Category Archives: Industrial HEMP

Hemp in Mason County


MARLA TONCRAY marla.toncray@lee.net

 

Ground Work02

 

It may look like similar to a marijuana plant, but industrial hemp is quite different from its relative.

Industrial hemp production in Kentucky is back under a pilot program introduced in the Farm Bill legislation of 2014.  Under the language of that law, farmers in Kentucky and other states began growing industrial hemp through research pilot programs at the state’s universities and Department of Agriculture.

Locally, Mason County farmer Joe Collins is growing five acres of hemp under the pilot program.  As the guest speaker recently of the Maysville Rotary Club, Collins explained industrial hemp contains only 0.3 percent of THC (tetrahydrocannabinoids) while marijuana has anywhere from 5-10 percent of THC.

And therein lies the difference: industrial hemp doesn’t get a person “high” and can be used in the manufacture of commodities like clothing and rope.

The first hemp was grown in Kentucky in 1775 in Danville on Clark’s Run Creek. There was a reemergence of hemp production during World War II, but it wasn’t long after that the plant was outlawed and considered a controlled substance.

Kentucky’s earlier settlers brought hemp to the area. Hemp, as well as flax and wool, were the best options for fabric in a region of the country where cotton didn’t grow well.

Counties producing the most hemp were located in the Bluegrass region of the state and were either near or along the Kentucky River. Fayette, Woodford, Shelby, Clark, Scott, Bourbon, Jessamine, Mason, Franklin, Boyle and Lincoln proved to be the largest hemp-producing counties during the 19th century.

During the 1830s, Maysville was the state’s second largest producer of hemp products, bags, rope and twine.

The Old Hemp Warehouse once stood at the corner of Sutton and West Third streets.  The building was constructed sometime in the 1840s and later became the Leslie H. Arthur American Legion Post 13.

Research on the property shows that William Phillips sold the property in 1837 to Thomas Shreve for $15,000.  In his 1902 will, O.H. P Thomas left the property, then called Wells Warehouse, to his wife, Mary.  It was conveyed to the American Legion in 1933 from the Maysville Produce Company.

In 1996, the building and its history were at the center of controversy, when the Mason County Fiscal Court, after seeking other alternatives, voted to have the building razed for a new justice center.  The old courthouse was out of space and the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort financed the construction of the new building. 

Newspaper accounts at the time show a divided community, with members of the Mason County Historical Society and the community battling local officials or supporting them. 

And although Danville had converted its old hemp warehouse into a student center, no alternative uses could be found for the hemp warehouse in Maysville.

The following history on hemp in Mason County is taken from History of Maysville and Mason County., Ky by G. Glenn Clift, published in 1936.

Unfortunately, the history is brief and doesn’t illustrate just how much this particular crop infused the local economy until its gradual decline following the American Civil War.

“Hemp was formerly the staple crop of the county, reaching its highest yield in 1847. From that time the acreage gradually declined, and today cultivation has entirely ceased.”

“Agricultural interests were boosted in Mason County with the introduction, in the spring of 1853, of a new species oh hemp, the seed for which was brought by L. Maltby from abroad.”

Maltby was in France in 1851 and learned there had been introduced the So-ma or Chinese Hemp, which was found to yield much more than the Russian.  It required longer and warmer seasons than those of France to mature the seed, and consequently the seed was raised in Algiers and imported into France to be sown for lint, as it gave a yield one-third greater than the Russian hemp. 

He communicated this information to the Maysville press.

