Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

Tag: Hemp legalization

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 CBD 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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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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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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Legal Hemp In The USA: What The 2018 Farm Bill Means For US Hemp & Agriculture

Just signed into law today by Pres. Donald Trump, the 2018 Farm Bill completely removes hemp and anything made from hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. Here’s our first look at what this means for the future of American hemp growing.

The United States just legalized hemp.

Pres. Donald Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, better known as the 2018 Farm Bill, earlier today. This omnibus bill includes numerous programs and policy changes, not all of which are related to agriculture. For hemp supporters and industry professionals, it’s a cause for celebration. Hemp is now out of reach of the Drug Enforcement Administration and, with a few notable exceptions, closer to being treated like any other crop.

“It’s been a long time coming and a lot of people have put a lot of effort in to get [legal hemp] to happen,” said Courtney Moran, founding principle of Earth Law, LLC, a firm that specializes in hemp law.

Spearheaded this year by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the hemp legalization amendment was inspired by previous efforts from Rep. James Comer, and decades of advocacy work by hemp supporters nationwide. Legalizing hemp had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Legislators softened the most problematic clause in the amendment, which bans some people with felony drug convictions from participating in the hemp industry, during negotiations between the two chambers.

One remaining uncertainty is CBD oil, the massively popular healing supplement made from hemp. Now out of reach of the DEA, negotiations with the Food & Drug Administration over the supplement’s legality could be complex.

A hand holds a hemp leaf up against the backdrop of a partly cloudy blue sky. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the return of legal hemp in the U.S. could bring massive benefits to the budding hemp industry, to everyday people, and to the planet.

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the return of legal hemp in the U.S. could bring massive benefits to the
budding hemp industry, to everyday people, and to the planet.

“We’re feeling terrific but the battle is not over,” said Jonathan Miller, general counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, an industry advocacy organization. “We’ve got state laws that we need to deal with, we’ve got the FDA issues looming.”

Legalizing hemp in the U.S. marks a major change for American agriculture itself. We expect to cover numerous aspects of this law in the coming days, but this article offers an overview of the major changes and what we can expect next from legal hemp in the United States.

INDUSTRIAL HEMP REMOVED FROM CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT

Hemp in all its forms — whether used as food, medicine, or textile — represents one of the first crops domesticated by humans. Then, the war on drugs brought about negative associations with psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) that spilled over onto hemp, marijuana’s close cousin. The result was decades of prohibition in the U.S., broken only for a brief period of hemp growing during World War II.

The 2018 Farm Bill completely removes hemp and anything made from hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.

In 2014, Pres. Barack Obama signed a previous version of the Farm Bill which partially legalized hemp under state-based research programs. In 2017, 19 states grew a total of 25,713 acres of hemp in the U.S. However, laws vary greatly even among hemp growing states. Most hemp is still imported, while a gray cloud of legal uncertainty hung over the industry due to ongoing policies tying hemp to federal drug prohibition.

Until now, the Drug Enforcement Administration argued that industrial hemp is essentially identical to psychoactive cannabis, and therefore a “Schedule I substance” under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances face the strictest penalties for use and are considered to have no benefit to humanity, despite the numerous benefits of all forms of cannabis.

The 2018 Farm Bill completely removes hemp and anything made from hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.

“They have no right or authorization to ever be involved in this again,” Miller told us.

Advocates hope this will improve numerous policies that hurt the industry. Some vendors, especially those selling CBD oil, face legal threats. Hemp businesses routinely struggle to access banking, advertising, and other services. Ari Sherman, president of Evo Hemp, a leading vendor of U.S.-grown hemp foods, expressed his frustration with the status quo.

“We’re the only product in the grocery store that can’t be advertised,” said Sherman.

Attitudes are already changing. Even before being signed into law, the 2018 Farm Bill inspired the Alabama state attorney general to back off from plans to prosecute CBD stores.

LEGAL HEMP NOW UNDER USDA CONTROL

Regulation of hemp will now fall under the USDA, which will set national policies for the crop.

The Farm Bill does allow states to set more restrictive regulations, including banning hemp growing. It also protects the rights of Native American tribes to grow, or not grow, hemp on their lands. However, neither tribes nor states can interfere with interstate commerce surrounding hemp.

“People have been afraid that if they ship [hemp] from Colorado to Washington, what are they going to do in Idaho?” Miller said. Under the new law, “Idaho will still have to let it come through.”

The sun rises over a huge, densely packed hemp field. The 2018 Farm Bill protects the rights of Native American tribes to grow hemp, and prevents states from interfering with interstate commerce of hemp and hemp products.

