidelines for growing industrial hemp for research in Pennsylvania. 
"As a land-grant university, it is Penn State's duty to help Pennsylvania's farmers succeed," Thompson said. "There is potential in industrial hemp for a value-added crop to be grown in the state. We look forward to investigating this potential and to working with farmers to face the challenges of the future."
Penn State Professor of Agronomy Greg Roth said farmers have an opportunity to apply modern perspectives to a crop which was first cultivated thousands of years ago.
"That modern perspective," he said, "includes, for example, knowledge of how best to grow the crop in Pennsylvania's climate and landscape, what varieties might perform best here and what yields can be expected when the crop is grown under both conventional and organic practices."

Green Gorilla 'Hemp & Olive' CBD Lip Balms Introduced

Press Release

Green Gorilla has launched a new line of 'Hemp & Olive' CBD infused Lip Balms which are 0.15oz in size, available in Unflavored, Lemon Infused, and Peppermint Infused options with each containing 10mg of CBD. Each Green Gorilla Lip Balm also has an all-natural SPF element added, so that they have an SPF 25 rating. 

Green Gorilla has launched a new line of ‘Hemp & Olive’ CBD infused Lip Balms. Green Gorilla’s “Hemp & Olive” CBD Lip Balms are 0.15oz in size, available in Unflavored, Lemon Infused, and Peppermint Infused options with each containing 10mg of CBD.  Each lip balm also has an all-natural SPF element added, so that they have an SPF 25 rating.  In time, the company may release additional options for this product, including a larger sized lip balm that could include as much as 100mg of CBD.

Green Gorilla ( products are now available at retail outlets nationally, and on the company’s website. Green Gorilla's flagship line, Hemp & Olive, features the highest quality CBD Oils, CBD Pet Care products, and now, CBD Cosmetics!  Hemp & Olive's CBD Oils are all 100%: Organic, Non-GMO, Vegan, Plant-Based, Paleo, Kosher, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, and THC-Free.  The company’s cosmetics are made using the Hemp & Olive CBD Oil as their base.  Like the new Lip Balms, all cosmetics products in the Hemp & Olive line are made with 100% Pure Cannabidiol, extracted from Organically Cultivated & Non-GMO Hemp, and purified to its natural crystalline state. Green Gorilla’s CBD is then infused into 100% Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sourced from Award-Winning, boutique California producer, Ojai Olive Oil.  That infused olive oil is then used as the base to create a host of cosmetics products, from Lip Balms to Face Creams, Body Lotions, Shampoo & Conditioner, Night-Time Face Masks, Sunscreens, and more.  All ingredients used in the Hemp & Olive cosmetics line are 100% natural, and the cosmetics are of unparalleled quality. 

Most people don’t realize that lip balms are essentially eaten as they are used.  When something like a generic Chap Stick is applied, users are consuming any toxic and, or unnatural ingredients that might be used to make that product. The Hemp & Olive Lip Balms being released today are over 90% extra virgin olive oil by content, and made with all healthy and natural ingredients – so that when applied, our consumers are actually doing something good for their bodies as well as protecting their lips.

Pure CBD extracted from hemp is the healthiest, safest and highest quality Cannabidiol available. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the healthiest, safest, and most effective way to deliver CBD to the body. Beyond being the healthiest option, olive oil also has synergistic effects in combination with CBD and is also able to deliver the CBD to the parts of the body that need it most. All Green Gorilla products contain Zero THC, and have no psychoactive properties. While most cosmetics companies will use cheap olive oil, if they even use real olive oil, we use only award winning, organic, extra virgin olive oil.  One could even say that the Hemp & Olive cosmetics are essentially “food grade”, as the primary ingredients used are identical to those used in the company’s supplements, and are of the highest possible quality.

Green Gorilla Co-Founder and Co-CEO Philip Asquith commented, “I'm very happy to announce the launch of this this new Lip Balm, and the beginning of what will be an amazing lineup of cosmetics and personal care products under the Hemp & Olive brand.  CBD and olive oil are an amazing combo to use for products that go on your skin, and I know that people are going to love this stuff.  I use our face cream and lip balms every day, and I already can’t imagine not having them.” Green Gorilla’s Steven Saxton added, “At Green Gorilla, we believe that our products are the best in the business. This new Lip Balm is just another example of our commitment to bringing people only the very finest quality."  
With the recent release of their Pet Care products, Green Gorilla’s ‘Hemp & Olive’ line moves closer to becoming the most comprehensive and best formulated CBD line in the world.  The company now has dozens of unique products available, and is working up towards it’s full planned line, which will include well over 100 unique products for people and pets. Green Gorilla is committed to sustainablyand ethically providing people with tools to live healthier and happier lives. The company is currently focused on utilizing hemp to create myriad products to that end. Hemp is an incredible resource, and the company sees great potential here for both helping people, and also helping to preserve and protect the planet. Philip Asquith concluded, “At Green Gorilla we love what we do, we love helping people, and we have gone to great lengths to create the very highest quality CBD products possible. We hope that our customers will find our Hemp & Olive products as amazing as we do, and that they bring happiness and health to each of them.” 

