Hemp Farming in the Pacific Northwest ~ A Dream Coming True?


1914 Federal Reserve note showing hemp farming

 

This morning I was thrilled to see an article in a local newspaper about the wonderful work some Washington residents are doing toward legalizing industrial hemp farming in our county.  I can tell you that I had goosebumps reading it. Now, we all know that legalization of industrial hemp in the U.S. has had a slow comeback, especially after the prohibition of hemp farming (you can see the article I wrote about prohibition and the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 HERE).

Here is part of the article:

“Sandy Soderberg, president of Evergreen Hemp Co., thinks Whatcom County could be the epicenter of Washington’s next billion-dollar industry: hemp.

 

Soderberg hosted an informative session on industrial hemp at her Semiahmoo residence July 26. Experts and politicians were in attendance, as well as a few people who were just curious about what this plant can do.

 

One thing hemp can’t do is get you stoned, unlike its notorious cousin. Formally known as cannabis sativa, hemp is closely related to marijuana but doesn’t cause intoxication when smoked. Instead, it is used in dozens of more practical applications. Its fibers have been used in ropes and textiles for millennia, and modern builders have found innovative ways to use it as a building material. Its seeds are used in foods and pharmaceuticals. Hemp oil is an ideal biofuel, and the plant’s ability to pull toxins out of soil makes it handy for superfund cleanup sites.”
To read the entire article, you can click HERE.
Will Washington State be the next state to enjoy the benefits of a billion dollar crop? I vote yes.

What’s New in the World of Hemp?


modern-uses-for-hemp

Greetings!

Much has been going on lately, both in my world and in the world of hemp!

Let’s start with my world. My book transcript is finished, now I am editor shopping and working on a book cover, as well as a cover for a spoken word CD I will be creating to go with the book…and one other creative project I may add to the package! Exciting times!!

There has been so much news about hemp lately, I almost don’t know where to start!

It is exciting to see daily, weekly, and monthly progress in education and legalization of hemp. Having said that, below, in outline style, is a run-down of what is happening nationally:

1) The call for hemp homes is getting stronger! Hemp Industries Association is offering a 3-day hands on course for building homes from hemcrete. Hemcrete is strong, versatile, and a high performance alternative to traditional building materials. Homes made with hemcrete leave a negative carbon footprint. The class is in September, so there is still time to check it out! You can find the information HERE.

2) Virginia is currently drafting a hemp farming act; when I hear more about the details I’ll share them here!

3) Next year, California may finally be planting hemp seed in research fields. Last year the bill passed, but it as been slow to get the action going. Again, as more details become available I’ll be writing and keeping you up to date!

4) GREAT NEWS FOR WASHINGTON STATE! First of all, I’m sure most of you know that recreational marijuana use has been legalized in Washington State. I do believe that this helped get the door open for industrial hemp farming. Currently there is pending legislation to allow hemp farming. Washington State has much farmland, and some of that isn’t even being used. How great it would be to see that land utilized for a crop that can feed, heal, house, and clothe us, fuel our cars, and much, much more! Whatcom county soil (which is where I live!!!) will be tested, and hopefully some test plots planted here. In my honest opinion, this is an excellent choice – we are, after all, the berry capital of the world (raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries) with our wonderful soils, as well as producers of corn, potatoes, and other crops. You can see the news clip from NBC News HERE.

5) “On May 12, Murray State University made history by becoming the first entity of any type in the nation to legally place industrial hemp seeds in the ground as part of a statewide trial.” What great news to see that hemp is legally planted in U.S. soil! http://murrayledger.com/news/growing-like-a-weed-msu-industrial-hemp-crop-thriving-in/article_2f1fb430-fe7f-11e3-bec4-0019bb2963f4.html

6) Tennessee is jumping in: “The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s proposed rules for hemp farming include plenty of red tape.

Under the proposal, farers would have to obtain a $500 license, be subjected to random testing of THC levels (to ensure trace amounts compared to marijuana) and provide GPS coordinates for their fields, Nashville Public Radio reports.

State Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) told the station that strict rules were necessary to open Tennessee’s’ doors to industrial hemp, but that he hopes there will be fewer hoops to jump through in the future. Farmers wishing to grow hemp can submit applications to the state later this year to begin growing in 2015.” http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/morning_call/2014/06/stateagriculture-department-proposes-many-hoops.html

7) And here comes Nebraska! “The first federal law mentioning hemp came in 1937. Congress discouraged the high THC varieties of cannabis, like marijuana, while exempting farmers who grew the crop for industrial uses like fiber and seed. It enjoyed a short resurgence during World War II, when the federal government actually promoted the crop, petering off in the 1950s. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 put the current kibosh on the plant. It required farmers apply for a federal permit before growing it. No commercial permits have been granted since then.

But in a historic move, the 2014 farm bill allowed hemp cultivation in areas where state laws have legalized the crop.” http://netnebraska.org/article/news/921662/now-appearing-hemp-first-time-decades

 

As you can see, the movement toward hemp farming, cultivation, and use is increasing as populations are learning about the excellent uses and versatility of hemp (not to mention a huge boost to the economy!). Can you feel the momentum? I can!

Kentucky, California, and Colorado are among states that have welcomed its return. Nebraska recently passed a law opening the door for farmers to grow hemp. Currently 12 states have legislation on the books that would allow cultivation of hemp as laid out in the recent Farm Bill.

Is Kentucky Close To Growing Hemp Again?


Hemp in Kentucky

My friend Alan Tracy sent me a link this afternoon, with the comment, “Big News!” (A great followup to yesterday’s post!)

This is from the website of Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (http://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=f0db455a-2152-4e7a-9ccd-358fb7f2f9bd)

Here is what it says

Jan 31 2013

Industrialized Hemp Will Help Spur Economic Growth and Create Jobs in Kentucky

Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement today regarding industrialized hemp and its impact on Kentucky:

“After long discussions with Senator Rand Paul and Commissioner James Comer on the economic benefits of industrialized hemp, I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy. Commissioner Comer has assured me that his office is committed to pursuing industrialized hemp production in a way that does not compromise Kentucky law enforcement’s marijuana eradication efforts or in any way promote illegal drug use. The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times that sounds like a good thing to me.”

A commitment to pursue a crop that can help our economy, our planet, and our health – that IS great news!

Let’s hope that Kentucky can get BACK to growing hemp, as it did 150 years ago.  It looks as if it is going in the right direction – again!

photo credit: jimmywayne via photopin cc

Great News!


hemp field

Yes, this IS great news!

Many of you are aware that Colorado has legalized the use of hemp.

A farmer in Colorado, who owns 3,000 acres of farmland, will use 100 of those acres to start growing industrial hemp. His first crop will be used to produce food-grade hempseed oil. This project will be good to gain understanding of the viability of hemp farming in the U.S.

On the other hand, there are those who are AGAINST the hemp farming. According to the Richmond Register, local law enforcement OPPOSES the farming. Their argument? “Dan Smoot, of the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police and president of Operation UNITE, a drug education, treatment and enforcement organization working in eastern Kentucky, said supporters are looking “through rose-colored glasses if they believe hemp production would be a good alternative crop or provide an economic boon.”

He said there isn’t a great demand for the crop, and legalizing its production “would create more problems than benefits and is currently not permitted under federal law.””

Also,

““It is impossible to distinguish between hemp and marijuana with the naked eye,” KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer said.”

Here are my key arguments: There is a distinguishable difference between hemp and marijuana. Other countries, where hemp farming is legal, have no problem telling the difference between the 2 plants. Hemp farming WOULD provide an economic boom, because of the need for clean fuels, environmentally healthy crops for textiles and plastics and building materials, and  healthy food.

It is my hope that the Federal government does NOT interfere and allow the farming of hemp. This is an excellent start to get BACK to the crop that supported our nation a century ago.

photo credit: higgott via photopin cc

It’s Hemp History Week!


Yes, it’s that time of the year – when we celebrate the history of the wonderful plant we know as hemp.

