Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

Category: News

How To Support Hemp, With Hemp Advocate Cait Curley

Cait Curley is quickly becoming a name to know among hemp enthusiasts. We caught up with her to find out how everyday people can become hemp and cannabis advocates in their communities.

We recently asked a passionate hemp advocate how people can support hemp and help it spread.

Cait Curley is quickly becoming a name to know among hemp enthusiasts and cannabis fans of all kinds. We noticed that whether she’s exploring the potential of hempcrete or winning hearts and minds at hemp expos, Curley seemed to be everywhere we went and interested in the same topics we were. In November, she created a “Women of Cannabis” photoshoot, highlighting the diversity of the industry. Now she’s expanding her hemp media brand and, after years of partnering with other hemp companies, getting more involved in self-driven hemp projects.

Photo: A cluster of diverse women from the hemp industry, gathered together in a seated cluster, wearing simple hemp dresses in different solid colors.

Cait Curley’s Women Of Cannabis photos highlight the diversity of the people who support hemp and cannabis in all its forms. (Photo: Cait Curley with prAna hemp clothing)

She told us she sees hemp as key to solving our environmental crisis.

“This plant can overturn the synthetic world we live in, and save our planet,” Curley declared, when we caught up with her by phone.

Impressed by her passion and energy for hemp in all its forms, we wanted to know how she got involved and how other people can support hemp too.

CANNABIS BROUGHT FREEDOM FROM ‘BURNOUT’

“Until 2005, I believed all ‘drugs’ were dangerous and dirty,” Curley recalled. “I got high one night, for the very first time, and changed my perception on cannabis right then and there.”

That night, Curley realized she’d bought into the social stigma around cannabis without learning the real facts about the plant. That moment set in motion a major journey of discovery and transformed her into a hemp and cannabis advocate.

“If you have a connection to the plant, then you already are involved and part of the community.” — Cait Curley

Curley was always drawn to entertaining and inspiring people from a young age. She even participated twice in the world championships for Irish dance. In 2010, she moved to New York to pursue acting and modeling. However, she wanted to find ways to help people on a deeper level.

She switched to a career in audiology, the science of studying hearing and treating hearing disorders. The position she took led to a corporate style job. Success meant good money but also working incredibly long hours.

“I understood what the term ‘burnout’ meant.”

MOVE TO COLORADO ALLOWED FULL-TIME SUPPORT OF CANNABIS

Photo: Cait Curlkey poses wearing a hemp dress, holding a hemp guitar, with a tray of smokable psychoactive cannabis.

Curley wants everyone to become a hemp advocate wherever they live. (Photo: Cait Curley with Silver Mountain Hemp, prAna hemp, and Official Jack Herer)

Although she hid her recreational use of cannabis for a long time, due to the stigma around it, her experiences changed her life.

Just spending time in nature while high helped Curley gain a new perspective. She decided she needed to get more involved, and become someone that could openly support cannabis access and legal reform. She also wanted to leave her corporate job.

In 2015, Curley packed up her life and moved to Denver. She started attending meetups and networking and immediately found herself part of an incredibly welcoming group of cannabis/hemp supporters. Now, in addition to creating cannabis/hemp-related media, Curley works with the NoCo Hemp Expo, Southern Hemp Expo, Tree Free Hemp, One Planet Hemp, and Let’s Talk Hemp Media. She also appears at hemp events and collaborates with various other brands that reach out to her.

Curley passionately supports the cannabis plant in all its forms, from psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) to industrial hemp, believing both are integral to making a better world.

HOW TO BE A HEMP ADVOCATE AND SUPPORT HEMP

“If you have a connection to the plant, then you already are involved and part of the community. Curley emphasized during our chat. “There is no official stamp.”

However, she also offered a few additional tips for how anyone can support hemp and become a hemp advocate:

  • Use hemp. Hemp goods are often better for you, more durable, or otherwise better than the alternatives. They can also be more expensive, meaning it’s not simple to transform your whole wardrobe from cotton to hemp overnight. Start small: wear a hemp t-shirt, add hemp hearts to your diet, or switch to hemp lip balm. Every hemp product you use supports this growing industry. It’s also an opportunity to start a conversation.
  • Educate others & yourself. The first step is to understand hemp and its potential, then help those around you learn. Many people still misunderstand hemp and cannabis, and their many potential benefits for humanity. Even people familiar with CBD, thanks to its incredible popularity at the moment, may not be aware that hemp and “marijuana” can be made into clothing, food, even Farm Bill legalized hemp, there’s still a lot of room for improvement especially in local laws and regulations.

While the hemp industry is growing by leaps and bounds, even more importantly Curley describes hemp advocates as a “family and a community.”

When you make hemp a part of your life, Curley believes that “not only are you bettering yourself, you’re supporting a movement.”

We couldn’t agree more!

SUPPORT HEMP AND HELP CHANGE OUR WORLD

Curley sees the hemp movement as part of global progress towards sustainability and renewed recognition of our common humanity.

“A huge shift is coming, and cannabis has a huge part to play in that.”

Cait Curley's Women Of Cannabis photos highlight the diversity of the people who support hemp and cannabis in all its forms. Photo: A row of diverse women pose standing back to front while wearing simple hemp dresses.

Cait Curley hopes her hemp advocacy helps normalize this vital plant in all its forms, from hemp clothing to psychoactive cannabis. (Photo: Cait Curley with prAna hemp clothing)

Projects like her “Women in Cannabis” photo shoot help to illustrate that shift by countering the idea that only white men work with hemp. She partnered with prAna hemp clothing, Silver Mountain hemp guitars, and The Original Jack Herer to create the photos.

