Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

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Hemp In India: Exploring The Growing Hemp Industry In India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEMP IN INDIA: A GROWING INDUSTRY

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

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

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

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

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

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

LAWS AND REGULATIONS SURROUNDING HEMP IN INDIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTEREST IN SUSTAINABLE FASHION

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

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

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

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

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

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

RE-IMAGINING INDIA’S AGRICULTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEMP FASHION PROMOTES ACCEPTANCE OF HEMP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

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

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

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

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The High Cost Of CBD: Why Is CBD Expensive?

Why is CBD so darn expensive? The reasons range from expensive equipment for CBD extraction, to the high price of banking and insurance.

Why is CBD so darn expensive? We wanted to take a closer look at the high cost of CBD.

CBD is expensive! There’s no getting around the fact that when you buy CBD your pocket book’s going to take a bit of a hit.

On average, we see the price of CBD per milligram around $.15. If a standard 30-milliliter tincture contains 500 milligrams of CBD, you can expect to pay around $75.00, not including tax and possibly shipping for online shoppers.

That might be acceptable for some, but cash-strapped consumers may not have the disposable income to keep up with a consistent dosing regimen needed to manage their ailments. When this happens, patients may end up looking to inferior CBD products that can be incorrectly labeled, impure, or even unsafe rather than lab tested, high-quality CBD.

CBD oil helps so many people, but why is CBD expensive? We took a closer look at some of the costs that go into making the supplement. Photo: A collection of CBD tinctures in assorted bottles, decorated with hemp buds.

CBD oil helps so many people, but why is CBD expensive? We took a closer look at some of the costs that go into making the supplement.

If you’re curious as to why CBD is so costly, read on because we’re going to breakdown the costs associated with CBD products, and provide tips on stretching your CBD dollar as far as possible.

EXPENSES BEGIN BEFORE THE FIRST HEMP SEED IS PLANTED

As with any agricultural farming, the first set of costs are the land and farming and cultivation costs such as; seeds, labor, cultivation equipment, state, city, and county licenses, etc.

With regards to farming hemp (and marijuana) there are additional reporting and testing costs over other agriculture due to the nature of what’s being planted and each state has their own set of requirements and costs. These costs can be as low as $25 in Vermont and as high as $500-$1000 depending on whether the license is for a grower or hander, plus a $5.00 per acre fee. To get a better idea of costs, we recently published an article overviewing the hemp market for Nevada, Vermont, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

Some states also have specific licenses or certification programs for hemp seed distributors and producers. Click to read each state’s hemp statutes.

THE HIGH COST OF HARVESTING AND EXTRACTION

Once the hemp plants reach maturity it’s time to harvest them. According to coolbean.info, the cost to harvest an acre of hemp in Minnesota will run between $300 to $600 per acre. This is down substantially from 2017 when the cost averaged between $970 to $2,500 per acre.

Once the harvest is complete, the hemp plant stem needs to have the various components separated with a machine called a decorticator. This machine can run upwards of $2 million.

After decortication, the next step will be to extract the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc. from the plant. The two most popular methods of extractions are through a Supercritical CO2 extraction or an ethanol extraction with CO2 extraction becoming the standard.

According to Cannabis Business Executive, a CO2 extraction machine can cost around $135,000 to $150,000 plus $20,000 to $35,000 for a rotary evaporator and centrifuge.

Of course these machine costs are in addition to the buildings, infrastructure, labor, and the raw materials for those not growing their own.

FROM EXTRACTION TO PACKAGING

Once the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant materials are extracted from the cannabis or hemp plant, there are still a number of steps needed before the CBD reaches store shelves.

What is initially extracted is a cannabis concentrate that has contains acids that need to be decarboxylated. The cost for a decarboxylation oven cost around $5,000 to $7,000 for ovens that have a capacity of 10 cubic feet and can go up to 38 cubic feet.

After the concentrate is decarboxylated, what’s left is full spectrum cannabinoid oil. Full of all the cannabis plants cannabinoids, including CBD, terpenes, and the plants chlorophyll, lipids and waxes. When it comes to the “entourage effect,” this is the best option.

However, not everyone wants the plant materials and/or the THC. Many patients prefer oil with higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD) and not concerned with plant properties or THC. To remove the plant properties, the CBD concentrate will first be winterized to isolate and remove the unwanted compounds, followed by distillation to further ‘clean’ the oil. If THC is being removed, the distilled concentrate will then go through a chromatography machine. Cost for the equipment to perform these functions can grow to the hundreds of thousands plus the labor to run them.

THIRD-PARTY LAB TESTING IS VITAL, BUT ADDS TO THE COST OF CBD

Once complete, the finished product now needs to be tested to prove product purity and concentration. There are a variety of tests available. Following are a list of services by a well known testing facility in Arizona.

Testing Services:

  • 10 cannabinoids ($50/bottle)
  • Mold and fungus screening ($25/bottle)
  • 19 Residual Solvents ($35/bottle)
  • 41 Terpenes ($40/bottle)
  • Moisture Content ($15/bottle)
  • 4 Microbial Analyses ($40/each count)
  • Custom Services

After testing, the CBD concentrates are bottled, packaged and prepared for delivery to their distributors to sell.