This is the third annual Hemp History Week, and this week is dedicated to education, awareness, health and wellness, and the  movement to let our farmers grow hemp again – which would benefit (of course) the farmers, our economy, our health, and our environment.

So, to kick off Hemp History Week, here is a 10,000 year timeline that showcases the history of hemp!

8000 B.C. – Hemp textiles are crafted in Asia and Europe.

3700 or 2700 B.C. – It is said that the first medical text, Pen Ts’ao, was written – which showcased the medicinal properties of hemp.

1500 B.C. – Scythians were harvesters of hemp. Scythia was located in Eurasia; it is said that the Scythians were the people who invented the scythe.

500 B.C. – During his 6-year travels and path to enlightenment, Buddha survived by eating hempseed.

450 B.C. – Herodotus records that the Scythians are making fine linens from hemp (at this time it is believed that he was writing about the Scythians living near Persia).

300 B.C. – Carthage and Rome fight for commercial and political power over the spice and hemp trade routes in the Mediterranean.

100 B.C. – China makes hemp paper.

100 A.D. – Pliny the Younger, a Roman official and historian and  writes a manual about the uses of hemp and how to grow and harvest hemp.

600 A.D. – Hemp fiber is popular and used widely by Germans, Franks, and the Vikings.

700 A.D. – Muslims adopted the Chinese process of making hemp paper.

850 A.D. – Africa saw its first paper mill built in Egypt.

(from this point onward, until around the 1800s, it was common to make paper from hemp).

1492 A.D. – Hemp sails, ropes, and caulking are used on the ships Columbus used to sail to America.

1545 A.D. – Hemp agriculture makes its way to Chile and other parts of South America.

1564 A.D. – King Philip of Spain follows the lead of Queen Elizabeth, and orders Cannabis to be grown throughout his empire, from modern-day Argentina to Oregon. Here is a bit of interesting history: The Spanish Empire included the West Coast of the United States, including Oregon, Washington, and parts of British Columbia, Canada, and down to South America.

16th and 17th centuries – Cannabis is a widespread commerce for the Dutch.

1619 A.D. – Virginia makes hemp cultivation mandatory.

1630 A.D. – Hemp used as currency throughout the American colonies.

1776 A.D. – The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.

1791 A.D. – George Washington encourages domestic hemp industries; Thomas Jefferson urges farmers to replace tobacco with hemp, calling hemp a ‘necessity’.

1800’s – Australia survives 2 famines by eating hempseeds and hemp leaves.

1850’s – Petrochemicals are processed and toxic processes are used to manufacture wood pulp and paper.

1930’s and 1940’s – New machines are constructed to process hemp hurds and fiber, for use in textiles, paper, and fuel. Henry Ford built a hemp car, powered with hemp fuel, grown with hemp on his own farm. Popular Mechanics magazine (1938) touted hemp as the new ‘Billion Dollar Crop’. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Hemp was a threat to those who had investments in timber, oil, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. There was rampant propaganda against hemp; hemp farming was subsequently outlawed (illegal to farm hemp without the proper permits from the DEA.

1943 – Hemp For Victory – the government allows hemp farming to aid in the war effort and creates a film showing the uses of hemp.  After the war, hemp was banned again.

1998 – The Canadian government legalizes commercial farming of industrial hemp.  U.S. imports hempseed and hempseed oil (mainly from Canada and China).

2004 – Ninth Circuit Court decision in Hemp Industries Association vs. DEA permanently protects sales of hemp foods and body care products in the U.S.

2005 – A bill is introduced in the U.S. Congress for the first time to allow states to regulate hemp farming, but to date no committee hearing or floor vote has taken place.

2007 – The first hemp licenses in over 50 years are granted to two North Dakota farmers.

2010 – HIA uncovers diaries and photographs of the USDA’s Chief Botanist Lyster Dewey, who grew 5 varieties of hemp on the current site of the Pentagon. Rep. Ron Paul makes Congressional statement in support of Hemp History Week.