For Curley, hemp is a gateway to a better world, one that emphasizes both people and planet, through practices like regenerative agriculture, more responsible use of resources, and other alternatives to our current “synthetic” way of life.

“This is my purpose, this is my life,” she told us. “I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

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The Low Down Dirty Hemp Supply Chain (Podcast)

This week on the Ministry of Hemp podcast, Matt talks with industry experts about the problems with today’s hemp supply chain and what’s being done in the private sector to compensate for the lack of government oversight.

The Low Down Dirty Hemp Supply Chain (Podcast)
Ministry of Hemp Podcast

 
 
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This week on the show Matt is talking to Jenn Price from Golden State Govt. Relations and Chris Fontes from Hempexchange.com about the problems with today’s hemp supply chain and what’s being done in the private sector to compensate for the lack of government oversight.

We want to hear from you too. Send us your questions and you might hear them answered on future shows! Send us your written questions to us on Twitter, Facebook, email [email protected], or call us and leave a message at 402-819-6417.

Under the current legal landscape, the hemp supply chain remains inconsistent and lacking in oversight. Photo: A farmer holds a hemp seedling with dirt in cupped hands.

Under the current lack of legal regulations, the industry’s supply chain remains inconsistent at best.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. If you really want to help out, we’d love for you to leave a short written review or even just a rating of our podcast.

MORE ABOUT THE HEMP SUPPLY CHAIN

As always, you can find download the complete show transcript here:

Here are some articles which explain more about the hemp industry:

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My NoCo 2019 Diary: Visiting The Largest Hemp Expo In The World

We were completely overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the 2019 Nothern Colorado Hemp Expo in Colorado. Here’s some audio highlights from our recent visit to Denver.

My NoCo 2019 Diary: Visiting The Largest Hemp Expo In The World
Ministry of Hemp Podcast

 
 
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Welcome back to the Ministry of Hemp podcast, recorded this time at NoCo 2019.

We were completely overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the 2019 Nothern Colorado Hemp Expo in Denver, Colorado. In this episode, Matt talks to so many amazing people doing things you would not believe with hemp. Our guests include:

The indigenous hemp growers panel at NoCo 2019.

The indigenous hemp growers panel at NoCo Hemp Expo.

We want to hear from you too. Send us your questions and you might hear them answered on future shows! Send us your written questions to us on Twitter, Facebook, email [email protected], or call us and leave a message at 402-819-6417.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. If you really want to help out, we’d love for you to leave a short written review or even just a rating of our podcast.

MORE ABOUT NOCO 2019

As always, you can find download the complete show transcript here:

Read more about our visit to NoCo 2019:

 

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Top 6 Hemp Growing Countries: USA Now Ranks Number 3!

The U.S. jumped to number three on the list of top hemp growing countries last year. But two countries still have us beat, thanks to uninterrupted growing while we enforced decades of total prohibition on cannabis.

For the first time ever, the U.S. now ranks among the top hemp growing countries in the world.

The United States now produces the third most hemp in the world. The growing CBD market, plus other uses for hemp, along with gradually loosening laws around cultivation, processing, and production of hemp products are all contributing to the growing U.S. hemp economy.

Hemp has been used throughout the world for millennia now. The earliest record dating back 8,000+ BCE somewhere within modern-day Taiwan – a hemp cord used within pottery. This is around the same time agriculture was also invented.

For the first time, the US now ranks among the top hemp growing countries. Photo: A dense hemp field of industrial hemp grown for CBD in Oregon.

For the first time, the US now ranks among the top hemp growing countries.

With a history so rich, it comes as no surprise the plant grows on so much of the globe. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the top six hemp growing countries and discuss their success.

RANKING THE TOP HEMP GROWING COUNTRIES

#6 – North Korea

Starting the list with a country like North Korea might be surprising to some. But those who know the country’s history are well aware of the importance of hemp to Korean culture.

Since the beginning of both North and South Korea’s written history, traditional weavers turned hemp fiber into a fabric known as “sambe.” This is often used for funeral clothing, though that custom is rather recent.

North Korea continues to use hemp and even cultivates it on an industrial level. One reason they’ve been able to grow the plant is their cannabis laws aren’t as strict as other nearby countries. Yes, it’s true you aren’t allowed to smoke the leaves of any cannabis plant — contrary to some rumors which circulated some years ago. In fact, smoking weed (and potentially hemp) in North Korea is punishable by death.

However, at least 47,000 square meters of land is dedicated to hemp textiles in Pyongyang alone. Not to mention, hemp naturally grows throughout the country.

#5 – Chile

Rules and regulations surrounding cannabis in Chile are quite strange. It’s illegal to consume in public and forbidden to grow the plant on an industrial level. Yet, since there are no laws against private consumption and cultivation, many Chilenos take advantage of this.

So much so, Chile held the record for the highest per capita consumption throughout Latin America.

Within the Quillota Valley specifically, records of hemp cultivation go as far back as 1545. It’s been used for a number of reasons, primarily shipping and army support. Though, some sources claim its main use is for seed oil production.

Because of the informal nature of hemp in Chile, it’s hard to find exact figures on hemp acreage, but this is our best guess.