Any product related statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Always consult your own physician before beginning a new dietary supplement program. All Green Gorilla products contain zero THC, and are produced and sold in compliance with US federal law. 

About Green Gorilla: Green Gorilla is building an international brand in the hemp and cannabis industry. Our mission is to provide sustainable and ethical goods and services to a broad range of customers, with a primary focus on health and wellness. Green Gorilla prides itself on being a sustainable and ethical company, utilizing hemp to provide people with tools to live healthier and happier lives, while also preserving and protecting our planet. While federal policy is developing, the Company will operate only in areas that are unequivocally federally legal, and is initially focused entirely on hemp based products. The company is building a multitude of market leading product lines centered on hemp and the picks and shovels of the cannabis industry, as well as a state of the art web portal addressing a wide range of related goods, services, online interaction, and education. Green Gorilla was established in 2013 by founders Philip J.P. Asquith and Sir Steven Saxton. 

Hemp Fiberboard Could Replace Plywood

by Addison Herron-Wheeler 


It’s no secret among cannabis enthusiasts that hemp is good for just about anything. Until the days of Reefer Madness shut it down, hemp was a viable option for fibers and materials, and it is one of the major cash crops that America was built on. So it should come as no surprise that hemp fiberboard could possibly replace plywood as a major building material source.
According to, this could be a viable option because trees take years to grow, and deforestation in order to make homes and dwellings is a major ecological issue. Hemp, on the other hand, grows in about four or five months, and can produce a lot more volume-wise on growing acreage than trees can.
One acre of hemp can reportedly yield up to 5,300 pounds of straw, which can be turned into 1,300 pounds of wood fiber. Additionally, hemp is reported to be even stronger than steel when it comes to the quality of the building material. It can hold up to major impacts, and won’t break down easily when used to create fiberboard. In fact, if the boards are treated in the right way, they can also be fire and water resistant, and they can provide good insulation from hot and cold temperatures.
Because of all the issues faced today with deforestation, climate change, and scarcity of resources for building, it just makes sense to turn to hemp. The plant can provide the means to build homes for the disadvantaged, and the homes will be sturdy, insulated, and well-made. Since hemp grows so readily, it is also an affordable alternative to using plywood.
As these next few years see more acceptance of cannabis recreationally and medically, and hemp becomes legal and accepted again, many manufacturers will surely choose the durable plant as their building material of choice.

Why You Should Be Eating Hemp Hearts If You Want to Lose Weight

By Jenny Sugar

If you care deeply about your health and want to try a new and delicious food that can help you drop a few pounds, you're going to want to pick up a bag of hemp hearts. These are raw hemp seeds that have the hull or shell removed, leaving a small, soft and chewy, mild-tasting, nutty seed that's easier to digest than hemp seeds. Here are three reasons these tiny gems are not only super nutritious but, as a bonus, can also help you reach your weight-loss goals.

Tiny Seeds, but Huge Protein!

A three-tablespoon serving of raw hemp hearts offers a whopping 10 grams of protein — and hemp seeds offer all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein that's also rich in iron, magnesium, and zinc. Protein helps keep energy and blood-sugar levels stable, which helps prevent cravings for high-calorie treats. Since a couple hours between meals tends to be a common crash time, adding hemp hearts to your oatmeal or cereal for breakfast, sprinkling them on your lunchtime sandwich, or making this citrus hemp salad dressing can keep you energized until your next meal, which curbs mindless snacking.

Low in Carbs

If you're trying to cut down on carbs, look to the incredible hemp heart. At only two grams of carbs per three-tablespoon serving and with an addictively chewy texture, they make a great alternative to oats for breakfast — try these hemp overnight oats. Or when noshing on toast or bananas, it's good to know that hemp seed butter is also lower in carbs than both peanut butter and almond butter and lower in calories, too.

Great Source of Healthy Fats

Although hemp seeds aren't a great source of filling fiber, they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, something your body needs that also contributes to that full feeling. If your hunger is satiated for longer, that equates to eating less, and boom — you lose weight! Throw them into your blender the next time you make a smoothie, or sprinkle them on your yogurt, on cooked whole grains, or even on top of dips like hummus.

Murray State hosting Hemp Education and Field Day on Aug. 4


Murray State University will host and participate in a Hemp Education and Field Day on Thursday, August 4. The event will consist of an educational program highlighting key individuals within the industry, as well as a tour of the Murray State hemp crop. In 2014, the University’s Hutson School of Agriculture planted the first legal agricultural hemp research plot.
Murray State University will host and participate in a Hemp Education and Field Day on Thursday, August 4. The event will consist of an educational program highlighting key individuals within the industry, as well as a tour of the Murray State hemp crop. In 2014, the University’s Hutson School of Agriculture planted the first legal agricultural hemp research plot.