LEGAL EXPENSES, BANKING, & OTHER FACTORS INCREASE COST OF CBD

Obviously the largest costs come from the manufacturing side, but we can’t forget about the product distributors who have their own set of operating costs. Operating costs themselves are just a part of doing business. But operating costs for cannabis companies can be twice, even three times as much. In addition, due to the ‘gray’ area of cannabis and hemp laws, CBD companies must take extra precautions to insure they are protected. This, of course, adds to the cost of CBD.

Other factors that increase the cost of CBD include retaining a lawyer, hiring an in-house compliance officer, and the complicated nature of banking and insurance in the hemp and cannabis industries. Photo: A lawyer in a suit and tie writes on a notepad while talking on a smartphone in an office.

Other factors that increase the cost of CBD include retaining a lawyer, hiring an in-house compliance officer, and the complicated nature of banking and insurance in the hemp and cannabis industries.

Let’s take a look at the bare minimum of operating costs a CBD company is going to incur.

Insurance

A general liability business insurance policy for cannabis companies can easily amount to $500 to $700 per month! This same insurance policy for a non-cannabis company would only be about $700 for a year!

Credit Card Processing

Credit card and banking options are very limited for cannabis companies. In order to accept credit cards for hemp purchases distributors need to sign up with merchants specializing in ‘high risk’ processing. Costs with these processors can be exorbitant. In some cases they can run hundreds of dollars per month.

If a high-risk domestic merchant cannot help, distributors are then forced to look off shore for credit card processing. These don’t come cheap. Off shore processors will normally require a business to incorporate in the country that processes the cards. Incorporating in the UK costs roughly $500 plus monthly fees that can also run in the hundreds per month. These are in addition to the higher-than-normal monthly processing fees for the service.

Banking

Bank accounts and business loans are not available to cannabis companies, which means they need to find unique, and sometimes costly, places to store their cash and have access to it for payroll and other business related expenses. Again, this often results in the opening of costly offshore accounts.

In-House Compliance Officers

Since the state level requirements for CBD derived from hemp and marijuana differ, CBD companies usually have someone in-house make sure the company is adhering to each state’s regulations. They also make sure all the products meet the specific states allowed THC percentage. In most cases, this is 0.3 percent THC or less. They also monitor the percentage of CBD contained in the products are inline with the product labels.

An article from ProjectCBD.org states that according to the FDA, 69 percent of CBD products are mislabeled. In-house compliance officers work to insure this doesn’t happen.

Attorney

A company selling CBD better have an attorney. If not, they’re taking big risks. Attorneys will help insure companies are acting in compliance and keeping up with the ever-changing state laws on cannabis.

Countless stories have come to surface about CBD companies getting hassled by police, and in come cases even getting arrested! A good attorney can help insure business owners’ rights are not being violated and assist in navigating the gray areas of cannabis law. Attorneys will also help set up a legal corporation and the operating agreement of said corporation.

CBD AS A STATUS SYMBOL

Perception impacts price. Premium pricing techniques are often used when trying to reflect the exclusivity of a product. CBD is mix of both.

While numerous factors make CBD expensive, there are a number of special discounts and CBD assistance programs available to people with low incomes, the disabled, and military veterans among others. Photo: Hands holding a brown glass bottle of CBD oil, and a dropper with a drop of CBD dripping out, against a background of green hemp plants.

While numerous factors make CBD expensive, there are a number of special discounts and CBD assistance programs available to people with low incomes, the disabled, and military veterans among others.

Let’s face it; there is a certain level of mystique and sexiness associated with CBD. The thought of consuming a product that borders on breaking the law presents a sense of danger and excitement. These factors absolutely have an affect on the price of a product, especially for a new product that can also heal! Companies know this and definitely price accordingly.

The good news is in time, when the ‘newness’ wears off and more companies come to market, prices should go down.

SAVING MONEY ON THE COST OF CBD

Regardless of where CBD prices are currently at, there are things consumers can do to stretch their dollar and reduce the cost of CBD.

The first thing a user can do is to try and cut back on their CBD daily doses. When it comes to CBD more is not better, less is best. The easiest way to cut back is to consume slightly less with each dose. For example, if you normally take 15mg of CBD twice per day, try decreasing each dose to 11 or 12 milligrams each time. This simple move will save roughly 5 milligrams of CBD each day. Our bet is your body will not even miss those 5mg. In case it does, you can always increase the dosage back to 15 mg.

Switch to a lower grade CBD. Experienced CBD users know the term full spectrum all too well. Full spectrum CBD oil is the preferred choice for many, but doesn’t mean it’s the only choice. CBD isolate is definitely a lower grade product, but it does work quite well. In fact, many of the ‘full spectrum’ products actually contain only a small amount of true full spectrum oil and are mixed with an isolate.

