Friday, June 26, 2015

Hemp seed destroyed in Chicago/bad news for Kentucky hemp growers

An article by Gregory Hale in the Courier Journal (Kentucky) tells the sad tale of the destruction of hemp seed as it entered the United States:

A year after Kentucky's agriculture department went to court to get hemp seed released for its research programs, a German exporter's failure to obtain the proper paperwork apparently will lead to the destruction of more than three tons of seed sitting in Chicago.
"That's not what we want, but, unfortunately, that's the situation where we're at," said Adam Watson, the coordinator of industrial hemp programs for the Kentucky ag department. "Snafus happen. ... It's not that we think there was any bad actor involved, but there apparently were mistakes involved."
The paperwork problem will reduce or eliminate the seed for almost a fourth of this year's research projects allowed under the 2014 Farm Bill that sets out federal agriculture policy. Since most of these projects are smaller in nature, the impact on Kentucky's hemp acreage is closer to 5 percent of the crop, Watson said.
The department doesn't directly obtain seed, which is a business transaction between growers and suppliers, but Watson said the department is considering taking a more active role in the future after the problem this year.
Seed for last year's first crop initially was held up over drug law issues, which resulted in a brief court battle, but this year's issue is the result of a German exporter's failure to get a routine agricultural paper called a Phytosanitary Certificate. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's website, the certificate is used to track "the inspection of agricultural products and certifies compliance with plant health standards of importing countries."
"It's not anything special to industrial hemp or even seeds, period," Watson said. The certificate "is very common within the agriculture industry whether you're importing or exporting. It ensures that you don't have plant diseases, animal diseases, noxious weeds, insects, things like that, entering or exiting countries."
The Kentucky department became aware of the problem in late May, Watson said. The USDA already granted an extension to produce the paperwork but, apparently, Germany wouldn't issue the certificate after the fact when the seed already had been shipped to the United States, Watson said.
Watson said the Kentucky agriculture department believes that the USDA and customs officials have done their best to help, "but they're bound by regulations." He said the Drug Enforcement Administration permits that were the issue last year weren't a problem this year.
The amount of seed stuck in Chicago is about 6,600 pounds, which would result in about 100 field acres, Watson said. In all, the Kentucky hemp crop this year is planned to be about 1,700 acres in 38 projects. The seed shipment would serve nine projects.
While some growers won't have this variety of hemp desired for fiber "by and large the impact on the entire program as a whole is very minimal," Watson said. He said the department is looking at finding other sources of seeds for growers who might have none now because of the issue.
Another USDA extension is being sought, Watson said, but it's questionable whether the problem can be fixed even if the extension is granted. The options for federal regulators are destroying the shipment or sending it back — an alternative where the costs likely would outweigh the benefits, Watson said, particularly because the growing season for hemp already is well underway and because of the additional shipping costs.
A USDA spokeswoman was not prepared Thursday to comment on the status of the shipment.
Going forward, Watson said the department is considering being more involved in acquiring seeds and moving up the deadline for proposing hemp projects to the department to give more time for seed, the supply of which is limited according to some reports, to be obtained more easily. The department received 326 applications this year.
"This is the one shipment that didn't make it here this season," Watson said, noting that plants already are out of the ground from other shipments. "We regret that this happened, but the program as a whole is still moving forward."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hemp now blocked by drug addicts in Oregon

Just after posting the other day about a hemp planting in Kentucky, this news came in re Oregon, which, sadly, has the ironic fact that it is now the medical marijuana farmers who are an impediment to industrial hemp. How many of the medical marijuana users are for real? And how many are selfish drug addicts? Who might be the real reason hemp is still illegal in most states, rather than the government.

Industrial hemp is off to a slow start, and the Oregon Legislature may throw up more hurdles, but growers are optimistic.

