Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

Category: Hemp News

2018 Hemp Industries Association Conference: Hemp Thriving In America Despite Legal Barriers

The 2018 Hemp Industries Association Conference revealed a thriving industry that’s growing rapidly and passionate about the future of hemp. From discussions of hemp’s legal status to sampling CBD popcorn, we share our highlights of HIACON 2018.

The 2018 Hemp Industries Association Conference revealed a thriving industry that’s growing rapidly and passionate about the future of hemp.

Ministry of Hemp just returned from the Los Angeles Airport Hilton, where “HIACON 2018” took place from November 2 through 5. Hemp will be a billion dollar industry soon, even though this plant still exists in a legal gray area in the United States. Industry leaders and newcomers alike gathered at the conference to share their newest ideas, and get a better understanding of hemp’s future as those laws shift.

A crowd gathered in one of the ballrooms at the Hemp Industries Association Conference. Hundreds gathered at the Los Angeles Hilton for the 2018 Hemp Industries Association Conference, where they discussed the future and potential of hemp in America.

Hundreds gathered at the Los Angeles Hilton for the 2018 Hemp Industries Association Conference, where they discussed the future and potential of hemp in America. (Ministry of Hemp / Kit O’Connell)

In addition, a two day exposition showcased hemp and CBD products ranging from established brands and freshly launched innovators. The expo was open to the public for one day, and numerous LA residents and tourists alike stopped by to see the offerings.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Hemp Industries Association, a sign that they’ve cemented their leadership role in the industry. A packed schedule of workshops and panels brought the highs and lows of hemp to life for the audience. Here are some favorites from our visit to HIACON 2018.

HIACON 2018 LOOKS AT THE FUTURE OF HEMP FARMING IN AMERICA

Of course, one of the biggest topics of discussion at the conference was hemp’s legal status.

After decades of prohibition, hemp was partially legalized in the 2014 Farm Bill which allowed for state-based hemp research programs. U.S. farmers grew over 25,000 acres of hemp last year, but there have still been legal challenges and numerous barriers to the industry’s growth, mostly at the federal level. An effort led by Sen. Mitch McConnell resulted in a historic amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill which would make dramatic changes to U.S. hemp laws by officially taking it out of the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration and into that of the Department of Agriculture and the Food & Drug Administration.

Unfortunately, political upheaval in Congress, and politicians’ focus on midterm elections, left the Farm Bill’s future somewhat uncertain. Most of the conflict is not about hemp, but rather other controversial provisions in the bill which cover issues like food stamps. In one of many well-attended legal discussions, Jonathan Miller of U.S. Hemp Roundtable joined representatives of Hoban Law Group, who are some of the country’s top cannabis & hemp lawyers. Miller speculated that the midterm elections could be good for hemp.

2018 HEMP INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE: LEGAL CONSEQUENCES OF FARM BILL, CANNABIS PODCASTS & MORE

A newly Democratic U.S. House of Representatives could also be the best chance for changing the hemp legalization amendment’s most controversial provision. The Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill contains a clause that bans anyone with a felony drug conviction from growing hemp. Currently, the House version of the Farm Bill doesn’t contain any hemp legalization language at all, opening a window where some fixes could be introduced.

Later, hemp lawyer & lobbyist Courtney Moran explained how the Farm Bill would change 6 different federal statutes and change the policies of multiple government agencies. She also suggested some alternatives to the drug felony provision of the current version of the Farm Bill:

While any felony ban seems regrettable to us, Moran suggested what could be temporary solutions to allow some people to remain in the hemp industry. These include changing the ban to exempt anyone whose felony is more than 10 years old.

Dr. Karyemaitre Aliffe, a biochemist and cannabis expert that works with Charlotte’s Web, gave another great presentation. Dr. Aliffe discussed the similarities between how cannabinoids like CBD work on the brain with the action of everyday pharmaceuticals like Tylenol:

Annie Rouse of Anavii Market introduced us to Harry Anslinger, the first drug czar, the subject of her fascinating “Anslinger” podcast. The second season is about to launch!

We also loved hearing an update from Kris Kimel of Space Tango about their successful effort to send hemp into space.

There were too many other great panels to mention them all, but it’s safe to say everyone came away from HIACON 2018 more informed than they arrived.

HIACON 2018: FROM CBD POPCORN TO HEMP FASHION

We loved seeing the innovation from new CBD brands at the 2018 Hemp Industries Association Conference. We got to meet Brett Levy from Holsticorn, inventor of CBD-infused popcorn:

Kazmira let us sample their delicious CBD vapes:

And all weekend, people were sipping delicious CBD seltzer from Queen City Hemp, with 5 mg of CBD in each can.

Established hemp brands also brought their best to HIACON 2018. We browsed the latest hemp fashions from Vital Hemp:

And basked in the natural vibes of the Charlotte’s Web booth, complete with a fake campfire:

We also enjoyed a sneak preview of Lazarus Naturals beautiful new CBD tincture labels, which should help CBD consumers make more informed decisions about dosing.

And of course, no hemp expo would be complete without Dr. Bronner:

There’s so much happening in hemp that it can’t be contained in any one article, or any one event. More than anything, we saw a hemp industry full of people that are passionate about hemp, and determined to help hemp spread across the planet.

Special thanks to Beowulf Jones for covering HIACON 2018 with us and contributing to this article.

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Hemp Is Back In America: An Introduction To Ministry Of Hemp (Video)

After decades of prohibition, hemp is back in a big way in America. In 2017, sales of hemp products reached a record-breaking $820 million, and that’s just the beginning

After decades of prohibition, hemp is back in a big way in America.

In 2017, sales of hemp products reached a record-breaking $820 million, and that’s just the beginning. Currently legal under state programs, hemp could soon be fully legal from coast to coast, transforming American agriculture.

From hemp food to hempcrete homes to textiles, the uses of hemp are almost limitless.

Among hemp products, demand for CBD oil has exploded in recent years. Unlike THC or marijuana, CBD won’t make you feel high. Thousands of people report CBD helps them relax, relieves pain and anxiety, promotes deeper sleep, and much more.

A farmer silhouetted in the sunlight in his hemp field. Hemp is back in a big way in America, and Ministry of Hemp is America's leading hemp advocate.

