Tag Archives: kentucky

In Praise of Hemp

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by Jim Prues / September 29th, 2010

Hemp use predates the Agrarian Age, as hemp fibers have been found in pottery in China and Taiwan dating to 7,000 years ago. The classical Greek historian Herodotus (ca. 480 BC) reported that the inhabitants of Scythia would often inhale the vapours of hemp smoke, both as ritual and for their own pleasurable recreation. So presumably the Scythians were the first recorded stoners.

 

In Europe, hemp growing and production became quite popular during the Medieval Age, having disseminated in that direction along with much of the technology of the Arabic Golden Age in Northern Africa. In Europe hemp seeds were used for food and oils, the leaves for teas and the stalks for fibres, including rope, clothes, sails and paper. Estimates put the number of Europeans actively involved in hemp growing and production in the 15th and 16th century at well over 50%.

Hemp has a strong historical influence on every continent, with varied cultural and religious traditions. Many African spiritual practices involve consuming hemp smoke to enhance awareness and generate visions like the Dagga ‘cults’.

The Spaniards brought hemp to the Western Hemisphere and cultivated it in Chile starting about 1545. However, in May 1607, “hempe” was among the crops Gabriel Archer observed being cultivated by the natives at the main Powhatan village, where Richmond, Virginia is now  situated; and in 1613, 

Samuell Argall reported wild hemp “better than that in England” growing along the shores of the upper Potomac. As early as 1619, the first Virginia House of Burgesses passed an Act requiring all planters in Virginia to sow “both English and Indian” hemp on their plantations. The Puritans are first known to have cultivated hemp in New England in 1645.

In more modern times, hemp was a popular crop in antibellum Kentucky and other southern states. It was commonly used for a variety of products, most notably the paper on which the U.S. Constitution was written. Several of our founding fathers were hemp farmers.

All this changed with William Randoph Hearst, who began demonizing hemp in order to leverage his great tracks of forest for paper production instead of needing to buy hemp from other farmers. His effort to demonize the plant was also instigated by his racism, as many hispanics and blacks used hemp for recreation. The word, marijuana, is the hispanic term for that form of hemp which has psychoactive ingredients.

There are several varieties of hemp, most of which have very little THC [tetra-hydro-cannabanoid], the mind-effecting component. For most of U.S. history, the distinction was well-understood and laws reflected that awareness. Like so many with the power of media, however, Mr. Hearst did his best to cloud that distinction, as he was against hemp in any form. Indeed, industrial hemp was referred to as ‘ditchweed’, while hemp for medicinal or recreations purposes has come to be known as marijuana.

An analogy would be poppies, where you have the breadseed poppy seeds that can be found on bread or rolls, in contrast to the opium poppies grown to create morphine and heroin.

As reference, the timber and lumber industries, textile and petro-chemical industries are the most influential in keeping hemp illegal. As usual, we can follow the money. Then for pot there’s the pharmaceutical industry, the alcohol lobby and all those anti-drug agencies with self-preservation interests. We learn much from understanding these connections.

With this background, let’s consider how hemp might again play a pivotal role in our culture.

Assuming access to air and water, our most regular needs are for food and energy. In the World4 culture, these needs, at least for the industrialized world, are met through global corporations like ADM, Monsanto, BP and Exxon. And of course, hemp is illegal to grow in much of the industrialized world and particularly the United States.

But as noted above, hemp is easily grown with little required in the way of fertilizer or pesticides. As such, hemp typifies a sustainably-oriented plant. Corn, by comparison, requires heavy doses of fertilizer, especially nitrogen, and requires a good deal of pesticide use, with Roundup often used to kill weeds, and genetically modified corn seed that is resistant to the effects of Roundup. With the vast expanses of corn grown in this country, it should be no surprise that the runoff from these chemicals has created a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. And let us not forget that our tax dollars subsidize these efforts through farm and energy subsidies.