Cliff Thomason’s goal is to be growing 10,000 acres of industrial hemp in five years. But right now he’s dealing with opposition from medical marijuana growers and Oregon legislators.
Thomason is among the first growers licensed by the state to raise hemp, which lacks the THC levels that gets pot smokers high but is valued because it can be used to make a wide variety of food, health and fiber products.
Thomason’s Oregon Hemp Co. has grow operations in Murphy and near Grants Pass, in Southwest Oregon, and he is negotiating to sharecrop space on an organic farm near Scio, in the Willamette Valley.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture has issued 13 hemp licenses, but it’s unclear how many growers have a crop in the ground this summer.
Thomason said growers are hampered by infrastructure and political problems. First, it’s difficult to obtain seed, although Thomason said he has seed from China, Lithuania, Slovakia and Germany. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” he said.
The Oregon Legislature is another matter. Medical marijuana growers in Southern Oregon believe pollen from industrial hemp will contaminate their potent pot and reduce THC levels. A bill in the Legislature would force a 5-mile separation between hemp and pot growers.
Hemp growers say that would essentially prohibit them from growing, because so many pot plots fill the area.
Thomason said he’s trying to be a good neighbor by keeping pollen-bearing male hemp plants in greenhouses and transplanting only females outdoors.
“I keep saying that with responsible farming practices, it will regulate itself,” he said.
Thomason described himself as “truly an accidental farmer” who was asked to help find seed and land for the hemp industry because of his real estate background.
“When I did, we formed a company to move the project forward,” he said.
He said his plants are growing rapidly and are intended for the medical market. The German seeds seem to do the best, perhaps because its climate is similar to Oregon’s, he said.
The other licenses issued so far are:
27B Stroke6 Farm, Corvallis; American Hemp Seed Genetics, Salem; Cannalive Organics, Yamhill County; Central Coast Enterprises, Seal Rock; Genesis Media Works, Baker County; Hemp for Victory Gardens, Wilsonville; Hughes Farms LLC, Bend; Integrative Health Source, Corvallis; Mark McKay Farms, St. Paul; Oregon Agriculture Food and Rural Consortium, Eagle Point; Went to Seed LLC., Bend; and Wildhorse Creek Hacienda, Adams.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hemp to be sown in Kentucky legally

I was just asked by a friend in Canada about what the hemp movement is doing in the US. Lots of stories about medical marijuana, and that is going state-by-state - about 16 states now have legal cannabis for patients, with varying degrees in the quality of the administration. In 2012 Mina Hegaard - - started a petition to the White House to make industrial hemp legal again, and soon afterwards the feds did just that, but allowing the states to set their own agenda.  So far only two states have made it legal, Colorado and Kentucky. And while a crop of 60 acres was sown in Colorado, in advance of it being legal, and in what may have been the catalyst for the lifting of the ban, there has been little mention of its cultivation elsewhere in the US.

Ironically, not 10 seconds after I replied to the Canute, I saw the following:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —Locust Grove, the 18th century home of the sister and brother-in-law of George Rogers Clark and William Clark, is growing industrial hemp.

The seeds were planted last week at the site by its gardener, Sarah Sutherland. Locust Grove says the crop was grown by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Locust Grove is participating in the hemp pilot program administered by the Kentucky Agriculture Department and plans a Hemp Festival on Aug. 9.

The festival will feature a Hemp Village, where products may be purchased, a Hemp Cafe with foods made from hemp oil and seeds, rope and paper-making demonstrations and a question-and-answer session with experts about the future of hemp in Kentucky. A World War II-era documentary, "Hemp for Victory," and a new film, "Bringing It Home," will be shown.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Captain Amsterdam in Vegas for medical trade show

Cannabis sativa medicine is getting a much better rap these days, and one Colorado company is even getting it certified kosher at the Orthodox Union in New York. Companies are even doing roadshows, such as Captain Amsterdam, which is  in Vegas today  to promote cannabis medicine, below are the details:

ASD Tradeshow the dates are March 1-4, 2015Las Vegas Convention Center   

Time is 9am-6pm everyday


Tyler Lacey
Captain Amsterdam(Operations Director)
619-866-3344 (Direct Line)
877-752-7362 Ext 106 (Office Line)
949-632-1069 (Cell Phone)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Letter to Texas paper about hemp in Texas

This is a letter published in the Victoria Advocate on 7 February, 2014, from Mina Hegaard, owner of Minawear, who lives in Victoria:

Editor, the Advocate:
I am a clothing designer here in Victoria, and the main material used in my clothing, Minawear Luxury Hemp Loungewear, is hemp and organic cotton. The reason I only design with hemp and organic cotton is that I believe our environment is in grave danger of becoming severely imbalanced by the overuse of chemicals, which affects humans on many levels - whether it be a rise in illnesses from water contamination or air and soil pollutants.
Unlike conventional cotton that requires one-third of a pound of chemicals per T-shirt, hemp is grown without the use of harmful chemicals, and that is profitable to farmers as well as beneficial to the health of the planet.
Hemp has more than 25,000 applications, including fuel, textiles, building materials, food, paper, batteries and more.
Texas recently introduced a HB 84 (R) to legalize hemp farming on the state level, while H.R. 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, was introduced by Representative Thomas Massie, of Kentucky, on Jan. 21 to allow American farmers to once again grow hemp to the extent that it is allowed under state laws.
Forty-two states have introduced pro-hemp legislation and twenty-eight have passed pro-hemp legislation as a resolution, hemp study bill or other.
In order to legalize growing industrial hemp, we need to first educate ourselves, and then take action. Please visit and follow the links to find your legislators and send them email letters.
There are also many informative publications available including "Hemp For Victory," a book that my brother wrote about the uses, history, processes and financials of hemp. Woody Harrelson wrote the foreword, and I wrote the textile chapter. See link at
Thank you for taking the time to educate yourself.
Mina Hegaard, Victoria