As you can see, hemp has had a rich history on our planet for 10,000 years. No other plant has had such a beneficial, commercial, economical, environmental, and, of course, political impact…than hemp.

Hemp – A Cash Crop For Medicine, Food, And Shelter


The 1938 Edition of Popular Mechanics called hemp The New Billion Dollar Crop. (You can see the article here: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/popmech1.htm)

Unfortunately, the Billion Dollar Crop was not meant to be. Randolph Hearst’s newspapers depended on wood (he owned several sawmills) and his investments in timber would be threatened. DuPont’s chemicals were also a factor, in that they were used with the wood pulp to create the paper. Hemp was a threat to timber, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and oil.

What exactly is a cash crop? A cash crop is a crop grown for direct sale, as opposed to being grown for the farmer’s use (livestock feed, etc.). Before prohibition, hemp WAS  a cash crop. Hemp was used for food, textiles, fuel, medicine, and housing. It was also used as money. People could pay their taxes with hemp!

Hemp can produce ten times the methanol as corn. Crop rotation is not necessary, as the hemp enriches the soil on its own. It does not need pesticides or herbicides.

Up until the 20th century, hemp WAS the largest cash crop in America.

Today there is a movement to get BACK to hemp. Hemp farming is legal in several states, but getting the permits from the DEA is next to impossible. Farmers WANT to grow hemp. With over 50,000 products that can be produce from hemp, it IS the perfect choice.

Hemp fibers are the longest and strongest in the plant kingdom. Hemp fabric lasts longer than cotton and is less chemical and water intensive.

Hempseeds and hempseed oil are an excellent nutrition source, with the perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega fatty acids, easily digestible proteins, and other nutrients needed for optimum health.

Hemp fuel is safe and clean.

Hemp used in construction means cleaner, stronger structures – and structures made from hemp are carbon neutral; in some cases they are carbon negative.

Hemp fabric and clothing are becoming more popular; hemp foods are found in health food stores, food co-ops, and some grocery stores.

Hemp plastics and automobile components are becoming more popular as well.

Most of the hemp imported into the U.S. comes from Canada and China. New figures show that the U.S. spends more than $300,000,000 per year on hemp products – both finished products and raw hemp.

In Kentucky, lawmakers are promoting hemp as a cash crop.

Willie Nelson, in the following video, explains why hemp farming should be restored to the U.S.

The hemp market is GLOBAL. Imagine if the U.S. could put farmers to work, growing cash crops of hemp, and having the ability to be a SUPPLIER of hemp world-wide. It truly WOULD be a billion dollar crop.

Growing Hemp – An Act Of Social Responsibility


Social responsibility is a way of acting that has a positive, ethical result or impact on society.

Throughout history, industrial hemp has had nothing but a positive impact. It is one of the most nutritionally complete food plants, it’s nutritious properties are medicinal, it is used in construction, textiles, and plastics. It is an energy source. During its growing season hemp also heals and nourishes the soil, as well as cleans the air.

The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. The first Levi Strauss jeans were made from hemp. The first Betsy Ross flag was made of hemp fabric. The first Bibles were made from hemp. Hemp was used as legal tender – one could pay their taxes with hemp. Our first presidents grew hemp. Henry Ford grew hemp, processed hemp fuel, and built a hemp car. During WWII farmers were required to grow hemp to aid in the war effort.

Hemp was desirable because of its long, strong fibers; it needed little to no fertilization or pesticide; it was clean food and clean energy.

All of that changed with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and the resulting prohibition of hemp farming without proper permits (which have been impossible to get from the DEA). Hemp was banned because it threatened the investments of oil, timber, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies. Using products that were less healthy for the environment and human health became the norm.

This is where social IRRESPONSIBILITY comes into play.

Fossil fuels – fossil fuels replaced hemp fuel and other biomass. Fossil fuels are dirtier, create more pollution, are non-renewable, and are toxic. The process of extracting and processing fossil fuels is chemical-intensive and causes large amounts of pollution. Look at fracking (hydraulic fracturing,  the process for extracting natural gas) – fracking is the process of extracting natural gas by pumping fracking chemicals into the ground. These chemicals have shown up in drinking water and soil, potentially harming the health of those who are in the vicinity of the fracking projects.