MURRAY, Ky. (July 25, 2016) — Murray State University will host and participate in a Hemp Education and Field Day held at the Curris Center on Thursday, Aug. 4. The event is free and no pre-registration is required. The educational program will begin at 1 p.m. and consist of hemp program updates from CV Sciences, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and other key individuals within the industry, including a keynote presentation by Stuart Tomc of CV Sciences that speaks of the value of hemp-based products.
Following the education program, the event will include field day visits of the 2016 Murray State hemp crop on the West Farm beginning at 3:30 p.m. Participants are asked to park at the Cherry West Kentucky Exposition Center, from which tours will proceed to the field site where two plots of Futura 75 and Fedora 17 that were planted on May 9 will be available for viewing and agronomic discussions.
“The Murray State University Hutson School of Agriculture is proud to provide support for this event, in conjunction with the continuing sponsorship of CV Sciences,” said Tony Brannon, Dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture. “Murray State University planted the first legal agricultural hemp research plot on May 12, 2014. Since that time, we have hosted field days and continually worked with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, local farmers, researchers and many other companies and partners to assist in the development of this industry in Kentucky.”
Murray State University’s nearly 11,000 students attend at the main campus is located in Murray, Ky. and five regional campuses. Visit to learn more.

Malawi conducts research on industrial hemp: OK as rope, not as dope


Meanwhile, a scientist at Chitedze Research Station in Lilongwe has said the station has completed the second phase of testing industrial hemp.
Zakeyu (centre) against legal hemp
Zakeyu (centre) against legal hemp

The scientist, Laurent Pungulani said preliminary results indicate that the hemp has just one percent of the substance that intoxicates people as opposed to marijuana which has over 10 per cent.

He said this means industrial hemp is not harmful to human and can be grown for commercial purposes for making different types of things from cosmetics to clothes to building materials and food for animals.

Following the results, Everglo Malawi has been registered as a company that will lead a crusade in the growing of the hemp.

However, Nelson Zakeyu of Drug Fight Malawi said this was a sad chapter for Malawi in the fight against drug abuse and asked the government to reverse it.

Parliament overwhelmingly approved the farming of industrial hemp.

Hemp and Cannabis Fair attracts new marijuana businesses


ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Trade shows for the marijuana industry are starting to become more and more common as retail sales look to soon arrive at locations across the state.
This weekend, the Hemp and Cannabis Fair is taking place at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Anchorage. Organizers of the event said they expect to see anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people attend over the course of just a couple of days.
“We see everybody from veterans, who are teaching about medicinal uses, to homeowners, teachers, PTA members and lawyers," said fair director Naomi Forkash. "Really, anyone.”
Booths at the event vary from soil for marijuana plants to dehumidifiers to kitchens planning on making cookie edibles.
“What we are doing with Oracle is fresh cookie dough that you would take home and bake from your oven,” said Martin Christensen, owner of Oracle Cookie Company.
Christensen, like many others, is only running a cookie dough company until he gets his license. If all goes through, he will then be able to make marijuana cookies or edibles himself.
“Finding a location has been the biggest hurdle," Christensen said. "After that, it’s licensing,”
That's a common theme for many entrepreneurs at this weekend's fair.
“The biggest challenge is no one has done this before," said Bruce Schulte of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association. "Everyone from the state level on down, it's new territory."
Schulte also serves on the Alaska Marijuana Control Board, which has already begun approving licenses for cultivation and testing labs.
This September, the Marijuana Control Board is scheduled to meet and begin approving retail licenses across the state.
While many potential business owners are eager to grab one, Schulte said other businesses are starting look at ways to cash in without a license.
“It’s not all people growing and selling cannabis," he said. "It’s all the ancillary businesses."
Companies such as Interlink Supply, a restoration company that usually works on properties with fire and water damage, were also at the fair.
“We had somebody come by and say there is a fair, and we thought about it, because we come from the restoration industry,” said Vanessa Kitchen, co-owner of Intersupply.
The company sells equipment like dehumidifiers and air scrubbers to marijuana cultivation businesses.
The Hemp and Cannabis Fair goes until July 24th. Please note, there is no on-site consumption at this event.

Hawaii’s new cannabis magazine covers budding industry

By Natanya Friedheim

A new statewide publication called The New Leaf aims to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of Hawaii’s emerging cannabis industry.
The Hilo-based magazine is a new venture co-owned by Kristine Kubat, founding editor of The Big Island Weekly, and Raphael Chikin. Kubat is the magazine's editor-in-chief and Chikin is its publisher.
“This is not the Hawaii version of High Times,” Kubat said. “It is a well-designed journal dedicated to the emerging cannabis industry in Hawaii.”

Hawaii legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2000. This year, the state selected eight companies to grow and sell medical marijuana. Earlier this month, Gov. David Ige signed a bill into law allowing the state Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp in Hawaii.