Lastly, there are a number of CBD companies that offer discounts to active military and veterans, the disabled and those with low income. We plan to collect some of the best assistance programs into an upcoming article. In the meantime, we recommend searching Google for “CBD assistance program” or check with your preferred CBD brand.

WHY IS CBD EXPENSIVE? SOME FINAL THOUGHTS

Most of you reading this know that both CBD and industrial hemp were officially legalized this past December under the 2018 Farm Bill.

With this legalization, we’re expecting sweeping reform to take place throughout the hemp industry. It’s safe to say that many companies are eagerly waiting to get in the CBD business. The floodgates will open. From banking and insurance companies to new hemp manufacturers, distributors and retailers, costs across the board should decrease.

Immense pressure is being put on the powers that be to provide federal regulations on CBD products that create quality standards industry-wide. That could get things moving towards lowering costs, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW SHAUNA’S LAW WOULD PROTECT WORKERS TAKING CBD

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

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

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

SHAUNA STATON HELPED PROTECT ALL WORKERS TAKING CBD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SHAUNA’S LAW COULD BE AN EXAMPLE FOR OTHER STATES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2018 Hemp Report Reveals Huge Expansion To US Hemp Acres

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMPARING 2018 VS 2017 US HEMP ACRES

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

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

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

TOP 5 HEMP GROWING STATES IN 2018

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

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

#5 – Tennessee – 3,338 Acres

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

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

#4 – Kentucky – 6,700 Acres

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

#3 – Oregon – 7,808 Acres

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

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

#2 – Colorado – 21,578 Acres

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

#1 – Montana – 22,000 Acres

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

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

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

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

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

HEMP CROP REPORT REVEALS TREMENDOUS GROWTH IN US HEMP ACRES

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

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

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

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

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

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CBD In Canada: Why Can’t I Easily Get Legal CBD In Canada?

In October of 2018, Canada became only the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize recreational cannabis. However, access to legal CBD products remains extremely limited in our northern neighbor.

In October of 2018, Canada joined a very niche club, becoming only the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize recreational cannabis. However, if you thought that meant the streets would be paved in green leaves up north, you would be wrong.

Canada is divided into provinces that, like the states in the U.S., have their own laws and regulations separate from federal rulings. That means that although the Cannabis Act applies to all of Canada, depending on where you live your ability to purchase cannabis may differ. As the law rolled out some infrastructure problems made the transition a little bumpy, with supply chain issues and confusing regulations. When it came to accessing CBD products, in particular, consumers were really confused.

WHAT IS CBD?

If you looked at a cannabis flower or leaf underneath a microscope you would see hundreds of tiny little hairs sprouting up called trichomes. Compounds of cannabis, called cannabinoids are produced and stored on the plant’s trichomes. There are over 100 different cannabinoids including THC and CBD. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the compound in psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) that makes people feel “high.”

CBD, in contrast, has no psychoactive effect and instead has been embraced for a range of medical and therapeutic uses. Used in the drug Epidiolex, it is prescribed and sold at great cost to treat epilepsy. As interest has grown a huge range of products have come onto the market exploding in popularity, crossing genres from wellness products to skincare, to beverages.

An activist holds a "Cannabis for Canada" sign at a 420 celebration. Despite legalization of recreational cannabis, it's still difficult to obtain legal CBD in Canada.

In October 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”).

IS CBD LEGAL?

This is where things get tricky. CBD has had a complicated journey towards legislation in the U.S. with different states determining it to be either legal or illegal, with the final say often coming down to how it was produced. CBD derived from hemp has generally been considered permissible while CBD from marijuana has not.

With the passing of the Farm Bill, it was thought that all hemp derived CBD would be totally legal but a press release from the FDA threw more confusion into the mix with a warning that CBD cannot be added to foods, that health claims would be rigorously tested, and a suggestion that in the future they would “consider whether there are circumstances in which certain cannabis-derived compounds might be permitted in a food or dietary supplement.”

One of the sticking points seems to be that although there are studies showing CBD can alleviate feelings of social anxiety, and that it reduces inflammation and works as a pain reliever, medical claims made by CBD producers and manufacturers are untested and not regulated federally.

As reported by Ministry of Hemp, in some states CBD products are sold out in the open in major grocery chains and yet in other states, people are still being arrested for selling CBD products.

AN OVERVIEW OF LEGAL CANNABIS IN CANADA

The new official rules in Canada allow members of the public to possess and share up to 30 grams of legally acquired cannabis and grow up to 4 plants per residence for personal use. That provision that the cannabis must be “legally acquired” states that it must come from an approved provincial or territorial retailer. It’s also of note that in the official announcement mentions of CBD products specifically are missing.

The Cannabis Act states that “Other products, such as edible products and concentrates, will be legal for sale approximately one year after the Cannabis Act has come into force and federal regulations for their production have been developed and brought into force.”

It seems that the Canadian government is going with a soft launch focusing on psychoactive cannabis containing THC with plans to address CBD and other cannabis products at a later date.

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.