The 2018 Farm Bill protects the rights of Native American tribes to grow hemp, and prevents states from interfering with interstate commerce of hemp and hemp products.

The definition of industrial hemp will remain unchanged from the 2014 Farm Bill. Only cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC will qualify as legal industrial hemp. THC, the main cannabinoid in psychoactive cannabis which makes people “feel high,” occurs in all forms of the plant but in very low levels in industrial hemp. Under current regulations, farmers must destroy destroy the entire harvest if their hemp tests at 0.4 percent or higher.

“As a Kentucky hemp farmer and processor, it is very important to me this law has passed; Kentucky farmers, and farmers across the entire U.S. will now have the ability to grow this versatile crop.” said Brian Furnish, Director of Farming & Global Production at Ananda Hemp in Cynthiana, Kentucky, Sen. McConnell’s home state.

Though the Farm Bill is now law, legalizing hemp won’t happen overnight. Until the Department of Agriculture finalizes its hemp policies, the rules of the 2014 Farm Bill will continue to officially apply.

“We hope [the USDA] look to the guidance of well-developed pilot programs, in particular Oregon and also Colorado and Kentucky,” Moran said. “Look to their guidance and [don’t] make it overly restrictive as the goal is to really open up access to farmers throughout the United States.”

LEGAL HEMP INDUSTRY STILL FACES ‘TRAGICALLY UNFAIR’ FELONY BAN

The most controversial part of the hemp legalization amendment to the Farm Bill was a clause which banned people with felony drug convictions from participating in the industry.

The legal hemp amendment originally passed by the Senate banned anyone with a felony drug conviction from participating in the hemp industry. People like Veronica Carpio, who has been a Colorado hemp grower since 2014 but also has a past psychoactive cannabis conviction, could have been forced out of an industry they helped to create.

Ministry of Hemp was one of the first media outlets to report on this hemp felony ban. Carpio told us that attention from reporters, and subsequent pressure from parts of the hemp industry, resulted in an important change to the new law. Moran told us Sen. Ron Wyden was a strong advocate for a compromise. But the felony ban remains in a modified form.

“I think it’s tragically unfair,” Carpio told us. “I’m fairly devastated over it actually.”

Under the compromise, now incorporated into the final law, the felony ban exempts anyone already growing under a 2014 Farm Bill-compliant state hemp program. Additionally, anyone whose conviction took place more than 10 years ago may grow hemp.

“Why should I, and others that were under the 2014 Farm Bill, why are we getting exceptions?”

Carpio is grateful that her business is not likely to face any interruption, but she still condemned what she sees as an unfair restriction on hemp, which makes it unlike any other crop. She’s also concerned that the ban will disproportionately affect black people, and other marginalized groups, who tend to be arrested for drug crimes more often.

“Why should I, and others that were under the 2014 Farm Bill, why are we getting exceptions?” she asked.

“I know I should be happier about [the compromise] but I’m not, it should have been removed completely.”

In addition, she suggested this clause and others in the bill could create unnecessary government surveillance and monitoring of hemp growers.

LEGAL HEMP BUT WHAT ABOUT LEGAL CBD OIL?

The most popular application for hemp in the U.S. is CBD oil. CBD, or cannabidiol, has numerous benefits from easing symptoms of stress to reducing epileptic seizures. U.S. sales of CBD products reached $190 million in 2017. At the same time, the market is currently completely unregulated, making it challenging for consumers to separate quality CBD products from snake oil.

Hemp supporters argued that CBD products were protected by the 2014 Farm Bill and other legal precedents, but the DEA often disagreed. Though 2018 Farm Bill explicitly removes any product made from legal hemp from DEA oversight, the FDA regulates anything intended for human consumption. That includes CBD oil.

Moran noted that under the Farm Bill, “the FDA still has the complete authority that they do under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.”

So far, the FDA has limited itself to targeting CBD vendors that make illegal health claims about their products. The FDA classifies everyday CBD products as nutritional supplements and bans vendors from claiming hemp extract treats any health conditions.

WILL THE FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION WEIGH IN ON CBD OIL?

“The next step for the hemp CBD industry is that we need to self regulate CBD products to ensure they are safe, well tested, and properly labeled,” said Joseph Dowling, CEO of CV Sciences, maker of PlusCBD Oil, in a statement sent by email.

Many industry experts believe the FDA will face pressure to develop regulations around CBD products with the passage of the Farm Bill. Another factor is the recent approval of Epidiolex, a prescription epilepsy drug made from CBD derived from psychoactive cannabis. The approval of Epidiolex marks the first time the FDA officially recognized the medical value of cannabis. Still, some worry that it could lead to a crackdown on access to over-the-counter CBD supplements.