With hemp, we have a low-impact, high-yield crop that can be used for a variety of uses. The stalks and fiber can used for composites that can be a wood substitute in an array of products. They can also be processed to create ethanol. They can be burned as a carbon-neutral resource, since the carbon they release is but the carbon the plant ingested during it’s life. Durable, light-weight, and strong, it’s difficult to imagine all the uses for industrial hemp were we to focus on designing and building hemp-based products.

With hemp oil we have another energy-rich resource, which can be used in cooking, as lamp oil and as a medicinal, as its high concentration of essential fatty acids is great for the skin and overall health.

Hemp seed can be used as a food as well. The roasted seeds are crunchy, they can be used in soups and casseroles, mixed with cereals or other foods. They’re highly nutritious, have a good deal of protein and again, are positive-impact environmentally.

Hemp has remediation properties too. It absorbs heavy metals in the soil, reducing their toxicity and harmful environment effects. There are vast expanses of hemp in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear accident for just that reason.

Hemp can be grown successfully in nearly every state in these United States. One can imagine a culture where locally produced hemp provides a good portion of the energy, food and product needs for our communities. This methodology would provide employment in both production and processing of the plant. It would reduce the environmental damage caused by our overused, subsidized corn. [Corn syrup is a cheap, low grade sugar that’s in a ton of processed foods.] Re-integrating hemp into our culture is just good, common sense.

And then there’s marijuana. The heathen devil-weed [a term coined by Heart’s yellow press] was blamed for all sorts of bad behavior as part of the demonization process. But as usual, someone who smokes pot and acts badly likely acts badly anyway, with marijuana as the straw man. Marijuana reduces aggressive behavior, unlike alcohol. This slander against the singular most influential plant in human history is but one example of the dysfunctionality of our culture.

Weed does indeed have psychotropic properties of note. Being stoned has a curious effect on the mind. Most say it tends to enhance whatever we feeling or experiencing at the time, offering a heightened experience of music or games or food [the proverbial munchies]. It is often used as a mind-quieting agent as well, as the stream of thoughts so constant to most of us becomes less pressing in a marijuana state of mind. In our fear-ridden, highly-stressed culture that alone could be of great value.

It’s worth noting that marijuana has not been placed as the medical cause in a single death in this country. Compare that with alcohol, tobacco, or the host of concoctions the pharmaceutical industry markets to us constantly. Mary Jane is decidedly benign.

As a medicinal, hemp oil has the afore mentioned essential fatty acids that are very effective for skin issues like excema and when ingested enhances body health. Medical marijuana is much in the news these days, being legal in California and a handful of other states. It’s value in alleviating the worst effect of cancer treatments,  chronic back ache and other issues is well-documented. Imagine if our culture actually encouraged research on medical marijuana. Not likely when the legal drug cartel we call the pharmaceutical industry has so much influence in government.

Proposition 19 is a measure on the ballot in California this fall that makes hemp legal. It merits our support for all the reasons indicated in this writing. Perhaps with this ballot measure passing we can begin to reverse the foolishness that has withheld leveraging this marvelous plant for the last 100 years.

Perhaps one of the most beneficial characteristics of this renewable resource is that the hemp plant can be used in its entirety, and that a streamlined life-cycle assessment yields positive impacts on the environment throughout the growth, harvest, and production stages. The industrial hemp plant offers a wide variety of high performance applications through the many aspects of community design, and will help strengthen our local economy, return power back to our local agricultural industry, and restore the environment as it grows. – Scott Blossom

Well said, Mister Blossom. Perhaps this fall [in California Ballot Measure Prop 19] we’ll begin to see a return to sanity in our policies toward this marvelous and versatile plant. And wouldn’t it be just swell to see this happen in the wider context of a return to localism. Very World Five – dude.

Jim Prues is the founder of World 5.0, a new cultural operating system based on peace and love. He can be reached at jim@world5.org. Read other articles by Jim, or visit Jim’s website.

CONTINUE READING…

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Lawmakers eye THC content of state’s industrial hemp

For Immediate Release

May 3, 2017

Lawmakers eye THC content of state’s industrial hemp

FRANKFORT—Industrial hemp legally grown in Kentucky is not considered marijuana. It has only a fraction of THC—or tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive compound—found in marijuana. And state regulators aim to keep it that way.

