Yesterday at 12:10 pm the WSDA Industrial Hemp Coordinator, Emily Febles, was served with a lawsuit filed against both the WSDA and herself…


Steve Sarich with Eddy Lepp and 94 others.

May 23 at 3:42pm ·

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Yesterday at 12:10 pm the WSDA Industrial Hemp Coordinator, Emily Febles, was served with a lawsuit filed against both the WSDA and the herself, both individually, and in her capacity at the WSDA.

The lawsuit filed by John Worthington is comprehensive and exposes what clearly appears to be an effort to set up a hemp seed monopoly in Washington State. While licenses to grow under the WSDA Hemp Pilot Program were not legally available until May 15,

and neither were seed acquisition forms, partners Cory Sharp and Shane Palmer apparently found a way to entice Emily Febles into applying for multiple DEA permits to bring in thousands of pounds of seed, for them and their friends, on April 5th, 2017….40 days before anyone else in Washington could even legally apply for a license.

When requests from prospective hemp farmers over where to get viable hemp seed were received by Febles, they were told to contact Cory Sharp….and that he already had seed. And she should know…she had it imported for him, without so much as a license application.

There were 8 or more “special farmers” that got their seed in using Cory’s special connection with the Febles. On all but two of these people, the WSDA did not have anything more that a name on these people….no application, no license, not even a phone number or an address!

We’ll be back in Thurston County Superior Court at 9am on Friday, May 26th. The Assistant Attorney General defending the WSDA & Emily Febles it Mark Culkin. To this day, Culkin has not even bothered to file an answer to the lawsuit and it is now, according to court rules, to late for him to even file a response or to bring evidence in this case. But this is Thurston County and those Judges protect the state at all costs, so we really need your support in court this Friday morning!

HELP US fight corruption in Washington State by showing you care enough to show up!


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Steve Sarich added 2 new photos.

2 hrs ·

COURT UPDATE….


Yesterday’s court hearing on John Worthington’s injunction against the Washington State Department of Agriculture & WSDA Hemp Project Coordinator, Emily Febles, left the dozen or so supporters in the courtroom dumbfounded.

Judge Murphy had everyone in the courtroom confused when she called Worthington and Asst. AG Mark Calkins to come forward and speak to her before any of the cases were called.

She stated that the case was not noted on her calendar and was not in her computer. Worthington told the judge that he has absolutely filed it, noted it for yesterday, and that AG Calkin had been served. At that point Calkin clearly stated to the Judge that that he had NOT been served.

This despite the fact that the AG was in Court, and wouldn’t have know to be there unless he was served, AND that the person that had served the AG’s office was there in the courtroom as well. John didn’t have the stamped copy with him at the hearing, but as you can see from the attachment here, the AG’s office even time-stamped the copy of complaint when they were served. Yes, the assistant AG perjured himself to buy himself another week.

To make a short story even shorter, it was obvious to everyone there watching this circus that the fix was in. Had the state been the complainant, and not the defendant, Judge Murphy, would have moved forward with the hearing since both parties were there. But since the State was the defendant, Judge Murphy kicked the can down the road another week.

This action would give the WSDA, Hemplogic and Joy Beckerman another week to plant the seed that was illegally brought in imported by the WSDA on behalf of 9 or more “special” farmers associated with Hemplogic.

They have announced now that they will plant this illegal seed next Wednesday, May 31st. If they plant this seed on Wednesday, they will only be increasing the amount of the damages due Worthington and future complainants. As of yesterday, the WSDA still hadn’t issued a single hemp growing permits so it’s unclear if they will go forward with planting on Wednesday, without any licenses. The other possibility would be that they will exacerbate the damages further by ‘miraculously’ issuing licenses to the co-conspirators in a nick of time on Tuesday, the day before their $200 a head hemp planting & self-promotion day. But giving them a license now, won’t solve their legal issues, it will actually just make it worse for them.

So it’s back to court, AGAIN, next Friday. I really want to thank everyone who showed up yesterday….we were ready with four video camera ready to roll. I hope we have bigger crowd next Friday, June 2nd.


Lawmakers eye THC content of state’s industrial hemp


For Immediate Release

May 3, 2017

Lawmakers eye THC content of state’s industrial hemp

FRANKFORT—Industrial hemp legally grown in Kentucky is not considered marijuana. It has only a fraction of THC—or tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive compound—found in marijuana. And state regulators aim to keep it that way.