Coupled with this slow rollout is the fact that government officials and lawmakers have not made a distinction between products containing THC and CBD, as Trina Fraser, partner at Brazeau Seller Law, in Ottawa, Ontario explained:

“CBD, in and of itself, falls within the definition of “cannabis” in the federal Cannabis Act.  As such, it is regulated just as all other cannabis products containing THC. Hemp farmers can grow hemp for the purpose of CBD extraction, but the plant must be sold to a federally licensed processor to conduct the CBD extraction, and then the CBD is subject to the same rules as all cannabis extracts.”

CANADIAN CANNABIS LAW CAUSES CONFUSION OVER CBD

Fraser explained that there was a proposal to permit natural health products containing CBD, but it seems the process was stalled and never completed.

As CBD products do not have the same effect as THC consumers believe falsely that they are always legal. “There seems to be a pervasive misunderstanding as to the legal status of CBD,” said Fraser.

“Mary” from Ottawa [name changed to protect from possible prosecution] is one such confused consumer. She uses CBD to control her anxiety and told us that life without it is immeasurably worse. “I really need my CBD products, they help to keep me relaxed and to deal with symptoms of PTSD, but I really don’t understand whether or not I am allowed to legally purchase them. I order offline from a US company and they mail it to me. I have always received it with no problem, but I find I am anxious until I get my package,” she said.

WHAT ARE LICENSED PRODUCERS?

Steven Looi, Director of Origination at White Sheep Corp and an industry expert from Toronto said that “CBD is treated the exact same way that THC is treated, in fact, all cannabinoids receive the same treatment in Canada. CBD is illegal unless it comes from a licensed producer.”

Health Canada claims that to become a licensed producer in Canada applicants must go through a screening process that is the toughest in the world for cannabis producers.

Consumers cannot legally purchase cannabis from any other producer.

“I really need my CBD products, they help to keep me relaxed and to deal with symptoms of PTSD, but I really don’t understand whether or not I am allowed to legally purchase them.” — “Mary,” a Canadian CBD consumer

According to Statistics Canada there are over 100 licensed producers registered in Canada, although there may not be that number currently producing and selling their products.

Only those people with a prescription for medical marijuana can purchase CBD and only through companies authorized by the MMPR — the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. Of those 100 licensed Canadian producers, only 23 have been registered under the MMPR and are able to sell directly to the public. Therefore legally purchasing CBD in Canada, even if you have a prescription, can be very difficult.

CHANGE IS COMING FOR CANADIAN CBD CONSUMERS

Changes are coming soon though in conjunction with ongoing public consultation, slated to be completed by the end of 2019. “All sorts of new product types will enter the legal marketplace and permit the legal sale of many products that are currently only available illegally,” said Fraser.

A vial of CBD oil and the flowery top of a hemp plant sit on a wooden tabletop. Experts expect access to legal CBD in Canada will improve in the coming year.

Experts expect access to legal CBD in Canada will improve in the coming year.

However, although it may seem that all of this uncertainty will be ironed out by years end, purchasing CBD in Canada will still require effort, despite the new laws. Legal CBD products will continue to only be available through authorized retailers and products will carry security features on the packaging like cigarettes and alcohol. There will also be strict limitations in place in terms of the health claims producers can make. Health Canada follows the legislative lead and also makes no distinction between CBD from hemp or marijuana.

Looi pointed out that “For folks going the legal route for a CBD, legalization will give them greater access, and more products. For folks that always sourced their meds in the black market, not a whole lot has changed.”

Once edibles and other cannabis products are legalized Looi said Canadians will have access to some of the same types of products that are currently flooding the American market.

“Canadians will have better access to a proliferation of CBD products. Marketing, storytelling and promotion will encourage many new consumers to purchase products featuring CBD,” he said.

As with any emerging industry, there are certain to be teething problems both in Canada and the United States. Unfortunately for CBD users in Canada, the much longed for legalization has not automatically made CBD accessible for all.

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Cannabis & The NFL: Using CBD & Cannabis In Professional Sports

While the NFL still bans players from using cannabis and CBD, attitudes in other professional sports are beginning to change. Former players, doctors and others are working to let pro-football players and other athletes use CBD and medical cannabis.

With more research shining light on the impact of injuries and treatments of injuries from professional sports, more athletes are coming to the same conclusion: the key to their well-being lies in the cannabis plant.

Professional sports are some of the most well-loved activities of American culture. The mega-arenas of NFL are filled with thousands of ravenous fans screaming for the players to smash into each other as hard as they can, all waiting with nervous energy in hope that their team wins. Watching professional sports can be an exhilarating experience, matched only by adrenaline fueled events such as skydiving or cliff jumping. They also provide fans with an opportunity to be part of something much bigger than themselves. Many fans make their favorite teams a part of their personalities.

Something that tends to get lost in the excitement and joy of being a sports fan are the players themselves. People take their favorite athletes for-granted, never really knowing the extent of dedication and arduous work they do to perform well in the field, octagon, or court. These athletes quite literally give their life to their sports, missing holidays and important family events all to train and play in the sport they love. 