Around 100 pounds of industrial hemp grown under Kentucky’s three-year old Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program were destroyed just three weeks ago after the state found the crop had a higher THC level than the law allows. An April 13 Associated Press article on the destroyed crop reported that it registered THC levels of between 1.2 and 0.4 percent, or slightly above the federal and state legal limit of 0.3 percent.

Kentucky mandated 0.3 percent as the legal THC limit for industrial hemp grown in the state four years ago when it passed legislation allowing industrial hemp production as part of a state pilot program cleared by the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill. Hemp grown under the state program is routinely tested—as the destroyed crop was—to ensure that its THC level falls at or below the legal limit.

Questions about the destruction of the non THC-compliant crop were raised today before the state legislative Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee by Rep. Kim King, R-Harrodsburg. King asked for more information about what happened with the crop from representatives of Atalo Holding of Winchester and Sunstrand of Louisville, two companies that process industrial hemp at their facilities.

Atalo Holdings Chairman Andrew Graves said the crop is question was a variety most commonly grown in the western U.S. “In this climate, when it’s grown, the THC level tends to be a higher level than it should be.” He said there wasn’t any question that the crop needed to be destroyed.

“It’s not a problem with us. We are used to regulated industries—tobacco is heavily regulated—and so this is as well,” said Graves.

King said she is pleased the system worked.

“I’m very, very inspired and I’m very, very hopeful that the system caught a portion of the crop that tested above the legal limit,” said King. “I just wanted some additional discussion on that.”

Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, mentioned the use of industrial hemp in the production of CBD or cannabidiol oil, which is extracted from hemp. CBD oil reportedly helps with balance, mood, sleep, appetite and can help relieve pain. It has also been known to help with epilepsy. And, since the oil is made from low-THC hemp, it doesn’t create the sensation of being high, like marijuana can.

Hornback asked Graves and others testifying before the committee if medicinal products made from industrial hemp, including CBD oil, are more effective if the THC level is above 0.3 percent. Atalo Holdings Research Officer Tom Hutchens said that, as of yet, is unknown.

“We don’t know the answer to that, truly, because there hasn’t been enough research. I think it will probably get (to a) higher (level) somewhere along the line, but all of this has to do with the national scope,” said Hutchens.

Graves said he’d like to see Kentucky increase its legal limit of THC in industrial hemp from 0.3 percent to 1 percent to improve plant breeding options. That would give Hutchens “some leeway, where he wouldn’t be under the scrutiny of law while he’s trying to breed some new variety that could be indigenous to Kentucky and beneficial to farmers here,” he said.

Cultivation of up to 12,800 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes has been approved by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) for 2017. That is nearly three times the acreage approved for industrial hemp cultivation in 2016, according to a press release from the KDA. Kentucky has “the largest state industrial hemp research project program in the nation,” the KDA reports.

Some funding for hemp processing in Kentucky has come from the state’s share of the national Master Settlement Agreement, a 1998 multi-billion dollar agreement between major tobacco companies and 46 states including Kentucky. Spending of those funds are overseen by the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee.

-END-

It’s with a great respect for all persons of the Kentucky Hemp Industry that I address you today as the new president of the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association

The KYHIA is pleased to welcome Chad Rosen as our new president. Chad shares his thoughts and thanks you for your support of the Kentucky hemp industry. 

It’s with a great respect for all persons of the Kentucky Hemp Industry that I address you today as the new president of the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association.

Dr. Trey Riddle will continue to serve as a board member for the KYHIA and we thank him for his leadership this past year.

For those of you that attended yesterdays Annual Conference, thank you for coming out to educate yourselves and engage with the community of advocates in our young industry in order to arm yourselves with knowledge that will continue to build upon the strong foundation of this industry that we are shaping. Also, thanks is due to the researchers across the state who continue to do the hard work of helping us understand what all is possible with this plant as we move to commercialize hemp in the myriad of possibilities. The research findings and presentations we heard yesterday are in large part what make Kentucky the leading state for our industry. 