The New Leaf's content will include information about marijuana distributors, state and federal laws, and hemp production including fiber, food and fuel.
“We estimate that over the next six months, about $60 million will be spent by different dispensaries as they get up and running,” Kubat said of the emerging industry.

She also plans to create a platform for the state Department of Health to provide information about possible addiction and smoking hazards.

"All stakeholders will have a space to share information and opinions,” Kubat said of the publication. “Readers can get reliable information about what’s happening.”
The New Leaf will publish 30,000 copies for its inaugural edition set for mid-August. With statewide distribution, readers will be able to find the magazine in select stores or subscribe directly.

A one-year subscription costs $36 for the monthly magazine. Kubat said the publication may become a twice-monthly publication because of the anticipated high volume of content to be covered.

Hagadone Printing will print the magazine from Oahu. The New Leaf will work with freelance writers and photographers to provide content.

“We’re ending the prohibition era,” Kubat said. “We will decide how that happens, and whether it’s in a way that takes pride in our ability to govern depends on the quality of information we have available.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Surprising 5,000-Year-Old Cannabis Trade: Eurasian Steppe Nomads Were Earliest Pot Dealers

By Natalia Klimzcak

Yamnaya skull from the Samara region colored with red ochre.

The nomad tribe known as the Yamnaya, who were among the founders of the European civilization, may have been the first pot dealers, archaeologists say. Moreover, they were responsible for the first transcontinental trade of cannabis.

The tribe of nomads came from the eastern Steppe region, which is nowadays Russia and Ukraine, and entered Europe about 5,000 years ago, bringing with them herding skills, metallurgy and even the Indo-European languages. According to a recent analysis, they were also responsible for introducing marijuana and establishing the first transcontinental trade of the herb.

Cannabis sativa plant
Cannabis sativa plant (Wikimedia Commons)
According to, the research carried out by specialists from the German Archaeological Institute and the Free University of Berlin, involved a systematic review of archaeological and paleo-environmental records of cannabis fibres, pollen and achene across Europe and East Asia. During the study, they concluded that the herb was not first used and domesticated somewhere in China or Central Asia. Rather, it was used in Europe and East Asia at the same time – between 11,500 and 10,200 years ago. As Tengwen Long and Mayke Wagner at the German Archaeological Institute, and Pavel Tarasov at the Free University of Berlin, and colleagues wrote in the journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany:
"Cannabis seems to have grown as a component of natural vegetation across Eurasia from the early Holocene''.
What is interesting is the fact that while Eurasians in the West made regular use of the herb down the millennia, there are not too many archeological recordings for an early use of cannabis in East Asia. It is known that people quickly discovered the plant's versatility, using it as a medicine, food source, raw fiber material for ropes and textiles and even exploiting its mind-bending properties. However, the discovery of these uses did not appear in the East until later. This occurred about 5,000 years ago, when the use of cannabis intensified in East Asia, as shown in the archeological records. The researchers believe that it could be associated with the '' trans-Eurasian exchange-migration network through the steppe zone''. The fact that cannabis had multiple uses made it an ideal candidate for being a “cash crop before cash”.

Ancient Japanese depiction of a Cannabis plant
Ancient Japanese depiction of a Cannabis plant (
Carbonized achenes and signs of cannabis burning were discovered at archeological sites which suggests that the Yamnaya brought the practice of cannabis smoking with them as they spread across Eurasia. Apart from this, bronze objects, technologies, staple food crops such as millets, wheat, and barley, remains of horses, and evidence of pandemic diseases have enabled researches to track the movements of these ancient nomads.
The trade road created by Yamnaya and their neighbors like Botain, became a part of the Silk Road several millennia later. These ancient people created a basis to the trade traditions in Asia.
Bronze artifacts belonging to the Yamnaya culture
Bronze artifacts belonging to the Yamnaya culture (public domain)
While the latest discovery sheds light on the ancient trade of cannabis, it is not the oldest evidence of marijuana ever found. Bryan Hill, a writer of Ancient Origins, reports: ''In 1997, a hemp rope dating back to 26,900 BC was found in Czechoslovakia, making it the oldest known object to be associated with cannabis.  Since that time, hemp has played an important role in humanity’s development.  For thousands of years marijuana was not only legal, but an important crop among cultures throughout history, and held commercial, medicinal, and spiritual value.
The cultivation of cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, can be traced back at least 12,000 years, which places the plant among humanity's oldest cultivated crops.  Cannabis plants are believed to have evolved in Central Asia in the regions of Mongolia and southern Siberia.  The earliest cultural evidence of Cannabis comes from the oldest known Neolithic culture in China, the Yangshao, who appeared along the Yellow River valley.  From 5,000 to 3,000 B.C the economy of the Yangshao was cannabis-driven.  Archaeological evidence shows they wore hemp clothing, wove hemp, and produced hemp pottery. 
Yangshao hemp cord-marked amphora, 4800 BC, Shaanxi
Yangshao hemp cord-marked amphora, 4800 BC, Shaanxi (Wikimedia Commons)
The first recorded use of marijuana as a medicinal drug occurred in 2737 BC by the Chinese emperor Shen Nung.  He documented the drug’s effectiveness in treating the pains of rheumatism and gout.  Both hemp and psychoactive marijuana were widely used in ancient China.  The ancient Chinese used virtually every part of the Cannabis plant: the root for medicine; the stem for textiles, rope and paper making; the leaves and flowers for intoxication and medicine; and the seeds for food and oil.  Cannabis seeds were also one of the grains of early China and ancient tombs of China had sacrificial vessels filled with hemp for the afterlife.''
Top image: Yamnaya skull from the Samara region colored with red ochre. Credit: Natalia Shishlina.