Ministry of Hemp is America’s leading hemp advocate. We’ll help you understand the science of hemp & CBD and pick the right products.

But the CBD industry is still unregulated. Products can be misleadingly labeled, contain toxic heavy metals or dangerous synthetic chemicals. New consumers often give up before they find products that work.

That’s where we come in. Ministry of Hemp is America’s leading hemp advocate. We help you understand the science of CBD and review CBD brands so you can pick the best, safest products for you and your loved ones.

As hemp growing returns nationwide, you can count on Ministry of Hemp to be there. From Vermont hemp farms to hemp research on the International Space Station, we’ll bring you the story.

Be a part of our movement. Join the Ministry of Hemp.

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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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Hemp In Space: Researchers Send Hemp Plants To International Space Station

Hemp in space sounds like a science fiction dream. Earth researchers will soon begin growing hemp in space on a tiny laboratory aboard the International Space Station, created by Space Tango in partnership with Anavii Market.

Hemp in space sounds like a science fiction dream. It will soon to be an exciting new reality thanks to a partnership of terrestrial firms hoping to learn about the effects of microgravity on the crop.

Space Tango, a start-up business from the heart of Kentucky seeks to harvest hemp in space. Co-founder and chairman, Kris Kimel, wants to lean about how the biology and quality of the crop will develop without the influence of gravity. The goal is to see if the medicinal value of cannabinoids prospers on this new frontier and to offer unique CBD products to the public.

Anavii Market is partnering with Space Tango on their journey into this new frontier. Anavii Market is an online CBD marketplace that seeks to improve quality reliability in the industry. Their goal is to provide a trusted source of CBD to the public.

A photo of the International Space Station in orbit over earth, Space Tango and Anavii Market will soon begin experimenting with the immense potential of growing hemp in space.

Space Tango and Anavii Market will soon begin experimenting with the immense potential of growing hemp in space. (Photo: NASA)

We caught up with Kimel to learn about Space Tango’s hemp project.

He told us, “We’re primarily interested in looking at how biomedical … systems operate and change when removed from the gravity well of earth.”

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT GROWING HEMP IN SPACE

Prior to Space Tango, Kimel was the founder and president of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC), “which is where this notion of looking into space and microgravity kind of germinated.” As his interest grew, he left the company and moved over to Space Tango full time.

After nearly a decade of research on this new frontier, Kimel tells us there’s still so little they know and so much to learn when it comes to how plants develop in a gravity stress-free environment. Since hemp has had such little research within the last century and only recently has had its doors opened to scientists, Space Tango remains optimistic in breaking through new discoveries.

Kimel and his team are aware that principle biological systems (i.e. cells, organisms) become scrambled grown without gravity. In turn, this “opens up new pathways, new understandings, of those systems that you’d never see on earth.” Prior to their experiments with hemp, they’ve developed medical implants which can only be manufactured in space.

HEMP IN SPACE: HOW IT ALL WORKS

Permanently installed on the International Space Station are two research and development laboratories for the Space Tango team. Within each of those labs are 21 component parts of operations known as CubeLabs. The purpose of these modules is to reduce the amount of hands-on interaction required to grow organisms in space. They’re about the size of a “Kleenex tissue box and fully equipped with microtechnology.”

CubeLabs function to:

  • Operate independently.
  • Supply a responsive payload.
  • Process data and images to earth in real-time.
  • Reduce application development life-cycle.
  • Decrease astronaut interplay.
Space Tango's module on the International Space Station features multiple "CubeLabs," modular research labs each the size of a box of tissues. The firm will soon be growing hemp in space in one of these labs.

Space Tango’s module on the International Space Station features multiple “CubeLabs,” modular research labs each the size of a box of tissues. The firm will soon be growing hemp in space in one of these labs. (Photo: NASA)

The purpose of these CubeLabs is to find medical solutions which can be applied back here on earth. This is also Space Tango’s primary interest in cultivating hemp. “Our science team has looked at recent developments of CBD and we think an enhance in cannabis and CBD holds great potential for treatment of serious conditions such as epilepsy or migraine headaches.”

Furthermore, due to cannabis’s entanglement in legal issues, new research is constantly being developed. Kris believes him and his team have the ability to discover aspects of CBD and marijuana which aren’t currently there. He tells us, “What we do know in combination with microgravity holds very great potential.”

THE FUTURE OF HEMP IN SPACE

If these experiments go as planned, Space Tango hopes to offer CBD products to both consumers and the medical industry. The first experiments with hemp in space are scheduled to begin in either January or February of 2019. Due to regulations and policies with both the state and NASA, there are some legal actions Space Tango still needs to take before allowing hemp to enter this new frontier. However, Kimel informs us that Space Tango is committed to making sure they go about the experiments the right way.

So, how do these experiments work?

“Obviously, things are more difficult and complicated in space,” Kimel tells us. “Once the technology is designed, we install it into our labs and, from there, it takes about four to six weeks and then they’re brought back to the lab for analysis.”

Through these analyses, Space Tango believes they can find treatment for certain diseases which you couldn’t find here on earth. Kimel claims, “you get a better resolution with certain kinds of drugs in space.”

“Our ultimate goal is to have a transformational benefit of life on earth,” he concluded.

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New State Hemp Programs: Growing Hemp In Wisconsin, Vermont, Oregon & Nevada

Thanks to new state hemp programs, more of this miraculous crop is growing in the USA than ever. In this article we discuss hemp programs in Wisconsin, Vermont, Oregon, and Nevada. We also list the market price for hemp in each state.

Thanks to new state hemp programs, more of this miraculous crop is growing in the USA than ever.

Have you ever dreamt of starting over? Packing your belongings and heading to a place where you can spend your days working the land, instead of working behind a desk? Thanks to the rapid expansion of state hemp programs in the U.S., more and more people can be a part of this profitable green future and help create a more sustainable way of life at the same time.

With so much happening in American hemp, we thought this was a perfect time to look at some new state hemp programs, and see what is and isn’t working in each state. In this article, we discuss hemp programs in Wisconsin, Vermont, Oregon, and Nevada. We also list the market price for hemp in each state, which we sourced from a Hemp Industry Daily report.

But first, we wanted to share a brief history of modern hemp growing.

HOW HEMP GROWING RETURNED TO THE USA

It all started in 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana. They were the pioneers. California remained ahead of its time until 2012 when another rogue state stepped in. In this case, Colorado legalized cannabis for recreational use. These two states created a revolution in the cannabis world!