Plastics – plastics made from fossil fuel products are NOT biodegradable. They are full of chemicals that harm health and body. Plastic made from hemp IS biodegradable and recyclable.

Timber – now, I am not saying cutting forests is ALL bad, (we do need wood for buildings and furniture) but I am saying that some products made from wood can be made from hemp – cardboard, paper products, fiberboard for construction, etc. Forests take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turns it into oxygen. Massive deforestation reduces the cleaning of the air, and also affects animal habitats and causes erosion problems.

Pharmaceuticals – I am not against chemical medication as a whole, there are some instances where medication is needed to save a life or to bring someone’s health back into balance. However, it has become the norm to treat illness and disease with pills and chemicals instead of looking at the CAUSE. Proper nutrition has a big hand in health. So does eating hemp. Hemp treats, cures, slows down the incidence, and prevents many diseases and conditions, and it does so in a healthy way. There are many chemical medications that are extremely dangerous and some of them do more harm than good. We’ve become a pill-popping society, when we should be a hemp-eating, nutrition-conscious society.

Chemicals – hemp rope was replaced with nylon rope. Why was hemp rope desirable? It’s long, strong fibers and UV resistance made it perfect in that it did not break down easily. Natural fabrics were replaced with nylon and polyester, rayon, and orlon – all of which are petrochemical based. (I am not saying that you have to rush out and buy a new wardrobe, but I am saying that we need to be conscious of what we wear and where the fibers come from).

In all of the above products – chemicals, fossil fuels, timber, pharmaceuticals – we see that each one of them in some way does more harm than good. THAT is socially irresponsible.

Allowing farmers to grow hemp, and allowing hemp to take its rightful place BACK in our economy is the socially and economically responsible thing to do.

HEMP – (H)ealthy (E)nvironment (M)ade (P)ossible


We know that industrial hemp is very healthy for our bodies, but it is also healing to the natural environment around us.

Hemp is one of the best plants for use in phytoremediation (healing the soil with plants).

1986 saw the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. The contamination not only affected the people in the area, but also contaminated the soil. In 1998 industrial hemp was planted to remove the contaminants from the soil.

Hemp is proving to be one of the best phyto-remediative plants we have been able to find,” said Slavik Dushenkov, a research scientist with PHYTOTECH.

Hemp would also be an excellent plant choice for healing the soil in Japan, after the nuclear disaster triggered from the earthquake last  year. However, hemp farming in Japan has decreased:

However, the cannabis control law was enacted under GHQ under the United States occupation after World War II in 1948. As a result, an annual license from the prefecture governor was needed to grow hemp . It felt that the farmer was the same as making of the cultivation of hemp the narcotic drug because of the licensing system degree. After that, hemp products of the plant origin disappeared one after another by the spread of the life use goods of the oil origin in postwar days. And the number of farmers who grow hemp has decreased gradually.” (Japanhemp.org)

Phytoremediation is the treatment of environmental problems through the use of plants. These plants, called hyperaccumulators, degrade contaminants (radiation, harmful metals, oil, solvents, chemicals, pesticides, sewage, hydrocarbons, etc.) in soil, water, and air.

During phytoremediation the roots of the hemp take in the contaminants. Other plants can be used for phytoremediation, but hemp is ideal because of its deep root system (3 feet or more). “Advantages: The main advantage of phytoextraction is environmental friendliness. Traditional methods that are used for cleaning up heavy metal-contaminated soil disrupt soil structure and reduce soil productivity, whereas phytoextraction can clean up the soil without causing any kind of harm to soil quality. Another benefit of phytoextraction is that it is less expensive than any other clean-up process.” (Wikipedia)

The toxic pollution is drawn up into the roots of the plant and into the stalk and leaves. After harvest there may be some remaining contamination, so several crops are often needed to bring the soil back to its healthy levels.