NFL BANS ALL FORMS OF HEMP AND PSYCHOACTIVE CANNABIS

Athletes are constantly straining their bodies with their workouts and with the impacts absorbed in play. With the constant strain on their body, they sustain considerable damage to their muscles, joints, and sometimes even to their brains. The long-term implications of these injuries are extremely dangerous and can even be life-altering.

A professional football player dives for the end zone while holding a football, dressed in a helmet and other typical gear. Despite other sports organizations beginning to soften their position on cannabis, NFL athletes are still barred from using any form of cannabis and avoid CBD.

Despite other sports organizations beginning to soften their position on cannabis, NFL athletes are still barred from using any form of cannabis and avoid CBD.

Unfortunately, the NFL has banned the use of psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) in all capacities. This also includes all products that are derived from the cannabis plant, whether it’s for recreational or medical use. Currently, the players are drug-tested during the start of the off-season training camps, usually for THC. They are subject to random drug tests, but for the most part, are only tested once per season. With regards to CBD, the NFL’s rules are very murky. CBD supplements can also sometimes cause positive drug tests. As a result, players simply refuse to take CBD products, with the fear that they could lead to suspension due to the severity of punishments regarding cannabis.

Below, we will explore the impact of injuries sustained by athletes in the NFL and how the medications prescribed to treat them create a vicious cycle. We’ll also look at how an NFL player and a doctor put their careers on the line to fight for medical cannabis treatments, and how other sports organizations are dealing with the relaxing regulations around all forms of the cannabis plant.

THE TRUE IMPACT OF FOOTBALL ON PLAYERS’ HEALTH

In a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, 110 of 111 tested former NFL players showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a neurodegenerative brain disease that is caused by constant impacts to the head area, something that NFL players are no strangers to. Some of the symptoms are memory loss, impaired judgement, depression, anxiety and impulse control issues.

It’s important to note that the only way to test for CTE is if the subject is diseased. Meaning, that the median age subjects in the study were 67 years old, with a median participation in football for 15 years. The sample that they tested were more representative of an older generation of football players, where impacts were harder, and equipment dramatically worse. But this is no defense for the modern game of football, where there are still many players who suffer traumatic head trauma. Players like Chris Borland and Jahvid Best were forced to walk away from the game due to repeated concussions and fear of further neurological damage.

Football helmets sit on a football field. Despite advances in safety gear, football players still face repeated injuries and treatment can leave them addicted to painkillers.

Despite advances in safety gear, football players still face repeated injuries and treatment can leave them addicted to painkillers.

This idea of head trauma has been around for a long time, we have just never really had a name for it. Modern scientific studies and popular movies like “Concussionhave propelled the problem to the public eye. Chronic pains caused by concussions aren’t the only long-term health problems professional athletes face, they can also face long-term damage to muscles and to their joints (especially the knees), which are all treated by prescription drugs.

What this creates is a vicious cycle, where athletes’ bodies are constantly being whittled down by their sports, and their team doctors prescribe them to highly-addictive anti-inflammatories and painkillers, many including opioids. Many athletes get addicted to these drugs, some cases as extreme as taking over 100 pills per week, and many carry these addictions with them outside of their playing careers. This effectively not only breaks down their inhibitions, but also their well-being and family life.

RETIRED FOOTBALL PLAYERS ADVOCATE FOR CANNABIS IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS

Clearly this is a serious & widespread problem, and a lot of professional athletes are speaking up and fighting for better & healthier methods to cope with the damage of sports. Possibly the biggest proponent of medical cannabis treatments is former NFL player Eugene Monroe. Selected as the eighth overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, Monroe played in the league for seven years, where he saw playing time for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens.

One of the top offensive tackles of the game, Monroe retired after being released by Baltimore at just 29 years old. At the time of his retirement he had the highest paying contract on the Ravens and was widely speculated that he was released for his medical cannabis advocacy. In a letter to The Players’ Tribune, Monroe explained his decision:

“I’m only 29 and I still have the physical ability to play at a very high level, so I know that my decision to retire may be puzzling to some. But I am thinking of my family first right now — and my health and my future. The last 18 years have been full of traumatic injuries to both my head and my body. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. Has the damage to my brain already been done? Do I have CTE? I hope I don’t, but over 90 percent of the brains of former NFL players that have been examined showed signs of the disease. I am terrified.”

Since retiring, Monroe has been extremely involved in advocating for cannabis medical treatment for athletes. He was the first active NFL player for cannabis treatments and has worked with many organizations to try and spread the word for cannabis as a viable medicine such as the “When the Bright Lights Fade” campaign.

The campaign features other NFL players such as former pro bowl Quarterback Jake Plummer who face a similar situation to Monroe’s. Created by the non-profit Realm of Caring, they aim to convince the NFL to change the narrative around medical cannabis and are working with researchers at John Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania to study the impact of cannabinoids on former and current football players. Monroe has donated $80,000 to the campaign and has continued to actively support many different campaigns fighting for the use of medical cannabis.