Around 100 pounds of industrial hemp grown under Kentucky’s three-year old Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program were destroyed just three weeks ago after the state found the crop had a higher THC level than the law allows. An April 13 Associated Press article on the destroyed crop reported that it registered THC levels of between 1.2 and 0.4 percent, or slightly above the federal and state legal limit of 0.3 percent.

Kentucky mandated 0.3 percent as the legal THC limit for industrial hemp grown in the state four years ago when it passed legislation allowing industrial hemp production as part of a state pilot program cleared by the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill. Hemp grown under the state program is routinely tested—as the destroyed crop was—to ensure that its THC level falls at or below the legal limit.

Questions about the destruction of the non THC-compliant crop were raised today before the state legislative Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee by Rep. Kim King, R-Harrodsburg. King asked for more information about what happened with the crop from representatives of Atalo Holding of Winchester and Sunstrand of Louisville, two companies that process industrial hemp at their facilities.

Atalo Holdings Chairman Andrew Graves said the crop is question was a variety most commonly grown in the western U.S. “In this climate, when it’s grown, the THC level tends to be a higher level than it should be.” He said there wasn’t any question that the crop needed to be destroyed.

“It’s not a problem with us. We are used to regulated industries—tobacco is heavily regulated—and so this is as well,” said Graves.

King said she is pleased the system worked.

“I’m very, very inspired and I’m very, very hopeful that the system caught a portion of the crop that tested above the legal limit,” said King. “I just wanted some additional discussion on that.”

Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, mentioned the use of industrial hemp in the production of CBD or cannabidiol oil, which is extracted from hemp. CBD oil reportedly helps with balance, mood, sleep, appetite and can help relieve pain. It has also been known to help with epilepsy. And, since the oil is made from low-THC hemp, it doesn’t create the sensation of being high, like marijuana can.

Hornback asked Graves and others testifying before the committee if medicinal products made from industrial hemp, including CBD oil, are more effective if the THC level is above 0.3 percent. Atalo Holdings Research Officer Tom Hutchens said that, as of yet, is unknown.

“We don’t know the answer to that, truly, because there hasn’t been enough research. I think it will probably get (to a) higher (level) somewhere along the line, but all of this has to do with the national scope,” said Hutchens.

Graves said he’d like to see Kentucky increase its legal limit of THC in industrial hemp from 0.3 percent to 1 percent to improve plant breeding options. That would give Hutchens “some leeway, where he wouldn’t be under the scrutiny of law while he’s trying to breed some new variety that could be indigenous to Kentucky and beneficial to farmers here,” he said.

Cultivation of up to 12,800 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes has been approved by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) for 2017. That is nearly three times the acreage approved for industrial hemp cultivation in 2016, according to a press release from the KDA. Kentucky has “the largest state industrial hemp research project program in the nation,” the KDA reports.

Some funding for hemp processing in Kentucky has come from the state’s share of the national Master Settlement Agreement, a 1998 multi-billion dollar agreement between major tobacco companies and 46 states including Kentucky. Spending of those funds are overseen by the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee.

-END-

Company to process hemp, other fiber receives state dollars


For Immediate Release

April 13, 2017

Company to process hemp, other fiber receives state dollars

FRANKFORT—A Kentucky-based company looking to process the fiber of around 750 acres of hemp and the jute-like plant kenaf has been approved for $381,500 in state funds to expand its processing facility.

The Louisville-based Sunstrand received the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board’s (KADB) approval for the funding, drawn from the state’s tobacco settlement agreement dollars, in February. Approved state funds will be used to match county-level KADB funds up to $381,500, with any shortfall covered as a loan up to the full amount, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP) Deputy Executive Director Bill McCloskey told the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee yesterday.

McCloskey said the natural fiber processed by Sunstrand is being used instead of plastic and glass fiber in car parts manufacturing and other industries, with economic benefits.

“It can be a lower input for the plastic and injection mold industry, specifically car parts,” he told the committee.

Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, told the committee that funding Sunstrand may lead to commercial fiber processing-facility requests from other parts of the state. “We opened up an avenue for several of these others. Are you going to be able to treat them the same way?”

GOAP Executive Director Warren Beeler said “probably not.”

“This idea was to do a seed plant and do a fiber plant, and then step aside,” he told Parrett.

Another hemp-related project that came before the KADB in February was a request from the Kentucky Hemp Research Foundation, which McCloskey said requested $189,592 in state and county-level agricultural development funds for research. Total funds approved by the board were $2,000 in Floyd County funds, said McCloskey.