“…I brought the seed to this country and in the spring of ’52, Mr. C. A. Marshall and myself both planted seed of it, and I sent some to Louisiana. Mr. M. succeeded in raising seed there, finding it mature about three weeks later than the native plant. In Louisiana it was easily raised…This spring (1853) Captain Peyton J. Key, near this place (Washington) sowed about an acre with this seed. The hemp is now standing, and is some two feet higher than the native hemp sown on the same day in an adjoining piece of ground.  It will average nearly ten feet in height, stand thicker on the ground and will not be ready to cut till next week (September 1) – some ten days later than the hemp sown by the side of it.  It is of a light green, with a narrow leaf, of deep indentation. It promises to lint very heavily. As far as any comparison can be made with the old variety, in the present green state of both, some farmers think it will give double the lints…”

In 1854, the area suffered a severe drought, which forced higher prices locally….in January 1855, an agent was sent (by farmers) to France and Russia for the express purpose of buying in those countries 30,000 bushels of hemp seed.  So severe had been the drought that seed enough could not be found in the United States.  The agent was able to procure only 4,000 bushels, which was imported to Mason County at Maysville…”

The following is taken from the Explore Kentucky History website:

“Kentuckians also manufactured hemp into marketable products. The largest use of hemp was in making rope and the woven bagging that bundled cotton bales. Ropewalks turned out thousands of yards of hemp cordage, and factory looms in Lexington, Danville, and Frankfort wove the bagging. Another significant consumer of Kentucky hemp was the United States Navy, which used the rope for ships’ rigging.

Hemp production declined during the Civil War. Although some hemp was still grown in Kentucky at that time, the cotton market in the deep South, and, therefore, the market for cordage and bagging, was cut off. Farmers instead looked to other crops that were more marketable. After the war, the hemp market fluctuated with the cotton market. With slavery abolished, finding labor proved difficult.

Hemp made a strong comeback during the Spanish-American War and again during World War One and World War Two. Although the production of hemp became illegal during the latter part of the 20th century, recent years have seen an increased interest in producing industrial hemp in Kentucky.”

Research for this article conducted at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center, Clift’s History of Maysville and Mason County and www.explorekyhistory.ky.gov.

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky hemp was king before steamships, free trade and reefer madness


Widely used fiber plant was key to Lexington’s early wealth and prosperity

Ropewalks and bag factories once stood amid city’s historic neighborhoods

FBI later went to UK historians seeking evidence slaves, field hands got high

 

 

By Tom Eblen

teblen@herald-leader.com

 

Hemp has been branded an outlaw for decades because it looks like its mind-altering botanical cousin, marijuana. But before steamships, free trade, synthetic fibers and reefer madness, this useful plant was Kentucky’s biggest cash crop.

Kentucky grew most of America’s hemp throughout the 1800s, but it was often a tortured relationship.

An undated postcard shows a Kentucky hemp field.

An undated postcard shows a Kentucky hemp field. University of Kentucky Special Collections

“Except for the history of tobacco, no other Kentucky field crop has undergone so many frustrating turns of fortune or come under such intense scrutiny,” the late state historian Thomas D. Clark wrote in 1998, describing hemp’s “aura of romance and … cloud of evil.”

Kentucky’s earliest settlers brought hemp seeds over the mountains with them. Archibald McNeill planted the first recorded crop in 1775 near Danville. Farmers soon realized that Central Kentucky’s rich soil and plentiful rainfall made it an ideal place to grow the most widely used fiber for rope, sailcloth and industrial bags.

Kentucky hemp farmers were never trying to get high — just rich.

John Wesley Hunt, Kentucky’s first millionaire and builder of the Hunt-Morgan house, made his fortune in the hemp industry, as did his next-door neighbors, Thomas Hart and Benjamin Gratz. Hart’s son-in-law, the politician Henry Clay, was a big hemp grower and advocate for the crop in Congress.

Several Bluegrass plantation owners named their mansions Waveland because they were surrounded by fields of lacy-topped hemp waving in the breeze.

Slavery was as important to Kentucky’s hemp industry as rich soil and plentiful water. Harvesting and preparing hemp before modern processing machines was difficult, back-breaking work that few people did by choice.

After growing tall in summer, hemp stalks were cut at first frost, shocked and then spread out on the ground to begin to rot. After this curing, a device called a hemp brake was used to separate fiber from the stalk. The fibers were then twisted into rope or spun into fabric.