THE TRAILBLAZING DR. SUE SISLEY

Another key player in the fight for medical cannabis is Dr. Sue Sisley, who has spent the majority of this decade researching and supporting the medical efficacy of psychoactive cannabis.

Like a lot of us, Dr. Sisley was a skeptic of the medical effects of cannabis, but after working with veterans at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix, she saw for herself the medical power of the plant. After her first-hand experience, Dr. Sisley decided to dive head on into the medical marijuana scene. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, Dr. Sisley has been part of the first ever government-funded study into the effectiveness of treating PTSD with marijuana. She also took part in the first attempt at treating an NFL player with medical cannabis, outlined in Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary series on the plant. She’s even been appointed the role of Medical Director for Nuka Enterprises who produce the 1906 brand cannabis edibles. She does all of this while continuously providing medical care to patients in her private practice (who she runs with her mother, Hanna Sisley). Dr. Sisley is nothing short of remarkable.

Over 90 percent of the brains of former NFL players that have been examined showed signs of the disease. I am terrified. — Former NFL player Eugene Monroe

While mostly researching the effects of cannabis in veterans, she has also started to do work with athletes, including NFL player Mike James who we mentioned above. She believes that cannabis can be the solution to the opioid and painkiller addictions that run rampant through the NFL.

When asked about the biggest setback that is preventing medical marijuana to be administered to willing patients, Dr. Sisley told us that “the government has systematically impeded studies that reveals the effectiveness of the different application methods of cannabis.”

Without these studies, scientists and doctors are left in a world of chaos when dealing with cannabis. Not only does the impediment of these studies effect the research of application methods, but it effects the research into the plants themselves. With thousands upon thousands of strains, doctors do not know which are more effective with which disease or which ones are good for medical use and for recreational use.

Dr. Sisley also says that there is “no oversight” within behind the cannabis markets yet, at least none that are effective. This, we know, leads to quality control issues within cannabis products. Even the governments’ own approved farm, specifically used for clinical trials, located in the University of Mississippi, has its own quality issues.

Basically, without the support of the federal government, there will always be a lack of understanding behind the medical efficacy of the cannabis plant. This means that veterans and athletes will be left on their own if they seek medical cannabis help.

CANNABIS & HEMP NOW AVAILABLE TO MORE PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES

The UFC is another major sport organization that has had players speak up on the medical effects of cannabis. Fighters such as Yair Rodriguez and Nate Diaz are advocators for the neuroprotective properties of CBD. In an infamous post-fight press conference, Nate Diaz vaped CBD oil. He told the press that it helps him recover from fights. That particular fight was UFC 202, where Diaz fought for the Welterweight championship belt against Conor McGregor, was a five-round bloodbath. It only shows just how important CBD can be to athletes such as Diaz, where they face can face extraordinary injuries in their sport.

Ice Hockey players embrace on the ice during a game. Other major leagues, like the NHL, have softened their attitudes toward cannabis in professional sports and allowed players to access medical cannabis treatments or CBD.

Other major leagues, like the NHL, have softened their attitudes toward cannabis in professional sports and allowed players to access medical cannabis treatments or CBD.

As a result of Diaz’s advocacy and changes to World Anti-Doping Authority Standards, the UFC removed its restriction on CBD at the beginning of 2018. Other major sports leagues such as the NHL and MLB have also allowed players to take medical cannabis treatments, as they tend to focus on cracking down on performance-enhancing drugs rather than federally-banned substances.

The NFL can learn a lot from these other leagues. After all, Football is the most dangerous of America’s major sports. Football not only has higher rates of injury, but the injuries that can be sustained are often much more serious.

A GREENER FUTURE FOR CANNABIS & CBD IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS

In a country that is slowly changing the narrative around the cannabis plant, we hope to see major sports leagues join the change in order to preserve the health and well-being of their players.

With more states legalizing the use of recreational or medical marijuana (such as Michigan) we can only hope that the federal government will start to ramp up its support too. Without backing from the federal government, the cannabis industry and the community around it are forced to fend for themselves, and researchers are left to depend on private donors to fund studies into cannabis.

But, despite all of these setbacks, the cannabis revolution marches on. With advocates like Dr. Sisley and Eugene Monroe working so hard to promote access, we’re confident in the future of cannabis in professional sports.

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Despite Cannabis Legalization, Access To Legal CBD In Uruguay Is Challenging

Access to CBD in Uruguay remains difficult, despite the South American country’s overall progressive leadership on cannabis law reform. That could be starting to change this year.

Access to CBD in Uruguay remains difficult, despite the South American country’s overall progressive leadership on cannabis law reform.

December 2018 marked five years since cannabis became legal in Uruguay. After Law 19.172 was approved — enabling the State to regulate the cannabis supply chain, from growth to trade – Uruguay seems to have founded a true benchmark in the world, becoming the very first country to legalize recreational and medical cannabis.