Hemp legalization timeline: From California to Vermont, Nevada, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Hemp legalization timeline: From California to Vermont, Oregon, Wisconsin and Nevada.

Without California and Colorado leading the way, the Agricultural Act of 2014 aka, the 2014 Farm Bill may have never been introduced. This bill re-legalized hemp growing in the U.S. under state “research” programs. Without this change, the public may have never learned about the life changing benefits of CBD. CBD has had a huge impact it’s had on the hemp market; basically, setting it on fire!

The 2014 Farm Bill left a great deal of leeway to each state to set the parameters for their hemp growing programs. Some state hemp programs only allow academic research while the most successful allow for widespread growing and hemp sales. As with any market that experiences the same growth hemp has, there is bound to be some bumps and bruises along the way. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of those pains, along with what it takes to get into the hemp business.

HEMP SALES HIT $820M UNDER STATE HEMP PROGRAMS

A recent report revealed that US hemp sales reached a record breaking $820 million in 2017. Product sales are estimated to reach a staggering $1.8 billion by 2020. And another report, published by Rolling Stone, suggested CBD sales could hit $22 billion by 2022, surpassing even legal psychoactive cannabis sales in the process.

The sad thing is, hemp’s multi-purpose use has been around since before colonial times. George Washington grew hemp and the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were penned on hemp paper. However, stigma from the war on drugs, and even government cover-ups, made us lose sight of hemp’s benefits for decades.

George Washington's hemp farm is growing again thanks to horticulturists at his Mount Vernon estate and the University of Virginia.

George Washington’s hemp farm is growing again thanks to horticulturists at his Mount Vernon estate and the University of Virginia.

Now hemp’s back in such a big way. Hemp is pouring money into the US economy, providing jobs and opportunity for people who want to put their farming skills to the test. It’s also helping thousands of suffering people suffering experience the benefits of CBD.

There are currently 19 states that allow growing and cultivating hemp, producing a total of 25,713 acres in 2017 according to Vote Hemp’s crop report. That’s just the beginning, as hemp could soon expand in a big way. An amendment to the 2018 farm bill would legalize hemp nationwide by putting it under the control of the Department of Agriculture.

WISCONSIN HEMP PROGRAM IS NEW BUT GROWING FAST

Legalized in 2017, Wisconsin is being hailed as one of the fastest growing states for hemp cultivation.

In order to grow and cultivate hemp legally, it must be grown under Wisconsin’s industrial hemp pilot program.  As part of this state hemp program, crops can only contain 0.3 percent or less THC (tetra hydro cannabidiol) and growers and producers must submit a variety of requested reports to the Washington Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to show compliance. In addition, required records must be kept for three years. These records document a variety of information such as product sources and chain of custody forms. Growers must also allow state officials access to the property to record property transfers.

Since becoming legal, there have been 320 hemp licenses issued. Of those 320, 180 were licenses to grow and 75 were licensed to process the industrial hemp. Registration fees are $350 and annual application fees range from $150-$1,000 depending on the size of the field.

Challenges of growing hemp in Wisconsin

While Wisconsin’s hemp program continues to thrive, there is a unique growing pain that’s getting attention: privacy.

Under Wisconsin’s hemp law, hemp processors contact information is kept private, making it tough for farmers to sell their hemp crops. In an article published by The Cap Times, Rob Richard of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau explained the need for secrecy.

He said, “we were concerned growers would be harassed by people who didn’t understand hemp.”

State hemp programs vary widely: some, like Vermont are simple while growers in Wisconsin face challenging complications. Hemp plants grow tall and leafy in a densely packed field.

State hemp programs vary widely: some, like Vermont are simple while growers in Wisconsin face challenging complications.

To remedy this problem, Richard is working with Larry Konopacki, a former legislative counsel attorney, to create the Wisconsin Hemp Alliance program. The Alliance’s mission is to bring processors, retailers, and consumers together with farmers. The organization is just getting underway, so there’s not much else to report at this time.

Hemp market price in Wisconsin

Due to Wisconsin’s infancy growing and cultivating hemp, market prices were not available.

VERMONT HEMP LICENSES INCREASED 3000 PERCENT SINCE 2013

Legalized in 2013, Vermont has a uniquely progressive state hemp program (as we recently reported).

Of all the states approved to grow hemp, Vermont is definitely among the most lenient. As with all industrial hemp grown in the U.S. approved states, the THC level cannot be more than 0.3 percent. Other than this, farmers and processors are pretty much left alone by the government.

This may partly explain why industrial hemp is booming in Vermont. In the first year, only 8 applicants applied for a hemp license. In 2018, that number increased to 316, an increase of over 3000 percent! Almost 2,000 acres of hemp are expected to grow in the Green Mountain State in 2018. Those wishing to grow or cultivate hemp are only required to pay an annual application fee of $25. This covers farmers wishing to grow hemp for any use. That’s really about it!

One reason for this freedom is that Vermont legalized hemp cultivation a year before Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill which allowed limited state hemp programs.

According to Hemp Industry Daily, farmers in Vermont “do not need to participate in a pilot project, research scheme with a university or state agriculture authority” to grow hemp. So while Vermont is potentially out of compliance with federal hemp rules, famers get to enjoy the state’s hands-off approach and they get access to viable hemp seeds other states do not. And because long-established hemp seed producers in Canada and Europe are close in latitude to Vermont, those seeds will have higher germination rates than if those same seeds were planted further south.

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)

Challenges of growing hemp in Vermont

As of July 1, 2018 Vermont made it legal to buy and sell hemp for those registered with the Agency of Agriculture. The program is expected to ease concerns about federal agencies interference with growers, as long as the growers comply with the states program. This program will set up a lab certification standard under a quality control program. It also allows Vermont farmers to purchase hemp seeds from out-of-state seed suppliers.

It’s important to note however that it’s not all hemp rainbows and ponies in Vermont. Hemp farmers and the like are dealing with a number of growing pains. For one, the state is about to face increased competition from their larger neighbors, New York and Canada. And if Vermont’s legislature and the governor decide to legalize recreational marijuana, that could create a whole new set of guidelines to deal with. Finally, as with any state, Vermont hemp growers need a clear hemp growing and sales plan if they wish to be profitable.

