Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

Author: Paul James

Hemp In India: Exploring The Growing Hemp Industry In India

Mansi Shah of Hemp Fabric Lab tells us about sustainable fashion and hemp in India. Although hemp was legalized in 1985, the industry is still growing.

Recently, we got in touch with Mansi Shah of Hemp Fabric Lab, to learn more about hemp in India.

Hemp Fabric Lab makes innovative textiles that are either 100 percent hemp or blend hemp with fabrics like organic cotton, Tencel, silk, and wool.

As hemp activists, we’re always striving to make things better where we are. Often keeping our focal points on concerns of our country and what we can do within our local communities. Similar efforts are being made across the globe.

A collection of hemp fabric in a variety of colors and textures from Hemp Fabric Lab.

A collection of hemp fabric in a variety of colors and textures from Hemp Fabric Lab. (Photo: Hemp Fabric Lab)

Considering hemp grows naturally in India, it comes as no surprise this resource has been used for generations. But what about the modern hemp industry?

HEMP IN INDIA: A GROWING INDUSTRY

Numerous designers have already incorporated Hemp Fabric Lab into their work. Photo: A female model poses in front of a subway car in India, wearing flowing hemp fabrics.

Numerous designers have already incorporated Hemp Fabric Lab into their work. Image courtesy Mies Studio by Seerat Virdi, created for India’s first Circular Design Challenge organized by Lakmé Fashion Week, Reliance and UN Environment.

“The modern hemp industry in India is at a highly nascent stage,” Shah explained, “even though, paradoxically, the use of hemp fibre and seed for a range of applications — rope, fuel, food — has been commonly acknowledged for several centuries in India’s rural communities.”

A growing number of agriculture training programs and practices are spreading across farming communities to spread knowledge of hemp. Similar to the guidelines set by the Farm Bill in the U.S., India’s goal is for all hemp grown contain less than 0.3 percent THC.

“Over the past half a decade, the interest in and demand for hemp-based products is on the rise, as may be seen with the increase in the number of women artisans and weavers in rural Himalayan villages,” Shah continued. “[those villages] have increased the quantity and quality of indigenous hemp handloom products, such as shawls, stoles, accessories.”

According to Hemp Today, investers recently poured around $150 million USD into the Indian Industrial Hemp Association. Not only is the IIHA hoping to expand on this booming global industry, but they’re also seeking to incorporate more native Indian hemp strains. Unfortunately, most wild hemp in India  contains above 0.3 percent THC. Therefore, the association is seeking to raise the federal limit to 1.5 percent THC.

LAWS AND REGULATIONS SURROUNDING HEMP IN INDIA

It’s interesting to note that the county’s laws surrounding hemp have been looser than that of America’s for the past few decades.

India’s Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) of 1985 allows state governments the freedom to establish their own policies in terms of commercial cultivation. That is, “as long as they provide verifiable scientific and operational evidence that hemp cultivated shall not be diverted for misuse.”

After centuries of use before prohibition, hemp in India was re-legalized in 1985. Photo: Young hemp plants grow, seen during the sunset in Northern India.

After centuries of use before prohibition, hemp in India was re-legalized in 1985.

Still, there remains strict guidelines in accordance to the federal government. So much so, only two states in India — Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh — have developed an official set of policies governing the research and cultivation of hemp.

Of course, these efforts can be seen as similar to America’s recent hemp accomplishments. However, the biggest difference is India’s been able to grow hemp legally since 1985, as long as all laws are followed.

It’s due to this and efforts made by IIHA which have allowed for India to explore the different products hemp can create. According to HomeGrown, successful Indian hemp companies include foods and drinks and, of course, fabrics for clothing. In some ways, hemp in India seems more diverse than the ever-growing CBD market here in America.

Yet, the interesting aspect of all this is India’s demand for hemp didn’t grow until recent years.

INTEREST IN SUSTAINABLE FASHION

A male model poses in a long-sleeve white button down shirt made from hemp. White hemp shirt by India’s first hemp-based fashion brand, BLabel. Brands and designers of all sizes are exploring hemp fabric in India.

White hemp shirt by India’s first hemp-based fashion brand, BLabel. Brands and designers of all sizes are exploring hemp fabric in India.

Hemp Fabric Lab came into the picture when they noticed the Indian textile industry lacked easy access to natural fabrics. With that came a demand for sustainable fashion.

However, unlike other fabric companies, Hemp Fabric Lab offers customers the option to purchase a few meters of fabric. They did not want to force individual creators and small companies into minimum order quantities.

“Early on, we also focused strongly on becoming a brand name, with strong market, goodwill, and credibility,” Shah proudly told us. “We continue to work towards that goal through the kind of collaborations we do with [other] brands, as well as our social media voice.”

These kind of sales not only allow for other companies to develop their own sense of fashion, but for the fashion industry as a whole to start incorporating hemp.

RE-IMAGINING INDIA’S AGRICULTURE

“Agriculture in India is at an inflection point,” Shah said. “With a litany of problems plaguing the agrarian rural backbone of the nation.”

These problems range anywhere from an overdependence on intensive commercial crops (such as cotton and sugarcane) to socio-economic factors causing people to leave the countryside and move into the cities. In turn, these leaves rural parts of India ultimately unproductive.

Yet, through all the complications, Shah and her team believe hemp can be a solution to India’s agriculture.

“With hemp’s short cultivation cycle less requirement of water and agriculture inputs, combined with the price premium which can be commanded in the marketplace for hemp raw material and hemp finished products, it’s become increasingly evident to farming communities, government, and industry that hemp is a requirement for the heart of India’s next green revolution.”

Hemp’s ever-growing popularity in India is noteworthy. As is happening across the world, there’s a demand for organic materials and foods. India is no exception and many have been seeking out hemp’s eco-friendly material.

“Over the course of the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of organizations which are beginning to work with and trade hemp-based products in industry segments. However, India’s contribution to the global hemp market is currently less than 0.5 percent. We don’t view the upsurge in companies as competition — rather, we choose to view it through the lens of establishing a burgeoning industry.”

HEMP FASHION PROMOTES ACCEPTANCE OF HEMP

Hemp Fabric Lab allows artisans and small companies to order small amounts of hemp fabric, helping to promote hemp's acceptance in fashion at every level. Photo: A woman in a matching blue, off the shoulder shirt and pants made from hemp fabrics.

Hemp Fabric Lab allows artisans and small companies to order small amounts of hemp fabric, helping to promote hemp’s acceptance in fashion at every level. Image courtesy Sui Mue, a sustainable fashion brand based out of New Delhi, India.

One of the greatest ways to promote hemp is by allowing hemp to have an influence over the fashion industry. This is the final goal of Hemp Fabric Lab which we discussed.

“Our core offering is a wide range of hemp fabrics in woven, knits, and handloom varieties,” Shah told us. “Our parent company Bombay Hemp Company [or BOHECO] largely manages all aspects of industrial hemp from food to textiles to clothing to medicine.”

This cooperation Hemp Fabric Lab and BOHECO have found hopes to develop clothing which will make its way amongst the masses.

“Our B-Label clothing range comprises of semi-formal work wear and casual wear all made 100 percent from hemp, hemp and organic cotton, as well as hemp and lyocell blends that do well in a tropical country like India.”

Their main target is people between the ages of 21 and 50 with a focus on clean, easy-to-wear silhouettes that will allow people for easy, on-the-go clothing.