#4 – France

France produced more than double the amount of hemp for the last few decades in comparison to all other European. Though, as recent as 2014, that stat slowly changed and the rest of Europe is now growing their share of the crop.

Hemp growing in a field in France.

Some reports claim hemp has been used in France since the Neolithic times. Since then, the plant has mainly been used industrially for animal bedding, nautical applications, and textiles.

As of 2017, France grew over 43,000 acres of hemp. And that number continues to rise.

France almost experienced a death to their hemp industry. Due to the introduction of cotton, hemp production declined to a point of almost becoming extinct. However, it had a revival back in the 1960s and, since then, has gradually revived.

Luckily for France, since the crop was never banned, production never had a reason to completely stop.

#3 – United States Of America

The U.S. only recently made the list this past year with the 2018 hemp acreage report. With 78,176 total acres grown in up to 23 states, the country saw a massive expansion which earned a spot on this list.

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized the crop nationwide, there’s a good chance the U.S. will continue to climb this list. Right now, the vast majority of hemp in the U.S. is grown for CBD. Other forms of hemp, used in textiles, fabric, or hempcrete, are often imported. We can expect that in the coming years, the U.S. will not only grow more hemp, but more forms of the plant too.

However, due to decades of prohibition, the following two countries were able to prosper within the last decades in ways we simply couldn’t.

#2 – Canada

Health Canada, the federal agency in charge of distributing hemp licenses, reported Canadian farmers saw an 80% increase in hemp production between 2016 to 2017 – from 75,000 acres to 140,000.

Harvest takes place primarily in three providences — Saskatchewan (56,000 acres), Alberta (45,000 acres), and Manitoba (30,000 acres). Most of this cultivation focuses on extracted seeds for hemp oils, hemp protein powders, and hulled hemp seeds (similar food to sunflower seeds).

A photo of an altered Canadian flag flying against a blue sky. The typical maple leaf is replaced with a hemp or cannabis leaf.

After Uruguay, Canada is the second country in the world to legalize recreational use of cannabis. However, legal CBD in Canada remains difficult to come by.

However, though the country reports they’ve seen a steady upward trend, signs are pointing to a potential decline in hemp production. The unfortunate truth is, Canada produced way more hemp than their people demanded. Therefore, prices on hemp products decreased exponentially.

The government is now working towards balancing out production with demand and, due to this, they may fall shorter on this list in the years to come.

Surprisingly, despite overall cannabis legalization and progressive attitudes on hemp, legal CBD in Canada is another matter. Technically, CBD is only available by prescription through medical cannabis dispensaries, but many people are accessing it informally on the gray market.

#1 – China

For some time, China grew nearly 70% of the world’s hemp. The earliest records of Chinese hemp use date as far back as the year 300. The main use for the plant, as with other countries on this list, was for fiber or survival food. In fact, after World War II, hemp saved many people from starving in areas of Northern China.

This brilliant use for the plant was noted by some Americans right around the time hemp prohibition began. In turn, many fought against hemp’s ban as they wanted to see its versatile uses put to work here in the States. As General Counsel Ralph Loziers of the US National Institute of Oilseed Production proclaimed in front of a congressional committee in 1937, hemp is used by a variety of nations around the world:

“Millions of people every day are using hempseed in [Asia] as food. They have been doing this for many generations, especially in periods of famine.”

Not only did the Chinese government never ban on the plant, they in fact supported industrial growth. Allowing hemp to prosper to an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 acres.

TOP HEMP GROWING COUNTRIES & HEMP AS A WORLDWIDE CROP

Though most of China’s hemp is roasted for domestic snacks and oil, nearly 40% of it is exported to other countries. That means nearly 90,000 acres of hemp — more than that grown in America last year — is in demand.

The sun hangs in a partly cloudy sky over a tall, densely packed hemp field. The Ministry of Hemp podcast will bring the latest hemp news and CBD science to listeners in every episode.

Not just the U.S., but the entire world seems poised on the edge of a new hemp boom.

As we continue to fight against prohibition, we often forget about the power this crop already exerts on a worldwide scale.

While the United States may be behind on this list, it’s vital to remember we didn’t fight to legalize the crop purely for our sake. High production would allow more trade with more nations. We’ll also be able to fully pursue the sustainable potential of hemp. Hemp may be another factor in bringing this world a little closer together.

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CBD In Spain: Hemp Market Neglected In Spain Due To EU CBD Ban

The absence of CBD oil at Spain’s biggest cannabis trade show reflects turmoil over the legal status of CBD in Spain and throughout the European Union. Find out what we learned at Spannabis 2019.

Recent regulatory changes have cast doubt on the legal status of CBD in Spain and throughout the European Union.

Editor’s Note: This article on CBD in Spain is a continuation of our recent series on CBD and hemp around the world. See more in our articles on CBD in Canada and CBD in Uruguay. -KO

Spain is one of the most progressive cannabis hubs in Europe, with a network of hemp farms. grow shops and cannabis social clubs throughout the country. Spannabis, which took place this year from March 15 through March 17, is the largest cultivator tradeshow in the country. However, the absence of CBD oil there is an example of the regulatory turmoil that’s currently frustrating the European market.

Spannabis is Spain's largest cultivator event attracting a mix of industrial and hobbyist growers as well as cannabis advocates and users. Photo: Dozens of people crowd around the entrance to the Spannabis convention.

