Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

Tag: Hemp legalization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IS IT LEGAL TO GROW HEMP?

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

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

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

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GROW HEMP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DESPITE COMPLICATIONS, SMALL FARMERS STILL GROW HEMP

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

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

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

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

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Hemp Legalization Amendment Bans People With Drug Convictions From Hemp Industry

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

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

Some existing hemp entrepreneurs could even find themselves shut out.

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

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

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

FELONY BAN DIVIDES HEMP ADVOCATES OVER LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT

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

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

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

HEMP LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT COULD SHUT OUT HEMP ENTREPRENEURS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RACISM IN HEMP LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAN THE HEMP LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT BE CHANGED IN TIME?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2018 Farm Bill Could Fully Legalize Industrial Hemp In USA

An amendment to the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill would fully legalize industrial hemp in the United States. If included in the final version, hemp would be out of reach of the DEA and treated like any other crop by the states and Native American tribes.

Update JULY 11, 2018: The current language of the hemp amendment also bans people with felony drug convictions from participating in the hemp industry.

An amendment to the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill would fully legalize industrial hemp in the United States.

“This is a big day for hemp,” said Brian Furnish, a hemp grower from Kentucky and president of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable.

The amendment legalizing hemp began as a bill proposed by Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate. The “Hemp Farming Act of 2018” fully legalizes industrial hemp and all products made from it including CBD oil. Under the new law, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other government agencies would no longer be able to interfere with hemp.

The 2018 Farm Bill could mark a new beginning for hemp growing in the U.S. if the a legalization amendment makes its way into the final version.

A hemp farmer surveys his crop at sunrise. The 2018 Farm Bill could mark a new beginning for hemp growing in the U.S. if the a legalization amendment makes its way into the final version.

Due to political uncertainty over other parts of the massive Farm Bill, and the lack of hemp related language in the House version of the bill, there are still hurdles ahead before legalization.

2014 vs. 2018: NEW FARM BILL BUILDS ON PARTIAL LEGALIZATION

The United States made industrial hemp illegal for decades until an amendment to the 2014 version of the Farm Bill allowed growing by state-run hemp research programs.

These state-based programs vary, with some allowing only university research and others allowing a limited number of everyday farmers. The U.S. grew about 25,000 acres of hemp under these state programs, mostly in more permissive states like Colorado and Kentucky. However, CBD vendors have faced some legal threats at both the state and federal level. Other government agencies, like the Bureau of Reclamation, have also interfered with growers at times.

HOW THE 2018 FARM BILL WOULD LEGALIZE HEMP

McConnell’s amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill would officially remove hemp from the DEA’s list of controlled substances, ending debate over the legal status of the plant.

All products made from hemp, including CBD oil, would be explicitly legalized as well, so long as they contain less than .3 percent THC (the substance which makes people “feel high” in psychoactive cannabis). State agriculture departments, along with Native American tribes, would be free to regulate hemp just as they do any other crop like corn or carrots.

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR HEMP BUT CONFLICT OVER 2018 FARM BILL

In a historic moment for hemp legalization, the Senate passed the 2018 Farm Bill with the hemp amendment included. Members of both parties support hemp in an unusual display of bipartisan agreement. However, since the House version of the Farm Bill does not include the same amendment, hemp’s future is still up in the air.

Before it can appear before the president for his signature, the House and Senate must form a “Conference Committee” to iron out differences between the two versions of the 2018 Farm Bill. Conferees, appointed from both parties, will meet to debate the final version. Hemp advocates hope that, with McConnell’s enthusiastic support, conferees are likely to back hemp.

Still, “there’s always political conflict in Washington,” Furnish warned.

The Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill includes a historic amendment to legalize industrial hemp.

A shot of the U.S. Capitol seen at dusk. The Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill includes a historic amendment to legalize industrial hemp.

A disagreement over Food Stamps is one possible source of conflict. The House version of the bill includes controversial changes that would reduce the number of people eligible for the program. Disagreement over provisions like these could also put hemp legalization at risk.

Though the hemp industry overall enthusiastically supports the hemp amendment, there are a few dissenting voices. Veronica Carpio, of Grow Hemp Colorado, objects to hemp-only legalization bills which allows some growers to profit off the cannabis plant while growers and users of psychoactive cannabis remain in prison.

“No one goes to prison for hemp charges, but people go to prison and lives are still ruined over marijuana,” she told us, echoing comments she made around a previous, failed hemp legalization bill.

HEMP LEGALIZATION IS CLOSER THAN EVER TO REALITY

The 2018 farm bill is an omnibus piece of legislation which ensures continued funding for numerous agricultural and social programs. Pres. Donald Trump is almost certain to sign it when it finally reaches his desk.