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

As Shah mentioned, the hemp industry in India is still just coming into existence. With that, everyone involved has a lot of work to do. Not only in growing this industry, but also in teaching the rest of the world the many benefits of hemp.

“We’re hopeful, having had the support of the Indian government and thought leaders,” Shah said. “It has immensely helped BOHECO in its 6 year journey as an agro-socio enterprise looking to change the perception of industrial hemp.”

And what better place for this industry to occur than India? 60 percent of all districts in the country see natural, wild-grown cannabis. Furthermore, the link between India’s historic culture and hemp is strong. With the input of “modern technology to improve the quality of hemp and its base raw material, it wouldn’t be exaggerated to say that we shall soon see India reclaim its natural piece at a leadership level within the global hemp industry.”

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CBD Inhalers: Innovation In The CBD Market From CBD Luxe

An innovative new CBD inhaler could help change how people view CBD and hemp. Unique CBD inhalers from CBD Luxe offers people an easy and reliable way to get their dose of CBD, in a product that looks like any other medical device.

An innovative new CBD inhaler could help change how people view CBD and hemp.

One of the biggest challenges within the CBD industry is getting people to open their minds to the medical benefits of hemp. How is CBD Luxe addressing these problems?

By providing the market with a product which looks all the same as anyone might use for their medical condition — a CBD inhaler.

Before creating CBD Luxe, co-owner William Spilo snowboarded professionally and worked as an international heli-skiing guide. He suffered multiple injuries through his work over the years — some reaching traumatic levels. After being stuffed full of pain medications such as NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), he was introduced to CBD.

“I was on a pretty heavy regimen of NSAIDs every day and I was seeing if there were alternatives to that,” Spilo explained. “I got some CBD mint and I couldn’t believe the effects. So, I did one line of test runs and handed it out to all the professional athletes I work with and the results were astonishing.”

CBD Inhalers from CBD Luxe offer a reliable, easy to inhale dose of full-spectrum CBD oil.

CBD Inhalers from CBD Luxe offer a reliable, easy to inhale dose of full-spectrum CBD oil.

We talked with Spilo in order to learn more about his company’s newest line of products, CBD inhalers.

WHY CREATE CBD INHALERS?

“We’re trying to broaden the consumer base. It’s called a meter dose inhaler as we want to give precision dosing so the consumer knows exactly how much they’re getting every time. We’re also providing a comfortable, safe delivery system.”

CBD Luxe makes their inhalers from the same FDA approved material used for asthma inhalers. Each CBD inhaler contains 1100mg of micellized CBD. Micellization is the process of formulating molecules into colloidal solutions. This means the CBD is evenly distributed throughout, allowing each dose to be the same as the last.

CBD Luxe offers 4 different CBD inhalers with different natural extracts to help consumers achieve different experiences. There’s also a pure CBD inhaler with no additional ingredients. This full spectrum hemp oil offers users over 200 doses per inhaler.

The 2018 Farm Bill opened doors for innovating products such as these inhalers. As time progresses, we’re bound to continue seeing novel ideas within products, mixtures, and other uses for hemp. As we discussed these inhalers with Spilo, we kept these thoughts in mind to get a taste for the future of CBD.

A MARKET STILL IN THE MAKING

“When we [CBD Luxe] started in early 2016, there weren’t many CBD products on the market,” Spilo told us.

Not to mention, there remained a complete lack of public knowledge as to what CBD was. In the eyes of the federal government, hemp was still considered a Schedule I drug.

Yet, people like Spilo not only saw an opportunity but also a misunderstood medicine which could help millions of people. With that, he figured, “we’d make a higher quality product out there that was a little more targeted for what CBD can do for the consumer.”

Since the CBD industry is so constantly evolving, there are a number of problems which still need to be addressed. One of these is accurate labeling. Not only do they test every ingredient which comes into their facility but they also provide clear labels about what’s in their product. Furthermore, CBD Luxe is committed to providing the user with all the information about what’s in their CBD.

When Spilo entered the market, he noticed there weren’t many companies offering molecular isolates. This is when CBD is extracted into a water-soluble form. Though there were some products, Spilo and his team found some of these companies had “metal content and impurities in the CBD were at risk to the consumer.”

Just as with any responsible company, CBD Luxe tests all their products with a third-party lab to ensure accuracy and purity.

CREATING A REPUTABLE CBD MARKET

As more companies with the same business models came into the market, people inevitably gravitated towards the hemp industry.

“Still, we also felt we could enhance the effects of CBD by using botanicals,” Spilo recalled. “For vape pens, we’re using essential oils. For consumables and inhalers, we’re using full botanical extract. All of our ingredients are organic and non-GMO — except for the CBD itself because we have no certification for that yet. So, we just felt we’d make a higher quality product out there that was a little more targeted towards what CBD could actually do for the consumer.”

It’s thanks to efforts as such that the acreage of hemp cultivation was able to triple within a one-year period. Thanks to federal legalization, the industry is looking very optimistic. With that, questions begin to arise about the future of CBD.

PREDICTIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF CBD

Understandably, not every void within the CBD marketplace has been filled. As this industry continues to build itself, it’s inevitable for more problems needing to be addressed. It helps to take a look at how the market is going now in order to predict these complications before they arise.

“I think right now there are quite a few good products out there,” Spilo mentions. “I do think we have to watch out for the level of purity and the content. So, what is the CBD they’re putting in there? And how much? It’s important to have an understanding of what you want out of the product and what you’re looking for. We’d like to help steer you towards a more specific product.

“Since the passing of the Farm Bill in late 2018, the industry is really flooded. I mean, we’ve really gained a lot of recognition.”

As expected, this flooded market has a lot of questions. Now it’s the responsibility of companies such as CBD Luxe to not only answer these questions but create products which respond to the public’s growing desire.

CBD Luxe has been experimenting with their CBD inhaler formulas for some time now. And they’re constantly continuing these experiments to provide new experiences of CBD.

If you’re interested in learning more about these inhalers and/or purchasing one, you can check out the product’s page here.

Out of curiosity, we asked if CBD Luxe had any further innovative products in mind. Spilo’s response:

“There are a few that we’re working on, but …” Spilo laughed, “… we don’t want to release anything we aren’t sure of to market.”

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Shauna’s Law: Kentucky Bill Would Protect Workers Taking CBD

Named for an EMT from Powell County, Kentucky, Shauna’s Law would protect workers taking CBD from being fired due to failed drug tests. It could serve as a model to other states, too.

A proposed law in Kentucky would protect workers taking CBD from retaliation from their employer.

What happens when CBD shows up on a drug test as THC? Hemp-derived CBD supplements have only miniscule amounts of THC, the active ingredient in psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) that makes people feel high. However, imprecise testing methods can sometimes create a false positive result for marijuana use.

This is exactly what happened to Shauna Staton, an EMT in Powell County, Kentucky. Though she was only using CBD for pain relief, her employers accused her of having trace amounts of psychoactive cannabis in her system after a failed drug test. Her employer immediately fired her.

Of course, Staton protested against these allegations. According to Staton, she only used legal CBD products from Bluegrass Hemp Oil. After filing an appeal, Staton got her job back.

Shauna's Law, a bill in Kentucky could protect the rights of workers taking CBD. A woman takes a supplement in an office.

Shauna’s Law, a bill in Kentucky, could protect the rights of workers taking CBD.