I ask each of you individually as members of this industry to share with me your thoughts on how we can build a stronger industry alliance and think of what your role in this process might be. The members of the KYHIA board are volunteer, and it’s in the spirit of service that most serve. If you have ideas of how the KYHIA can have broader or better impact to serve our industry please speak up and take action, your voice serves to alert, and your action serves to lead and effect. The platitude about a rising tide lifting all boats could not be more acute to our highest objective as an industry and I hope to hear from you throughout the year as we continue to build an industry that serves our communities.

With Gratitude,
Chad Rosen

ps. for those of you that attended yesterdays event, a few asked me for the recipe of the hemp encrusted salmon. Enjoy!

A Kentucky-based hemp seed grower is the first company to have its seeds approved and officially certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

 

 

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Blair Miller

DENVER – A Kentucky-based hemp seed grower is the first company to have its seeds approved and officially certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Lexington, Kentucky-based Schiavi Seeds LLC had three separate seed varieties certified as CDA Approved Certified Seeds under the new program, which aims to promote hemp agriculture in the state.

CDA has worked with CSGA and Colorado State University over the past several months to breed plants that produce seeds under the 0.3 percent THC content threshold to qualify as hemp and not psychoactive marijuana.

Varying seed types were grown and tested in trials in different parts of the state in order to find ideal conditions for hemp cultivation.

Colorado law requires industrial hemp seeds to contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Three trial seeds from Schiavi Seeds – Eletta Campana, Fibranova and Helena – passed trial tests and were accepted by the state Seed Growers Association’s review board.

CDA says seeds submitted by Fort Collins-based New West Genetics have also passed the THC trial, but still have to be accepted by the review board before they can also be labeled as a CDA Approved Certified Seed.

Congress approved hemp production in 2014, but a state certification like Colorado’s is necessary to raise the crop.

Colorado farmers will be able to start buying and growing the seeds next year.

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Kentucky Congressmen Seek Clarification on Federal Hemp Rules

By Matt Markgraf Oct 27, 2016

Three members of Kentucky’s U.S. Congressional delegation joined 16 other members of Congress in a letter Wednesday seeking clarification from federal agencies regarding industrial hemp guidelines.

Senator Rand Paul and Representatives Thomas Massie and John Yarmuth signed a letter to The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration looking to revise the ‘Statement of Principles’ issued in August.

The Congressmen say there is confusion over pilot programs approved in the 2014 Farm Bill allowing state ag departments and universities, including Murray State, to grow the plant for research. Guidance also could have a limiting effect on sales and transportation, the letter argues. Federal law prohibits farmers growing for commercial profit, but retail sales of products made with hemp are legal.

Kentucky’s Ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles sent a letter to the USDA last month objecting to the rules, saying they “could hinder industrial hemp’s economic potential.”

Read the letter sent Wednesday

 

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More executive overreach? Lawmakers say Obama hemp policy is a buzzkill for research

 

Kentucky is one of 28 states that permit the production of industrial hemp.

Kentucky is one of 28 states that permit the production of industrial hemp. Charles Bertram Lexington Herald-Leader

By Curtis Tate

ctate@mcclatchydc.com

 

You can’t get high from smoking hemp, but a bipartisan group of lawmakers says states and universities growing it for research could get busted if they cross state lines with it.

Three Kentucky lawmakers — Republican Sen. Rand Paul, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth and Republican Rep. Thomas Massie — have asked the Obama administration to remove or revise August guidance that prohibits the shipment of hemp plants and seeds across state lines even for research.

Industrial hemp only contains a fraction of the intoxicating chemical associated with its cousin marijuana, and it is grown worldwide to produce fabrics, carpets, paper, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and even auto parts.

While federal law prohibits farmers from growing hemp for a profit, it can be grown in some states for research purposes.

 

We request that you please remove the attempted prohibition on transporting plants and seeds across state lines.

 

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and 18 other lawmakers in letter Joining 16 of their colleagues in a letter dated Thursday, the Kentucky lawmakers told the Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration that its guidance has sown seeds of confusion among state agriculture departments and universities that have hemp research programs.