Hemp market price in Vermont

  • $100 per pound of dried flowers/buds for CBD extraction
  • $0.80-$1.20 per pound for edible seeds used in food products or pressed for seed oil.
  • $.10 per pound for stalks used for their fiber

‘HEMP IS THE NEW GOLD RUSH’ IN OREGON

Oregon authorized hemp cultivation in 2009, but the state’s Department of Agriculture didn’t license the first hemp growers until 2015.

Since that time, the Oregon hemp market (thanks to CBD) has exploded. In its purified distilled form, CBD oil can fetch thousands of dollars per kilo. Farmers here can make more than 100k an acre growing hemp! In the first year (2015) that Oregon offered hemp licenses only 12 were issued. Last year (2017) hemp licenses across the board increase dramatically. Oregon issued:

  • 233 hemp growers licenses
  • 170 licensed hemp processors, called “handlers”
  • 119 licensed producers of viable hemp seeds

Over 3,500 land acres were licensed for cultivation!

To sum the up the feeling in Oregon, farmer Jerrad said it best in Insurance Journal: “Word on the street is everybody thinks hemp is the new gold rush!”

Nevada's state hemp program is new but successful, with one advocate calling hemp a "new gold rush" for the state. A hemp field grows in tall, dense bamboo-like clusters.

Nevada’s state hemp program is new but successful, with one advocate calling hemp a “new gold rush” for the state.

Hemp entrepreneurs face some heavy startup fees in Oregon. First off, they must pay a separate license for growing and processing. Each license is $1,300. Plus there is a $120 fee for seed production registration.

Oregon doesn’t require background checks for growers or producers. However, the state exhaustively tests all hemp. The law requires growers and producers to use only laboratories approved by the state government. This past October, some new testing requirements were implemented that will end up costing Oregon upward of $50,000, which will most likely be passed down to the farmers.

Challenges of growing hemp in Oregon

An oversupply of marijuana has driven Oregon’s marijuana prices to rock bottom, which has resulted in pot farmers to turn to industrial hemp.

As Oregon issues more hemp licenses, hemp prices will most likely decrease, driving down the market. In addition, earlier this year, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law SB1015. This law allows industrial hemp to enter the recreational cannabis supply line if the hemp farmers are certified by the OLCC to do so.  Recreational marijuana processors are also able to apply for a special “endorsement” that will allow them to accept hemp and hemp products.

The recreational processors then make the hemp, which must be 0.5 percent THC or less, into their concentrate and extract products. But with some marijuana farmers already searching for drastic means to rid themselves of inventory surplus, even destroying their own product, bringing industrial hemp in cannot be a good thing. Doing so will only drive more and more farmers to turn to cultivating industrial hemp, which will eventually lead to a surplus there. Now, should CBD become federally legal, this might not be a challenge, it may be an opportunity.

Hemp parket price in Oregon

  • $100 or more per pound of dried flowers or buds for CBD extraction
  • Less than $.50 for edible seed
  • $0 for stalks used for fiber because the Oregon market is too limited

HEMP IS ‘TAKING OFF LIKE A WEED’ IN NEVADA

Like Wisconsin, hemp in Nevada is still in its infancy stages. Legalized in 2017, hemp farming in Nevada is spreading fast.

“It’s taking off like a weed” said Tick Segerblom in an article by the The Nevada Independent.

Mr. Segerblom, who as a state senator sponsored the bills that were a framework for Nevada’s hemp program went on to say, “there’s an incredible amount of interest in it.”

There were originally 11 growers planting 319 acres in 2016 to 32 growers planning to plant 718 acres in 2018.

One official noted there's "an incredible amount of interest" in Nevada's state hemp program. A hemp field of young hemp plants growing tall in a dense cluster.

One official noted there’s “an incredible amount of interest” in Nevada’s state hemp program.

Nevada requires a separate license for growers, producers, and handlers. The grower license requires a $500 application fee plus $5.00 per acre/.33 per sq. for indoor grows plus and all fees incurred by the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Handlers pay a $1000 application fee plus fees incurred by the NDA. Producers pay a $100 application fee, NDA fees and the same acreage and square foot fees as growers. By law, the NDA must approve all seed purchases. They do allow for non-NDA certified seeds on five planted acres or less.

Challenges of growing hemp in Nevada

The biggest challenge for the Nevada hemp industry has to do with the federal regulations against hemp. Most of the hemp in Nevada is slated for human consumption, including CBD. Other uses for hemp, such as textiles, ropes, and paper are virtually ignored because to process these items takes big equipment and big dollars. Investors aren’t willing to invest until hemp is federally legal.

Hemp market price in Nevada

  • $200 or more per pound for flower, depending on CBD content and quality.
  • $10 per pound for food-grade seeds
  • $45 per gallon for seed oil
  • $200 per ton of baled fiber

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF STATE HEMP PROGRAMS?

At first glance it might seem as if legalizing industrial hemp across the board would be the best and only real solution to everything.

Whether it’s lack of industry expansion Nevada faces, the privacy rules Wisconsin has in place, or the potential market implosion in Oregon, legalized hemp would definitely have a positive impact to many of the challenges outlined.

The US Senate added an amendment to the 2018 Farm bill that could fully legalize hemp, but a ban on people with drug felonies could cause complications for growers already operating under state hemp programs. A US Senate hearing chamber in the US Capitol building.

The US Senate added an amendment to the 2018 Farm bill that could fully legalize hemp, but a ban on people with drug felonies could cause complications for growers already operating under state hemp programs.

However, legalized hemp will most likely present a whole new set of challenges anyway. For example, how should states handle intrastate commerce? Will there be a mandate on hemp prices? As of this article, Nevada’s hemp prices are through the roof at $200 or more for dried flowers, where Vermont is selling at $100.00 for the same.

Additionally, while the 2018 Farm Bill could soon legalize hemp, the current amendment would also ban felony drug convicts from growing hemp. No other agricultural crop faces similar restrictions, and both farmers and hemp advocates have objected to the provision.

For now, we can delight in the fact that hemp is back and back in a huge way. Legal hemp created a new economy, revealed awe-inspiring medical potential, and makes use of otherwise unused land.

Let’s all hope the federal government does the right thing and legalizes industrial hemp for every possible use imaginable, and for everyone to grow!