During the half-century before the Civil War, hemp was Lexington’s biggest industry. The city had 18 rope and bag factories in 1838 that employed 1,000 workers — an impressive number for a city of 6,800 people.

Long sheds or open-air “ropewalks” were built around town for hemp fibers to be twisted into rope. An 1855 Lexington map shows several ropewalks and bag factories in the blocks north of Short Street.

Future Confederate general John Hunt Morgan and his wife’s brother, Sanders Bruce, who would become a Union colonel, had one of the city’s largest hemp factories on East Third Street behind the mansion now called Carrick House.

One of Lexington’s last remnants of the antebellum hemp industry is a small brick cottage on East Third Street, across from the log cabin on Transylvania University’s campus. It was the office of Thomas January’s ropewalk, which spread out behind it.

The biggest markets for hemp were sailcloth and rigging for ships and the growing Southern cotton trade, which used hemp rope and bags to package cotton bales. The Navy was a large but fickle client, despite the political clout Kentuckians wielded in Washington.

The peak years of hemp production, in the 1850s, saw Kentucky produce 40,000 of the 71,500 tons of hemp fiber grown in America. The Civil War began a great unraveling of Kentucky’s hemp industry and its biggest client, the Southern cotton industry, both of which depended on slave labor. Then things got worse.

Sailing ships were soon replaced by steamships, causing the sailcloth market to plummet. But the biggest blow was free trade agreements that removed tariffs on Asian jute, which was much cheaper to grow and process than hemp.

The hemp industry shrunk considerably, but Kentucky still dominated it. Ten Central Kentucky counties produced 90 percent of America’s hemp in 1889. Hemp remained the state’s biggest cash crop until 1915, when tobacco became king.

But more trouble was ahead. After Prohibition’s repeal in 1933, reformers focused on outlawing narcotics. Hysteria surrounding this first war on drugs included the famous 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film, Reefer Madness. Hemp was swept up in a 1937 marijuana law, although it got a reprieve in the early 1940s when Kentucky farmers were encouraged to grow hemp because World War II prevented the import of Asian jute.

Hemp contains little of the psychoactive chemical THC found in marijuana. Still, soon after World War II, the FBI asked the University of Kentucky’s History Department for evidence that slaves and field hands had tried to get high by smoking hemp leaves and blooms, wrote Clark, a history professor at the time.

“A case of a slave smoking hemp in the neighborhood of Owensboro could be documented,” he wrote, “but there was a vagueness about other instances.”

Tom Eblen: 859-231-1415, teblen@herald-leader.com, @tomeblen

Read more here

Soon Hemp May Be A Tradable Commodity With Startup Seed CX


February 17, 2016, 1:00 AM EST

 

You can trade gold and pork belly futures, why not hemp?

Raising venture capital is difficult for any first-time founders with a company that hasn’t yet launched. Multiply that by 100 when your startup has any tangential relationship to cannabis.

It is no surprise, then, that it took Edward Woodford, co-founder of Seed Commodities Exchange, a commodities trading platform for industrial hemp, to send 11,000 emails, travel 46,238 miles, and meet with 604 investors to raise Seed CX’s first round of funding. At one point, Woodford sent so many messages on LinkedIn that the service temporarily banned him.

It’s also little surprise that when Seed CX finally secured its $3.42 million convertible note, announced today, many of the company’s 50 investors declined to make their names public. The ones that it did include were lead investor Charlie O’Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Darren Herman, Tom Sosnoff, 500 Startups, iAngels, Struck Capital, Ron Geffner, David Adler, Christopher Lee, and Julien Codorniou.

The problem is not that Seed CX operates in a legal gray area — the platform only operates in areas where hemp farming is federally legal — or that its legal risk is any higher than a disruptive company like Uber or Airbnb. It’s that most investment funds have a “vice” clause, which forbids them from touching anything that sounds like drugs.