Taken under Pepe Mujica’s government – which was considered a role model for leftists in Latin America – this brave step towards regularization represented more than a juridical benchmark. By walking through the wooded capital of Montevideo, it is possible to realize that the legislation has also set a new moral paradigm in the Uruguayan society.

It is not rare to spot a family smoking together at the ramblas (Montevideo’s riverbanks), or even turn the TV on and unexpectedly come across a popular morning show discussing the benefits of cannabis with its audience. The stigma around cannabis definitely belongs to the past.

Progressive in several other aspects (such as legal abortion, affirmative action for the trans community and gay marriage), Uruguay’s policies may sound ideal to many people. But with regards to cannabis, the implementation of Law 19.172 still faces substantial issues: the pioneer country in legalizing marijuana still moves slow when it comes to regulated medical cannabis and legal CBD products.

CANNABIS LAW REFORM BEGAN IN 1970S

Although it was only with Law 19.172 that Uruguay gained a comprehensive, effective legal instrument for the regularization of cannabis, the country first adopted a more tolerant posture towards drugs in 1974 – curiously, during the Uruguayan Military Dictatorship. Over forty years ago, the Law 14.294 already exempted from legal penalty all the individuals carrying, using, or giving away up to 40 grams of marijuana.

Damian Collazo, a grower with CLUC, one of Uruguay's first cannabis clubs, examines plants in their cannabis farm. Although recreational cannabis is legal, access to CBD in Uruguay is limited. CLUC cannot legally sell CBD products.

Damian Collazo, a grower with CLUC, one of Uruguay’s first cannabis clubs, examines plants in their cannabis farm. Although recreational cannabis is legal, access to CBD in Uruguay is limited. CLUC cannot legally sell CBD products. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Beatriz Miranda)

By 2012, when Pepe Mujica’s cabinet presented to the Congress the first draft of Law 19.172, the pro-cannabis discussion had already gained sufficient ground. In 1998, Law 17.016 allowed citizens to consume a somewhat larger amount of marijuana (compared to 1974); in 2000, President Jorge Batlle assumed a pro-legalization position; and in 2010, the Congressman Lacalle Pou presented a bill allowing citizens to grow cannabis for personal use.

Since 2013, Law 19.172 stipulates that Uruguay’s government is in charge of regulating all the import, export, growth, harvest, production, acquisition, distribution, storage and trade of cannabis and marijuana-derived products.

Diego Olivera is the President of IRCCA’s key board, the Uruguayan Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis. Created with Law 19.172, IRCCA is in charge of supervising the cannabis’ production process, formulating public policies, providing scientific data on cannabis and coordinating scientific cooperation.

Like most pro-cannabis Uruguayans, Olivera evaluates the five-year-period of regulated marijuana as a positive one.

“We are convinced that we adopted the right model,” he said.

On the other hand, he does admit: the regulated medical cannabis market remains a challenge for Uruguay.

LEGALIZATION IN URUGUAY: A MATTER OF PUBLIC SECURITY

Unlike Canada, which legalized medical cannabis in 2001, and recreational cannabis only in 2018 (clearly focusing on a public health strategy), the legalization in Uruguay turned, in principal, to the public security issue.

Olivera said:

“In 2012, 2013, the public discussion evolved very much around security. But this was not an agenda for Uruguay until the 21st century. The public security debate did not really take part of the Uruguayan culture. The cannabis regulation appeared as a response, a strategy to fight the narco-traffic.”

Indeed, Law 19.172 foresees a cannabis regulation strategy that promotes public security, public health and individual rights, altogether. But, due to a greater concern with security, recreational cannabis — and its users, consequently — have been the priority on the last five years. Thus, Uruguayans still wait for a more democratic access to regulated medical cannabis.

Today, Uruguay offers three legal options for the access to recreational marijuana: buying up to 40 grams out of four weed varieties (with higher or lower THC levels), offered at 17 authorized pharmacies; growing up to 6 cannabis plants at home; or becoming a member of one of the 114 cannabis clubs. On the other hand, a patient who suffers from refractory epilepsy, for example, can only find one legal CBD product at Uruguayan pharmacies: Epifractan.

Although Law 19.172 was approved in 2013, Epifractan, a Cannabidiol extract, sold in concentrations of 2 percent and 5 percent, has only been on the market for a year. The only available CBD medicine in the pharmacies, however, is financially inaccessible to many of its users (the 5 percent formula costs up to 200 dollars).

For purchasing imported CBD products, Uruguayan patients have to clear several bureaucratic hurdles, like obtaining a special prescription and an authorization from the Health Ministry. Beyond that, shipping these medicines is still quite expensive, and the government doesn’t provide any bureaucratic or financial assistance for this transaction.

With so many obstacles to access regulated medical cannabis, an unofficial market of CBD-derived products has developed in Uruguay in the last years. Sustained mainly by a network of friends and relatives, these users, or patients, represent over half of the medical cannabis’ consumer market in Uruguay.