Kentucky and 27 other states have authorized the production of industrial hemp. The 2014 Farm Bill enabled those states to establish pilot programs.

This year in Kentucky, 135 growers and 4,500 acres have been approved under the state’s pilot program. Kentucky had led the nation in hemp production until after the Civil War.

This year in Kentucky, 135 growers and 4,500 acres have been approved under the state’s pilot program.

The Farm Bill also says the Executive Branch may not use appropriated funds “to prohibit the transportation, processing, sale or use of industrial hemp” that is grown in accordance with the law.

The three agencies do not have the authority to issue the guidance they did in August, the lawmakers wrote.

“We request that you please remove the attempted prohibition on transporting plants and seeds across state lines,” they wrote.

 

Curtis Tate: 202-383-6018, @tatecurtis

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article110887257.html#storylink=cpy

KY: Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program now taking applications for 2017

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New measures set to enable sustained growth of the program

FRANKFORT (October 11, 2016) Kentuckians interested in participating in the industrial hemp research pilot program in 2017 are invited to submit an application with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“The pilot research program will continue to build on the successes of the previous administration by developing research data on industrial hemp production, processing, manufacturing, and marketing for Kentucky growers,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. KDA’s objective is to expand and strengthen Kentucky’s research pilot program, so that if the federal government chooses to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, Kentucky’s growers and farmers will be positioned to thrive, prosper and ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940 that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. Participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016 compared with 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of the program.

Applicants should be aware of important new measures for the 2017 research program, including the following:

· To strengthen the department’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates must be submitted on the application. Applicants must consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored, or processed.

· To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA will rely on objective criteria, outlined in the newly released 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications. An applicant’s criminal background check must indicate no drug-related misdemeanor convictions, and no felony convictions of any kind, in the past 10 years. Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp pilot project program will consider whether applicants have complied with instructions from the department, Kentucky State Police, and local law enforcement.

· As the research program continues to grow, KDA’s hemp staff needs additional resources and manpower to administer this tremendously popular program. The addition of participant fees will enable KDA Hemp Staff to handle an increasing workload without needing additional taxpayer dollars from the General Assembly. Program applicants will be required to submit a nonrefundable application fee of $50 with their applications. Successful applicants will be required to pay additional program fees.

Grower applications must be postmarked or received by the KDA marketing office no later than November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST. Processor or handler applicants are encouraged to submit their applications by November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST.

For more information, including the 2017 Policy Guide and a downloadable application, go to kyagr.com/hemp.

CONTINUE TO KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF AGRIGULTURE

Kentucky Should Not Wait For Federal Permission on Industrial Hemp

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There are right ways to fight the unconstitutional federal prohibition on industrial hemp. There are also wrong ways to do it. Unfortunately, Kentucky is doing it the wrong way. Rather than act without unnecessary federal “permission,” the agriculture commissioner is pleading with the feds to “reconsider” its rules for industrial hemp.

The feds recently put out a report called the Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp which outlines how federal laws impact hemp production for research purposes. However, the Kentucky agriculture commissioner says it is not certain how the rules apply to hemp oil (CBD oil) production research, which makes up over half of the state’s hemp programs.

“There are some areas(of the report) that may be problematic, including the definition of what the actual definition of what industrial hemp is,” said Quarles. He added that he hopes “those in Washington realize that the entire plant should be researched.”

While industrial hemp and recreational marijuana are both prohibited under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, they are different strains of the same plant. Industrial hemp has practically no trace of THC, the chemical in found in marijuana that makes it potent. While it is not illegal to grow industrial hemp, farmers must obtain a permit from the DEA, a virtually impossible feat. Up until a couple of years ago, the feds effectively maintained complete prohibition of industrial hemp production.

At one time, Kentucky ranked as the no. 1 hemp producing state in the country, and the commonwealth currently has a strong grassroots network of hemp advocates. But when the legislature took up the issue in 2013, it only authorized hemp production if and when the feds allowed it.