A number of venture investors liked Seed CX enough to invest their personal money. Seed CX’s investor list is rounded out by commitments from several trading platforms, Woodford says.

Seed CX’s commodities trading platform is powered by GMEX Technologies, a London-based subsidiary of financial technology company GMEX Group. Seed CX is awaiting regulatory approval by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. The startup hopes to be up and running with its first commodities: hemp seed, whole hemp plant and whole hemp plant extract, by the time the farming season starts in May.

The market for commodities, which dwarfs the stock market, allows traders to buy and sell anything from precious metals like gold to farm products like onions. As the U.S. government cuts subsidies for tobacco, many farmers in Kentucky have begun growing and processing hemp. Currently there are around 100 hemp farmers in the U.S. and 150 hemp processors. (Hemp farming and processing is federally legal under the Agricultural Act of 2014, but only in states with the proper infrastructure, which currently includes Kentucky and 26 others. Hemp itself is legal everywhere.) Woodford would not disclose how many farmers and traders had signed up to use Seed CX when it launches.

If it gets regulatory approval, Seed CX will be the first trading platform for hemp. Many commodities trading platforms start out specializing in one type of commodity to maximize liquidity, Woodford says. From there, Woodford says Seed CX will expand into other “nascent, illiquid” commodities.

Woodford believes commodities traders will be eager to trade hemp because they like unique, idiosyncratic risks of a new market with a complicated legal framework. Also, many traders believe that the longer they are in a market before it becomes mainstream, the more edge they have. Likewise, for hemp farmers and processors, a commodities market allows them to lock in prices with derivatives contracts.

Even though hemp is made from cannabis, Woodford is not eager to be associated with the marijuana industry. “The perception of cannabis — sometimes it widens peoples’ eyes and sometimes it narrows them,” he says. “In Silicon Valley, it is a real turnoff.” That’s part of the excitement behind Seed CX, but Woodford is careful to note that hemp is different from marijuana.

Seed CX’s fundraising struggle speaks to the broader business world’s mix of fear and excitement around cannabis legalization. Few startups in the category have been able to raise venture capital from traditional institutional investors.

CONTINUE READING…

Legislation to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana is unlikely to be addressed during this legislative session in Kentucky


 

https://i0.wp.com/static.lakana.com/nxsglobal/tristatehomepage/photo/2016/01/27/5bdff8866c6a426bad10f0c8540e3323_6711047_ver1.0.jpg

 

Legislation to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana is unlikely to be addressed during this legislative session in Kentucky.

That’s according to the committee’s chairman who’s handling the proposal. So what about the state’s hemp pilot program?

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles was in Owensboro Wednesday. He says he expects 200 farmers to plant more than 4,000 acres this year.

That’s 4 times as much as in 2015.
Former Agriculture Commissioner James Comer started the program last year.  Quarles says officials are encouraging more local companies to use hemp grown in the Commonwealth –

"There are car manufacturers in Kentucky who use plant products similar to industrial hemp, but we’re hoping to pitch them on the idea of using Kentucky grown industrial hemp, not just for the manufacturing industry, but also other manufacturers across the state as well."

More than 100 farmers participated last year and twice as many are expected this year.  Kentucky is one of several states with a hemp pilot program.

CONTINUE READING…

Virginia House Passes Bill to Authorize Hemp Farming, 98-0


RICHMOND, Va. (Jan. 26, 2016) – Today, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill to authorize the farming, and production of industrial hemp in the state for commercial purposes, setting the foundation for further action. The vote was 98-0.

Introduced by Del. Brenda Pogge (R-Norge), House Bill 699 (HB699) would amend current state law on hemp and create a framework so that hemp businesses/processors and hemp farmers can proceed with business plans.