However, the fact that using CBD can still pose risks proves there’s a need for change in legislation. And that’s exactly what “Shauna’s Law” aims to do in Kentucky.

HOW SHAUNA’S LAW WOULD PROTECT WORKERS TAKING CBD

The bill seeks to protect workers using CBD products within drug-free workplaces. It lays out an appeal process for all public employees in drug-free work environments who fail a drug test. An employer must allow their employee to complete an appeal as long as the employee:

  • Uses legal industrial hemp CBD products
  • Can provide a purchase receipt of said product
  • Produces test results that correspond with an industrial hemp product (less than 0.3 percent THC)

A bill as such not only helps those who truly need CBD products, but also educates the public on the difference between hemp and marijuana.

SHAUNA STATON HELPED PROTECT ALL WORKERS TAKING CBD

We were lucky to have a discussion with Adriane at Bluegrass Hemp Oil on the matter to get her insight on how Shauna’s Law can change the CBD industry.

“We’ve been here to support her all throughout her pushback,” she told us. She continued:

“But she did it all herself. There’s a lot of determination on her part and we respect her for it. She didn’t ask for anything from anybody else. She knew what she was doing was right and wanted to fight for the rights for it.”

Bluegrass Hemp Oil warns all their consumers that their full spectrum products will have trace amounts of THC. The legal limit is 0.3 percent. And they warn their consumers of this because Staton isn’t the first to run into trouble with her employer.

“We’ve heard from not only our consumers but consumers of hemp products throughout the U.S. that have had similar things happen to them,” Adriane explained.

While Shauna's Law would only protect workers taking CBD in Kentucky, it could serve as a model to other states. The Kentucky State Capitol building.

While Shauna’s Law would only protect workers taking CBD in Kentucky, it could serve as a model to other states.

According to Adriane, people within Kentucky are aware of the importance of this law. They’ve “come out either on our Facebook page or called us because they want to get really active here within the state and help us. [They want to] call their legislators and explain the importance of passing this piece of legislation.”

SHAUNA’S LAW COULD BE AN EXAMPLE FOR OTHER STATES

The true importance of this bill is the fact that it’s the first of its kind. Though it only pertains to the state of Kentucky, it’s an example for other states who are bound to propose similar laws. Adriane told us:

“If we can get it done here in Kentucky, I absolutely think it would be something great we could advocate for across the other 49 states.”

Adriane suggested other states can use Senate Bill 83 (“Shauna’s Law”) as a model.

She claimed, “It’s a very simple piece of legislation that I think any state can mimic.”

She suggested workers taking CBD may want to inform their employers prior to a drug test. When in doubt, she added, you should request a secondary test which shows the level of THC metabolites.

“In Shauna’s case, she tested positive for 30 nanograms [of THC],” Adriane explained. “That’s a really minute amount.”

Shauna’s Law is unique in what it asks for. We’ll continue to see new laws appearing from state to state since both the hemp industry and consumers need legal protection. As Adriane puts it:

“I think if the hemp industry is going to continue on its upwards rise and CBD products are going to continue to be put on shelves throughout the United States, [Shauna’s Law] is something that needs to be addressed. We have to put something in place that gives consumers the confidence to try these healing products.”

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2018 Hemp Report Reveals Huge Expansion To US Hemp Acres

2018 was one hell of a year for the hemp industry with hemp acreage more than tripling across the United States. These impressive facts can be found in the 2018 U.S. Hemp Crop Report, released late last month by Vote Hemp.

2018 was one hell of a year for the hemp industry. Besides the triumph that is federal legalization, hemp more than tripled in acreage across the United States.

These impressive facts can be found in the 2018 U.S. Hemp Crop Report, released late last month by Vote Hemp, a leading hemp advocacy organization. When it comes to this recent report, Erica Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, told Nebraska’s KTIC Radio news:

“We’ve seen hemp cultivation significantly expand in the U.S. in 2018, with over triple the number of acres planted in hemp compared to last year and the addition of 4 more states with hemp programs. Now that we have lifted federal prohibition on hemp farming, it’s time to invest our energy in expanding hemp cultivation and the market for hemp products across the country so that all can reap the benefits of this versatile, historic American crop.”

Just months ago, experts were claiming sales of hemp products may reach $2 billion by 2022. However, with this current hemp report and the optimism federal legalization brings, there’s a good chance that number will grow rapidly. The truth of the matter is many more people are opening up to CBD and other hemp products as the stigma around the plant falls away. The more people to do so, the more demand will naturally appear.

A herm farmer inspects his crop in a massive greenhouse densely packed with industrial hemp plants. The 2018 Hemp Report from Vote Hemp revealed that US hemp acres tripled between 2017 and 2018.

The 2018 Hemp Report from Vote Hemp revealed that US hemp acres tripled between 2017 and 2018.

Similarly to last year’s report, we’re going to take a look at the leading states and see the progress they’ve made since 2017.

COMPARING 2018 VS 2017 US HEMP ACRES

Comparing Vote Hemp’s 2018 report with last year’s hemp acreage reveals incredible growth in just one year.

Overall hemp acreage increased from 25,713 to 78,176, with the total number of hemp growing states up to 23 from 19 states. The total number of hemp licenses issued across all states more than doubled, from 1,456 in 2017 to 3,546 in 2018. More universities also got involved with hemp research. In 2017, 32 universities took part in hemp research, while 40 had hemp research programs in 2018.

In addition to the sheer increase in U.S. hemp acres between 2018 and 2017, the top hemp growing states also shifted from year to year. Colorado was the top hemp growing state in 2017, with 9,700 acres grown. At the time, we expected the state to maintain its lead into the future. Instead, an unexpected contender came forward to claim that prize in 2018.

TOP 5 HEMP GROWING STATES IN 2018

The 2018 hemp report revealed a historic year in hemp growing. Not only have certain states made incredible progress but the entire country tripled its hemp output, along with more than doubling the number of licenses issued.

In 2018, 5 states made huge leaps when it came to hemp acreage. By observing their individual success, we can get a sense of how other states can make the best of the recent Farm Bill and increase their hemp production in 2019 and beyond.

#5 – Tennessee – 3,338 Acres

Tennessee made a significant leap this year in terms of their involvement in the hemp industry. The state went from farming 200 acres of hemp in 2017 to a staggering 3,338 this past year.

The reason for this leap is due to Tennessee’s Department of Agriculture allowing for more industrial hemp projects and licenses to be issued. Part of the reason for their permissive attitude has to do with the state’s rich history with the crop.

#4 – Kentucky – 6,700 Acres

Though Kentucky no longer ranks as high on this list, they’ve more than doubled their hemp production within the last year. Kentucky has been a leading state for much of the industry’s recent endeavors due to the fact that it was one of the first to embrace pilot hemp programs. Despite the state’s conservative history, many former tobacco farmers now grow hemp. The state’s legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, were instrumental in passing nationwide hemp legalization through the Farm Bill.

#3 – Oregon – 7,808 Acres

It comes as no surprise to see Oregon ranking high on our list. For some time, it’s been one of the most forward-thinking cannabis states across the country. Even before the 2018 Farm Bill, Oregon’s lenient hemp growing program allowed any farmer or business to apply to grow or handle hemp.

Last year, Oregon ranked in at #2 for producing 3,469 acres of hemp. This year, their efforts have given them nearly 8,000 acres.