Early in 2014, President Barack Obama opened the door when he signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The “hemp amendment”

…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oil-seed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.

With the federal government granting its limited permission, the state of Kentucky launched a hemp pilot program meeting the federal guidelines in 2014. Now, state agriculture officials find themselves in a position where they must beg the federal government to change its rules in order to even run its limited research program.

Meanwhile, other states including Colorado, Vermont, Oregon, South Carolina, Connecticut, Maine and North Dakota aren’t waiting around for permission. They have taken steps to ramp up industrial hemp production on their own, simply ignoring federal prohibition and legalizing industrial hemp within their state borders.

While prospective hemp growers still have to take federal law into consideration, by eliminating the state requirement for federal permission, state hemp legalization clears away a major obstacle to widespread commercial hemp farming within the borders of the state.

And it’s working. For instance, in Colorado the amount of acreage used to grow industrial hemp is poised to double this year.

The growing hemp industry in Colorado and other states acting independent of federal law shows that the fed’s ban does not work without state cooperation.

Kentucky should cease pleading for permission where none is required and takes steps to nullify the federal ban on industrial hemp by simply creating a framework allowing farmers to cultivate and process hemp for both commercial and research purposes.

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RELATED:

Two Approaches to Hemp Demonstrate Futility of Asking for Federal Permission

Mike Lewis and the Growing Warriors

By Andrew Baker  – Sep 20, 2016

 

mike-lewis-and-the-growing-warriors

One of the things I love most about our industry is that it’s constantly being shaken up. Everywhere you look, there’s an individual or a company taking things to a previously unprecedented level. What’s even more amazing is the pace at which things are moving; a pace that’s only going to increase in speed as the industry becomes more open and recognized.

To help illustrate what I mean, think about this: If you have kids that are, say 5 years old or younger, there is a good chance that you won’t need to teach them how to drive. At least not the way you or I learned. It’s entirely possible that our kids will never have to grab a steering wheel or press a gas pedal.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait while you go ahead and put your brain back together.

But you see, these types of technological advancements aren’t being made in exclusivity. Strides like what I described above aren’t possible simply because the automobile industry is so advanced. The technology that would go into a self-driving car could be repurposed, tweaked just a little bit, and put to use in something like virtual reality. It can, and often does, work the other way around as well.

The cannabis industry is no exception, as we’re starting to see. I really enjoy tech — and I’m obsessed with entrepreneurship — so the flood of cannabis startups is an exciting thing to watch. Typing all this out makes me realize two things. One, I haven’t tackled this sort of topic in any of my previous posts. Two, I’m eager to do so for you guys.

But that’ll have to wait.

What? You thought all of that was to lead up to me covering some sort of futuristic weed tech? Nope. I just needed a good segue to what I’ll be talking about in today’s post. Who, actually, not what.

His name is Mike Lewis and he’s shaking things up in a simple but powerful way and he’s doing it with just his hands and his voice.

Mike Lewis! Who? Mike Lewis!

Aside from any readers I have out of Houston, who got the song reference?

In all seriousness though, Mike Lewis is a name you’ll come to know quite well if you don’t already. We’ll start with the basics. Mike is a proud husband, father, veteran of the United States Army and Kentucky farmer. In 2012, he established Growing Warriors, the first veteran-oriented food security organization. 

There are about one million veterans and active duty military personnel receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly referred to as food stamps. It’s also no secret that the unemployment rate among veterans is unacceptably high. (To be fair, it is declining at a considerable rate.)  Mike’s answer to this issue? Teach them how to grow and preserve their own food while banding together within their communities. This was accomplished by forming partnerships with cities, veteran hospitals, educational institutions, and community based organizations in order to provide veterans with hands on, curriculum-based learning opportunities. Since it’s inception, Growing Warriors has been able to help dozens of veteran families produce tens of thousands of pounds in organic produce.

Keep in mind that I’m just giving you a brief introduction. Mike’s, and the Growing Warriors’, efforts extend across multiple states and I could easily fill out the rest of this post by diving deep into everything they’re doing. For today, though, I want to bring your attention to what Mike and the Growing Warriors are doing for our industry, specifically the industrial hemp side of things.