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George Washington’s Hemp Farm: Industrial Hemp Returns to Mount Vernon

Hemp is growing once again at Mount Vernon, thanks to a partnership with the University of Virginia. Industrial hemp was once a vital part of American agriculture.

George Washington’s hemp farm is back, thanks to growers who want to spread the word about this crop and its history.

If we were to go back in time to George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate around 250 years ago, we’d see row upon row of industrial hemp flourishing under the Virginia sun. Washington believed hemp could bring in more profit than tobacco due to its wider variety of uses.

As time progressed and cannabis growing was banned in the U.S., hemp disappeared from Mount Vernon along with the rest of the country. Now, with full hemp legalization on the horizon, George Washington’s hemp farm is back. Hemp is once again being harvested at Mount Vernon.

A hemp field grows in tall, dense bamboo-like clusters. George Washington's hemp farm wasn't unusual: hemp remained a vital American crop until it was banned in the early 20th-century.

George Washington’s hemp farm wasn’t unusual: hemp remained a vital American crop until it was banned in the early 20th-century.

Dean Norton, lead horticulturist at Mount Vernon, partnered with the University of Virginia to bring hemp back. Just like Washington, they see the potential profit in hemp and want to bring attention to the numerous ways it can be used.

“To bring this crop back it just really helps complete our agricultural story,” Norton told NPR.

To understand why George Washington’s hemp is so important, let’s look back at how hemp previously influenced Mount Vernon and the United States.

HEMP HISTORY: GEORGE WASHINGTON’S HEMP EXPERIMENTS BEGAN IN 1760

In the 1760s, Washington explored the profitability of hemp. George Washington’s hemp was used for rope, sail canvas, clothing, and repairing fishing nets (a key necessity for his fishing operations along the Potomac). He had a feeling it could bring in much more money than tobacco. Back then, there were no laws prohibiting growing.

Washington knew hemp could grow in places where other crops withered. With this knowledge, he wrote a letter to William Pierce stating, “ … on my farming plantation(s), I want you to make the most of hemp and plant it everywhere on my farmlands that haven’t been previously reserved for other things.” With that, George Washington’s hemp farm flourished.

During this time, the British Crown also commissioned American farmers to grow hemp. Hemp is highly adaptable and can grow in places that are otherwise left barren. When Washington grew hemp, it would not be surprising if you took a wagon ride down a dirt road only to discover fields of it.

Humans have used hemp as medicine for centuries, but there’s little to no evidence Washington or his contemporaries ever smoked their crop. While both hemp and psychoactive cannabis (‘marijuana’) are forms of the same plant, they’re grown and used in very different ways.

The unfortunate truth is hemp wasn’t as profitable as wheat. The country knew this and so did Washington. Though Washington continued to grow hemp, it wasn’t the sole focus of Mount Vernon.

Hemp remained an important crop until the U.S. banned cannabis in the early 20th-century. American hemp became important again during World War II. Otherwise, hemp remained illegal until the 2014 Farm Bill brought it back to America on a limited basis.

HEMP FLASHBACK: GEORGE WASHINGTON’S HEMP IS A SIGN OF A BRIGHT FUTURE

Hemp’s image is so twisted by unnecessary stigma, visitors are startled to see it on Mount Vernon. Tourists now take selfies with George Washington’s hemp. Some gaze in awe at the sight of the plant, with its distinctive leaves.

George Washington's hemp farm is growing again thanks to horticulturists at his Mount Vernon estate and the University of Virginia.

George Washington’s hemp farm is growing again thanks to horticulturists at his Mount Vernon estate and the University of Virginia.

There’s no doubt Washington would’ve found this a bit ridiculous. But the team involved in growing hemp on Mount Vernon want to end the fear attached to the crop.

Brian Walden, a Virginia hemp advocate, helped petition to bring hemp back to Mount Vernon. He told NPR’s Brakkton Booker that he considers himself a “hemp patriot.”

Walden hopes that bringing hemp back to George Washington’s farm will send “the message across that this is an innocuous plant that has real benefits and our Founding Fathers knew that and they planted it.”

Decades of prohibition have brought ignorance, and required us to fight for legalization,but there’s one benefit to this moment. Hemp has yet to become a commodity crop dominated by corporate agriculture. It’s still accessible to smaller farmers and experimental growers like the Mount Vernon team.

George Washington’s hemp is educating new people about this crop, and aiding the push for total legalization, which could soon become a reality at the federal level.

If one of our country’s most historic properties is benefitting from hemp, why shouldn’t the rest of America?

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Luce Farm: How Hemp Saved A Piece Of Vermont Farming History

Recently, we were lucky enough to a historic Vermont hemp farm that’s a wonderful example of hemp’s power to heal American agriculture. Originally founded in 1820, Luce Farm now grows hemp and uses it to make their own CBD products.

Recently, we were lucky enough to a historic Vermont hemp farm that’s a wonderful example of hemp’s power to heal American agriculture.

With low humidity and an abundance of air flow, it comes as no surprise that hemp’s found a way to prosper in the Green Mountain State’s countryside. Joe Pimentel, with his family and team, operate the historic Luce Farm and have found more success than they imagined in the ever-changing, fast-growing hemp industry.

The hemp grows tall on 206 acre Luce Farm, with the Vermont mountains in the background.

The hemp grows tall on 206 acre Luce Farm, with the Vermont mountains in the background. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Paul James)

First established in 1820, during our visit we learned how this 206 acre farm transformed from vegetable growing to hemp.

FROM VEGGIES TO A VERMONT HEMP FARM

Years ago, Pimentel began growing vegetables and raising goats due to the lack of easy access to good food. After the farming grew substantially, he moved to Vermont to grow food full time at Luce Farm and truck it down to areas in and around Boston.

“We were always able to sustain, but it was hard,” Pimentel told us. “Veggie farming is hard.”

Pimentel had dreams of restoring this 200 year old farm, but it was impossible to do on just vegetables. So, he began looking into a variety of options. Eventually, he stumbled upon hemp and it stuck. Pimentel recalled:

In 2016, we were hired to grow hemp for an R&D [Research and Development] project. We ended up with eighty pounds of it by the end of the year and we didn’t know what to do with it. That’s when we started playing around with the CBD in our kitchen.