#2 – Colorado – 21,578 Acres

Last year, we claimed, “for years to come, it seems as though Colorado is going to lead the hemp industry.” Though we were wrong, there’s no doubt the Centennial State gave its best effort in trying to stay true to our claim. Colorado more than doubled its hemp acres from 2017’s 9,700 acres of hemp.

#1 – Montana – 22,000 Acres

In 2018, Montana took the grand prize not only in most acres of hemp grown but in how much expansion its made since 2017. In the year prior, the first year that Montana allowed hemp, the Treasure State grew a mere 542 acres of hemp. This past year, they’ve more multiplied their hemp production by more than 40 times!

This increase is truly an incredible feat not just for the state but the industry as a whole. The interesting part of it all is Montana didn’t change their rules or regulation to cause this growth. The same license was necessary each year and cost around $450.

Yet, due to a massive increase in the number of farmers desiring to grow hemp, Montana ranks number one on this year’s list.

Seen from the shoulders down, a farmer in a black hoodie gives a thumbs up while posing with a basket of freshly harvested hemp.

The 2018 Hemp Report reveals incredible growth in the hemp industry, from total acres grown to massive expansion in individual states too.

HEMP CROP REPORT REVEALS TREMENDOUS GROWTH IN US HEMP ACRES

It’s truly mindblowing to think about how far the hemp industry come just since 2014. Throughout that time, we went from a complete prohibition to over 75,000 acres of the plant being grown across the nation.

It should be noted the other states which have made tremendous progress throughout 2018:

  • Pennsylvania went from 36 acres in 2017 to 580 acres in 2018.
  • Maine went from 30 acres in 2017 to 550 acres in 2018.
  • Nevada went from 417 acres in 2017 to 1,881 acres in 2018.
  • Vermont went from 575 acres in 2017 to 1,820 acres in 2018.
  • Wisconsin went from no acres in 2017 to 1,850 acres in 2018.
  • North Carolina went from 965 acres in 2017 to 3,184 acres in 2018.

These numbers reveal the ongoing and inevitable rise of this industry. Though experts long predicted a U.S. hemp boom, this Hemp Crop Report comprehensively shows how rapidly the hemp industry is rising.

With total hemp legalization underway across the United States, there’s no telling how much progress is coming. All we do know is it’s bound to be another milestone year in 2019.

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Four People Face Felony Charges After Oklahoma Police Seize Hemp Shipment

Four people face felony charges after Oklahoma police seized hemp bound from Kentucky to Colorado. They’re charged with drug trafficking after cops found 18,000 pounds of hemp in their tractor-trailer. 

Update JANUARY 24, 2019: We previously updated this article to report that everyone involved was out of jail. However, a report via Twitter suggests two truck drivers remain imprisoned:

Four people face felony charges after Oklahoma police seized hemp bound from Kentucky to Colorado.

The four are charged with drug trafficking after cops found 18,000 pounds of hemp in the back of their tractor-trailer. Police from Pawhuska, Oklahoma pulled the shippers over at 3:00am on January 9, claiming they ran a red light. When police stuck their noses in the vehicle, they smelled a strong odor which greatly resembled psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”), leading to the charges.

The truck was transporting hemp from Kentucky to Colorado on behalf of Panacea Life Sciences, a CBD brand. As readers of our site know, the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal nationwide when it became law in December. The new law specifically protects interstate commerce. Therefore, the drivers were following the law.

A highway patrol officer holds his palm out while making a road side stop. Oklahoma police seized 18,000 pounds of legal hemp on January 9. 4 people involved in transporting the crop now face felony charges.

Oklahoma police seized 18,000 pounds of legal hemp on January 9. 4 people involved in transporting the crop now face felony charges.

However, two of the four still remain in jail as police insist that they don’t know whether the truck contained legal hemp or illegal marijuana. The four accused all pled not guilty at their initial hearing.

LAW ENFORCEMENT’S BIG FLAW

The Farm Bill makes it clear that there shouldn’t be any legal battle at all. Hemp is legal and these men were in total compliance with the law. Yet, as we’re witnessing, law enforcement continues to insist these men deserve to face charges.

We talked with James “Jamie” Baumgartner, the president of Panacea Life Sciences about the incident.

“To be honest, I personally tend to trust law enforcement,” Baumgartner proclaimed. “But I don’t know if they really know what they’re doing here.”

One source of Baumgartner’s uncertainty: the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sent the hemp to a laboratory to do a binary test. The purpose was to discover whether or not there would be THC in the product.

“Of course, it’s going to test positive cause there is 0.3 percent THC in the product,” Baumgartner explained.

Under the law, hemp is fully legal as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. He continued:

“Then they did another binary test that they [DEA] claim is definitive to show it’s marijuana, by taking a look at the product under a microscope. Which is the first time I’ve ever heard of that.”

Obviously, the latter test can’t confirm anything considering the fact that hemp and marijuana look nearly identical — they’re two forms of the same plant! As Baumgartner puts it, the only way to really tell the difference between the two is through, “a cannabinoid profile.”

Until the cannabis is properly tested, the four men will remain in custody. There’s only one major issue, as Baumgartner states:

“[Oklahoma law enforcement] wants to send it through Washington D.C. to be tested. But with the government shutdown, that laboratory is not operational right now.”

FIGHTING BACK AFTER OKLAHOMA POLICE SEIZE HEMP SHIPMENT

Baumgartner is pushing for the material to be tested properly even with the complication of a government shutdown. He and his team at Panacea have argued with police that they should, “find a neutral laboratory.”

“We’ve suggested they use the Colorado Department of Agriculture … to determine the THC content of the material.”

Unfortunately, there’s been little “open dialogue in terms of resolving the situation.”

Rather, law enforcement is taking matters into their own hands and, as mentioned above, it doesn’t seem like they quite know what’s going on.

Baumgartner told us he has never run into problems with the law before. Caught off guard by this unexpected seizure, he’s frustrated that police haven’t responded to his concerns. This is especially overwhelming considering some of these men have families who don’t know what’s going to happen.

Furthermore, Baumgartner predicted the bust could cost Panacea $1 million. Of course, he hopes that once Oklahoma law enforcement realizes the plants are hemp and therefore legal, there’s a good chance they’ll get the shipment back. However, then Panacea must worry about any damages which may have come about through this whole process.

Seen from the shoulders down, a farmer in a black hoodie gives a thumbs up while posing with a basket of freshly harvested hemp. Although the Farm Bill fully legalized hemp, it's clear the stigma around the plant still remains.

Although the Farm Bill fully legalized hemp, it’s clear the stigma around the plant still remains.

“If we can verify that it has not been damaged then we rock’n’roll with it,” Baumgartner said. “If it has been damaged so that we cannot use it, then we’ll seek recourse through civil litigation.”

THE ANTI-HEMP STIGMA CONTINUES

Obviously, the stigma against hemp is far from gone. The fact that this whole mess is even happening might seem absurd to many within the hemp industry and community. However, when it comes to the general public, they still don’t see the difference between hemp and “marijuana.” 

“When I take a look at this whole situation, our number one priority is to make sure these individuals are not charged and are able to go back to their families and their lives, “Baumgartner said.

“Number two is to get our hemp back. And I’m really hoping we have a positive end to this story.”

He added:

“I hope we have a better understanding of rules and regulations. About how to handle hemp shipments in the future. I mean the last thing I really wanted to do was offer an interview for your publication about this problem. I’d rather be talking about the beneficial health properties of hemp.”