This is a complex and developing aspect of the 2018 Farm Bill and hemp legalization that we intend to cover in more depth in the future. Until then, CBD consumers should rest assured that their favorite supplement is likely to remain available. With CBD generating millions in profits and benefitting thousands of consumers, the FDA faces immense financial and popular pressure to keep this supplement available.

“The wind is at our back,” Miller said. “The public loves hemp-derived CBD so it’s only a matter of time.”

LEGAL HEMP IS A ‘WIN’ FOR PLANET EARTH

While CBD helps people feel better, and hemp can generate immense profits for both farmers and hemp companies, the benefits of legal hemp go deeper. Hemp can heal the soil, requires almost no pesticides and only moderate watering compared to other crops. Hemp fabric is a more sustainable alternative to cotton, and the woody core of industrial hemp plants can be made into hempcrete, a sustainable building material with numerous remarkable qualities.

While Miller cautioned that hemp is “no panacea,” he noted that Europe is already making increasing use of hemp plastic.

“It’s biodegradeable and renewable,” he said. “Just imagine if that can be replicated on a mass scale what that could mean for the environment.”

Moran agreed:

“[The environment] is the most important aspect of all of this. … The reason I have been an advocate for the past 10 years and why I have focused my entire education and career on industrial hemp legalization is because this plant can do amazing things for the earth, for the soil.”

Sherman suggested this could be a moment with international significance. Evo Hemp’s attempts to encourage hemp farming in foreign countries often faced resistance from officials afraid of U.S. government retaliation. That could be on the verge of changing.

“All of these countries around the world are going to open up their hemp policies,” he predicted.

 

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Hemp Craft Beer & The Breweries That Make It

Hemp craft beer is making a name for itself, with the help of a handful of pioneering American breweries. It began with New Belgium’s “The Hemperor,” but now other breweries both large and small are entering the hemp and cannabis market.

Hemp craft beer is making a name for itself, with the help of a handful of pioneering American breweries.

There are many products that utilize hemp; clothing, skincare products, CBD oils & tinctures, and hemp-enhanced edibles, but there remains a noticeable absence of hemp in the alcohol industry. Most notably, the craft beer market, a market that’s notorious for experimentation to produce unique flavors.

Thanks to unmet market needs and the relaxing regulations towards hemp & cannabis products, breweries such as New Belgium have initiated their foray into the hemp craft beer market. Upon their release of “The Hemperor,” the Colorado brewery gained nationwide media attention due to this trailblazing and delicious beverage.

A pint glass of dark beer sits on a rustic bar top in a darkened bar. While hemp makes an enticing beer ingredient, craft hemp beer brewers face legal and regulatory hurdles before they can bring their brews to market.

While hemp makes an enticing beer ingredient, craft hemp beer brewers face legal and regulatory hurdles before they can bring their brews to market.

Previously, we reviewed The Hemperor and interviewed a local maker of hemp wine. The recent growth of hemp craft beer left us eager to look deeper into this enticing topic.

THE CURRENT STATE OF THE HEMP CRAFT BEER MARKET

Other breweries looking to imitate New Belgium’s success must fight a gauntlet of obstacles.

Thanks to the difficulty of state and federal regulations, New Belgium had to experiment with many iterations of The Hemperor. This is because the use of hemp flowers & leaves in products is forbidden by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The use of CBD is also forbidden in alcohol products with national distribution.

Eventually, the brewery landed on hulled hemp seeds as the base for The Hemperor. Hulled hemp seeds, better known as hemp hearts, are an ingredient that can be found in your local supermarket. Hemp hearts are versatile, and can be used in many applications such as making hemp milk. Now, The Hemperor is available in all states except Kansas (party poopers if you ask us).

With the success of New Belgium, major beer companies are looking to get a slice of the pie. Corona & Modelo manufacturer Constellation Brands, Blue Moon founder Keith Villa, and Molson Coors are some of the notable names looking to dip their toes into hemp and cannabis beer. Constellation Brands and Molson Coors partnered with Canadian cannabis producers, while Keith Villa is working with a producer in his home state of Colorado.

BREWERIES THAT MAKE HEMP CRAFT BEER

New Belgium's The Hemperor hemp craft beerNew Belgium Brewing: The Hemperor

New Belgium are experiencing a moment as the most recognized hemp craft beer trailblazer. Released in April of this year, New Belgium have already experienced an instant success with The Hemperor. While they haven’t released a statement with future plans, one can almost be sure that they will release more hemp infused products.