While it’s still possible hemp could become legal through other methods, such as a stand-alone bill, Furnish hopes hemp supporters will speak up in favor of the plant.

“Contact your representatives and tell them to support McConnell’s hemp language,” he said.

One easy way to do so is to complete this form on the U.S. Hemp Roundtable website.

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Mitch McConnell Wants To Legalize Hemp With New Farming Bill

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, wants to fully legalize hemp. Though the text of McConnell’s bill is not yet available, the goal is to remove agricultural hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, preventing government agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration from interfering with hemp growers or vendors of hemp products like CBD oil.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, one of America’s most powerful politicians, wants to fully legalize hemp.

McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, announced the proposed hemp legalization legislation at a press conference on Monday, March 26.

“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future.” – Senator Mitch McConnell

Though the text of the bill is not yet available, the goal is to remove agricultural hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, preventing government agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration from interfering with hemp growers or vendors of hemp products like CBD oil. The “Hemp Farming Act of 2018,” which is expected to be introduced in early April, could complete the process of re-legalizing hemp which began under the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Basically, it tells everyone in the world that the U.S. is open for business with hemp,” said Brian Furnish, a hemp grower from Kentucky and president of theUS Hemp Roundtable.

Mitch McConnell hemp bill would remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act

A U.S. Senate Committee meeting room. Sen. Mitch McConnell announced the “Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which would remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and make it an agricultural commodity.

Furnish said that hemp would be treated like any other “agricultural commodity” under this new law, with each state’s agriculture department able to regulate growers as they see fit.

Furnish and the Roundtable have made passing a bill like this the major focus of their political lobbying. He and many other hemp advocates hope that McConnell’s “Hemp Farming Act of 2018” will succeed where previous efforts have failed.

“I have been pushing for two years for this day,” Furnish told us on Monday.

NEW HEMP LEGISLATION NEEDED TO FREE HEMP FROM DEA INTERFERENCE

“The devil’s always in the details, right?” said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp when we asked him about the announcement. “They haven’t released the language of the bill yet and, as I understand it, there’s still some conversations going on about little details.”

He’s hopeful though. “From everything I’ve heard, it sounds like it’s going to be a good bill.”

While it’s hard to judge the potential impact of legislation before it’s even introduced, the need for a legal change is clear. An amendment to the 2014 Farm Bill legalized hemp for research purposes, allowing each state to set the terms of that research program. Hemp advocates argue that the farm bill is broadly written enough to include market research, including sales of hemp products like CBD oil, the popular supplement used to alleviate symptoms of chronic pain, epilepsy, and a host of other conditions.

But government agencies like the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration have attacked the legality of CBD oil, primarily by arguing it remains illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. Despite the Farm Bill and legal recreational or medical programs in numerous states, the DEA argues that all forms of the cannabis plant remain illegal at the federal level. The CSA classifies cannabis and hemp as harmful drugs with no medical benefits or safe use, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary. The result of the conflict has been lawsuits and sometimes police raids on vendors.

A hemp transplant ready to be planted. New legislation is needed to fully support the U.S. hemp industry. That’s where Sen. Mitch McConnell comes in.

Additionally, the 2014 Farm Bill is set to expire in 2019, and while it’s expected to be renewed sometime this year, it’s another sign that a permanent solution is needed.

That’s where Mitch McConnell and his Hemp Farming Act come in. According to Furnish, McConnell’s bill would completely remove hemp from the CSA. He said the bill is expected to include “hemp and all of hemp’s byproducts” including CBD oil, as long as all products and hemp crops remain under the 0.3 percent THC limit set under the Farm Bill.

MITCH MCCONNELL BELIEVES HEMP IS ‘AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR FUTURE’

Hemp is supported enthusiastically by lawmakers from both parties. Mitch McConnell’s announcement of the Hemp Farming Act is evidence that even top Republicans want to see hemp growing from coast to coast.

“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” Senator McConnell said in a press release.

These changing attitudes are a sign of the success of the research programs launched by the Farm Bill, and Kentucky is one of the leaders in the country’s budding new hemp industry. The state harvested 3,100 acres of hemp in 2017, according to Vote Hemp’s data, but Furnish says that’s just the beginning.

“I think in Kentucky we can go from 5,000 production acres in 2017 to 100,000 by the end of the next 7 or 8 years,” he said.

Ministry of Hemp will continue to monitor this story as the full text of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s “Hemp Farming Act” is released.

 

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