Friday, June 9, 2017

Event Brings Attention To Commercial Hemp Uses

By Brad Davis

Gross roots organizers hope the events will help change federal policy on industrial hemp in the United States.
Grass roots organizers hope the events will help change federal policy on industrial hemp in the United States

Indiana leaders in agriculture and food systems met in Monrovia, Indiana to discuss opportunities for growing Hemp commercially.
Indiana is one of six states that allows hemp cultivation for commercial purposes. But, because of federal laws, hemp can’t be legally sold across the state by all farmers. It can, however, be grown at the Purdue Hemp Research Farm.
Jessica Scott is the Executive Director of the Indiana Hemp Industries Association and says the industry should be expanded.
“The HIA would love for all of its member states to be able to grow industrial Hemp freely and we believe it’s the right of farmers to be able to do so and so currently in Indiana we’re still fighting for that,” Imus says.
The event comes on the heels of Hemp History week, which runs through June 11th.
Gross roots organizers like Scott hope the events will help change federal policy on industrial hemp in the United States.

American hemp has a tumultuous history. Now it’s coming out of marijuana’s shadow.

By Bruce Kennedy

Hemp History Week: Activists, politicians and scientists are helping to rehabilitate hemp’s reputation, while touting its potential economic and environmental benefits

Hemp is much more than marijuana’s often-misunderstood cousin. It’s a plant with a long, important and sometimes controversial past. And, after being illegal on a federal level for nearly 50 years, hemp appears to be on the verge of once again becoming a key part of America’s agricultural and cultural landscape.
June 5-11 marks the eighth annual Hemp History Week. Supported by the nonprofit Hemp Industries Association (HIA), events are mostly carried out on a grassroots level by local hemp advocates, farmers and producers from across the country.
According to Hemp History Week’s website, events during the week are meant to encourage a change in U.S. federal policy on hemp, “while raising awareness about the benefits of hemp products.”
Lauren Stansbury, HIA director of communications, says there are over 300 events taking place in all 50 states this week.
These efforts by local activists to bring hemp awareness to their communities take different forms, she tells The Cannabist. Documentaries about the plant’s history are being screened at small-town cinemas, hemp fashion shows are being organized, and themed potlucks are taking place. Others are setting up at farmers markets to pass out education materials.
“It really depends on the interests of the organizers,” she said.
Red, white and hemp Americana: 5 pivotal moments in U.S. history
Women process hemp fibers in 1956. (L. Blandford, Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

The path of hemp from favored to forbidden

Hemp has a venerable history to celebrate: It was an important crop in Colonial America, where its fibers were used to produce paper, ropes and textiles – including the canvas used in the sails that powered international maritime trade.
In the 1930s “Reefer Madness” era, even while cannabis was being vilified and eventually federally criminalized, hemp was still considered an important commodity. In 1938, Popular Mechanics declared hemp to be the “new billion-dollar crop” thanks to technological innovations that allowed hemp fibers to be separated mechanically and quickly.
At the time the magazine predicted that hemp “will displace imports of raw material and manufactured products produced by underpaid … labor and it will provide thousands of jobs for American workers throughout the land.”
But the federal crackdown on cannabis also took its toll on the hemp industry.
That perception was put aside briefly during World War II, when America was cut off from its overseas supplies of hemp and the government’s Hemp for Victory program encouraged the revival of domestic hemp farming to support the nation’s war effort. More than 150,000 acres of hemp were cultivated in the U.S. during the war years.
That reprieve was short-lived, however. By 1970, with the introduction of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), cannabis – including hemp – was classified as a dangerous Schedule I drug.
As a varietal of Cannabis sativa L, hemp is a valuable source of cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound that some medical researchers now believe has potential uses in treatments for a wide variety of ailments. But despite having only traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound that creates the mental and physical “high,” hemp was invariably grouped with marijuana and deemed an equal threat to society.
Hemp Quiz: How well do you know this plant?Hemp plants growing in a field in Germany. (Bernd Settnik, AFP/Getty Images file)

