By Steve Elliott
Agriculture officials in Oregon have for months now been working on rules for industrial hemp production, with a goal of having them finished in time for a Spring 2015 planting. But one man from Portland doesn't want to wait.
Rick Rutherford, 47, has some land in Dufur, and he doesn't want to wait, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Rutherford, who said he sees big potential for industrial hemp, last week sent an application to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, requesting permission to grow hemp on his land in Wasco County.
"Time is of the essence as planting seeds needs to be underway within the next couple of weeks to conduct a viable outdoor research pilot program in Oregon," wrote Courtney Moran, a Portland lawyer, in a letter accompanying Rutherford's application.
"I think it will be kind of fun to do," Rutherford said. "I have been itching to do this for a long time."
State officials on Thursday said they aren't ready to start issuing hemp-growing licenses. The rule writing process has been torturously slow, as officials labor of licensing fees and processing rules.
The Farm Bill approved by Congress earlier this year allows states where industrial hemp is legal -- including Oregon -- to permit hemp production by universities and state agriculture departments. Sixteen states allow hemp cultivation.
By Steve Elliott
The North American trade group Hemp Industries Association has published its position on what it called the misbranding of cannabidiol (CBD) products as "hemp oil." The new statement from HIA explains the difference between hemp oil and CBD extracts in terms of their respective uses and means of production, and emphasizes the need for accurate language in the marketplace so consumers aren't misled.
"Hemp oil is the common term for hempseed oil, obtained by pressing hemp seeds that contain low levels of CBD, typically less than 25 parts per million (ppm)," the position states. "In contrast, CBD extracts are produced either directly from cannabis flowers that are up to 15 percent CBD (150,000 ppm), or indirectly as a co-product of the flowers and leaves that are mixed in with the stalks during hemp stalk processing for fiber."
The Drug Enforcement Administration attempted to ban important and commerce of hempseed and oil food products in 2001, claiming these products were Schedule I controlled substances. However, HIA successfully sued the CDEA, unequivocally establishing hemp seed, oil, and protein as entirely legal to import, process, sell and consume in the United States.
By Steve Elliott
A village in China is known as a place where people live far beyond the global average, with few suffering from health problems during the lives -- and scientists believe their secret may be in their diet, which includes lots of hempseed.
Villagers in Bama Yao typically consume fewer calories, and their food contains noticeably less fat, animal proteins, salt and sugar than global averages, reports Andrew Miller at Rocket News. And the fact that the water and air are breathtakingly clean certainly doesn't hurt.
But according to some experts, the abundant consumption of hempseed, deemed a "super food" due to its richness in essential fatty acids (EFAs) Omega 3 and 6, is what makes Bama Yao one of five locations on Earth where many inhabits live to more than 100 years old.
Hempseed provides a balanced ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, proteins, Vitamins A, E, and D, and many B vitamins. It is also rich in sodium, calcium, dietary fiber and iron, reports Healthy Holistic Living.
New Approach Oregon turned in at least 145,710 signatures Thursday, more than enough to qualify
The New Approach Oregon campaign, which is working to regulate marijuana, on Thursday turned in at least 145,710 signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State, more than enough to qualify a measure for the ballot.
That means Oregon voters in November 2014 can vote yes to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana. The campaign has finished collecting signatures.
Thursday's signature turn-in coincides with the six-month anniversary of the start of regulated sales of marijuana in Colorado. Marijuana sales in Colorado projected to result in $30 million in tax revenue in the next year. Colorado has already seen a 10 percent drop in violent crime and a 50 percent drop in homicides.
In Oregon under the current system, more than 10,000 adults in Oregon are arrested every year for marijuana, according to the latest numbers from the Oregon State Police. That’s an average of one person every 51 minutes.
“It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on treating marijuana use as a crime,” said Peter Zuckerman, press secretary for the New Approach Oregon campaign. “Prohibition of marijuana is ineffective, costs the state tax revenue and fuels violence. It’s time to try something new.”
By Steve Elliott
The U.S. House of Representatives early Friday cut off funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration's interference in state-legal industrial hemp research, a sharp rebuke to the beleaguered agency less than a month after DEA agents seized hemp seeds meant for Kentucky's pilot program.
Two hemp-related amendments to the DEA's funding bill passed, reports Ryan J. Reilly at The Huffington Post. The amendments, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) stop the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from blocking states' importation of hemp seeds, and from stopping the states from implementing laws authorizing industrial hemp cultivation made legal under this year's federal Farm Bill.
Massie's amendment passed 246-162, and Bonamici's passed 237-1780. The Senate will likely look at its own appropriations bill for the DEA and DOJ, and the House hemp amendments would have to survive that joint conference before taking effect. The House also voted to cut off funding for the DEA's medical marijuana raids in states where it is legal.
"The DEA has more important things to do than interfere with legal activities at the state level," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) "We need to remove this cloud of uncertainty."