Panacea Life Sciences’ staff asked us to share this GoFundMe fundraiser for the arrested hemp drivers, and encouraged our readers to contribute. 

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Fighting Back After Facebook Shuts Down CBD Pages

Facebook shut down dozens of CBD pages during the holidays, wrongly claiming they sold “prescription drugs.” Representatives of Joy Organics waged a successful campaign to get the pages reinstated.

Facebook shut down numerous CBD brand pages in December, claiming they were selling prescription drugs, rather than natural supplements made from legal hemp.

Right before the holidays, Fort Collins, Colorado resident Joy Smith had attempted to log into her CBD products Facebook page for Joy Organics. However, she was surprised to find herself denied access. She contacted her daughter, Hannah Smith — the company’s social media brains — as a means of solving the problem.

However, Hannah found that the Facebook page was officially unpublished and flagged for “promoting the sale of prescription pharmaceuticals.”

Even though CBD supplements are legal, Facebook commonly mistreats representatives of the newly emerging hemp market. In fact, Kit O’Connell, editor in chief at the Ministry, is banned from using Facebook’s ad platform due to his hemp advocacy efforts.

A person logs into Facebook on a cell phone and laptop in a cafe, with a coffee cop and sauce in front of them. After Facebook shut down CBD pages, representatives of Joy Organics forced the social media giant to change its tune.

After Facebook shut down CBD pages, representatives of Joy Organics forced the social media giant to change its tune.

We reached out to Hannah in hopes of finding out more about her experience and what social media platforms such as Facebook will do in order to prevent these false flaggings from happening in the future.

TAKING ACTION AFTER FACEBOOK SHUTS DOWN CBD PAGES

When it all began, Hannah Smith didn’t think too much of it. Her initial inclinations suggested it was all a mistake that Facebook would easily fix through an appeal. Even when Facebook denied their appeal, they remained optimistic.

“Both me and my brother figured we’d just wait it out,” Smith explains.

“We just sent some emails and assumed they’d get on it. We figured they were dealing with a lot since it was the holidays, so, we didn’t think too much of it.”

However, Smith was soon met with a harsh reality: Facebook deliberately took down the page, claiming that it was encouraging prescription medication sales. Hemp-derived CBD oil is widely available over-the-counter as a nutritional supplement, both online and in many brick-and-mortar stores. After learning of Facebook’s real motivations, Smith took action.

“I created a petition as soon as I found out other CBD companies were going through the same thing,” she proclaims. “I thought it would be advantageous for us and the industry as a whole if I made the petition about more than just our Facebook.”

After sharing the petition with other hemp-derived CBD pages which Facebook had shut down, Smith was able to obtain 4,500 signatures. “Everyone was really excited to be doing something. To be taking action.”

FACEBOOK SHUTS DOWN CBD PAGES DURING HOLIDAY SEASON

This shut down had affected about three dozen hemp-derived CBD Facebook pages, both within the United States and across seas in the United Kingdom.

As mentioned, this happened just before the holiday season. Though most of Joy Organics sales are made on-site rather than online, there are CBD companies out there who sell most of their products over the internet. Social media plays a key role in online marketing. Facebook shutting down CBD pages during such a vital period of time could have severely affected sales.

Graphic shows social media app icons on a smartphone screen, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. While shutting down CBD pages was an extreme move, Facebook and other social media services routinely block hemp and CBD brands from their advertising platforms.

While shutting down CBD pages was an extreme move, Facebook and other social media services routinely block hemp and CBD brands from their advertising platforms.

Still, that isn’t to say the shut down didn’t have an impact on Joy Organics. Though their sales remained fine, they weren’t able to connect with their community. As Smith puts it, “it more hurt us in our ability to build credibility.”

Despite restoring their pages, Facebook hasn’t given a satisfactory explanation as to why these shutdowns occurred.

DID FACEBOOK SHUT DOWN CBD PAGES OVER FDA MEMO?

“Now, this is all speculation,” Smith begins.

“But there’s something about this that just doesn’t feel right for me. CBD is — in Facebook’s guidelines — you can’t buy ads on Facebook if you’re selling it. So, they’re aware of what CBD is. There are restrictions for CBD and restrictions for marijuana. So, I’m pretty sure they know the difference between the two.”

With that in mind, Smith finds one aspect of this whole scenario to be truly strange. This all happened right after the Farm Bill went through. During the initial days after hemp was fully legalized, searches for CBD skyrocketed.

“After the farm bill went through, there were so many new people looking for CBD resources,” Smith stresses. “The fact that this happened after the Farm Bill was signed is suspicious to me because it coincides with a huge spark of interest in the CBD industry and CBD products.”

Interestingly, Smith notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement shortly after the Farm Bill went through claiming CBD is illegal in food products. Some hemp advocates speculate Facebook saw that statement and decided to shutdown CBD pages. Still, Smith doesn’t believe this is the true root of the problem which occurred, especially after Facebook’s history of cracking down on hemp and CBD brands.

We’ll have more coverage of the FDA memo and what it means for CBD in an upcoming article.

WE CAN EXPECT MORE MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT HEMP

It should be expected that problems will continue to come about when it comes to the hemp and CBD industry. The unfortunate truth is the public still has trouble separating hemp from psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”). Many people are still learning about the benefits of CBD.

According to Chavie Lieber, a senior reporter at Vox, “Facebook said it did not believe hemp or CBD companies violated any of these terms, but it did not further explain why its team had removed these pages in the first place.”

Though that may be true, it’s noteworthy to mention Smith had a very difficult time trying to resolve the issue. She could barely find a customer service email to contact.

A hemp bud, and two bottles of CBD oil sit on a wooden tabletop. Unfortunately, CBD and hemp brands will continue to face problems online until the stigma around the plant disappears.

Unfortunately, CBD and hemp brands will continue to face problems online until the stigma around the plant disappears.

“Facebook has a lot of places for people to go to prevent them from contacting customer service; forums and FAQs and stuff like that,” Smith explains.

Luckily, Joy Organics hasn’t seen any similar problems on other social media platforms.

At the end of the day, the hemp industry should expect more barriers. It’s going to take time for the public to understand what CBD and hemp truly are and the benefits they offer society.

Until then, Smith remains optimistic. “We hope when the laws change, the stigma will change.”

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Hemp By Mail: Recent Court Rulings Enable Mailing Industrial Hemp

Recent court rulings make it clear that it’s fully legal to send hemp by mail. We spoke with Courtney Moran of EARTH Law, LLCabout her court battles over shipping hemp.

Recent court rulings make it clear that it’s fully legal to send hemp by mail.

History has been made in recent weeks. With industrial hemp becoming federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, new rules and regulations surrounding the industry will begin to appear. Another important change? New rulings from the Judicial Officer and the Federal Court for the U.S. Postal Service now allow shipments of industrial hemp — specifically, hemp-derived CBD derived products — through USPS.

Courtney N. Moran, founding principal of EARTH Law, LLC, has vigorously fought multiple battles for these rights. Still, as can be expected, there remain problems and misunderstandings about legal hemp. And Moran will have to continue her battle until these issues are fully solved.

Point of view photo of a person mailing a cardboard box hands it off to a worker. Although there may continue to be court challenges, recent court rulings clearly establish a solid precedent making it legal to send hemp by mail.