The imported hemp dichotomy

The Controlled Substances Act hasn’t prevented imports of commercial hemp products and highly-regulated raw hemp materials.
Imported hemp products found their way back into U.S. commerce in the early 2000s, after a rule instituted by the Drug Enforcement Administration that banned food products containing hemp seed or hemp seed oil was declared invalid in a 2004 federal court ruling.
In 2015, the U.S. reportedly imported around $300 million of these items. That figure has been changing in recent years, however, as cannabis legalization efforts spread across the country and the federal government began reexamining the reality of industrial hemp.
Efforts to rehabilitate the crop were strengthened in 2014, when President Barack Obama signed the Agricultural Act, also known as the 2014 Farm Bill, into law.
Section 7606 of that Act legalized the growing and cultivating of industrial hemp for research purposes in states “where such growth and cultivation is legal under State law, notwithstanding existing Federal statutes that would otherwise criminalize such conduct.”
A year later a bipartisan group of U.S. senators – including Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Al Franken of Minnesota – introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. That measure would have amended the CSA “to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of ‘marihuana.'” Activists say the Act, or a bill similar to it, is expected to be reintroduced by Congress soon.
Last year, during the seventh annual celebration of Hemp History Week, Kentucky senators McConnell and Rand Paul published an editorial that called for the expansion of industrial hemp research. Noting the long history of hemp cultivation in their state, the senators announced it was “time to once again reap the benefits of this commodity.”
On June 8, 2017, McConnell, along with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) submitted a Senate resolution for Hemp History Week, recognizing “the historical relevance of industrial hemp” and “the growing economic potential of industrial hemp.” It passed unanimously, but no further legislation was introduced.
Kentucky is not alone in wanting to cash in. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 30 states have removed legal barriers to industrial hemp research, and many have launched pilot programs since 2014.
The United States is also the world’s largest consumer market for hemp products, says Vote Hemp president Eric Steenstra. According to recent estimates by Vote Hemp and the Hemp Business Journal, the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. last year reached $688 million.
Items like shelled seed, protein powder, soaps and lotions have continued to increase, complemented by successful hemp cultivation pilot programs in numerous states,” the two organizations said in an April press release. “In all, sales of Hemp CBD products boosted the industry to a five year 22% CAGR (compound annual growth rate).”
Hemp crop harvested in KentuckyA tractor cuts a small plot of hemp at a University of Kentucky research plot near Lexington on Sept. 23, 2014. (Dylan Lovan, The Associated Press)

Will hemp be the new soybean?

As more states legalize hemp and the possibility of national legalization looms large, experts are expecting rapid and dramatic changes, especially to America’s agricultural sector.
“This situation, where all of a sudden a crop species goes from illegal to legal, is completely unprecedented,” John McKay, professor of plant sciences at Colorado State University, tells The Cannabist. But there is a historical precedent of new crops coming into production and markets.
“Seventy years ago, soy bean wasn’t a significant acreage crop until breeding improved the way it grows, and now there’s over 80 million acres of it planted annually,” McKay observes.
HIA’s Lauren Stansbury says that, given hemp’s reputation as a drought-resistant and environmentally-sustainable plant, the public is only now beginning to see hemp’s potential.
That being said, she adds: “It’s just crazy that it’s been decades now and we still don’t have the legislation to allow farmers to grow this crop that is indeed knit into the fabric of American history. It’s very much an American crop in many ways.”

George Washington Grew Hemp


But not the kind you're thinking of...

Throughout his lifetime, George Washington cultivated hemp at Mount Vernon for industrial uses. 
The fibers from hemp held excellent properties for the making of rope and sail canvas, which was 
a major need in the age of the sailing ship. In addition, hemp fibers could be spun into thread for 
clothing or, as indicated in Mount Vernon records, for use in repairing the large seine fishing nets 
that Washington used in his fishing operation along the Potomac.

At one point in the 1760’s Washington considered whether hemp would be a more lucrative cash 
crop than tobacco but determined that wheat would be a better alternative. During the period when 
he was considering hemp, he wrote to his agents in England in the hope of determining the costs 
involved in production and shipping.

"I am very glad to hear that the Gardener has saved so much of the St. foin seed, and that of the India Hemp. Make the most you can of both, by sowing them again in drills. . . Let the ground be well prepared, and the Seed (St. loin) be sown in April. The Hemp may be sown any where. "

George Washington to William Pearce, 24 February 1794

Hemp Background and History

Hemp Rope - The American encyclopædia of commerce, manufactures, commercial law, and finance et. 1886
Hemp, Canabis sativa, a plant originally from central Asia, was cultivated with, and sometimes in place of flax, because its stem fibers are similar to those of flax.  
By the seventeenth century, Russia, Latvia, and other countries around the Baltic Sea were the major producers of hemp, and it was from this area that Britain obtained its supply, a situation which left the English vulnerable during periods of military hostilities. 
  • Hemp made into rope was vital to navies worldwide. 
  • Hemp was also used to make a coarse linen cloth as well as sacking, and other rough materials.
  • The oil extra of hemp seeds, like those of flax, were used in paints, varnishes, and soaps.