After trying some simple recipes and sharing them with friends, people came back to Pimentel claiming the results were “unbelievable.” Many were new to CBD and what it could offer. Some friends who were taking several Ibuprofen a day reported more relief from the healing properties of hemp.

Part of the Luce Farm team stands in their hemp field (left to right): Jesse, Joe Pimentel, and Robin Chadwell.

Part of the Luce Farm team stands in their hemp field (left to right): Jesse, Joe Pimentel, and Robin Chadwell. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Paul James)

This is what motivated him to continue with harvesting and making Luce Farm CBD products. Pimentel knew if he wanted to make a business out of this, he had to be confident in telling people the exact amount of CBD they’d receive. As a result, he transitioned to using supercritical CO2 extraction, an industry standard method for producing high-quality CBD.

With a professionally produced, labeled and tested product under his belt, he decided to take his CBD to the place he knew best: farmers’ markets.

HEMP SAVED HISTORIC LUCE FARM

Unsurprisingly, he found himself easily making much more profit than he did off vegetables.

“And then we just ran with the ball, man,” Pimentel proclaimed. “It was evident this was exactly what we needed for our project.”

That project, to preserve this important site, is about to take a major step forward. Luce Farm will soon be added to the National Register of Historic Places, with all the protection that brings. Thanks to Pimentel and the possibilities of hemp, a piece of Vermont history will remain in the serenity of this mountainous landscape.

Luce Farm is a piece of the community that was almost taken away. After operating within the Luce family from 1820 to 1950, the last member passed away just when corporate agriculture was taking control of American farming. A pair of caretakers kept the property preserved, then sold it to the Pimentels a few years ago.

Since Vermont legalized hemp through the 2014 Farm Bill, it’s been making more and more appearances throughout the state. When Pimentel first began growing in 2016, there were less than 50 hemp permits within the state. This year, that number has reached an astonishing 249 hemp permits.

Hemp grows in dense clusters in a field. In the distance are greenhouses, a forest and the mountains. Luce Farm is not just a beautiful Vermont hemp farm, but also an example of hemp's power to revive American agriculture.

Luce Farm is not just a beautiful Vermont hemp farm, but also an example of hemp’s power to revive American agriculture. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Paul James)

In Pimentel’s words, “That’s a ridiculous amount of growth.”

Different states have different regulations when it comes to growing hemp. Vermont hemp farmers face few barriers under their state’s relatively simple regulations.

“As far as the state of Vermont goes, its hemp program is awesome,” Pimentel told us.

Still, Luce Farm has faced legal complications. About 6 months back, Pimentel teamed up with Long Trail Brewery in Vermont to create a CBD-infused beer. It was a winner in terms of sales, moving thousands of cans within a two day period. However, the federal government stepped in and told them they couldn’t mix cannabinoids with alcohol.

The Luce Farm team remains proud of the work they did and hope they can work with Long Trail again in the future when hemp is fully legalized.

BEYOND LUCE FARM: HEMP CAN HELP LOCAL FARMERS NATIONWIDE

Pimentel believes hemp can be a winner for local farmers across the country. Just as when big corporations moved into farming as a whole, he’s noticed big corporations trying to make their way into the hemp industry and take profits away from small family farmers. The more hemp becomes available to the public, the more people are trying to purchase it for cheap.

Moving forward, he hopes small farmers can continue to take advantage of the economic opportunities hemp provides:

I know how hard it is to grow that stuff … We’re farmers first. We want to keep that price high. We don’t want Wall Street coming in and driving the market.

When it comes to getting into the hemp industry, Pimentel advises people to have a plan. Farmers must know in advance what to do with their hemp once it’s harvested.

A massive, tall hemp field with the Vermont mountains behind it. Luce Farm creates their own CBD products from their harvest, controlling their output from seed to shelf.

Luce Farm creates their own CBD products from their harvest, controlling their output from seed to shelf. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Paul James)

More personally, Pimentel believes farmers should keep control of their harvest and “fight to keep [hemp] an agriculture product rather than a commodity product.”

This Vermont hemp farm directly uses the crops they grow in their own CBD products, rather than selling the crop to other businesses. They control their output from seed to shelf, and earnings can go right back into preserving Luce Farm.

Like so many other people working in this industry, Pimentel is excited about hemp and its potential to revive American farming.

“I’m a firm believer that every 7-Eleven in America should be replaced by a farm,” he declared. “It’d change a lot of things.”

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US Hemp Sales Reach Record-Breaking $820M In 2017

U.S. hemp sales reached record breaking levels last year, thanks to the continued spread of legalization and the growing popularity of CBD oil. Hemp Business Journal reported sales of hemp products hit $820 million.

U.S. hemp sales reached record breaking levels last year, thanks to the continued spread of legalization and the growing popularity of CBD oil.

Hemp Business Journal recently released their 2017 hemp industry analysis, reporting sales of hemp products hit $820 million. Despite ongoing legal and regulatory complications, the industry grew a total of 16 percent last year.

And that number is expected to continue rising. With more and more states seeing the value in hemp, legalization is spreading like wildfire.

CBD PRODUCTS LEADING THE WAY IN US HEMP SALES IN 2017

US hemp sales reached $820 million in 2017, with CBD oil and personal care products generating the most sales. (Source: Hemp Business Journal)

US hemp sales reached $820 million in 2017, with CBD oil and personal care products generating the most sales. (Source: Hemp Business Journal)

Hemp Business Journal laid out a market breakdown of where hemp products did their best. Turns out, CBD and personal care products dominated the business.

Responsible for 23 percent of U.S. hemp sales, CBD products banked in at $190 million last year. Personal care items come in at 22 percent, generating around $181 million.

Here are other major uses for hemp and the total value of those sales:

  • Industrial applications – $144 million
  • Food – $137 million
  • Consumer textiles – $105 million
  • Supplements – $45 million
  • Other consumer products – $16 million

As mentioned, U.S. hemp sales are expected to rise as laws and regulations around hemp continue to ease.

With Congress increasingly supportive of total federal legalization of industrial hemp, hemp experts are predicting sales can more nearly triple within the next 5 years.

US HEMP SALES COULD APPROACH $2 BILLION BY 2022

Though it’s only an estimate, Hemp Business Journal expects U.S. hemp sales to reach $1 billion in 2019, and climb as high as $1.9 billion by 2022.