Although there may continue to be court challenges, recent court rulings clearly establish a solid precedent making it legal to send hemp by mail.

We recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Moran in which we sought to learn more about these battles, their resolutions, and what people can expect when attempting to ship hemp in the future.

THE LEGAL BATTLE OVER SENDING HEMP BY MAIL

After Moran received complaints from clients entailing how their hemp products weren’t being shipped to their respected destinations, she filed multiple cases. The goal of these cases was to establish a federal judicial precedent which:

  • Defines laws surrounding transportation of industrial hemp.
  • Clarifies the intent of Congress.
  • Halts misinformation and misinterpretations by the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Cases like the recent “KaB, LLC v. USPS” established these necessary precedents. In this case, USPS seized a package of CBD derived from a hemp agriculture pilot program with the excuse, “the parcel [was] emitting an odor of a controlled substance.”

When this case was brought to court, the question arose whether or not “CBD grown or cultivated from industrial hemp pursuant to a pilot program established by Congress under the Agriculture Act of 2014 is nonmailable as a Schedule I controlled substance.”

Moran’s argument was that the hemp was grown in compliance with an agricultural pilot program established under the 2014 Farm Bill. This hemp is exempt from control under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Therefore, the hemp is not a controlled substance and is allowed to be mailed.

There was a lot of legal back and forth. For though it’s confirmed legal to ship hemp in accordance with agriculture programs, there remains much confusion in postal service policy. At the end of the day, the entire country hasn’t woken up from decades of hemp prohibition. Solving this confusion ultimately lies in separating hemp from psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”).

A WIN FOR THE INDUSTRY

Ultimately, the court agreed with Moran’s argument about sending hemp by mail. She won a great leap forward for this industry with this important ruling. Here’s how she described her success:

“I’ve covered 16 cases with the Postal Service,” Moran explained. “All of them had been decided in our favor. And all of those folks either received their packages back already or they’ve gone on their way to be received from the recipient.”

Most recently, on December 11th, Moran won another case which added a new twist to this story. Up until that point, most of the cases she fought for were in regards to hemp-products or hemp-derived CBD. However, this particular case was focused around hemp seeds.

A pair of cupped hands holds a handful of hemp seeds. One of Courtney Moran's most recent court cases protected the right to send hemp seeds by mail.

One of Courtney Moran’s most recent court cases protected the right to send hemp seeds by mail.

Moran added:

“That’s what’s really thrilling about these cases. For the very first time, [we] have a judge upholding the intent of Congress versus the guidance that was put out by federal agencies and clearly reiterating agricultural hemp is exempted and not scheduled.”

PROBLEMS TO CONTINUE

Still, even though these cases establish a precedent for sending hemp by mail,  people shouldn’t expect all problems with the postal service to simply vanish. As mentioned, there’s still plenty of confusion in the public’s perspective. Until more people understand hemp’s legal status and its difference from psychoactive cannabis, cases such as these will continue to appear.

“The US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) has law enforcement authority and capability,” Moran tells us. And the truth of the matter is, there are still plenty of people trying to ship illegal marijuana and hemp through the postal service.

With that in mind, Moran informs, “Only this agricultural pilot program hemp is lawful. So, let’s say somebody grew industrial hemp domestically but was not part of a pilot program and did not have their proper registration or license through their state’s authorizing agency — that would not be legal and not be compliant.”

And even for those who are legally growing and shipping it, the problems stem from those who continue to abuse the U.S. Postal Service in an illegal manner. Moran says that people attempting to send illegal products through the mail are causing harm to the people trying to do it right.

YOUR RIGHT TO SHIP HEMP IS DEFENDABLE IN COURT

Luckily, the postal service is developing a standard operating procedure which gives people the authority to legally ship hemp in advance. The goal is to prevent continuous court cases over hemp.

A USPS mail truck parked by the side of the road. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill and Courtney Moran's recent legal victories, the law will protect your right to send hemp by mail.

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill and Courtney Moran’s recent legal victories, the law will protect your right to send hemp by mail.

Furthermore, with the legalization of hemp just hitting the entire country, new rules and regulations are bound to arise. Just as with psychoactive cannabis legalization in various states, lawmakers are still figuring out how to make this all work. Back in July, California saw a complete shelving of CBD products due to new cannabis labeling regulations. This same uncertainty is almost certain to hit the hemp industry.

However, with people such as Moran defending hemp farmers and distributor alike, we can trust the fight for these rules and regulations will go in the right direction. In terms of this recent win, she proclaimed:

“We’re not intimidated and really look to the letter of the law. And made a very clear determination based on what the letter of the law says and the intent of Congress.”

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Marc Grignon: Hemp Can Help Sustain Native Americans

When you begin to look into the fight for hemp legalization, you start to unearth stories you weren’t expecting to find. That’s exactly what happened when we talked with Marc Grignon and learned about the 2015 police raid on the Menominee hemp fields.

When you begin to look into the fight for hemp legalization, you start to unearth stories you weren’t expecting to find. That’s exactly what happened when we talked with Marc Grignon and learned about the 2015 police raid on the Menominee hemp fields.

Currently, Grignon is the spokesman for Hempstead Project Heart, which raises awareness about the benefits of hemp for everyone including tribal communities. Previously, he worked as  staff assistant for the Office of Native American Affairs under Obama’s Small Business Administration.

Grignon developed a passion for hemp as his tribe’s casino ambitions failed. For years now, the Menominee have been fighting for a way out of dependence on government assistance. For a way to provide their reservation with a sufficient income.

Grignon is one of the 8,700 members of the Menominee tribe of Wisconsin. Their history is believed to span back 10,000 years where they dominated 10 million acres of modern-day Wisconsin and the upper half of Michigan state.

John Trudell, wearing sunglasses, smiles at the camera. Hemp activist John Trudell co-founded Hempstead Project Heart with musician Willie Nelson, before passing leadership of the organization to Marc Grignon in his final days.

Hemp activist John Trudell co-founded Hempstead Project Heart with musician Willie Nelson, before passing leadership of the organization to Marc Grignon in his final days. (Photo: Tara Trudell, used with permission)

Despite the dramatic circumstances of the raid, Marc Grignon remains a steadfast advocate of hemp. We caught up with him recently to learn about how he got involved with hemp and how he believes hemp can help support Native American tribes.

OVER TIME, TRIBAL ATTITUDES TOWARD HEMP HAVE SOFTENED

It was during Grignon’s final semester at college when he began to look into his tribe’s background — studying the language and digging deep into their culture. As he went about this research, a piece of information “fell into my lap,” he told us.

The Menominee have a word called “Shaeqnap” and it means wild hemp. The definition talked about a plant that could grow anywhere from 5 to 8 feet high. The tribe used it for fiber, basket making, bowstrings, and so on and so forth.

Grignon was so fascinated by the discovery, he brought it to the Menominee Language and Culture Commission. They were less enthusiastic about his discovery. When he asked about shaeqnap, they simply insisted, “No. We never used cannabis.”

This was a bit of a blow to Grignon as he’s been a long-time hemp advocate. His goal has been to use the plant to provide the Menominee people with a stable source of income. Though not everyone agreed with this idea, Grignon held a determination which would prove to be worthwhile.

And over time, he said attitudes are shifting. “With the evidence we’ve brought to light, more Menominee cultural people see our future in hemp.”