Harvesting Liberty With Growing Warriors

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this short documentary film, Harvesting Liberty. Backed and presented by Patagonia, this film aims to address and shed light on the legalization of industrial hemp in the United States. Seriously, stop reading this, open that link in another tab, take the next 12 minutes of your day to watch it, then come back here to finish up and talk to me about what you think.

A couple of years ago, President Obama signed the Agriculture Act of 2014 — the Farm Bill — into effect. There’s a section of this act titled Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research. Basically, this section allows for universities and state departments of agriculture — in states where hemp is legal to grow — to grow hemp for research or pilot programs. Back in the 1800’s, Kentucky dominated the industrial hemp market. So, it’s quite fitting that a group of Kentucky farmers, Mike and the Growing Warriors, were given permission to cultivate 5 acres. 

As soon as they got their seeds, Mike “threw ‘em the ground really quickly before anybody changed their mind.”

American Hemp Flag

I found two things to be really interesting while watching that documentary and doing further research afterward.

First, the way Mike and his team go about processing the harvested hemp into useable materials. Get this: it’s done entirely by hand. When you think about it, that actually makes sense. Industrial hemp hasn’t been cultivated in America since it was listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, so of course there’s no hemp processing machinery just laying around waiting to be used. Even if there was, Mike wanted to use traditional methods to weave what he had in store. More on that in a moment, though.

They begin by using a process known as retting. Put simply, retting is the natural process of allowing moisture and microorganisms to remove the sugars in the stalk that hold all the fibers together. Once the plant has been retted completely, it’s moved to the barn for drying. What follows is called breaking, or decorticating. The hemp stalk is run through a hand powered machine that crushes the stalk and separates each of the fibers. Once separated, the fibers are spun together using spinners that are, once again, hand powered.

The second thing that really caught my interest (and by that I mean it had me grinning from ear to ear) is what they decided to make with the materials that came from this first harvest.

An American Flag. (Not sorry if I’m spoiling anything because I told you to stop and watch the documentary!)

“We made this American ingenuity with people from all walks of life. Life and society are not uniform or standardized in any way. This flag represents the bumps and ridges in our society and the great things that happen when we accept differences and work to solve problems. It represents all of us and our future.”

Nationwide Legalization of Industrial Hemp

On the 4th of July, Mike delivered that flag to Congress along with a speech in support of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015/2016. This act proposes the nationwide legalization of industrial hemp cultivation, something I’ll be digging into in a later article.

Mike takes a stance that you don’t see often in this industry and its activists. While he’s obviously in full support of legalization and bringing industrial hemp farming back to America, he also recognizes the need to take it slow. There’s a lot of mistakes left to be made and we need to let those kinks get worked out before attempting to blow up the market. Not only that, but there’s a ton of misinformation out there when it comes to hemp. Most of the public still doesn’t understand that hemp isn’t the same as its THC-laden counterpart cannabis.  

There’s a lot that can be said about Mike Lewis and all the work he’s putting out into the world. If I had to pick one thing, it would be that he’s solid proof that you don’t have to be a high tech startup out of San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, or Denver to effect real change on the cannabis industry. Those types of businesses have their place and I’m rooting for them. I just think it’s important that you don’t forget that there’s a place for you outside of an office space, if that’s where you’d rather be.

Interested in growing hemp or getting involved? You can learn more over at the National Hemp Association and the Hemp Industries Association.

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New U.S. Agriculture policy could halt some Kentucky hemp growth

 

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By Charles Mason, Bowling Green Daily News,

Possibly half of Kentucky’s nascent industrial hemp industry could be harmed by a policy suggestion offered by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and other federal officials.

The policy suggestion is part of a larger discussion over the future of industrial hemp in America, which exists in legal limbo. States with legislation in place can allow it be grown under research conditions, but cannabis is still outlawed as a controlled substance.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said Thursday that Kentucky is the biggest industrial hemp state in the United States.