This is due to two important factors: Hemp is easier to grow than other resources, such as cotton or corn. With it’s over 25,000 known uses, businesses see large potential in hemp as a resource.

Still, we have a long way to go until these estimations become a reality. In 2017, over half of the hemp industry was based in Colorado alone. The biggest barrier: not every state is on board with hemp legalization.

Since hemp is still only partially legal, the amount of production allowed varies from state to state. Therefore, we aren’t seeing as big of a hemp boom as we could because farmers and vendors still face regulatory hurdles from growing their crops to bringing products to market.

An overhead shot of a growing hemp field. US hemp sales reached record heights in 2017.

As of this time, experts expect the hemp industry to grow in much of the southern states (namely, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee) as well as a great area of the Midwest (particularly, Minnesota and North Dakota).

However, with more laws being put into place, such as the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp holds the potential to grow even beyond the estimates mentioned here.

LEGAL COMPLICATIONS LIMIT POTENTIAL US HEMP SALES

Congress could be key to this industry’s success, thanks to a bill proposed on April 12th, 2018. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and supported by Senator Ron Wyden as well as Senator Jeff Merkley.

Senators later added the act as an amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill. If Congress passes the Farm Bill as expected, the Department of Agriculture will regulate hemp on the federal level. This would not only make hemp more widely available to farmers but to consumers as well. Almost inevitably, full legalization would increase sales.

Still, complications will continue to persist under current plans for nationwide legalization. The current language of the amendment bans anyone with a prior drug felony from growing hemp. The U.S. does not regulate any other crops in this manner.

This law could put existing farmers such as Veronica Carpio at risk. Carpio is an early contributor to the hemp industry and the president of Grow Hemp Colorado, but she also holds a past felony cannabis conviction. With this new bill, there’s potential she’ll be kicked out of the industry, in spite of all she’s already done. Future hemp entrepreneurs could also be locked out by their criminal record. However, some hemp industry experts hope the law could be reformed after passage.

We can only guess at how high hemp sales could get. Though hemp farming is growing, companies simply don’t have enough of the resource to offer a full range of commercial products. Imagine if hemp was as widely available as cotton. Who knows how many hemp products we’d see on the market?

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Why Grow Hemp: The Many Uses Of Hemp On Smaller Farms

More and more people are asking themselves, “should I grow hemp?” The secret truth to hemp’s growing popularity is it’s one of the easiest, most versatile and most sustainable crops you can grow.

More and more people are asking themselves, “should I grow hemp?”

Across America, we’re witnessing an ever-growing market for industrial hemp. Only two years ago, there were less than 10,000 acres growing across the country. Today, this new cash crop has reached an astounding 27,000 acres. And that number continues to rise.

This comes as no surprise considering hemp’s wide variety of uses. Even beyond the industry, many small farmers are finding ways in which hemp benefits their lives.

The simple answer, you get more out of it than you put in and the crop can grow in some inhospitable conditions. However, as you’ll find out from reading, the real reasons go deeper than that.

WHY GROW HEMP? HEMP IS SUSTAINABLE AND HAS MANY, MANY USES

The secret truth to hemp’s growing popularity is it’s one of the easiest and most sustainable crops you can grow. Unlike major cash crops such as corn or wheat, hemp grows in dense clusters that require very little pesticide or herbicides and a minimal amount of fertilizer. It  requires less water than some cash crops like cotton, though it isn’t considered a low water crop.

A hemp farmer surveys his crop at sunrise. Why grow hemp? Farmers grow hemp because it requires little maintenance and offers many uses.

A hemp farmer surveys his crop at sunrise. Why grow hemp? Farmers grow hemp because it requires little maintenance and offers many uses.

You can grow hemp almost anywhere in the country, excluding very dry deserts and high mountaintops. Preferably, hemp prospers in well-drained soil that has a high quality of organic matter. This guide from HempTechGlobal offers more detail on the logistics of growing and harvesting hemp. One potential complication is decortication, in which the parts of the hemp plant are separated. Decortication can require access to specialized equipment.

Research has discovered growing hemp holds potential to heal polluted soil. With the possibility to replace fossil fuels and be a new source of paper, hemp is considered one of the most eco-friendly crops around.

In fact, there are over 25,000 known uses for hemp. Whether you’re looking for something as complex as a form of concrete (hempcrete) or something as simple as some pet bedding, hemp has you covered.

People’s health also benefits from access to hemp. Hemp is a superfood that provides a great source of nutrients and fibers. But even better, it’s the key ingredient in CBD oil, an amazingly beneficial nutritional supplement.

When it comes to why people grow hemp, whether it be for personal or industrial use, there are a wide variety of reasons to consider. Many farmers report it’s an incredibly rewarding crop to grow.

IS IT LEGAL TO GROW HEMP?

One of the biggest questions people have when deciding to grow hemp is about legality. In most people’s minds, it’s still very much attached to its still federally illegal cousin, psychoactive cannabis (‘marijuana‘), making many farmers all the more cautious.

In 2013, Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin revolutionized the country by being the first to harvest hemp in America since 1957. Since then, the 2014 Farm Bill allowed states to pursue hemp farming for the sake of research practices. Since then, 38 states have legalized hemp cultivation.

Because each state operates differently under the bill, it’ll be necessary you do some research before planting any hemp crops.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GROW HEMP

There are some legal factors you’ll need to keep in mind before starting your hemp garden.

The first and most important is you’ll be required to have a license. One which requires a fee and lots of paperwork. In some cases, you may face a criminal background check.

Furthermore, after harvest, your plants must be tested for their THC levels. If they test higher than .3 percent, your crop will most likely be destroyed.

Industrial hemp grows in long, tightly packed rows on a farm. While there are large-scale uses for hemp, many smaller farms also grow hemp.

Some hemp farmers, such as Kim Phillips from Montana, run into unexpected difficulties. Her water source is federally regulated by the Bureau of Reclamation, so she had to request access to their assets for hemp irrigation. Since they didn’t approve her request in time, her plants withered the first time she tried to grow hemp.

Because hemp plants are required to have such a low amount of THC, many farmers find the most difficult task is finding the proper seed. Since hemp legality is so recent, the seed industry can’t always keep up with the ever-growing demand for seeds.

There have also been reported difficulties shipping seeds through states where hemp production is still illegal.