Spannabis is Spain’s largest cultivator event attracting a mix of industrial and hobbyist growers as well as cannabis advocates and users. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Tasha Kerry)

Unsurprisingly, the concept of using cannabis or CBD as preventative healthcare is still relatively new in Spain, and got little mention at Spannabis where the focus is on grow ops and gadgets. However, at this year’s event, “education” and “social responsibility” were the buzzwords on everyone’s lips, and hemp was making its presence felt in new ways.

IS CBD OIL LEGAL IN EUROPE?

In summer 2018, the EU notified the industry through the Novel Food Act, which places restrictions on any food items not in regular use prior to 1997, that it was no longer legal to sell CBD oil as a food supplement in Europe. In September, the organizers of Spannabis sent out an email announcing that CBD oil for human consumption was banned from the event though hemp seeds and skincare products are allowed in line with EU guidelines.

The EU’s Novel Food Act is not, however, legally binding, leading to disparities across EU countries, as some choose to implement the guideline while others ignore it. The lack of regulation means the market looks different in each country. Switzerland is leading the pack with almost 600 CBD companies selling domestically and abroad. In Italy and Austria, consumers are going crazy for hemp flower as a substitute for tobacco. It’s possible to buy CBD oil in pharmacies or health food shops in some member states, but not Spain.

Due to the EU's Novel Food Act, CBD Oil for human consumption was banned from this year's Spannabis but oils for topical use were allowed. Photo: A collection of topical CBD oils available at the Spannabis expo.

Due to the EU’s Novel Food Act, CBD Oil for human consumption was banned from this year’s Spannabis but oils for topical use were allowed. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Tasha Kerry)

“Spain is one of the drivers of the CBD market in Europe, but right now, self-regulation is guiding the industry,” explains Jaime Muñoz of Natureight, a CBD manufacturer based in Holland with offices in Spain, “and everyone continues to sell in spite of the risks because consumer demand is so high. That’s the point, consumers want this product, and the regulation needs to catch up with the market.”

A recent report from the Brightfield Group predicts that the EU CBD market will grow by up to 400% over next five years, meaning it could be worth €1.7 billion (almost $2 billion) by 2023. In line with the recent World Health Organization recommendation to reclassify cannabis, the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) is campaigning to update the Novel Food Act. The EIHA presented a proposal for the regulation of the European hemp industry to the EU Commission on March 12th.

“We asked for clear rules to be put in place in order to facilitate the growth of the industry across Europe,” confirms Lorenza Romanese, director of the EIHA, adding, “What’s most important is to let the market choose the competitors. Plus, Europeans naturally prefer to buy locally so if we take the right steps, hemp offers the chance to create cottage industry producing premium local products.”

CBD IN SPAIN: CHANGING THE CONVERSATION

Though the Spanish parties Cuidadanos and Podemos are eager to follow Canada’a legalization model, Pedro Sanchez, Spanish prime minister has made it clear that, for now, he has “bigger problems” than cannabis. On top of that, the Spanish minister for Health, Maria Luisa Carcedo, announced last November that there’s “no scientific evidence” to back the therapeutic use of cannabis.

So while cannabis is fast becoming a wellness niche in other progressive markets, it remains the domain of an underground culture made up of clandestine growers and stoners in Spain, as evidenced by the clouds of smoke choking the halls of Spannabis, and the reggae on blast outside on the patio. CBD is, however, changing the conversation.

Alchimia's offices in Figueres are built with sustainable hemp to create an environment that reflects the company's ethos of Growing Happiness. Photo: An internal view of a modern "green" office building.

Alchimia’s offices in Figueres are built with sustainable hemp to create an environment that reflects the company’s ethos of Growing Happiness. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Tasha Kerry)

“In Spain, cannabis users can access THC through the social clubs, so of course that’s what they’re going to choose,” explains Marc Selan, president of Organic Oz cannabis social club, Barcelona. “I’ve started offering CBD strains in my club as a way to talk about the medical benefits of cannabis. Moving forward, it’s all about education.” Selan says novice users typically choose CBD strains while seasoned users want choice.

Issac Sunyer, sales director with Alchimia Web, an online seed bank, agrees that buyers of their CBD strains are a new market. “We’ve built up a catalogue of more 1600 strains to provide consumers with choice, and have been selling CBD strains for five years,” he says. “We see that buyers of CBD strains tend to be older and are not your typical cannabis user, which is why education is so important. Correct product labeling will be key to brand success in coming years.”

Alchimia strikes a chord with both novice and seasoned users by harnessing hemp to switch the conversation on cannabis to wellness. Their offices in Figueres are built with hempcrete and feature a Zen garden to promote the brand’s message: Growing Happiness. Staff are offered flexible working hours, and in-house initiatives like starting the day with a hug are encouraged.

HEMP LEADS THE WAY TO THE WELLNESS MARKET

Swaran Singh of iGreen Swiss, one of many new ventures visiting Spannabis, believes that socially responsibly brands will lead European hemp and cannabis market into the future, as “it’s what the new generation of consumers demand.” He also believes CBD is “just a phase.”

“In two to three years time, 80 per cent of companies will be gone, as the market consolidates,” he says. “Right now, Germany is setting the example for regulation because they have the trust of government and that’s what we need in the rest of Europe to win market confidence.”

“CBD has opened the market but medical cannabis is the real business,” he continues, adding a warning: “But it’s getting expensive to get in. It can take up to five years to yield a good crop, and the final product must be top quality, so it’s a huge investment. At the moment, investors are losing money, which is causing a lot of uncertainty.”