CBD IN URUGUAY: MOST PEOPLE BUY UNAUTHORIZED OR HOMEGROWN CBD

According to a research by Monitor Cannabis Uruguay, two thirds of users access CBD-derived products (oils, lotions, etc.) by buying it from unauthorized artisanal producers, by receiving it as a gift (from friends or relatives) or by producing it from their homegrown marijuana.

Maria José Milles and Damián Collazo have been involved with the production of cannabis at least since 2014, when, along with approximately 20 other people, they founded CLUC (“Cultivando Liberdade Uruguay Cresce”, which means “By Growing Freedom, Uruguay Grows”). CLUC is one of the first registered cannabis clubs in Uruguay.

Although none of them knows people who buy Epifractan in the pharmacies, they do know Uruguayans who produce artisanal Cannabidiol oil themselves.

“We cannot sell homemade CBD oil to other people, but we produce it ourselves and give it as a gift to people we know … I personally make it for myself, but also for my mother and a few friends,” said Milles, who is in charge of CLUC’s administration and accounting.

Gardener and agronomist, Damián Collazo takes care of the seeding of ten different cannabis varieties at CLUC. According to him, there are CLUC members who also produce CBD oil to treat serious diseases.

“One of our club managers produce it and give it to her mother, who has cancer,” he told Ministry of Hemp.

For Diego Olivera, there is a mistaken presumption among users that cannabis is a “magical substance,” capable of healing almost everything. He also warns for the risk of self-medicating with a product that was not tested, and whose efficacy and safety isn’t guaranteed.

Diego Olivera, President of IRCCA, in his office with a thermos and mug of mate. IRCCA regulates cannabis in Uruguay, and Olivera anticipates a much greater diversity in hemp and cannabis products in 2019.

Diego Olivera, President of IRCCA. IRCCA regulates cannabis in Uruguay, and Olivera anticipates a much greater diversity in hemp and cannabis products in 2019. (Ministry of Hemp / Beatriz Miranda)

CANNABIS & HEMP IN URUGUAY: A HORIZON FOR FREEDOM

The year of 2019 promises to be better for CBD in Uruguay and medical cannabis users overall. In November 2018, Canadian group Aurora (one of the licensed companies that produce cannabis) inaugurated Uruguay’s first production center for medical cannabis. Aurora’s medicines are expected to be launched in February this year. What’s more, 32 groups already have IRCCA’s authorization to research and produce medical cannabis.

Eduardo Blasina is the director of Montevideo Cannabis Museum, founded in 2016 as an effort to demystify cannabis. Also, he is a partner of Symbiosis, one of the first companies to have won the government’s bid to produce marijuana. Right now, Symbiosis is working on two medical products: a refined CBD oil and a “raw” (the whole extract). They hope to launch both near the end of 2019.

At the moment, Uruguayan political party IR — a member of Frente Amplio, the left-wing political coalition that is in power right now — is working on a bill that reclassifies CBD-oils as phytotherapeutic compounds, instead of medicines. Inspired by Colombia’s and Czech Republic’s laws, the bill aims to facilitate the access to regulated medical cannabis products by allowing smaller producers to become regular sellers.

Considering that, so far, only international companies have been able to meet Uruguay’s rigorous requirements to produce medical cannabis, this bill could mean a more democratic official CBD market.

Diego Olivera is optimistic about the future of medical cannabis: “This year will clearly witness advances in research. We hope to prioritize accessibility, turn the market more dynamic, and invest in other cannabic industries, such as food and cosmetics,” he said.

Despite all the remaining challenges, Blasina also thinks that the implementation of Law 19.172 is at a good pace. He is happy with the legislation, and supports that Uruguay can’t miss the great opportunities ahead:

“More than cannabis tourism, we should invest in ‘tourism of freedom,’ which stands for the idea ‘you smoke if you feel like.’ As a progressive country, we really have the potential to become a multicultural society.”

For more information about cannabis & CBD in Uruguay:

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Four People Face Felony Charges After Oklahoma Police Seize Hemp Shipment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LAW ENFORCEMENT’S BIG FLAW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIGHTING BACK AFTER OKLAHOMA POLICE SEIZE HEMP SHIPMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ANTI-HEMP STIGMA CONTINUES

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

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

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

He added:

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

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

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Fighting Back After Facebook Shuts Down CBD Pages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TAKING ACTION AFTER FACEBOOK SHUTS DOWN CBD PAGES

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

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

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

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

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

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

FACEBOOK SHUTS DOWN CBD PAGES DURING HOLIDAY SEASON

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

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

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

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

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

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

DID FACEBOOK SHUT DOWN CBD PAGES OVER FDA MEMO?

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

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

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

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

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

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

WE CAN EXPECT MORE MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT HEMP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hemp By Mail: Recent Court Rulings Enable Mailing Industrial Hemp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE LEGAL BATTLE OVER SENDING HEMP BY MAIL

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

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

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

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

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

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

A WIN FOR THE INDUSTRY

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

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

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

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

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

Moran added:

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

PROBLEMS TO CONTINUE

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

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

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

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

YOUR RIGHT TO SHIP HEMP IS DEFENDABLE IN COURT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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