DESPITE COMPLICATIONS, SMALL FARMERS STILL GROW HEMP

Even with everything that’s been mentioned, the demand for this eco-friendly crop is enormous. Many farmers are jumping on the hemp bandwagon.

If considering an industrial hemp operation, you might want to take precautions to inform the community. Many hemp farmers post signs explaining that their crop is not marijuana. Tom Hewson, a Colorado hemp farmer, gathered his neighborhood together for a community meeting to inform them about the crop he had planned, and why he chose hemp. In his words, “educational efforts are critical.”

You may still wonder if it’s beneficial for you to grow it for personal reasons. The truth of the matter is, the legal standpoint on hemp may turn some growers off. But, if you can look past those obligations, hemp can be of great use to you.

As already mentioned, there’s such a wide variety of ways in which hemp can be used for your personal benefit. Even more so, though, by deciding to grow hemp, you can be a part of creating a more sustainable way of life.

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Hemp Legalization Amendment Bans People With Drug Convictions From Hemp Industry

A hemp legalization amendment in the 2018 Farm Bill prevents anyone with a felony drug conviction from growing hemp. Some existing hemp entrepreneurs could even find themselves shut out of an industry they helped to create.

A hemp legalization amendment in the 2018 Farm Bill prevents anyone with a felony drug conviction from growing hemp.

Some existing hemp entrepreneurs could even find themselves shut out.

“I have a very successful business, I’ve been in this from the get go,” said Veronica Carpio, an experienced hemp producer and president of Grow Hemp Colorado, at a hemp conference in New York last month.

Despite her undeniable contributions to the industry, a past felony cannabis conviction endangers her continued involvement. “If this bill passes, I’m out.”

At issue is part of the Senate version of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, which would legalize industrial hemp growing across the country. Sen. Mitch McConnell spearheaded the current effort to legalize industrial hemp and his “Hemp Farming Act of 2018” soon picked up bipartisan sponsorship. However, the hemp legalization amendment, unlike the original bill, bans anyone convicted of a drug-related felony from involvement in hemp growing and potentially other aspects of the industry.

FELONY BAN DIVIDES HEMP ADVOCATES OVER LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT

No other crop grown in the U.S. faces these kinds of restrictions. While most hemp advocates celebrated McConnell’s initial efforts to legalize hemp, they’re much more divided over this new clause. Multiple hemp experts we spoke with speculated that the Senate changed the language to appease conservative elements of the legislature and the Department of Justice.

The House version of the bill does not include hemp legalization. Legislators must now debate this and other differences in a conference committee before the Farm Bill passes to the President’s desk. Hemp supporters like Rick Trojan, vice president of the Hemp Industries Association, worry that even if it passes the amendment will create an unequal and unfair hemp industry.

“Excluding a whole class of people is not what I’m about,” Trojan said. “And not what I think the hemp industry is about.”

HEMP LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT COULD SHUT OUT HEMP ENTREPRENEURS

The United States partially re-legalized hemp through an amendment to the 2014 version of the Farm Bill. Under this previous hemp legalization amendment, states were free to create hemp research programs that included market research (sales of hemp products like CBD). Since then growers in Colorado, Carpio’s home base, made the state into the country’s top hemp producer.

The 2018 legalization amendment places hemp under the control of the Department of Agriculture. The department would approve each state or Native American tribe’s growing program. But the following clause would shut out thousands of people like Carpio from being part of these licensed programs:

FELONY.—Any person convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance under State or Federal law shall be ineligible—

(i) to participate in the program established under this section; and

(ii) to produce hemp under any regulations or guidelines issued under section 297D(a).

Hemp advocates worry that the hemp legalization amendment would exclude some of society’s most vulnerable people from the new hemp industry.

An empty prison hallway. Advocates worry that the hemp legalization amendment in the 2018 Farm Bill would exclude some of society’s most vulnerable people.

The full scope of the effects of this clause are unclear. According to Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, the amendment bans anyone with a felony drug conviction from hemp growing. He could not guarantee that it won’t interfere with other parts of the industry.

“We were disappointed to see that got added to the language,” Steenstra said. “That’s not something we were happy about.”

RACISM IN HEMP LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT?

“Just because you had a conviction for a drug-related felony doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t be in the industry,” said Steenstra.

Advocates argue that cannabis is harmless and extremely beneficial. If the U.S. is in the process of legalizing hemp, why should past convictions prevent you from participating in the field? In fact, such people likely have skills in growing and production the hemp industry sorely needs.

“That is a way of intentionally slowing the growth of an industry,” Trojan suggested.

Trojan and Carpio were unflinching in their condemnation of the clause in the hemp legalization amendment, suggesting it perpetuates racist aspects of the war on drugs. Although all races use and sell drugs and mind-altering substances at about the same rate, drug convictions disproportionately affect people of color.

“We denounce racism and discrimination in the cannabis (both hemp and marijuana) industries and this new language needs to be challenged and removed,” Carpio wrote in a press release.

Opponents of the war on drugs are working to legalize cannabis and other substances while concurrently seeking to change laws to enable people with drug convictions to expunge their criminal records. Carpio said the felony ban in the hemp legalization amendment represents a significant setback to those efforts by excluding thousands of already vulnerable people from the earning potential of hemp. Even though most states are in the process of legalizing cannabis, most of the people excluded from the hemp industry are likely to be those with cannabis-related convictions. Statistics show police arrest more people for cannabis use than for all violent crimes combined.

CAN THE HEMP LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT BE CHANGED IN TIME?

Steenstra suggested it would be tough to change the hemp legalization amendment. He expects hemp legalization to pass in its current form.

“At this point, what are we going to do?” Steenstra asked, though he pledged to look for opportunities to change the amendment.

Joy Beckerman, president of the Hemp Industries Association, concurred.

“There is no such thing as legislation that doesn’t have concerns or flaws, unfortunately,” said Beckerman.

She appeared at the same New York hemp conference where Carpio spoke. “I would love to be able to go from prohibition to utopia but sadly that is just not the way things work.”

Trojan, on the other hand, strongly encouraged hemp supporters to keep fighting.

“Everyone needs to contact their legislator,” he said said. “Continue to push for equal access to this economic boon.”

We will continue to closely follow this issue at Ministry of Hemp.

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