“We want Kentucky to be the epicenter for industrial hemp,” Quarles said during a telephone interview.

This set of paragraphs in a federal publication has created some concerns about the future viability of Kentucky’s program.

“The term ‘industrial hemp’ includes the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part or derivative of such plant, including seeds of such plant, whether growing or not, that is used exclusively for industrial purposes (fiber and seed) with a tetrahydrocannabinols concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis,” according to the “Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp” released Aug. 12 in the Federal Register.

Under the parameters, the feds would redefine industrial hemp to include only “historically proven” applications – fiber and seed – excluding other potential applications. The statement from the feds – which is not legally binding – goes on to say that ‘‘tetrahydrocannabinols includes all isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers of tetrahydrocannabinols.”

The Federal Register statement also noted, “… 2014 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.”

The language in the Federal Register also has a Louisville businessman concerned.

Chad Wilson of Bowling Green, who has a business in Louisville, admits it is early in the process of these national discussions. He sees the Kentucky family farmer and his or her crop options being endangered by the federal policy suggestion.

Wilson is the marketing director for Green Remedy of Louisville, which distributes natural remedies derived from non-industrial hemp applications.

“We created this Kentucky company to help the Kentucky farmer,” Wilson said Thursday during a telephone interview. “We have a right to a better quality of life.”

Kentucky permits 167 research plots for industrial hemp by growers not affiliated with an educational institution and the about 2,200 acres planted is expected to grow in the coming years. Kentucky’s research pilot program is in its third growing season. The program exists because the current Farm Bill offers an exemption to allow the research plots, Quarles said.

“We are trying to create stability for the investors. They are concerned about this policy paper,” Quarles said of the state’s industrial hemp program.

Quarles recently wrote Vilsack and other federal officials to express concerns about the federal government’s approach to narrow Congress’ definition of industrial hemp.

That approach excludes cannabidiol (CBD), which advocates claim has health benefits. Green Remedy’s products derive from CBD.

Quarles said more than half of the industrial hemp acreage cultivated this year by pilot program participants in Kentucky is being used to harvest CBD.

“Freedom, flexibility and latitude to try new methods and applications are essential to the success of any agricultural research pilot program. Industrial hemp research pilot programs are now different,” Quarles wrote Vilsack; Deputy Assistant Administrator Louis Milione of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency; and Associate Commissioner Leslie Kux of the federal Food and Drug Administration on Sept. 12.

The Federal Register statement noted that the USDA, DEA and FDA were still sorting out legalities of permitted industrial hemp programs authorized by states.

The statement wasn’t all potential bad news for Kentucky.

Quarles applauded the decision to allow hemp growers and processors to be eligible for federal loans, grants and other programs.

However, he took exception with the narrowed definition that would shut out non-industrial hemp product applications such as use of hemp parts as food ingredients, as materials for artistic use; or as ingredients for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical or other health-related purposes.

Quarles told the federal administrator that CBD shows “great promise” as an economically viable agricultural product.

“Kentucky’s General Assembly is one of many state legislatures that has expressed their support for continuing and expanding CBD applications and research,” Quarles wrote.

The CBD portion of the plant is the backbone of Wilson’s three-year-old company. Wilson said he used to look at cannabis in the narrow view of marijuana and people getting high, but through personal education about industrial hemp and its non-industrial medicinal applications, “they call me the hemp preacher now,” he said Thursday in a telephone interview.

Green Remedy has less than five employees and Wilson declines to cite specifically what his business is worth except to say that he’s made a “substantial investment” and contracted growers to provide the CBD his business uses.

“This is an opportunity for the middle class to step up and start a business,” Wilson said. “You don’t do something like this and then pull the rug out.”

Wilson and Quarles are both concerned that foreign hemp seed might transcend domestic efforts.

The Statement of Principles calls for prohibiting transfers of hemp seeds and plants across state lines, despite Congress’ “clear intent” to allow such interstate transfers, Quarles noted in the letter.

“I cannot understand why the importation rules should be more restrictive for interstate transfers than for international transfers,” Quarles wrote.

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