As noted in the impact statement from the Department of Planning and Budget, the bill would also require the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to “adopt regulations as necessary to license persons to grow and process industrial hemp for any purpose.” [emphasis added]

Under the Code of Virginia, § 3.2-4113 – as passed into law in 2015 – authorizes the state to issue licenses to farm and produce hemp for research purposes only under the Federal Farm Bill of 2014. If passed into law, HB699 would broaden the scope of hemp in the state to include the commercial “manufacture of industrial hemp products.” The bill would require creation of a  licensure and renewal, including the establishment of any fees not to exceed $250, to allow a person to grow industrial hemp in the Commonwealth for any lawful purpose.

If passed, the new law would read, in part:

No person licensed pursuant to § 3.2-4115 or 3.2-4117 shall be prosecuted under § 18.2-247, 18.2-248, 18.2-248.01, 18.2-248.1, 18.2-250, or18.2-250.1 for the possession, cultivation or manufacture of industrial hemp plant material and seeds or industrial hemp products.

HB699 would take a first step toward establishing an independent hemp policy in Virginia and would create a foundation for future action.

Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition founder and executive director Jason Amatucci called it a historic bill.

“This will make Virginia one of the leaders in being ‘Open for Hemp Business’ very soon. It will take 3-5 years to get the hemp industry really up and going and this is yet another great step.”

FEDERAL FARM BILL

Early in 2014, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The “hemp amendment”

…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oil-seed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.

Current federal law authorizes the farming of hemp – by research institutions only, for research only. Farming for commercial purposes by individuals and businesses remains prohibited. HB699 sets a stage that could eventually lead development of a hemp industry despite federal prohibition.

OTHER STATES

Passage of HB699 would take a small set toward setting the stage to nullify the federal hemp ban in practice. Virginia would join with other states – including Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Connecticut, Maine, North Dakota and Vermont – that have simply ignored federal prohibition and legalized industrial hemp production within their state borders.

Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, and farmers in Vermont began harvesting in 2014, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities. On Feb. 2 of last year, the Oregon hemp industry officially opened for business and one week later, the first license went to a small non-profit group. As more people engage in hemp production and the market grows within these states, more people will become emboldened creating an exponential wave, ultimately nullifying the federal ban in effect.

HUGE MARKET FOR HEMP

According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. is the only developed nation that hasn’t developed an industrial hemp crop for economic purposes.

Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $600 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.

During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”.

HB699 represents an essential first step toward hemp freedom in the state of Virginia.

WHAT’S NEXT

HB699 now moves to the Senate, where it will first be assigned to a committee for further consideration.

If you live in Virginia: For action steps to help get this bill passed click HERE.

For other states: Take action to push back against hemp prohibition HERE.

CONTINUE READING…

The United States is currently the only industrialized nation where hemp production is illegal


Legalizing Weed: 4 Facts About the Industrial Hemp Farming Act

By Andrea Miller   |   Tuesday, 17 Nov 2015 05:53 PM

Though it’s often confused with the movement for legalizing weed, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 is actually a separate movement specifically for cannabis sativa plants cultivated for development and production of hemp products. The bill seeks to amend the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act so that it will not include industrial hemp.
Here are four facts about the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015.

Urgent: Should Marijuana Be Legalized in All States?

1. The bill has a long history.
While it was reintroduced in 2015, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act has gone through several iterations. It was first introduced in 2005 by Ron Paul, Pete Stark, Jim McDermott, and Raul Grijalva, but stalled after it was referred to the Subcommittee on Health.
With some changes, the bill was introduced again in both 2007 and 2009, both times failing to get past this committee despite changes in the bill that seek to separate legalizing weed from legalizing industrial hemp. A 2013 version stalled with the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
2. The bill has bipartisan support.
Unlike legalizing weed, which has traditionally been a Democrat-supported movement, both Republicans and Democrats have shown support for the new version of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act. This is a nod to the economic impact that cultivation of industrial hemp could have on the nation’s agricultural landscape and on manufacturing. Sponsors of the bill include Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-California)
3. The United States is currently the only industrialized nation where hemp production is illegal.
However, the U.S. is also the world’s largest consumer of hemp-related products. This means that a bill allowing cultivation of industrial hemp would bolster domestic trade and allow access to more affordable and fresher industrial hemp for manufacturing purposes.