The history of hemp

By Sara Haas

Under current U.S. drug policy, all cannabis varieties, including hemp, are considered Schedule I controlled substances and are regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Despite its domestic illegality, the U.S. imports hemp, grown as a legal agricultural commodity in countries around the world, to the tune of $500 million a year.
Hemp is a lucrative crop not only because of demand forces (there are an estimated 50,000 industrial applications for the plant), but because it’s easy and cost effective to grow. Hemp requires few inputs, dramatically undercutting traditional agricultural costs like pesticides and water and, with a harvest cycle of 120 days, farmers can reap several crops in one year.
And yet American farmers cannot grow hemp. Since the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, hemp and marijuana have been included in federal drug prohibitions that demonize all things cannabis through anti-drug policies and harsh criminal penalties.
In recent years, federal language has evolved to recognize the distinction between hemp and marijuana, and Congress has included amendments creating exceptions to prohibition laws. For example, universities can now apply for permits to research hemp and, in certain states, individuals and businesses can grow small parcels of hemp with special permitting.
But such exceptions to the rule do little to create an equitable industry and in many ways extend the advantages of special interests, albeit new ones, by creating limited access to hemp for a select and small group of people, doing more to repeat history than to right it.
Offering the most significant hope of change is the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, introduced earlier this year. If passed it would lift the federal ban on hemp and leave the decision about whether to allow its cultivation up to each state. This legislation is gathering support from both sides of the aisle, but is met with skepticism that stems from almost 80 years of misinformation and political, anti-cannabis propaganda.
Last month Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and two representatives from Oregon introduced a resolution to address this obstacle, recognizing June 6 to June 12 as Hemp History Week. The designation would commemorate the historical relevance of industrial hemp in the United States and promote the growth of the industrial hemp industry.
This savvy political move seeks to affect popular understanding through conversation and education by appealing to the legacy of the country’s founding fathers and their relationship with and dependence on hemp.
“Hemp played a critical role in the development of our nation,” Polis said in a public statement. “It’s time that we recognize the cultural and economic importance of hemp; while realizing that it shouldn’t only be viewed as a product of the past, but a resource for the future.”
Greta Gaines, owner of skin-care company The Hempery and long-time activist in the hemp industry, speaks often about the historical relevance of hemp to this country, but she doesn’t want the history lesson to end with such romantic waxings on the good old days.
“Sure, there would be no America without hemp, and if you don’t understand that then you can’t really call yourself a patriot,” Gaines says. “Hemp allowed America to win its independence and was vital in forming the early colonies and in getting us through the Second World War. And yet we allowed it to get thrown out — all because a few corrupt, amoral industrialists decided that it was bad for their business.”
For Gaines, hemp is more than just a crop; it represents a different idea of independence, one in which livelihood exists firmly in the hands of the American people, in a democracy that isn’t just political but economic.
She calls the Marihuana Tax Act the “greatest heist of a natural resource in human history.”
Historical interpretations like Gaines’ are often dismissed as conspiracy theories or as ways to cover up the racist history of drug laws. To be sure, in telling history one is telling a narrative that operates from a single vantage point, which is necessarily biased. But Gaines is steadfast in uncovering alternative histories that have been suppressed for too long at the expense of people and environment.
History, she says, is important not just because we learn from our mistakes, but because it contributes to our moral understanding and is critical in creating a more informed and responsible citizenry.
“My goal is to get people to realize that we have been duped and to get them angry,” Gaines says. “If we don’t fight to right history then history will just get written by the people who were there with the pen and paper and with the motive to write it down. If you are not there to stand up and be counted and to fight, no one is going to change anything.”