Daniel Musters, founder of CTgrow, a designer of environmental control systems for indoor grow ops, agrees that investors are restless, and governments are making it more difficult to get into the industry now because “they want to make cannabis clean.”

Hemp flower, like this brand for sale at Spannabis, is growing in popularity across Europe as a substitute for tobacco. Photo: Various hemp flower smoking blends available for sale at Spannabis.

Hemp flower, like this brand for sale at Spannabis, is growing in popularity across Europe as a substitute for tobacco. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Tasha Kerry)

“What hemp and CBD can do is change the stigma around cannabis,” he says, “And that’s already happening with these new hemp projects that are springing up around Europe. We just designed a system for a project in France, and it’s amazing. The whole community is involved, and it’s transformed the local economy because people are working in the greenhouses, making oils, creams, food, you name it. Hemp has injected new life into this town.”

Back on the pavilion at Spannabis, the presence of hemp is more subdued though there are long lines at the Canna Beer stand and lots of people munching on hemp chips. In the halls, the handful of CBD companies includes Greenmotiv, a Spanish distributor of creams and oils for topical use, and Naturflow, another Spanish company selling hemp balms, both targeting the wellness market.

In amongst the crowd are signs of the health and wellness market that’s coming. Lisa Guerra-Watson is an ex-real estate agent with an autoimmune condition who’s getting into the sector to educate women on the health benefits of a cannabis lifestyle and has created a brand called Seedella.

“This is an amazing event,” she says of Spannabis, “And it’s fun to be able to smoke a joint but I’m surprised by how little focus there is on the health benefits of cannabis here. We need a second event for that.”

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NoCo 6: Hemp Farmers Plan A Sustainable Future At NoCo Hemp Expo

10,000 people attended the sold-out 2019 NoCo Hemp Expo, better known as NoCo 6, held for the first time in Denver, Colorado. From the latest in hemp technology to discussions of regenerative agriculture, the event left us hopeful about hemp’s future in the U.S.

Judging by the sixth annual NoCo Hemp Expo, or NoCo 6, the American hemp industry is poised for explosive growth in the coming years.

Begun in 2014, the NoCo Hemp Expo celebrated its first year in Denver, Colorado on March 29 and 30. An estimated 10,000 people, the largest attendance ever, crammed into the Crowne Plaza Denver Airport Center for the sold-out show. The move to Denver came after the 2018 NoCo Hemp Expo outgrew the event’s former location at a convention center in Loveland, about an hour’s drive to the north. Organizers are already looking for a bigger home for the 2020 event.

While there were numerous CBD vendors vying for attention, NoCo 6’s expo hall also featured the latest in hemp innovations. All through the event, panel discussions looked to the future of a fast-growing industry, with a focus on building sustainable hemp in America.

HEMP INNOVATION ON DISPLAY AT NOCO 6

The legalization of hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill promises to open up new uses for hemp, thanks to an increasing supply of U.S. grown hemp. It’s clear from NoCo 6 that the industry is already reinventing itself.

The NoCo 6 hemp fashion show, organized by Enviro Textiles, showcased the growing variety in the field. Highlights included a tailored hemp suit, silky hemp robes, and even hemp backpacks.

Photo: Hemp guitars and a hemp ukelele from Silver Mountain Hemp Guitars, on display at NoCo 6, the 2019 Noco Hemp Expo in Denver, Colorado.

Silver Mountain Hemp Guitars, part of the WAFBA family of hemp brands, on display at NoCo 6 Hemp Expo in Denver, Colorado.

Morris Beegle, the founder of the NoCo Hemp Expo, also showcased products from his WAFBA family of brands. These included hemp notebooks, hemp clothing, and hemp instruments from Silver Mountain Hemp.

Going even deeper into hemp’s potential, high-tech hemp brands showed off the latest in hemp innovation. Green Spring Technologies impressed us with their injection-molded hemp plastics, and their hemp 3D printing display. We were equally excited about PF Design Lab and their bicycle frame made from hemp!

There was also a delicious variety of hemp and CBD-infused foods to sample, from Hempress’ hemp chai tea to decadent CBD chocolates and cookies from Incentive Gourmet.

GROWERS & ADVOCATES PLAN A SUSTAINABLE HEMP FUTURE

Sustainability was a recurring them of the panels at NoCo 6.

A panel of regenerative agriculture experts described hemp as part of a larger solution to the environmental crisis.

“It’s not just about hemp standing alone,” said Tara Caton of the Rodale Institute.

Mike Lewis of Third Wave Farms agreed. Sustainable farming isn’t just about the crops but about “giving back to the land but also the people and community around the farm.”

A Kentucky hemp grower, Lewis also founded Growing Warriors, an organization that helps veterans become farmers.

One of the most forward-thinking groups at NoCo 6 were the members of the indigenous farmers panel. Marcus Grignon, of Hempstead Project Heart, warned about the dangers posed by patents on hemp. Environmentalist and Native American hemp advocate Winona LaDuke led the panel in calling for investing in an “indigenous hemp economy.” They also called for more hemp education, so that the next generation is better prepared to sustain the hemp industry.

Journalists and hemp media professionals also gathered on a panel, moderated by Ministry of Hemp Editor Kit O’Connell. The group also included representatives of Cannabis Now, Honeysuckle Magazine, and the Nutrition Business Journal. Recurring themes were the continuing normalization of hemp after decades of stigma, and the need for better, clearer, more transparent language when reporting on hemp and hemp products like CBD.