Sweetwater Brewing Company 420 Strain G13 IPA craft hemp beerSweetwater Brewing Company: 420 Strain G13 IPA

This Atlanta based brewery has long been a fan of cannabis culture. Their best seller is the aptly named “420 Extra Pale Ale.” This past June, the brewery finally released their first (of seemingly many to come) hemp-enhanced beers. Their new beverage, “420 Strain G13 IPA,” mimics the famous G13 strain of psychoactive cannabis in terms of smell and taste, without the high. Sweetwater achieves this by infusing the pale ale with hemp, hops, terpenes, and other organic materials.

In a statement in the New York Times, co-founder Freddy Bensch says: “We think the drinker and the cannabis consumer are the same person.”

Bensch means that by releasing their G13 product, the brewery is tapping into a market that’s already connected to their traditional target-market. It’s worth noting that in just a couple of months, the G13 IPA has become their 2nd highest selling product.

Lagunitas Hi Fi Hops Cannabis Craft BeerLagunitas Brewing: Hi-Fi Hops

With the recreational use of psychoactive cannabis becoming legal, California-based Lagunitas Brewery pounced on the new market. Releasing their “Hi-Fi Hops” product line, in collaboration with CannaCraft (a cannabis-extract manufacturer), they offer cannabis-infused sparkling water drinks. Hi-Fi Hops products can only be found in medical marijuana dispensaries in California. While a little more left-field, the introduction of a cannabis-infused sparkling water opens the conversation up from merely a beer product, into a whole slew of hemp, CBD & THC-infused beverages.

Lagunitas is at the forefront of the fusion of cannabis into traditional drinks.

WHERE HEMP CRAFT BEER FITS INTO CRAFT BEER CULTURE

So where does hemp craft beer stand within existing craft beer culture?

Craft beer culture is already at the forefront of counterculture. Craft beers began with mad-scientist brewers looking for new flavors in unconventional ingredients. Long synonymous with bearded, beanie-wearing hipsters, craft beer culture is comfortable standing out. In fact, being different is the greatest asset of a craft beer. One needs only to look at the ingredients and artwork on their bottles to recognize this.

A photo showing three different beers of different colors in pint glasses. The success of New Belgium is bringing a host of new hemp craft beer to market, as well as entries from some larger brewers too.

The success of New Belgium is bringing a host of new hemp craft beer to market, as well as entries from some larger brewers too.

Cannabis and hemp belong to the same family of plants as hops. Breweries such as New Belgium and Sweetwater are using the green & herbal notes of the hemp plant to enhance their IPAs, which already tout flavors of bitterness, freshness and hoppiness.

So, we think that hemp craft beers will fit right in! In fact, we believe it’ll do more than fit in, we think they will thrive. The same hipster beanie-wearing dudes who drink IPAs are probably already using hemp in their breakfasts or daily supplements; so why not have hemp with their beer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HIACON 2018 LOOKS AT THE FUTURE OF HEMP FARMING IN AMERICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HIACON 2018: FROM CBD POPCORN TO HEMP FASHION

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

Kazmira let us sample their delicious CBD vapes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW HEMP GROWING RETURNED TO THE USA

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

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

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

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

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

HEMP SALES HIT $820M UNDER STATE HEMP PROGRAMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

WISCONSIN HEMP PROGRAM IS NEW BUT GROWING FAST

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

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

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

Challenges of growing hemp in Wisconsin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hemp market price in Wisconsin

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

VERMONT HEMP LICENSES INCREASED 3000 PERCENT SINCE 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challenges of growing hemp in Vermont

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

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

Hemp market price in Vermont

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

‘HEMP IS THE NEW GOLD RUSH’ IN OREGON

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

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

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

Over 3,500 land acres were licensed for cultivation!

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

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

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

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

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

Challenges of growing hemp in Oregon

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

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

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

Hemp parket price in Oregon

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

HEMP IS ‘TAKING OFF LIKE A WEED’ IN NEVADA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challenges of growing hemp in Nevada

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

Hemp market price in Nevada

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

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF STATE HEMP PROGRAMS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Green Mountain State: ‘Lenient’ Vermont Hemp Laws Could Fuel New Hemp Boom

Vermont hemp laws make it simple to grow hemp, and business is booming. As one grower told us, “Vermont is a very lenient state to grow hemp in. It’s hemp program is great.”

Vermont’s hemp laws make it simple to grow hemp, and business is booming.