Growing hemp

By Keith Norman

Keith Watson, agronomist and plant breeder with Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers in Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada, talks Wednesday about the biology of the hemp plant to a group interested in industrial hemp. The field tour was at a test plot near Adrian, N.D. John M. Steiner/The Sun

ADRIAN, N.D.—After 50 years of farming, Lyle Edwards, a farmer in the Adrian area, is trying something new. He and his son, Jamie, each planted 15-acre test plots of industrial hemp as part of a pilot program operated by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture."It sure has been a learning curve," Edwards said, during a field day at the plot Wednesday. "I'm a little apprehensive how it will be harvested."
The Edwardses were two of four farm operations licensed to grow test plots of industrial hemp in North Dakota this year. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture had 17 applicants for the licenses. Additional research is being done at Langdon Extension Research Center on seed varieties.
Doug Goehring, North Dakota agriculture commissioner, said in a press release that industrial hemp test plots were intended to help understand how to raise and utilize a crop that hasn't been legal in the state for decades.
"The program's primary goal is to increase our knowledge of how industrial hemp fits into the existing agriculture landscape and economy," he said.
Industrial hemp remains a controlled substance in the United States because the plant is of the same species as marijuana. Industrial hemp varieties have low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC. THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Fields of industrial hemp must be tested for THC content and have less than 0.3 percent THC as part of the grower's licensing requirements.
Jeff Kostuik, director of operations for Hemp Genetics International, and Keith Watson, agronomist with Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers, both Canadian companies, spoke at the field day on growing industrial hemp. The crop has been a regulated legal industry in Canada since 1998.
The field at Lyle and Jamie Edwards' farm stood about 6 feet tall Wednesday with few weeds present. Kostuik estimated the crop was at least a month away from harvest. Edwards said the field was planted May 15 and had received about 9.5 inches of rain since.
Kostuik said industrial hemp plants were vulnerable until the crop reached between 12 and 18 inches tall. From that point, plants grow about 2 to 3 inches per day and outpace any competing weeds in the field.
Watson said hemp plants are day-length sensitive and will shift from growing stalks and leaves to producing seeds after the longest day of the summer in June.
Harvest, usually in late September in Canada, utilizes standard combines with straight-cut headers adjusted to cut the plant just below the formed seed head. Kostuik said this still leaves a large amount of stem and fiber going through the combine, which can clog the machine and pose a fire hazard.
This also leaves a 4-foot-tall stubble of stalks in the field.
"You don't want to jump off the combine out in the field," Kostuik said.
Watson said field residue is usually burned in Canada. That is most often done the next spring after the field has been rolled to break down the plant stems into a mat that will burn.
Industrial hemp seeds can be crushed for oil or shelled and used for food, Kostuik said. The plant fiber can be used for paper and cloth products. The first hemp fiber processing plant in Canada may come online this fall in Manitoba.
"Until you've got that option, a match is the only option (for dealing with crop residue)," Watson said.
Kostuik said North Dakota would need several things to happen before industrial hemp could be a commercial crop. Federal and state laws would need to change to allow the crop even on a regulated and licensed basis, and processing plants would need to be constructed.
"You need to make sure you have a market before growing it," he said. "It only lasts about two years in the bin."
Edwards said they plan to sell their harvest this year to Healthy Oil Seeds in Carrington. Healthy Oil Seeds principally markets flax seed on the international market.
Edwards said despite the application process, and the learning curve involved with a new crop, he would like to continue to grow industrial hemp.
"My intention is to do this again next year if the state allows," he said. "I'm thrilled to be part of having a new crop for North Dakota."
Edwards thinks industrial hemp could become a major crop in the area.
"Years ago, I was one of the first to grow soybeans in this area," he said. "This could happen the same way. Unless you try something different you never know."

Can Industrial Hemp Save Kentucky’s Small Farms?

By Catherine V. Moore

As tobacco declines, some hope that hemp can be a “gateway crop” to financial sustainability for the state’s small farms.

Hemp Farming Big Switch Farm

At the birth of any industry, uncertainty abounds. So does opportunity, say Kentuckians like Joe Schroeder of Freedom Seed and Feed, who is among those growing industrial hemp and advocating for others in Appalachia to do the same.
“It’s really speculative,” says Schroeder. “But people are making a lot of money, and that money is real.”
Hemp was so important to early America that colonists in Virginia were required to grow it.
But don’t take that talk of money to mean Schroeder is greedy. At a time when the region’s collapsing coal and tobacco industries have left gaping holes in central Appalachia’s economy, at least some of Kentucky’s hemp experimenters want to maximize the benefit to as many local people as possible.
Hemp was so important to early America that colonists in Virginia were required to grow it. A short boom during World War II notwithstanding, the shift to cotton and the anti-marijuana movement put an end to the industry by the mid-20th century. But in 2014, a new farm bill cleared the way for states to begin research-driven pilot programs to test the crop’s viability in producing fiber, medication, and food. Twenty-seven states, including Kentucky, have passed their own pro-hemp legislation so far. And yet the plant remains a Schedule I controlled substance, in the same category as heroin, LSD, and bath salts.
That’s why Jane Herrod feels like she’s starting from scratch, even though hemp was grown on her family farm near Lexington, Kentucky, as far back as the early 1800s. Hemp may be rife with legal contradiction, but things don’t appear so complicated this afternoon at her farm. The cows graze. The Kentucky River flows. And Herrod, a middle-aged woman with close-cropped grey hair and a deep tan, looks out across her pastureland with obvious joy. She loves this land, and she’s not giving up on it.
Jane Herrod Hemp Farmer
Jane Herrod hopes that high-value CDB oil will help her small farm turn a profit. Photo by Catherine V. Moore.
Kentucky is home to a vast patchwork of small former tobacco farms like Herrod’s. Beginning in the 1930s, a system of quotas and other price supports from the federal government made tobacco a pretty secure crop to grow, even on a small number of acres. But all that came to a halt in 2004, when these tobacco-friendly policies were discontinued. A payment system was set up to assist tobacco farmers until they could figure out a replacement crop, but that ended in 2014. Now, with smoking in decline and imported tobacco on the rise, the industry is down to less than a quarter of its size a few decades ago. But the land, much of the infrastructure, and at least some of the farmers are still there.
Hemp advocates hope that reintroducing the crop will help farmers like Herrod keep her 10 tillable acres in production and make money too. But whether and how hemp can justify itself financially on a small farm are open questions and critical ones for Kentuckians to answer if they are to significantly benefit from the potential new industry.