WHILE BARRIERS REMAIN, HEMP BOOM SHOWS NO SIGN OF SLOWING

There are still challenges facing the industry. The USDA has yet to release its guidelines for hemp growing. The FDA is considering how to handle the boom in over-the-counter CBD supplements. And there are still barriers preventing people from participating in the hemp industry. A clause in the 2018 Farm Bill bans most people with drug felonies less than 10 years old from participation in the hemp industry. No other crop faces similar restrictions.

Overall, though, the mood at NoCo 6 was upbeat and the event left us hopeful. After navigating the crowded halls of the convention center, it’s easy to believe hemp sales could reach $2 billion by 2022, or even before.

With so many passionate people excited about our favorite crop, it’s hard to imagine any barriers the hemp industry can’t overcome. Whether it’s ensuring consumers can access safe, reliable CBD oil, or exploring the future of hemp plastic and textiles, the future of hemp is developing right before our eyes.

Drew De Los Santos, Jessica St. Cyr, and Matt Baum contributed additional reporting for this article.

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Farming The Fields Of Green: The challenges of the Hemp grower in America

In the third episode of Podcast, host Matt Baum looks at the promises and challenges of hemp farming in the United States. Plus our first coverage of the 2019 NoCo Hemp Expo.

Farming The Fields Of Green: The challenges of the Hemp grower in America
Ministry of Hemp Podcast

 
 
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Welcome to episode 3 of the Ministry of Hemp Podcast! This time on the show we’re talking about what goes into hemp farming and the challenges facing today’s hemp farmer.

This episode’s guests include:

Our new Regulation Wrangler (cool title right?) Jenn Price from Golden State Govt. Relations where she serves as a consultant in the cannabis industry. Jenn opens the show talking about the challenges of USDA and FDA regulations that could slow down the industry.

Josh Hendrix, Director of U.S. Hemp Production for CV Sciences, Inc and Plus CBD Oil, talks about hemp farming and the challenges of growing a crop that’s been illegal for 75 years.

And finally, the show closes with an introduction to the Indigenous Perspectives of Hemp panel at this past NoCo Hemp Expo in Denver Colorado. Olowan Martinez of the Oglala Sioux Tribe spoke about a major issue facing tribes growing hemp on reservation lands that I hadn’t even considered.

We want to hear from you too. Send us your questions and you might hear them answered on future shows! Send us your written questions to us on Twitter, Facebook, email [email protected], or call us and leave a message at 402-819-6417.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

MORE ABOUT HEMP FARMING

As always, you can find download the complete show transcript here:

Read more about hemp farming in the U.S.:

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North Texas CBD Stores Raided As Texas Reconsiders Hemp & CBD

Police raided a pair of north Texas CBD stores in March. At the same time,policymakers in the Lonestar State are reevaluating the legal status of hemp and CBD.

Police raided a pair of north Texas CBD stores recently, even as policymakers in the Lonestar State began reevaluating the legal status of hemp and CBD.

On March 15, police raided GM Tobacco stores in Duncanville and Lancaster, Texas. These two suburbs are located just south of Dallas, in the larger Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Area of northern Texas. Amy Wazwaz, who co-owns the stores with her husband Houd, told NBC DFW that police seized about $50,000 in hemp-derived CBD, including hundreds of CBD oil products and about 30 pounds of loose, smokable hemp. Police also took cash from the register and the safe.

Dan Sullivan, attorney for the Wazwaz family, told Ministry of Hemp that the stores only sold legal, high-quality CBD products. “They won’t sell anything that doesn’t have third party lab testing” proving its purity and legality, he explained.

Texas crime laboratories “are not able to distinguish between industrial hemp, on the one hand, and whats considered ‘marijuana’ under federal law.” — Attorney Dan Sullivan

The raids come amid a rapidly shifting legal landscape for CBD oil and industrial hemp itself. While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp in the U.S., the USDA isn’t expected to release new guidelines for hemp for months. Individual states still retain the power to create more restrictive policies toward hemp. The status of CBD itself remains in limbo pending further evaluation by the FDA.

Despite remaining in a legal gray area, many stores, from grocery stores to local CBD shops, sell CBD products in Texas.

STATE RESTRICTIONS ON HEMP LOOSENED AFTER NORTH TEXAS CBD STORES RAIDED

Under federal law, hemp products like CBD oil must contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Sullivan said all the GM Tobacco stores’ products met this standard. Unfortunately, police are poorly trained to recognize the difference between legal and illegal forms of cannabis.

In March, police raided two north Texas CBD stores, confiscating around $50,000 worth of legal CBD products. Photo: A police lightbar with flashing red and blue lights, seen at night.

In March, police raided two north Texas CBD stores, confiscating around $50,000 worth of legal CBD products.

“The crime laboratories operated by the state are not able to distinguish between industrial hemp, on the one hand, and whats considered ‘marijuana’ under federal law,” Sullivan said.

These police labs, he elaborated, could only detect the presence or absence of THC, rather than detecting whether levels remain under legal minimums.

In addition to the recent raids on the two North Texas CBD stores, in December, police also raided a CBD shop in Nebraska, and briefly threw the owners in jail. Prosecutors dropped the charges in January.

Back in Texas, Sid Miller, the state’s agriculture commissioner, recently expressed support for hemp. On April 5, the Texas Department of State Health Services will remove hemp from Texas’ Controlled Substances List, bringing it in line with similar federal scheduling changes mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill. However, that doesn’t fully clear up the legal status of hemp and especially CBD oil. One issue remains the very broad definition of other state anti-marijuana statutes, which Sullivan described as “confusing.”