Washington's Use of Hemp

Although George Washington’s initial interest in hemp was to determine if it could be a viable cash crop, he proceeded to cultivate it just to meet the needs of his own plantation.  Hemp was used at Mount Vernon for rope, thread for sewing sacks, canvas, and for repairing the seine nets used at the fisheries.
Washington’s diaries and farm reports indicate that hemp was cultivated at all his 5 farms, (Mansion House, River Farm, Dogue Run Farm, Muddy Hole Farm & Union Farm.) In February 1794, Washington wrote to his farm manager, William Pearce, “…I am very glad to hear that the Gardener has saved so much of the St Foin seed, and that of the India Hemp…Let the ground be well prepared and the Seed (St. Foin) be sown in April. The Hemp may be sown anywhere.

Cannabis sativa vs. Cannabis sativa indica

It must be noted that industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa, -- the kind that Washington grew -- is not the same strain of the plant as Cannabis sativa indica which is used as a drug (marijuana).  Cannibis sativa  (industrial use hemp) contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and therefore has no physical or psychological effects.  Cannabis sativa indica grown for marijuana can contain 6% to 20% THC.
Therefore, there is no truth to the statement that George Washington was growing marijuana.  His hemp crop was strictly the industrial strain needed for the production of rope, thread, canvas, and other industrial applications.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hemp History Week Pt 1: What is Hemp and What is Cannabis?

By mrcolbert

Since today is the first day of Hemp History Week I wanted to get things started off right, with a post to help clarify what is hemp and what is cannabis.