 Last year, Herrod hosted a small test plot of hemp on her land, and now she’s applying to grow two acres of the plant for cannabidiol (CBD) oil, one of the highest-value hemp products being tested. The oil is used to treat epilepsy and has shown potential for Crohn’s disease, cancer, and autism. She and other growers and processors must go through a lengthy permitting process run by Kentucky’s agriculture department and the Drug Enforcement Agency. This year, 166 applications were approved in the state.
Though she doesn’t expect to get rich, Herrod believes the high-value CBD oil could bring in enough income for her to start building other enterprises and investing in infrastructure on her farm so that she can pass it on to her kids as the income-generating business it used to be. For this reason, some are describing hemp as a “gateway crop” that could help keep family farms viable.
Another strong motivator for Herrod is the opportunity to grow something that heals and feeds people instead of poisoning them. Herrod’s mother, who passed the tobacco farm down to her daughter, died of lung cancer caused by the very crop she raised. Edible hemp seed, on the other hand, packs in omega-3s and -6s, nutritious oils that facilitate healthy nerves. And its flowers contain a host of biochemicals that are being tested for medicinal uses. For all these reasons, Herrod says she’s ready to turn over a new leaf.
“There’s not a negative thing about the plant that I can see, other than you might not be able to make money with it,” Herrod says, laughing. “But I’m going to find out.”
The plant remains a Schedule I controlled substance, in the same category as heroin, LSD, and bath salts.
Hemp is defined in the farm bill as cannabis that’s less than 0.3 percent THC content by weight. THC, of course, is the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, which contains 10 percent THC on average.
It’s easy to see why boosters describe hemp as a kind of miracle plant. It’s a sector filled with a certain amount of utopian thinking, especially from marijuana legalization advocates. But not all of the boosters are partaking. A 1998 study by North Dakota State University estimates that hemp has 25,000 uses, which include food, green building materials, textiles, paper, fuel, body care products, and as a replacement for plastic and fiberglass. BMW even used it in the door panels of its new electric car.
That’s why farmers in China and Europe have been growing hemp for decades. But in the United States, the federal government still considers it a narcotic. And that makes it harder to find buyers, get insurance, and obtain seed.
A flier for prospective hemp growers put out by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture warns that “markets are limited; revenues should not be counted on.” Likewise, a report by the Congressional Research Service last year said it’s impossible to make predictions about sales and employment. Still, the same report describes a “mostly positive market outlook” for hemp, citing “rising consumer demand and the potential range of product uses.”
Kentucky Hemp Farmers Infographic
YES! Infographic by Jennifer Luxton.

Right now, how much a farmer can make on hemp depends on what they’re growing it for, and whom you’re asking. Hemp is grown mainly for its fiber, seed, or flowers. The fiber is most often used in textiles or building materials, while seeds are made into nutritious oil, snacks, or livestock feed. Flowers are harvested for pharmaceutical products, including CBD oil.
A 2013 economic study on hemp by the University of Kentucky assumes that farmers can get between 50 and 80 cents per pound for seed. Freedom Seed and Feed, on the other hand, reports getting $12 per pound for the protein-rich, organic hemp seed they sell to a local granola maker.
Meanwhile, the Hemp Industries Association estimates that Americans purchased $620 million in hemp products in 2014. China is America’s biggest supplier of fiber, while Canada provides most of the seed and oilcake (a byproduct of pressing hemp seeds for oil).
Since there’s more money in seed and oil than in fiber, Canada will likely be the major competitor for U.S. hemp farmers. Canada legalized hemp in 1998, so farmers there are now 17 years ahead of American ones.
What kind of money are those Canadian farmers making? According to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, the average hemp grower earned about $550 per acre, annually, for seed. That’s about half of what Kentucky farmers are expecting to earn.
But a huge industrial farm growing oilseed in Canada for a commodity market looks a lot different than Big Switch Farm, nestled in a sloping valley in Jackson County, Kentucky, where Joe Schroeder is harvesting his last sliver of a hemp test plot on a shimmering October morning. His Ray-Bans and blue flannel shirt conceal a farmer’s tan as deep as Jane Herrod’s. The crucial question for both hemp-curious farmers: How small is too small?