“It’s hard to say what it actually means.”

He called the case against his clients and their stores a “technicality.”

Sullivan continued, “It’s because the statutes are outdated.”

STATE LEGISLATION COULD PROTECT HEMP & CBD IN TEXAS

The Texas Legislature is currently in session, and debating several bills to change Texas cannabis and hemp laws. Their future remains uncertain.

Supporters of hemp and CBD packed into a hearing on April 1 for a bill that would clearly legalize both in the state. It’s future remains uncertain, however, due to remaining hostility and stigma toward cannabis in the Lone Star State.

While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp, Texas still needs to reform its own "outdated" statutes, according to attorney Dan Sullivan. Photo: People walk along the tree-lined pathway to the Texas Capitol building, home of the Texas legislature.

While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp, Texas still needs to reform its own “outdated” statutes, according to attorney Dan Sullivan.

In 2015, Texas created an extremely limited medical cannabis program. Only a few hundred people with severe epilepsy qualify and that program only produces CBD oil made from psychoactive cannabis. No other forms of medical or recreational cannabis are legal in Texas.

“They carved out the narrowest possible exception,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan doesn’t think Texas will legalize recreational cannabis this session due to the ongoing stigma. He does think pressure over CBD and hemp could have positive results.

“They may be more inclined to legalize CBD oil than to allow that pressure to result in generalized legalization of cannabis.”

Ministry of Hemp will continue to monitor this case, and upcoming hemp legislation in Texas.

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Hemp Coffins: Elevating The Afterlife In Australia With Hemp

In Nimbin, Australia, bodies are being buried and burnt in brightly-decorated hemp coffins. The coffins, which are built with pressed hemp board from Germany and lined with hemp rope handles, are usually colourfully painted by local artists.

In Australia’s alternative lifestyle capital, bodies are being buried and burnt in brightly-decorated hemp coffins.

These hemp coffins are handmade at the Hemp Embassy in Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia. Photo: A man smokes a joint while standing in an undecorated hemp coffin, at the Hemp Embassy in Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia.

These hemp coffins are handmade at the HEMP Embassy in Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia. (Photo courtesy HEMP Embassy)

“I’ve got three on site at the moment that are made,” says Michael Balderstone president of the HEMP Embassy in Nimbin, a small town in northern New South Wales, where the caskets are designed, built, and sold.

“People ring up and order them. I can make one in a day. They’re beautiful.”

The coffins, which are built with a 19mm lightweight pressed hemp board from Germany and are lined with hemp rope handles, are usually colourfully painted by artists in Nimbin. The town, which hosted the 1973 Aquarius Festival, is Australia’s answer to Woodstock.

“It takes people all their life saving up for their funeral,” says Balderstone. “In Nimbin we want to wrap them in a cloth and compost them, but you’re not allowed so you’ve got to do the cheapest (thing) possible.”

The hemp coffins cost only between $700 and $900, he says. That’s similar to the cost of a regular coffin, but constructed from sustainable materials that will biodegrade more quickly.

“They are popular,” says Balderstone.

“Even my father, he was very conservative. Never got stoned but said, ‘I wouldn’t mind one of those hemp coffins.’”

“I’ve been encouraging people to buy them early, get in early.”

And they’re also versatile, as a sign in the window of the HEMP embassy highlights.

“Can be used as a broom cupboard or book shelves etc in the meantime,” it reads.

HEMP COFFINS ON THE RISE WORLDWIDE

According to small-scale manufacturer Rawganique, which makes hemp products, local demand for its willow-hemp caskets and coffins “is more than enough” for its single artisan workshop located on Denman Island, British Columbia. Their products feature organic hemp ropes, come in a variety of colors, are chemical and fertilizer-free, and completely biodegradable. Meanwhile, hemp burial shrouds are also available through Australia-based Life Rites.

The Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code has allowed the sale and consumption of low-THC hemp seed foods since November 2017. The move was described as a “landmark” by the not-for-profit Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance (AIHA).

A sign on a hemp coffin suggests they can be used to store books or cleaning supplies before death.

The creator of these hemp coffins suggests they can be used to store books or cleaning supplies before death. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Pearl Green)

The Nimbin HEMP Embassy, formed in 1992, aims to educate people about the integration of hemp in people’s lives. The Embassy runs a shop and information centre “to fund our protest” against Australia’s cannabis laws. Its shop displays everything from a hemp surfboard to a hemp bees-wax food wrap, while its hemp bar offers a range of hot beverages and desserts containing the plant. Other restaurants and shops nearby also sell hemp products.

Balderstone is also president of Australia’s federally-registered HEMP Party, which will contest in the upcoming election in May.

According to reports, Australia is one of highest users of psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) in the world, even though recreational use of cannabis is criminalized there. Medicinal marijuana is legal in the country.

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Cannabis Testing Labs: The Problem With Hemp & Cannabis Lab Testing

Hemp and cannabis brands depend on cannabis testing labs to verify the purity and quality of their products. The inconsistency of cannabis testing labs is indicative of a much bigger problem, which is the lack of checks and balances in the cannabis industry.

The inconsistency of cannabis testing labs is indicative of a much bigger problem, which is the lack of checks and balances in the cannabis industry.

One of the largest problems in the cannabis industry is the inconsistency of quality control.