Hemp Growing In France - Wikimedia Commons.jpg

There are three species in the genus cannabis, the first classified in 1753 was cannabis sativa, followed by cannabis indica in 1785, and most recently cannabis ruderalis in 1942. C. sativa plants have traditionally been cultivated as a source for fiber, nutrient-rich seeds, oil, as well as its recreational and medical properties. C. indica plants, on the other hand, have traditionally been cultivated for the production of hash, which can be used either for recreational or medicinal uses. C. ruderalis has never been widely cultivated and is mostly used to cross-breed with indica and sativa strains to impart an auto-flowering trait. Normally, cannabis will only flower if the light conditions are right, ruderalis strains evolved in northern latitudes where there wasn't enough sunlight to consistently depend on for flowering cycles, leading them to flower based of time rather than light.
Indica Sativa Ruderalis.jpg
Since 1942, and the discovery of C. ruderalis, scientists and marijuana smokers alike have been using this three part taxonomy, but recent research calls it all into question. Geneticist and horticulturalist, Robert Connell Clarke was one of the first to challenge the accepted taxonomy,alleging that all cannabis is C. indica, with four distinct sub-species, other than the European hemp which is the only real C. sativa. Clarke bases his theory on research done by the geneticist and horticulturalist Dr. Karl Hillig, who did genetic analysis of hundreds of cannabis plants and released his findings in a 2004 study and a follow up in 2005. Hillig originally mentioned four sub-species of indica in his 2004 study, but revised it to reflect the current indica, sativa, ruderalis taxonomy in his 2005 follow up study.
In 2014, this revised taxonomy was thrown into upheaval as John McPartland, a researcher affiliated with GW Pharmaceuticals, presented a new taxonomy at the 2014 meeting of the International Cannabis Research Society, showing that the proper nomenclature is C. indica (formerly called C. sativa), C. afghanica (formerly C. indica), and C. sativa (formerly C. ruderalis). McPartland is the first researcher to look at genetic markers on the three species of cannabis and to use the plant's genome to identify where it originated. In august of 2015, a group of Canadian researchers looked at the genetic differences between marijuana and hemp. They found that, while vast genetic differences do exist between strains, there was no consistency, such as the example of a Jamaican pure sativa strain found to be identical to an Afghani pure indica strain. The science behind how we should refer to different species of cannabis is still uncertain, all we know is that we have a lot to learn still.
WikiMedia Commons - Deep Water Culture Hydro Veg State.jpg
Now, you might be wondering, after all this talk about cannabis, when will I begin talking about hemp. Brace yourself – we already have been – hemp is cannabis, and cannabis is hemp. Hemp is just a layman's distinction to refer to any one of those three species of cannabis bred for industrial uses like fiber or oil production, rather than for hash production. The 2014 Farm Bill passed by the US Congress allows for greater access to hemp for research purposes, and defines hemp as any cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC, this codified the layman's distinction between hemp and cannabis into law. America is not alone, the Canadian study on cannabis taxonomy also noted that the Canadian government also uses this 0.3% figure to demarcate hemp from cannabis. The reason why 0.3% is the distinction between hemp and cannabis is because at less than 0.3% THC there should be no psychoactivity, reinforcing the idea that hemp is for industrial use and cannabis is for getting high.
Just because they are the same plant, does not mean they look the same (note the differences between that field of hemp and those cannabis plants being grown inside). Hemp tends to grow taller and stalkier than cannabis, whereas cannabis tends to more resemble a bush (though sativa plants look more hemp-like in this regard). Traditionally, C. sativa has been the cannabis of choice for breeding into hemp, due to its larger size and thus higher fiber yield per acre. If you are having a hard time wrapping your head around this one, think about dogs and cats. All dogs are one species but they have been selectively bred over countless generations by human interference; the same is true for all breeds of cats. Since all cats are one species and all dogs are one species this means you can breed hybrids, such as a husky/corgi. Nature didn't bred teacup mastiffs, that was done by humanity. Similarly, nature did not create any of the Franken-plants we know and love, like wheatcorn, or cannabis; that was all our doing and humanity is continuing to toy around with nature every day by influencing Darwinian natural selection.
All cannabis/hemp plants contain cannabinoids, but since hemp was bred for its industrial uses, like fiber, fuel, or food, it tends to have much lower percentages of all cannabinoids, not just THC. Due to the government's redefinition of hemp as any cannabis plant with under 0.3% THC, some hybrid strains bred from cannabis genetics have low enough THC to be called hemp. A notable example of outcome of this redefining is Charlotte's web, a cannabis strain made famous by a CNN special called "Weed," which is now to be referred to as hemp (under threat of lawsuit). This change obviously has nothing to do with the plant's genetics, and everything to do with marketability, and that today is the biggest distinction between cannabis and hemp - hemp can be sold internationally, but cannabis can't even cross state lines.

4 Effortless Ways Hemp Can Lead To A Healthier Life

By Sally Perkins

How many pills do you take throughout the day? Nearly 60 percent of Americans are taking some sort of prescription drug that is most often riddled with harmful side effects. Many more people have medicine cabinets stuffed full of vitamins and modern-day snake oils that do nothing but change the color of their urine. What if there was an inexpensive product that you could use each day to improve your wellbeing? Hemp products can make you healthier in innumerable ways. Here are just four:


Hemp fights cholesterol
If you suffer from high cholesterol, you should consider getting into the regular habit of taking hemp seed oil or hemp seed. Research shows that these products can help break down cholesterol while fighting the blood clots that usually occur due to high cholesterol levels.


While trans fats and saturated fat are generally considered bad for you, essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, are not only good for you, but they have been shown to help with arthritis, cholesterol, depression, heart disease, and more. However, too much Omega-6 without the right amount of Omega-3 can be harmful, causing disease and inflammation. Fortunately, hemp seed oil has nearly a perfect ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids, so you can enjoy the health benefits of these fats without the risks.


hemp seed is healthy
Vitamin E is found in abundance in hemp seeds. Additionally, hemp seed is a great source of minerals like iron, sulfur, sodium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The benefits do not stop there. The human body cannot make eight essential amino acids at all and two others are not available in sufficient quantities. All of these essential amino acids are found in hemp seeds, which is thus considered a superfood. And, with seventeen grams of fiber per serving, hemp seeds are a smart way to sneak fiber into your diet as well.


hemp plant
CBD hemp oil is a natural oil produced by extraction from the hemp plant. It has a broad array of uses. Here are just a few:
  • Natural Pain Killer – The response CBD causes in the brain is similar to that of opioids, only without the habit-forming properties
  • Acne – When used topically, CBD hemp oil inhibits lipid synthesis, preventing the development of acne
  • Insomnia – CBD oil is the non-habit-forming, natural way to treat insomnia