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Article on hemp biofuel by Giolio Sica in The Guardian

Years ago I did an article with The Guardian, but somehow I missed this very telling piece by Guilio Sica, which detailed how the UK government ignored hemp as a biofuel and even downplayed biofuels - which is ridiculous, as biofuels can be sourced from existing farm waste; wheat straw etc. can be turned into alcohol at very low cost and in the process generate local employment. Too many politicians are on the take and it can be said are committing treason by working against national interests.


Guardian, 28 January 2008

The Royal Society, the European Commission and the UK government have all managed, in the last few days, to take the wind out of the sails of the biofuel industry, publishing reports that suggest biofuels could be causing more harm than good, the crops not being as environmentally friendly as first thought, with the Commons environmental audit committee calling for a moratorium on biofuel targets until more research can be done.
What struck me as astonishing about these reports is that they all managed to ignore the one crop which has been successfully used for many years to create bioethanol and biodiesel, is environmentally friendlier to produce than sugar beet, palm oil, corn or any of the crops mentioned in the report and can grow in practically any temperate to hot climate leaving the ground in better condition than when it was planted.
That plant is hemp.
Last year, the Conservative MP David Maclean tabled a question to the then environment secretary, Ian Pearson, asking what assessment had been made about the potential to grow hemp as a biofuel crop in England. Pearson responded:

Research into the potential of hemp as a biofuel crop suggests it is not currently competitive compared to other sources of biomass. However, hemp does have a number of high-value end uses. For example, as a fibre crop it is used in car panels, construction and as horse bedding. In addition, hempseed oil is used in food, cosmetics and various industrial applications. As a result, there is little interest in this country at present in growing it for biofuel production.

So the government cannot point to ignorance of hemp's uses, which makes hemp's omission from any of the recent reports even more perplexing.
The fact that hemp does not need to have land cleared to grow it, grows faster than any of the crops currently used and leaves the ground in a better state when it is harvested should surely be enough for it to be considered a perfect crop to offset the carbon currently produced by fossil fuels and by the less efficient biofuels currently being so roundly criticised by the various official research bodies.
The influential Biodiesel magazine reported last year on the cultivation of hemp as a biofuel and it too could only point to its lack of economic competitiveness (due to its minimal production) as a reason for not seeing it as a viable biofuel. But surely if it was mass-produced, this one drawback could be overcome and its many benefits as an efficient biofuel could be harnessed.
As far as research and implementation of hemp for biofuel, the US is way ahead of Europe and there are a range of websites dedicated to the use of hemp as a fuel for cars.
In the UK, companies such as Hemp Global Solutions have been set up very much with climate change and the reduction of carbon emissions in mind, but there is little, if any, research in this country that has looked into the viability of the hemp plant as a fuel for cars.
So why was there not a single mention of this miracle crop, that, in addition to being able to be used as fuel, can also be used as paper, cloth, converted into plastic and is a rich food source containing high levels of protein?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hemp article in Your True Colours

This is the article I wrote that appeared in the latest issue of Your True Colours Magazine:

Hemp is today a hard to get item. The consumer that once purchased items made from it now can get  clothes made from cotton, paper made from trees, medicine  made from manmade chemicals, and oil sourced from fish livers. Textiles, paper, medicine and edible oils are but a few of the products that hemp provides; it is a simple-to-grow plant that can be cultivated on all continents save the Antarctic. Part of the whole enigma is that hemp is a plant of great varietal variability, lending itself even to experimentation as the great Russian plant geneticist Vavilov proclaimed. Thus it can produce tall slender stems with high cellulose fibre, or it can grow short and branched with many flowers which can contain high levels of THC and other cannabinoids. These compounds make some strains valuable to medicine and also appealing to marijuana smokers; most strains do not provide much in the way of medicine of drugs, but there is such a volume of literature on the marijuana culture that the general public at times associates all hemp with marijuana. There is also a large body of literature on hemp as an industrial plant, spanning centuries.
In the not too distant past, entire nations, empires to wit, depended on its availability; Russia, the chief supplier in the 17th-19th centuries, sold to both the British and the American navies.  Britain and America themselves grew at that time no small amount, and both nation's legislators expressed alarm at the rate of expenditure on foreign hemp for their military. The superior quality and price of Russian hemp, however, ensured that Western powers relied on Russia's. Thus it was once the world's most traded commodity and cultivated nearly worldwide not only for its commercial value, but for the fact that many of its products, in addition to rope and sails, were necessary to survival; Thomas Jefferson, for instance, exhorted it be grown for the wealth and defense of the colonies. Over a century after his advice, the United States was eager to cultivate this crop and produced a film in WWII titled "Hemp for Victory." The threat to rope supplies in the Pacific prompted the legislature to make sure that American farmers were able and willing to plant hemp.