Buying a cannabis product, from CBD oil to psychoactive cannabis, can be quite scary for a consumer. Due to the lack of standardized product testing, you don’t fully know if the producer’s claims are truthful, if the correct dosage is listed, or exactly what’s is in the product.

The government maintains strict controls over the quality of our food, and supplements and medicines we buy over-the-counter and get from pharmacists. Right now, the cannabis industry doesn’t have that. Instead consumers are forced to trust the word of companies which can obviously leads to issues.

There's growing demand on cannabis & hemp product testing labs, but also renewed attention on their inconsistencies too. Photo: A gloved scientist with a vial of CBD and a hemp leaf.

There’s growing demand on cannabis & hemp product testing labs, but also renewed attention on their inconsistencies too.

This problem isn’t simply due to the companies that produce the products, but also to the cannabis testing labs themselves. There’s no doubt that testing is important, but without better standards can we rely on those test results?

THE FLAWS IN LAB TESTING CANNABIS PRODUCTS

As revealed by Forbes, not all cannabis testing labs are created equal.

There’s no minimum requirements for things such as equipment, certifications, and merit for lab testers. As a result, cannabis testing labs can vary dramatically from each other.

The biggest problem though, is the lack of a standardized method for testing the various cannabis products. This can mean that the testing procedures for quality and potency of a hemp plant varies dramatically from hemp oil, distillates, to edibles and beyond. The problems multiply since different labs all have different testing methods, claiming that their methods are more effective than others and can give superior results.

The problem is that this creates inconsistencies in the results, since not all labs are using the same method for testing. This obviously can’t continue to happen. Without standardized testing methods for each cannabis product, the results will continue to be inconsistent which defeats the purpose for testing the product in the first place.

DISHONESTY IN LAB TESTING HEMP?

When a company markets a certain product, they want certification for their product, so their consumers can trust the quality of their product. To get these certifications, the companies have to send a batch of product to a testing facility to test for things such as potency, effectiveness, etc.

Problem arise when those results vary from lab to lab, leading to confusion about the quality of the product. This may even be due to the “friendliness” of certain labs over others, freely manipulating the results to meet the expectations of the producers. Manufacturers aren’t the only ones who test their products. Growers test their cannabis for quality too. With their reputations on the line, they want the best test results possible, so it proves the quality of their cannabis or hemp and hopefully leads to more companies wanting them as a supplier.

But again, with the lack of oversight, growers can substitute the product sent to the labs with a more expensive and higher-quality product, thus producing false results for their crops. Of course, this imply doesn’t that all cannabis testing labs and growers do this, but with the lack of standardized guidelines and someone to enforce those guidelines, it’s something that can happen without any real repercussions.

A FLAWED BUSINESS MODEL?

On top of all of this, the business model for the labs themselves are flawed. The costs for lab equipment, buildings, electricity, accreditation, and salaries for lab testers are all very expensive. On the contrary, the going rate for a test on a single batch is typically under $200. Meaning in order for these testing facilities to make a profit and succeed as a business, they have to operate in a high-volume capacity.

While cannabis companies grow at a stunning pace, demand for the labs which test these products grows too. These cannabis testing labs are much different from their government-ran cousins, which have access to more capital, a better talent pool, more experience, and the power of the federal government behind them.

From the expensive startup costs, ferocious competition, increasing pressure from growers & manufacturers and no one to keep them in check, why wouldn’t a laboratory fix their reports for better results? Again, we’re not claiming any or even most labs do this, but there’s little oversight on their results.

SUPPLY CHAIN: THE BIGGER PROBLEM IN HEMP & CANNABIS

This issue goes beyond the testing companies, as the lack of regulation affects the entire supply-chain of the cannabis and hemp industries.

In other words, if no one is keeping the cannabis testing labs in check, then there is certainly no one keeping the growers, transporters, dispensaries, or producers in check. All of this leads to a lower quality product, and one that consumers can’t trust. If this continues to be the case, a distrust can develop between company and consumer. The cannabis industry has grown both in popularity and revenue in the past decade, and a loose-knit system that depends on hand-shake deals and trust is quite simply just not enough for long-term growth.

Fortunately, industry leaders are trying to improve the cannabis supply-chain.

IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF HEMP & CANNABIS

So how do we solve this problem and all the other problems present in the cannabis and industries? How do we make sure that the companies we purchase from are actually telling the truth, and that there aren’t any unwanted substances in the product?

Increased federal oversight could help improve the quality of cannabis testing labs, and cannabis and hemp products in general. Photo: A scientist in gloves and a white lab coat examines a test tube of green liquid, with a microscope nearby.

Increased federal oversight could help improve the quality of cannabis testing labs, and cannabis and hemp products in general.

We do this by getting support from the federal government. The federal government is the only entity that can effectively enforce regulations upon the cannabis industry that will keep the different sectors in check. Not only do they have the power of enforcement, but they are the only ones to have the resources capable of quality-checking every part of the cannabis supply-chain.

To add to that, the federal government also has the power to enhance other parts of the industry. In addition to quality control, they can regulate things such as financing, shipping, and further research into cannabis. In fact, federal regulatory support is the single greatest challenge to the entire industry. The support for cannabis is already here, with a large portion of congressman and senators publicly backing the plant. Now we need those people in power to start implementing systems that help build up the industry.

There are signs that this is happening, especially thanks to the recent legalization of industrial hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. But there’s still a long way to go.

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