Vote Now: How Do You Feel About Marijuana Legalization?

4. Twenty states have already legalized industrial hemp production.
However, farmers who grow the crop in those states still risk targeting by federal authorities unless the Industrial Hemp Act is passed. In an earlier win for industrial hemp production, President Barack Obama signed a bill in early 2014 allowing colleges and universities to grow the crop for research purposes in these 20 states.
With legalizing weed a reality in 20 states and Washington, D.C., this new reintroduction of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act has a real chance at becoming law for the first time since its inception.

Related Stories:

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/legalizing-weed-industrial-hemp-farming-act/2015/11/17/id/702575/#ixzz3rrpPH0We
Urgent: Rate Obama on His Job Performance. Vote Here Now!

Stars, Stripes, and Hemp Fly over Capitol


  • By Tim Marema
  • November 11, 2015
  • Photo by Donnie Hedden 2015

    A plant the federal law says is a Schedule I controlled substance was used to make the U.S. flag that will fly over the Capitol on Veterans Day. Industrial hemp could be a boon for small farmers, say proponents, including the U.S. veteran who grew the hemp used to make the flag.

    An American flag made of industrial hemp grown in Kentucky by U.S. military veterans will be flown over the U.S. Capitol for the first time on Veterans Day, according to a press release from organizers of the event.

    The event is in support of federal legislation that would restore the industrial hemp industry in America.

    The 2014 farm bill granted states limited permission to allow cultivation of industrial hemp for agricultural research or pilot projects. Kentucky Senator and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was among the legislators who supported the measure.

    “Hemp was a crop that built our nation,” said Mike Lewis, a U.S. veteran and Kentucky hemp farmer who directs the Growing Warriors Project. The project grew the hemp used to make the flag.

    “Betsy Ross’ first American flag was made of hemp. We have flags made in China now. That’s almost sacrilegious,” Lewis said. He served in the “Commander in Chiefs Guard” of the 3rd U.S. Infantry from 1992 to 1995.

    Twenty-seven U.S. states have enacted or are considering laws to allow industrial hemp cultivation or are petitioning the federal government to declassify industrial hemp as a drug.  The proposed federal legislation would remove industrial hemp from the controlled substance list.

    Joe Schroeder with Freedom of Seed and Feed said industrial hemp could be a big help to America’s small farmers.  “If a hemp industry is to thrive in America again and provide the stability for so many communities that tobacco once did, it has to start with the stability of the small farmer,” Schroeder said.

    Hemp advocates say the fibrous plant can be used as raw material in clothing, carpet, beauty products, paper, and even as building material, insulation, and clutch linings.

    About 30 countries allow cultivation of industrial hemp, according to a 2015 Congressional Research Service report. These nations produced about 380 million tons of hemp in 2011. The U.S. imported $37 million in hemp products in 2014, according to the report.

    Al Jazeera America reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s last record of a hemp crop was in the 1950s. The plant was grown to make rope during World War II. Its production peaked in 1943 when 150 million pounds were harvested from 146,200 acres.

    Hemp is related to the plant that produces marijuana but contains negligible amounts of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Political observers say the effort to change U.S. law on hemp is part of a larger rethinking of cannabis laws.

    An opponent of marijuana legalization told Al Jazeera last year he doubted that a change in the U.S. industrial hemp laws would have much impact on the marijuana debate.

    “On the one hand, I think it’s part of a larger agenda to normalize marijuana by a few,” said Kevin Sabet, director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national alliance that opposes pot legalization. “On the other hand, will it have any difference at the end of the day? I would be highly skeptical of that.”