Last month, we visited Luce Farm where we learned about growing hemp in Vermont. Luce Farm’s owner, Joe Pimentel, told us, “Vermont is a very lenient state to grow hemp in. It’s hemp program is great.”

This lead us to want to learn more about Vermont’s hemp program and what makes it so easy for new farmers to join. We did some research and we’ve collected all the information you’ll need to know why Vermont is a great place to grow hemp.

VERMONT HEMP LAWS AMONG THE NATION’S MOST PROGRESSIVE

Since hemp is so closely tied with marijuana, there are some states which just aren’t ready to start harvesting. Take Texas for example. Generally known for its highly conservative politics, it has yet to sign in on the 2014 Farm Bill which made it legal for states to decide if they want to grow hemp or not. The simple reason is the people and politicians of the area are resistant to the idea that hemp can be beneficial for agriculture and the economy.

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

Luckily, the proposed 2018 Farm Bill could legalize the crop on a federal level which would, inevitably, change the entire nation’s opinion on hemp. States like Vermont, and popular hemp growers like Colorado and Kentucky, have played a big role in this change in attitudes.

Doug Fine, a New Mexico hemp expert, told local reporters from myChamplainValley.com, “The Vermont law simply states, farmers and entrepreneurs in Vermont have access any hemp genetic that meet the federal definition of hemp.”

Vermont only charges $25.00 in annual registration fees to each grower. Fine called this kind of perspective on hemp forward thinking.

Furthermore, registration is very open to new farmers. Authorized by the Vermont Legislature in 2013, there are no limitations in terms of:

  • Amount of acreage
  • Residency requirements
  • How many registrations are available to the public

With this kind of policy, it’s no surprise that hemp’s popularity is expanding rapidly in Vermont. While about 575 acres of hemp were harvested in 2017, agriculture officials expect about 2,000 acres of hemp are being grown in Vermont this year.

In a report for Marijuana Business Daily, Kristen Nichols wrote, “Vermont has the nation’s loosest regulations and latitude that makes it an easy fit for hemp cultivators.”

She continued,  “Vermont hemp growers do not have to participate in a pilot project or a research collaboration with a University or state agriculture authorities — conditions laid out in the 2014 Farm Bill authorizing limited hemp production.”

On July 1st 2018, recreational cannabis became legal in the state of Vermont and, with that, came a new pilot program making it legal to buy and sell hemp under registration of the Agency of Agriculture. This means, as long as they follow state laws, growers and distributors won’t have to worry much about Federal Agencies cracking down.

WHAT AMERICA CAN LEARN FROM VERMONT HEMP LAWS

The most obvious — profit. Politicians and farmers alike see that hemp can be extremely lucrative for Vermont. Competition is already sprawling: neighboring New York state has invested more money into its hemp production. Even so, there’s still more money being made per pound in Vermont than other progressive states.

A massive, tall hemp field with the Vermont mountains behind it. Luce Farm, pictured here, is helping to create a growing hemp boom in the Green Mountain State thanks to Vermont's hemp laws.

Luce Farm, pictured here, is helping to create a growing hemp boom in the Green Mountain State thanks to Vermont’s hemp laws. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Paul James)

To give you an idea, the Marijuana Business Daily reports:

  • In Vermont, growers make about $100 or more per pound of dried flower/bud, around $1 per pound of seed, and 10 cents per pound of stalk.
  • In Colorado, where competition is stronger, growers make about $28 per pound of dried flower/bud, but up to $9 per pound of seed.
  • The best place to grow (financially speaking) is currently Nevada. Growers there make up to $200 per pound of flower, $10 per pound of seed, and 10 cents a stalk.

The above numbers only account for those who grow hemp and immediately sell the plant as is. Many farmers produce hemp products directly from their crops, which is oftenmuch more profitable.

VERMONT LOOKS LIKE THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN HEMP

People who grow their own hemp and create their own products see much more profit off their cultivation. Furthermore, in terms of Vermont, the new pilot program is guaranteed to be more lenient in this regard. Growers can create hemp products without much strict federal regulation.

To any hemp farmer looking to make the most out of the hemp industry, Vermont looks to be the place. Vermont’s tolerant laws and support of growers creating their own merchandise will attract more hemp enthusiasts.

For those interested, here’s a link to Vermont’s Hemp Registration form.

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

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

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

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

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

CBD PRODUCTS LEADING THE WAY IN US HEMP SALES IN 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US HEMP SALES COULD APPROACH $2 BILLION BY 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEGAL COMPLICATIONS LIMIT POTENTIAL US HEMP SALES

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

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

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

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

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

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