Amendments Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Medical Marijuana Laws; Prohibit DEA from Blocking Production of Hemp; Deny Proposed DEA Budget Increase
DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart Increasingly At Odds With President Obama, Justice Department and Congress; Lawmakers and Advocates Call for Her to be Fired
The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on Thursday on at least four amendments checking the Drug Enforcement Administration's power and cutting its budget.
The DEA has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other problems exacerbated by the Drug War. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead deferring to DEA Administrators on how best to deal with drug-related issues.
That all has changed recently as more members of Congress have called out the DEA and its beleaguered head, Administrator Michele Leonhart.
“There’s unprecedented support on both sides of the aisle for ending the federal war on drugs and letting states set their own drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The more the DEA blocks sensible reforms the more they will see their agency’s power and budget come under deeper scrutiny.”
By Steve Elliott
Hemp has been legally planted in Kentucky for the first time in decades, signaling the tentative return of a crop which once was a lucrative industry for the Bluegrass State.
University of Kentucky researchers on Tuesday planted a small crop of 13 varieties of hemp seeds, finally released last week by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after pointless bureaucratic wrangling.
Although industrial hemp was an indispensable crop for Kentucky through World War II, it was the first time it had been legally planted in the state since the 1970s, reports Janet Patton at the Herald Leader.
University of Kentucky agronomists RIch Mundell and David Williams will supervise the hemp study. The plants are expected to sprout in 7 to 10 days and will be harvested in October. Each variety will be evaluated for its seed and fiber production.
"It's exciting to be working on something different, and we're very hopeful it will be successful," said Williams. "Generally speaking, compared to some crops, it's not difficult to grow.
"But there are some things that are unknown today," Williams continued. "In particular, differences in the varieties of hemp we have access to today."
While much of the economic interest in hemp decades ago was based on its fiber, now there's more focus on the seeds, which can be press for a nutritious oil which contains essential fatty acids (EFAs) Omega 3 and 6.
By Steve Elliott
Nebraska won't be harvesting a legal hemp crop this fall, despite the Legislature's passage of a law allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp for research. State bureaucrats at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture are still working on the rules.
The bill in question, LB 1001, tasked the state agriculture department with devising rules and regulations for hemp cultivation in the Cornhusker State, reports Nicholas Bergin at the Lincoln Journal Star. The department is still researching hemp programs in other states, but won't have their ducks -- or maybe I should say hemp plants -- in a row in time for spring planting.
"There will be no hemp research projects initiated under a program this year," said spokeswoman Christin Kamm of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Kamm didn't say when the first crop might be planted.
The industrial hemp bill, which passed overwhelmingly on a 39-2 vote, will allow the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to grow hemp, a variety of cannabis that unlike recreational marijuana does not contain enough THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) to produce a high.
The Illinois Senate on Monday voted 51-0 to pass House Bill 5085, sending the bill to the House for concurrence. This bill would allow Illinois colleges and universities to conduct research on industrial hemp and would bring Illinois law in line with recent changes to federal policy on hemp.
“Illinois has a long history of being a producer of industrial hemp and it is time we get back to our roots and begin the process of growing this important agricultural product throughout our state once again,” said Ali Nagib, assistant director of Illinois NORML. "Hundreds of millions of dollars of hemp products are sold annually throughout the U.S., and we need to bring the production of the plant back to Illinois instead of out-sourcing it to China, Europe and Canada."
Currently 12 states have laws which make the production of industrial hemp legal, but with limited exception none of those states have active cultivation of the plant due to federal laws prohibiting such production. HB 5085 does not go as far as the laws in those states and is limited to the research that was recently allowed by changes in federal law.
Industrial hemp is defined by the bill as a cannabis plant with no more than 0.3 percent THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis. (Science has shown, however, that particularly for hempseed oil production, higher-THC varieties produce more per acre.)
Political Battle Builds as DEA Faces Growing Scrutiny for Slew of Scandals: Use of NSA Data to Spy on Virtually All Americans, Massacre of Civilians in Honduras, and Systematic Pattern of Fabricating Evidence
DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart Increasingly At Odds With President Obama, Justice Dept., and Congress
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has weighed in on the political firestorm that has ensued since the DEA recently seized legal hemp seeds bound for a Kentucky hemp research program that was approved by Congress. McConnell told Politico Wednesday night, “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.”
The Kentucky Agriculture Department is suing the agency.
Hemp is not legal to grow in the U.S., though hemp products can be produced and sold in the U.S. Some states have made its cultivation legal, but these states -– North Dakota, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, California, Montana, West Virginia and Vermont -– have not yet begun to grow it because of resistance from the DEA.
A few months ago, Congress legalized the production of hemp for research purposes in states that want to allow it. But when Kentucky recently tried to import hemp seeds to begin production, the DEA seized the seeds. Kentucky officials, including Kentucky Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) were angered.
By Steve Elliott
A shipment of Italian hemp seeds has made it safely to Kentucky, where the law was recently changed to allow the growing of industrial hemp for university research projects, but federal customs officials in Louisville have so far refused to release the 250 pounds of seeds to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
The confusion is keeping the hemp seeds from getting to research project locations in the state, according to Kentucky officials, reports Kevin Willis at WKY Public Radio.