There is currently a Colorado House bill that is being worked on – the study will look at hemp’s effectiveness at cleaning the environment (although, that was proven at Chernobyl).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that more than 30,000 sites in the U.S. alone (including Hanford and Three Mile Island) require hazardous waste treatment. Restoring these areas and their soil, as well as disposing of the wastes, are costly projects, but the costs are expected to be reduced drastically if plants provide the phytoremediation results everyone is hoping for.” (www.mhhe.com)

Would hemp as an environmental ‘detergent’ be practical? In my opinion, a resounding YES!

Occupy ~ For Hemp!


The ‘Occupy’ movements worldwide are making huge statements. We’ve got Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Seattle, Tahrir Square protests in Cairo, Egypt, Spanish Indignants in Spain. Occupy movements are now going on in over 82 countries.

The main action behind the Occupy movements is to protest economic and social inequality. However, the Occupy statements are now filtering into other aspects.

Let’s look at Willie Nelson, for example. He is taking on the fight against the corporate elite – in this case, the corporate giants that monopolize the food system.

“From seed to plate, our food system is now even more concentrated than our banking system. Most economic sectors have concentration ratios hovering around 40 percent, meaning that the top four firms in the industry control 40 percent of the market. Anything beyond this level is considered “highly concentrated,” where experts believe competition is severely threatened and market abuses are likely to occur.” (Willie Nelson)

The corporations that are controlling the food system are also the ones who are putting American farmers, especially small farmers, at risk – as well as destroying the soil that the food is grown in.

Hundreds of citizens joined Occupy the Food System groups outside the Federal Courts in Manhattan on Jan. 31 to support organic family farmers in their landmark lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto. Arguments were heard that day concerning the lawsuit by 83 plaintiffs representing more than 300,000 organic farmers, organic seed growers and organic seed businesses.” (Personal Liberty Digest)

It is my belief that we should Occupy for Hemp. Hemp, the miracle plant of the ages, is nature’s perfect gift. Hemp is used for food, fuel, medicine, textiles, rope, oil, clothing, shoes, plastics, automobile panels…the list goes on and on.

Hemp does not need pesticides or herbicides to grow, it is naturally insect and weed repellent. Not only that, hemp heals the soil that it is grown in, reducing the need for field crop rotation.

It is, for the most part, an organic, nutrient-dense food – a perfect food for the human body, and hemp has the perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega fatty acids. It is so nutrient dense, in fact, that it could eradicate world starvation.

Because hemp has been put in the same class as marijuana, it is still deemed illegal to grow without a permit from the DEA (who at this time are refusing to allow the permits to grow hemp).

It’s hemp that will heal us, feed us, clothe us, heal our environment, clean our air, fuel and build our cars, and remove our dependence on fossil fuels (oil). It will put our farmers BACK to work. The millions of family farmers that are being put out of business by agri-giants NEED to be able to grow hemp. With the U.S. being the LARGEST importer of hemp, it only makes sense that we should…

Occupy for Hemp.

Lawmakers File Bill To Introduce Hemp Farming In Kentucky


This past Thursday (January 19, 2012) Kentucky lawmakers filed House Bill 286,  a bill to introduce hemp farming in Kentucky. 12 Kentucky House members signed HB 286, although they are aware that the federal government bans production of hemp.

In 1775 settlers from Virginia brought hemp into Kentucky and started growing it; hemp grew so well there that Kentucky became one of the most prolific growing states for hemp.

In July of 1998 a paper was written, titled Economic Impact of Industrial Hemp in Kentucky, which goes into great detail about the feasibility of growing hemp again in Kentucky.

Currently, 29 states have introduced hemp legislation; 17 have passed the legislation; 9 have removed barriers to production or research (Vote Hemp).

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner, James Comer, is part of the drive to bring industrial hemp farming back to Kentucky. If the bill is approved, Comer will petition the federal government for permits to grow the hemp. Allowing hemp farming in Kentucky would help the state’s declining agriculture economy.

“It sends a message that this is something that we’re serious about in Kentucky,” Comer said.