With the advent of metal ships running on steam and petroleum sails became almost obsolete, and abaca from the Philippines replaced hempen cordage on modern ships. Despite a dramatic downturn in demand in the maritime industry, this plant continued to be grown into the 20th century, providing a range of products from paper to food. It excelled in both of these categories, as its long and strong fibres interlocked perfectly for long lasting paper (the oldest existing fragment of paper is 2,000 years old and contains hemp) and its Omega 3,6 & 9 rich seeds full of all essential amino acids were excellent for food. Farmers also found the plant not only easy to grow in most countries of the world, but it acted as a natural pesticide (with one US cotton farmer sowing it on one third of his land at a time to rid the soil of pests).

Many changes in the law, however, in the 1930s to the 1960s in the US and other nations made hemp illegal, as these laws mistakenly lumped all forms of Cannabis sativa
in with high THC producing strains known as marijuana. A few nations continued to cultivate hemp; mainly China, which today profits from its policy. Western nations have
had a reawakening due to activists who struggled to make hemp not only legal but in some countries a subsidized species. These efforts have largely paid off, and there is presently a thriving hemp textile and hemp oil industry.

All of which might bode well for the US, as hemp, which was such a part of its history that the first US flag was made of it, can be grown in all 50 states. However, the present status of hemp is prohibitive, even with the recent ruling at the federal level that states may decide for themselves whether to allow its cultivation. So far, only two states have made cultivation legal: Colorado and Kentucky. Both were largely responsible for the change in the federal law, with farmers in the former sowing 60 acres of hemp in a field before the change; thus challenged, Washington lawmakers saw the gauntlet on the ground and  conceded. Soon afterwards, a complex battle in the Kentucky House ensued, perhaps an epic note  in American history, with both  Republican senators, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, supporting the hemp issue in Washington, while a Democrat  worked hard to keep it illegal. The governor promptly signed the bill, allowing the Bluegrass state, which was in the 19th and into the 20th century the hemp-basket of America, to regain  its heritage. 
While hemp is still illegal to cultivate in 48 states, and not yet produced in any quantity in Colorado or Kentucky, many American businesses manufacture hemp items, the largest sector being the hempseed oil industry, which sources its oil mainly from Canada, where farmers are profiting greatly from America's ban. A number of  other firms manufacture hemp clothing, such as Minawear in Texas, which started in 1998 in California when the hemp movement was still rather small. The years of manufacturing hempen apparel by this and other companies has brought hemp to the awareness of the general public and has helped to restore the crop to legality in the US.
Another outfit in the same state  working in this field is Canvasland, which makes artist's canvas - which are not only archival quality but true to original material; the use of hemp for canvas is of such  longstanding practice that the very word 'canvas' derives from 'cannabis'; canape in Italian, chanvre in French. Hemp was a major crop in many Renaissance countries, including Italy and the Netherlands. Not only was the textile used in art, but also the oil, which is clear and long-lasting. This last mentioned use of hemp is one that is not yet available on a commercial level, but is being researched by artists with a view to only bottling hemp oil as an art supply but also in finding the best variety among the thousands of varieties of hemp for this purpose, with the possibility that in the future it will replace linseed and safflower oils, both of which are prone to some degree of yellowing. 
From the innovative to the well established, hemp has many uses, making it  an essential part of the economy, as well as being a top choice ecologically, given the fact that it needs less water than cotton and also far less pesticides. Since there  is no real reason not to cultivate it, and every reason to do so, it is the challenge of this present generation to reverse the mistakes of our predecessors  and restore hemp to its place in our fields and the marketplace, hopefully succeeding and earning the respect of future generations.
Kenyon Gibson
Author of "Hemp for Victory: History & Qualities of the World's Most Useful Plant"