    CONTINUE READING…

    Kentucky Farmers Ready for Growth of Hemp Industry


    By Janet Patton | November 4, 2015

    Tucked away off a narrow country road in Clark County, Kentucky, in the middle of a farm, 27 acres of hemp grew all summer. Now, the plants will be harvested and processed.

    Kentucky, hailed as a leader by industrial hemp advocates, has grown the hemp. Now the state is working on growing the industry.

    “In two years, we’ve come a long way,” said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is now running for Congress. “We’ve proven first of all that it’s not a drug, which was very important for the opposition to realize. And we’ve proven it’s economically viable, or there wouldn’t be 22 companies that have made an investment in the state. … What we’re doing now is working with the companies that want to go to the next step to commercialize the product. “

    The plants in Winchester are part of the 100 acres of hemp – high in cannabidiol and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (the high-inducing chemical in marijuana) – grown this year for GenCanna, which moved from Canada to Kentucky to be in the heart of the hemp revolution. It deliberately chose to come to Kentucky over other states, including Colorado, because of the agricultural resources and the climate, both meteorological and political.

    “We have been in this industry for many years, and we are setting a new bar in Kentucky,” GenCanna CEO Matty Mangone- Miranda said. “Kentucky’s kept the focus on industrial hemp” rather than cloud the issue with other forms of cannabis cultivation, as Colorado has permitted.

    Mangone-Miranda, who estimates that hemp could become a billion-dollar industry, said his group is in hemp for the long run.

    “The industry is likely to have a bubble, then stabilize with a market of diversified products,” he said, citing potential uses in sports drinks, nutritional products, supplements and more.

    GenCanna has invested more than $5 million in Kentucky, according to company officials, although it has yet to see any revenue. That will come once the company is able to deliver a stable source of low-THC/high-CBD hemp.

    “The only way to have hemp become an agricultural commodity is to grow lots of it and see what happens,” said Steve Bean, GenCanna’s chief operating officer.

    Coming to Kentucky had other benefits, too. Many farmers were eager to get into the crop, which decades ago proliferated in the Bluegrass; hundreds applied to be part of pilot projects to grow hemp. The crop still can legally be grown only in affiliation with the state Department of Agriculture and entities that sign detailed memos of understanding.

    Kentucky also has resources that in the past were used for tobacco that have converted well to hemp cultivation.

    In fact, GenCanna’s headquarters is now in part of a former Philip Morris office building stuffed with former labs. The place was practically abandoned as the cigarette maker began retreating from Central Kentucky.

    And next door is a processing center in a former tobacco seed plant, where GenCanna built a system to turn the chopped-up hemp plants into a sort of dried powder to sell as a nutritional supplement.

    The Shell Farm and Greenhouses in Lancaster is turning its fields away from tobacco, growing 157,000 hemp plants on 40 acres outdoors and 3,500 plants in a greenhouse.

    “And we’ll be growing it indoors all winter,” Giles Shell said. Shell’s greenhouses once raised flowers; now he’s working on hemp genetics.

    “There’s no seed crop, so we have to take cuttings to get the plants in the field. So I’m selecting genetics, for a hardier plant – bigger, fuller,” Shell said. “We’ve got a problem with variegation or chimera, so I trying to select away from it.”

    Next year, Shell intends to grow even more hemp.

    “We’re going to quit raising our tobacco crop, and if we do any flowers, it will be downsized,” Shell said. “Last year, we raised 120 acres of tobacco. This year, we dropped to 80. Next year, we will drop to none. There’s not a market any more for tobacco and not enough money once you factor in labor and chemical costs.”

    Both the offices and the processing center are shared with Atalo Holdings, another hemp entrepreneur company, this one formed by Andy Graves and other Kentuckians working on crushing hemp seed for oil and other fiber production. Graves also grew the 27 acres of hemp for GenCanna.

    Other groups, including the Stanley Brothers of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil fame, also are pursuing the hemp’s potential.