 Running a chainsaw across a swath of rangy hemp plants, Schroeder is right in the middle of trying to figure out just that. He seeded his test plots at different rates of density to study which ones maximized yield and, more broadly, the economics of growing hemp seed for food and fiber on a small scale. His permit is for five acres, which 18 straight days of rain and one pesky groundhog have not helped.
Schroeder is chief operating officer of Freedom Seed and Feed, one of a handful of private, “values-driven” companies to crop up in the Kentucky hemp play. The company works with nontraditional farmers in the Amish community, who grew 60 acres last year, some in high-CBD varieties. Meanwhile, Schroeder’s business partner, Mike Lewis, is working to turn Kentucky’s war veterans into hemp farmers.
“I have an aspirational approach to the market,” says Schroeder. “A lot of this is about the market you make.”
“There’s not a negative thing about the plant that I can see, other than you might not be able to make money with it.”
Freedom Feed and Seed's business model is based on differentiating itself from commodity-based agriculture, which produces high volumes of raw product. Instead, Schroeder’s company is catering to specialized buyers and developing products that fetch higher prices. It simply doesn’t make sense, Schroeder’s logic goes, for a former tobacco farmer on five acres in Kentucky to compete with a grower on a thousand acres in Canada.
The fact that the industry’s in its infancy creates additional opportunities. “We’re going to be able to push for a standard that farmers can survive at,” says Schroeder. “If they get rich too, then that’s a consequence we could deal with.”
One way to ensure farmers get their fair share, Schroeder believes, is to organize cooperatives modeled on those that existed in the tobacco era. These structures offered farmers collective control over who to sell to and at what price, in addition to lowering the cost of production through shared infrastructure and group purchasing. That kind of advocacy is exactly what hemp farmers need to navigate an emerging market, says Schroeder.
The industry may also be able to get help from Washington, D.C. Federal funding is now available to support struggling, coal-reliant communities in Appalachia. Why not use some of this money to, for example, build a hemp processing plant in the layoff-riddled coal country of eastern Kentucky, putting people to work and capturing more of the plant’s value within the region?
Some relatively established companies, like GenCanna Global, are already investing in Kentucky’s fledgling industry.
“What we’ve decided to do at GenCanna with our farmers is make them partners,” says Chris Stubbs, GenCanna’s chief science officer. “They are going to participate in the value chain all the way through.”
Kentucky Hemp Farmers
Mike Lewis, Joe Schroeder, and Lora Smith hold an American flag made entirely from U.S.-grown hemp. Photo by Catherine V. Moore.
In that profit-sharing partnership, GenCanna brings its technical knowledge, materials, and investment. The company has in some cases paid farmers’ rent, covered the expense of retrofitting their operation to grow hemp, and even cut their payroll checks. The growers bring their local knowledge, land, and existing infrastructure. Both parties learn from each other and share in the profits. The net result, says founder and CEO Matty Mangone-Miranda, is an acceleration of the industry and a move away from existing agriculture models in which the farmer is used and underappreciated. GenCanna estimates that the company touches a couple hundred people at all levels, including everyone from production managers and seasonal workers to research scientists. Mangone-Miranda expects to work with more than 30 farms this season, ranging in size from three to 130 acres. The small scale of the farms in Kentucky, compared to the average commodity-growing farm, means the company will be able to pay more attention to detail, which in the long term will translate into higher quality—like a microbrew, says Mangone-Miranda.
But that would be a microbrew that’s classified as a Schedule I narcotic. When you ask Kentuckians what they need to make hemp a success, their first answer is always to take the plant off the federal list of controlled substances. That’s exactly what the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 would do. Its supporters include both Bernie Sanders and Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, as co-sponsors.
The bill was introduced in the Senate last year and now sits in the judiciary committee, awaiting further action. The five-year window opened by the 2014 farm bill for hemp experimentation will expire in two years. At that point, congress will renegotiate a new farm bill, and anything could happen.
Last year, Freedom Feed and Seed helped produce an American flag made out of American hemp by American hands, a project they say is a metaphor for what they’re trying to do: extend the American dream of honest pay for honest work to people who have long been left out. The collaboration called on artisans, textile producers, veterans-turned-farmers, and private and nonprofit partners throughout the tobacco belt and beyond. The flag flew over the stage at the 2015 Farm Aid concert as a reminder of America’s grassroots production power. As a prototype, it was one of a kind and absurdly expensive to make. But as a talking point for the potential rebirth of an industry, it served its purpose.