PLANTING THE SEEDS: HOW MARC GRIGNON GREW HEMP WITH THE MENOMINEE

In the summer of 2015, Grignon was working on an Agricultural and Research Project through the College of Menominee Nation and his tribe. One particular day, a former legislature approached him and asked if he’d be interested in working with hemp. Since the Menominee had just passed a law allowing for the reservation to grow industrial hemp for the sake of research, Grignon was very interested.

Part of the reason for this law was due to the fact the Menominees were trying to get the legal paperwork to start a casino. They fought for twenty years only to have Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s governor at the time, kill the idea.

Grignon saw hemp as holding the possibility of being a “natural economic drive.” He recalled:

“So, I was brought on. We planted on July 7th, 2015. 3 acres. I was kind of in charge of monitoring the plants and taking care of them. I was on weed control and I’d go into the fields and pull them out by hand with other Menominees. That’s how I got into the whole thing.”

MENOMINEE HEMP FACED CONSTANT THREATS FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT

The Menominees took all legal precaution prior in order to make this happen. They informed law enforcement of their laws and the fact that they had plans to grow that cultivation season. However, upon hearing this, the feds felt the need to come out and see the fields.

“There were some strong words between the attorney and my tribal leaders,” Grignon remembers.

“The feds were like, ‘we want you to uproot this stuff.’ And we said, ‘No, man. We abided by our government to government relations where we told you we were gonna do it, we passed the law, we had our community’s input on this law, nobody has an issue with it, and now we’re gonna move forward with it.’”

A densely packed hemp field grows tall under a partly cloudy sky, a forest in the background of the field. Marc Grignon helped legalize hemp in Wisconsin after police raided a Menominee hemp field in 2015.

Marc Grignon helped legalize hemp in Wisconsin after police raided a Menominee hemp field in October 2015. (Photo: Marc Grignon)

Which is just what Grignon did. Nearly three months went by. He and the Menominees continued tending their 3 acres of hemp. Throughout this time, law enforcement sustained their efforts to stop the tribe from cultivating these crops.

OCTOBER 23, 2015: POLICE RAID MENOMINEE HEMP FIELDS

In fact, the tribe had a strong suspicion that they would be raided. Even though they followed all rules and regulations, Grignon says, “It’s a real cluster-fuck when it comes to federal Indian policy and federal Indian laws.”

On October 23rd, just when everything was in full bloom, Grignon drove to the fields to find police dressed in camo, fully armed with automatic weapons. He stood and watched as a bulldozer destroyed all his hard work.

Not only was this a giant blow to the operation, but it was an even bigger blow for the next season’s grow. For those plants contained the seeds the Menominees hoped to plant the following year.

Though Grignon was deeply upset, he wasn’t discouraged. In fact, in the months prior — when the Menominees were anticipating the raid — Grignon had reached out to an activist that would not only change his life but hemp’s future in the state of Wisconsin.

MARC GRIGNON’S HEMP ADVOCACY CONTINUES AFTER MENOMINEE HEMP RAID

This certain someone was John Trudell, a Native American author and political activist. Grignon reached out to Trudell in hopes of saving his 2015 harvest. Less than two weeks after feds destroyed it, he received a call from Hempstead Project Heart in which they wanted to carry out an education campaign.

When Trudell found out about the feds destroying the Menominee’s fields, he was very upset.

“He wanted to set up a legal defense fund and do whatever in his power to help us,” Grignon said. “And we took his help. But two weeks later, his cancer spread and he was taken into hospice.”

Grignon had gotten a phone call explaining this and how Trudell wanted to hire him onto Hempstead Project. Being that Trudell had been an idol of Grignon for most of his life, he felt the need to meet the man. Purely for the sake of discovering what the future held for both hemp and Native American culture.

“I flew out there and met him and he basically told me my reputation was on the line,” Grignon explains.

“When we talk about how screwed Indian country is and how dependent we are on the government, I look at hemp and I see a solution.”

“[He said] if I couldn’t get hemp legal in Wisconsin within a year then I wasn’t the person I say I am … everyone will tell you he’s the most intense individual you’ll ever speak to. And they’re absolutely correct.”

Trudell’s perspective on hemp was that “it couldn’t save us, but it could help us.”

Grignon admits he wasn’t able to make Trudell’s wish come true alone nor within a year. However, with the help of a coalition, he made hemp legal in Wisconsin.

CAN HEMP HELP BRING PROSPERITY TO INDIAN COUNTRY?

During Grignon’s time as a staff assistant for the Obama administratio, he saw many real problems he hopes to solve with hemp. This was during one of the previous times the government didn’t sustain proper funding and, in turn, partially shut down for a period of time.

Grignon saw how this affected Native American tribes who weren’t making big bucks off casinos. He knew those tribes depended on government grants. Not only does Grignon not agree with this, but it frightens him to think the Menominees can lose the ability to finance themselves whenever the government shuts down.

Grignon sees hemp as a way for the Menominees to financially sustain themselves. As a source of sustainable profit which may just bring the tribe back to their original roots.

“When we talk about how screwed Indian country is and how dependent we are on the government, I look at hemp and I see a solution.”

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Bees Love Hemp: 23 Species Of Bees Attracted To Colorado Hemp

With bee populations dwindling worldwide, hemp presents a tantalizing possibility. A graduate student studied bees in a University of Colorado hemp field, and the results are intriguing.

Preliminary research suggests bees love hemp, creating the potential that hemp could help save the bees.

According to Greenpeace, there’s been an alarming decline in bee populations since the 1990s. The main causes seem to be bee-killing pesticides often used for industrial agriculture. Though there’s lots of speculation on how to solve the issue, a recent study has found that hemp might offer a prominent source of pollen for bees.

Colton O’Brien, an entomology student at Colorado State University’s Graduate School, got involved with two experimental hemp plots. O’Brien was lucky enough to have access to the fields during the first year’s experiments as they were originally kept in secret.

He recalled the first time he stepped onto the university’s hemp fields, he became overwhelmed by “lots and lots of buzzing.”

STUDYING BEES AND HEMP

A lightbulb struck within O’Brien as he became aware that bees were using hemp, that they “find it attractive.” What O’Brien wanted to know was how hemp fields contributed to the ecosystems of these bees.

A closeup of a swarm of dozens of honeybees. Do bees love hemp? Preliminary research found 23 different bee species were attracted to Colorado hemp fields.

Do bees love hemp? Preliminary research found 23 different bee species were attracted to Colorado hemp fields.

“I had asked if I could set up a couple of traps while [the hemp] was in full bloom,” O’Brien tells us, in regards to the second year of these experimental plots. “And I happened to know a couple of folks in the hemp lab and they said sure.”

Since O’Brien works out of a Pollination Biology lab at his university, his main interest for these traps was finding out what bees are attracted to the pollen given off by hemp.

With the traps, they were able to confirm that the bees were collecting pollen from hemp. This is vital as it’s been determined without pollinators like bees, much of the world’s food supply is at risk. In fact, without bees pollinating in general, about one-third of the food we know today would vanish.

THESE BEES LOVE HEMP: 23 OF 66 COLORADO BEE SPECIES ATTRACTED TO HEMP

Colorado is home to 66 unique bee species. O’Brien found that 23 of these 66 gravitated towards the hemp fields and fell into his trap. Though he can’t be certain, O’Brien believes these are the first experiments studying bees within a cannabis field.