    Kentucky could be on the cusp of a green revolution – a hemp boom that could go in myriad directions or spiral into a bubble of speculation.

    “It could,” Comer acknowledged. But, assuming that sometime in the next two years, Congress makes it legal for anyone to grow hemp, he said Kentucky should be well-positioned, with a jump-start on the infrastructure.

    “We get requests every day for companies that want to start processing hemp. I worry that some may not have the credibility of some of the others, and that’s why it’s taking longer to certify, to get more background info,” Comer said. “We’re not picking winners and losers, but those that have credibility. Our reputations are on the line here, too.”

    GenCanna has more contracts with farmers than any other company at this point, Comer said. It’s the only one in the cannabidiol business with signed contracts with national chains to buy their hemp product, he said.

    “GenCanna is the real deal,” he said. “And they’ve given me assurances everyone will be paid, and all the farmers are happy.”

    The Shell family, which has a three-year contract with GenCanna, certainly is now.

    “We were very leery – I was the most reserved in my family of starting to do this,” Giles Shell said. “But … I felt like we were the best route to help commercialize this crop. Demand is really high, and supply isn’t there. Basic economics will tell you that’s profit.

    “We’ve got a year ahead of everybody else that’s going to get into the game.”

    CONTINUE READING…

    LISTEN: Newsweek Writer Discusses Kentucky’s ‘Great Hemp Experiment’


     

    HempField-KYHIA-copy

     

     

    Originally published on October 14, 2015 6:09 am

    Newsweek reporter Jessica Firger recently wrote a story in which she described the challenges for Kentucky farmers growing the plant.

    On Tuesday, Firger discussed with Kentucky Public Radio how the state’s fledgling hemp industry is providing an alternative for down-and-out tobacco farmers in the state.

    In “The Great Kentucky Hemp Experiment,” Firger writes that hemp is just a few genetic tweaks away from marijuana and also smells like its illicit cousin when it flowers.

    During her reporting at a hemp farm near Lexington, farmers turned to hemp after struggling to grow and sell tobacco and ornamental flowers, Firger said.

    “A lot of farmers in the state and lawmakers are really hopeful that growing hemp is really going to change things,” she told Kentucky Public Radio.

    Kentucky is one of several states that has enacted a hemp pilot program that allows a limited number of acres to be cultivated for industrial hemp.

    Bringing hemp to Kentucky has been a pet project of Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who has gotten support from U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, among others.

    Listen

    CONTINUE READING…

    2016 Industrial Hemp Project Applications Sought


    Farmers, processors, universities, and others interested in conducting an industrial hemp pilot project in 2016, are invited to apply,

    Applicants must complete an application and submit it to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture no later than Nov. 5, 2015.

    FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) Farmers, processors, universities, and others interested in conducting an industrial hemp pilot project in 2016, are invited to apply, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has announced.

    “The industrial hemp pilot projects have yielded valuable information the past two years,” Commissioner Comer said. “We look forward to another successful round of projects and encourage applicants to submit proposals to research hemp production, processing, manufacturing, and marketing. This work will help establish Kentucky as the epicenter of America’s industrial hemp industry once the remaining legal barriers to hemp production are removed.”

    Kentucky Proud Hemp Logo

    Applicants must complete an application and submit it to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture no later than Nov. 5, 2015. Applications and instructions are available on the KDA’s website at www.kyagr.com/hemp.

    The department received 326 applications and approved 121 in 2015.

    This year’s planting intentions totaled more than 1,700 acres, of which more than 922 acres were planted. In 2014, the first year of industrial hemp pilot projects, projects totaled just over 30 acres.

    The 2014 federal farm bill permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. Legislation passed in the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly established a regulatory framework for industrial hemp production in Kentucky. Commissioner Comer led a bipartisan effort in support of the legislation, known as Senate Bill 50.

    For more information, contact the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Program at (502) 573-0282, Option 1, or hemp@ky.gov.

    CONTINUE READING…