"I spoke with a Customs official in Chicago, and once I advised her of what the law is, and what we're doing at the Department of Agriculture, Customs in Chicago released the seeds to Louisville, and now it's just a question of getting everyone on the same page," said Holly Harris VonLuehrte, chief of staff at the Kentucky Agriculture Department.
VonLuehrte said she believes Customs officials will release the hemp seeds within "the next 24 hours."
The shipment of seeds from Italy is meant to supply three pilot hemp research projects in the Bluegrass State. VonLuehrte said the Department of Agriculture already has a prior shipment of hemp seeds ready to plant next Friday in Rockcastle County, home to a pilot hemp project being conducted by Kentucky State University.
By Steve Elliott
Archaeological excavations in Turkey have revealed a 9,000-year-old hemp-linen fabric in the ground at the site of a burned house. The fabric was wrapped around the skeleton of a baby.
The dig, in the central Anatolian province of Konya at the settlement of Çatalhöyük, is being called one of the most important finds of 2013, reports the Hurriyet Daily News. More than 120 people from 22 countries worked on the excavations.
"The fire warmed up the ground and platforms of the building and created a kiln drying effect," said Professor Ian Hodder of Stanford University. "Therefore the pieces and this piece of cloth underground have been so far protected."
"Examinations in the laboratory show that this piece of cloth is linen weaved with hemp," Professor Hodder said. "This is a first in the world and one of the best preserved examples."
"This piece of linen, which is weaved very thin, most probably came from the eastern Mediterranean from the central Anatolia," Hodder said. "It is already known that obsidians and sea shells had been exchanged in long-distance trade in the Middle East during the Neolithic era. But this fabric may have revealed another side of the trade."
A report on the Çatalhöyük excavations is available at www.catalhoyuk.com.
By Steve Elliott
One entrepreneur is warning that few Colorado farmers will plant hemp this spring if a federal ban on shipping hemp seeds across state lines and national borders isn't changed soon.
Hundreds of Colorado farmers have contacted her in recent months asking where to get hemp seeds for the coming season, said Barbara Filippone, whose Glenwood Springs-based company, EnvironTextiles, imports and sells hemp and other natural fibers, reports Nelson Harvey at the Aspen Daily News.
"I have a notebook with contacts for at least 100 interested farmers, and three to five more calling me every day," Filippone said.
Filippone said she recently heard from an eastern Colorado farmer who got a mysterious shoebox full of seeds in the mail from someone called "The Hemp Stork" who didn't list a return address. The farmer planted some of the seeds, Filippone said, before realizing it was illegal to ship hemp.
"He was terrified," Filipone said, adding that the seeds probably came from a hemp activist "who was not considering things like federal regulations, federal subsidies or crop insurance."
Sourcing hemp seeds from inside the state is next to impossible, since only one Colorado farmer, Ryan Loflin of Springfield, harvested a major hemp crop last year. Under federal law, which regards hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance just like marijuana, shipping unsterilized hemp seeds in from other states or countries is illegal.
By Steve Elliott
Today's plastics are made from petroleum, which means we are polluting the atmosphere and putting products that cannot biodegrade into our environment. But Zeoform, a new company based in Australia has created a new kind of plastic made only from water and cellulose taken from hemp plants -- meaning the plastic is not only eco-friendly but biodegradable.
The company's patented process converts the cellulose fibers found in hemp into a super-strong, high tech molding material capable of being formed into 100 percent nontoxic and biodegradable products, reports Joe Martino at Collective Evolution.
The company hopes to expand its patented technology and start offering manufacturing licenses to larger facilities around the world. Switching over from non-sustainable and toxic forms of plastic to Zeoform plastic can be done with existing infrastructure, according to the company.
The company says their product relies only upon the natural process of hydrogen bonding that takes place when cellulose fibers are mixed with water. No glue or other bonding material is necessary, because the bond already created is so strong.
The final material can be turned into almost anything, and can be cut, routed, machined, drilled, screwed, nailed and glued in the same way wood can be. It can also be colored and finished however product manufacturers would like.
By Steve Elliott
The Farm Bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday morning by a vote of 251 to 166, including the hemp provision. "This is a big first step towards allowing American farmers to once again grow industrial hemp," according to VoteHemp.org.
The hemp provision was originally introduced as an amendment to the Farm Bill by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), all three of whom represent states which have legalized industrial hemp. The provision allows universities and state agriculture departments to grow hemp for academic or agricultural research purposes, but applies only to states where industrial hemp farming has already been legalized under state law.
"By including language easing restrictions on industrial hemp in states where it is legal, Congress sends an important message that we are ready to examine hemp in a more appropriate way," Rep. Blumenauer said on Monday.
"Vote Hemp was pleased with the bipartisan support for the amendment and worked with key Republican and Democratic offices in both the House and Senate to ensure the amendment was included in the conference report, which passed the House on Thursday. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) reportedly worked to keep and strengthen the hemp provision in the Farm Bill.