“We found bees not only utilizing the pollen, but we also found parasites of certain bees,” O’Brien explains. “Like parasites of digger bees and sunflower bees. And even though they might not have been taken pollen directly from hemp, they were utilizing what the other bees were bringing in.”

O’Brien makes it clear he believes the hemp fields created “the dynamics of an ecosystem” which might not have existed without the cannabis plant.

A close up photo of bees crawling on honeycomb. Many questions remain about how bees and hemp interact, including whether the plant's naturally occurring chemical compounds, or cannabinoids, have any effect on the insects.

Many questions remain about how bees and hemp interact, including whether the plant’s naturally occurring chemical compounds, or cannabinoids, have any effect on the insects.

There still isn’t enough research to be certain as to what hemp pollen does for bees. For example, we don’t yet know whether hemp pollen will be a good source of nutrients to bee larva. All O’Brien can confirm is there weren’t many other plants within the area of these hemp plots producing pollen.

BEES LOVE HEMP, BUT RESEARCH IS JUST BEGINNING

Upon reaching out to O’Brien, he informed us his manuscript was still undergoing a review process. Due to this, he wasn’t able to share all the results he believes he may have found. However, he also admits this was a very baseline experiment.

“I think there’s a lot of questions that have opened up from this. Like, what is potentially the nutritional value of hemp pollen to bees? I understand hemp only contains 0.3% THC, but how does that affect a tiny, tiny organism? Is it the same standard?”

The cannabis plant contains dozens of naturally occurring compounds, or cannabinoids, many of which seem to have distinct effects on humans (and potentially bees as well).

Starting with these questions, O’Brien hopes to conduct more studies on the matter during the 2019 cultivation season. He also hopes that crop scientists creating pest-control strategies for hemp will keep the safety of bees in mind.

With all this in mind, it’s clear there’s still a lot to learn about hemp and its potential environmental benefits.

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Expanding US Hemp Acreage Proves Hemp Is The Next Big Cash Crop

Total U.S. hemp acreage is rapidly increasing, as legalization spreads across the country. In 2017, hemp fields expanded by 163 percent across the country. That’s over 25,000 acres of hemp…

Total U.S. hemp acreage is rapidly increasing, as legalization spreads across the country.

In 2017, hemp fields expanded by 163 percent across the country. That’s over 25,000 acres of hemp grown across 19 different states. With more states opening their doors to hemp, the speculation arises, how much further can U.S. hemp acreage grow?

Hemp experts are predicting sales of hemp products could reach $2 billion by 2022. That’s nearly triple the profits from current levels. In order to understand these predictions, it’s important to also look at who is growing hemp, and how much. Through this, we can discover which states are leading the way and inspiring the rest of the country.

U.S. hemp acreage is growing rapidly despite a complicated tapestry of state hemp laws, which vary widely from place to place. Hemp plants grow tall and leafy in a densely packed field.

U.S. hemp acreage is growing rapidly despite a complicated tapestry of state hemp laws, which vary widely from place to place.

Since hemp remains in a legal gray area on a federal level, laws work differently from state to state. A hemp farmer in Colorado might have an easier time growing acres upon acres compared to the recent legalized state of Illinois. Through this information, we’ll begin to understand not only the states where hemp will spread but also how the country as a whole can benefit from progressive hemp laws.

TOP 5 STATES WITH THE MOST HEMP ACREAGE

In comparison to 2016, last year was a huge milestone for the hemp industry. States had doubled and tripled their hemp efforts, more licenses were issued, and more people were beginning to understand the benefits of this next cash crop. The following statistics are from VoteHemp’s 2017 US Hemp Crop Report:

  • 25,713 acres of hemp were grown within 19 states.
  • 32 universities conducted various research projects for hemp.
  • 1,456 state hemp licenses were issued.

In 2017, there were 5 particular states who made huge hemp acreage leaps in comparison to 2016. Knowing of their success within the industry, it’s possible to examine the laws within each of the top five states in order to better understand how other states can increase their production.

#5 – New York – 2,000 Acres

On New York’s official state hemp website, it’s claimed the Governor has taken notable actions to inspire industrial hemp production within the state. It began, in 2015 when New York allowed a select amount of educational institutions to harvest hemp.

A person in a dark hoodie standing in a hemp field gives a thumbs up. In front of them is a huge pile of freshly harvested hemp. Increasing hemp acreage in the United States reveals this crop's immense economic potential.

Increasing hemp acreage in the United States reveals this crop’s immense economic potential.

Part of the reason New York hemp acreage increased in 2017 is due to the removal of the cap on the number of sites allowed to grow hemp. The state’s program expanded to include new farmers and businesses. This allowed for the original 30 acres of hemp in 2016 to grow to 2,000 acres in 2017.

#4 – North Dakota – 3,020 Acres

In 2017, North Dakota had only 34 growers of hemp out of 42 applications. Unlike New York, this state’s 2017 Industrial Hemp Pilot Program requires those who hold a license to either “(1) be part of an agricultural or academic research program conducted by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture or by an institution of higher education; and/or (2) obtain annually a registration issued by the DEA.”

It should be noted that North Dakota made impressive progress with their hemp cultivation. In 2016, they had a mere 70 acres grown. In 2017, total hemp acreage number grew to 3,020. However, part of the reason the state hit such a high number is due to the expanding amount of land each farmer operates on rather than looser regulations.

#3 – Kentucky – 3,271 Acres

Another of the leading states within the hemp industry is Kentucky. Back in 2016, it grew a staggering 2,525 acres. That number grew to 3,271 acres in 2017. Part of the reason Kentucky has been paving way within the industry is due to the early start it had over the majority of the country.

#2 – Oregon – 3,469 Acres

Oregon’s hemp laws are similar to New York and Kentucky. Any farmer or business can apply to grow and/or handle hemp. The price per application is quite hefty at $1,300. Compare that to Vermont’s low application fee of $25!

However, ignoring the price tag of registration, Oregon has less confining laws in terms of growing cannabis in general compared to the rest of the country. Due to this, total industrial hemp acreage jumped from 500 in 2016 to 3,469 in 2017.

#1 – Colorado – 9,700 Acres

For years to come, it seems as though Colorado is going lead the hemp industry. Even in 2016, the state had more hemp acreage compared to any other in 2017 — at 5,921 acres. Yet, they nearly doubled those efforts the following year.

This might not come as a surprise considering Colorado was one of the first states to institute cannabis legalization.

A densely packed hemp field at Luce Farm. Vermont's hemp laws are some of the most progressive in the nation.

A densely packed hemp field at Luce Farm. Vermont’s hemp laws are some of the most progressive in the nation. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Paul James)

HEMP ACREAGE: GROWTH MATTERS, TOO

Though the states mentioned above led the way for hemp acreage in 2017, it should be noted that other states made great progress as well. These include:

  • Washington went from 0 acres in 2016 to 175 acres in 2017.
  • Vermont went from 180 acres in 2016 to 575 acres in 2017.
  • Montana went from 0 acres in 2016 to 542 acres in 2017.
  • Minnesota went from 51 acres in 2016 to 1,205 acres in 2017.

These number are crucial in comprehending the future status of the hemp industry and U.S. agriculture as a whole. Since many U.S. hemp products depend on imported hemp, growth in hemp acreage is vital to the overall growth of the hemp industry.

If hemp acreage increased so much just within a year, it’s possible — with further efforts towards hemp legalization — it might reach even higher profits than predicted.

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