The county funds were approved because they were prioritized by the county, Beeler told the committee.

“We trust the county more than anybody, and they put a high priority on it, then we assume that’s how they want to spend their money,” said Beeler.

At the same time, Beeler said the KADB “felt like research probably needs to be left at this point and time to the (state) universities,” which McCloskey said were conducting 17 hemp research projects in 2016.

The KADB in February also approved:

· A request for $12,000 in county funds for Hopkinsville Elevator to investigate business opportunities in canola;

· $179,373 for Eastern Kentucky University for robotic milkers for dairy farming;

· $50,000 to Kentucky Agricultural Opportunities Inc. to create a producer-owned entity to look at business opportunities in Central Kentucky, specifically the Bluegrass Stockyards project.

Committee Co-Chair Rep. Myron Dossett, R-Pembroke, thanked the GOAP for the update on how tobacco settlement dollars are being used for the state’s benefit.

“I think it’s important for us to share …the importance of what this tobacco settlement money is doing, not only for our ag producers, but how it’s impacting our communities,” said Dossett.

–END–

Kentucky approves 12,800 acres for hemp planting in 2017, tripling the previous year’s figures


Growers must pass background check

WCPO Staff

6:46 AM, Jan 6, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has approved 209 applications from growers who have been approved to cultivate up to 12,800 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes in 2017, nearly tripling the number of acres that were approved for 2016. More than 525,000 square feet of greenhouse space were approved for indoor growers in 2017.

“By nearly tripling hemp acreage in 2017 and attracting more processors to the state, we are significantly growing opportunities for Kentucky farmers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, in a news release. “Our strategy is to use KDA’s research pilot program to encourage the industrial hemp industry to expand and prosper in Kentucky. Although it is not clear when Congress might act to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, my strategic objective is to position the commonwealth’s growers and processors to ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The KDA received a total of 252 applications – 234 grower applications and 18 processor/handler applications. Applicants were asked to identify which harvestable component of the plant would be the focus of their research (floral material, grain, or fiber); some applicants selected more than one component.

In addition to grower applications, KDA approved 11 new applications from processors (in addition to 29 previously approved multi-year processor applications that were not required to reapply). Five universities will also carry out additional research projects in 2017. KDA officials cited the recent decline in commodity prices as one factor that appears to be generating increased interest among Kentucky’s farmers in industrial hemp and other alternative crops.

In 2016, 137 growers were approved to plant up to 4,500 acres. Program participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016, up from 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014.

To strengthen KDA’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates were required to be submitted on the application. Participants also must pass background checks and consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored or processed.

“We have made collaboration and communication with the law enforcement community a top priority for KDA’s management of this research pilot program,” Quarles said.

Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp research pilot program evaluated the applications and considered whether returning applicants had complied with instructions from KDA, Kentucky State Police and local law enforcement. To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA relied on objective criteria, outlined in the 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications.

The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940, that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. For more information and to view the 2017 Policy Guide, please visit the website here.

CONTINUE READING…

First new hemp strain bred for US farmers


By: Chris Conrad

Retail Hemp field crop

A new industrial hemp cultivar has passed the THC hemp trials managed by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the first hemp seed variety bred for the US to pass a Department of Agriculture hemp trial in any state.

Thomas Jefferson was a jealous hempseed breeder who allegedly brought Chinese seeds in from France in the 1790s to mix with the European strains. Later the US Department of Agriculture adopted an aggressive program to breed plants that were drought resistant and climate or soil specific for different parts of the United States and came up with some of the best hemp strains in the world. That all came to an end with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, when hemp farming was essentially banned. The national seed banks died out when the federal Drug Enforcement Agency took control in the 1970s and destroyed them in the name of the Drug War.

Act of Congress opened the way for new hemp seedlines

In February 2015, Congress passed the hemp amendment to the Farm bill and opened new avenues for cannabis hemp. Two years later, Rely™ by New West Genetics has become the first modern hemp variety bred for the U.S. to pass Colorado Department of Agriculture hemp trials. The plants have a stable THC content below 0.1 percent, compared with the federal standard of 0.3 percent or less.

“This is a landmark victory for New West Genetics, as well as hemp production in the United States overall,” said Wendy Mosher, CEO for New West Genetics. “The use of regionally bred hemp seed for production is imperative for the US hemp industry to succeed, and we hope that the results for Rely™ act as a catalyst for other U.S. hemp product makers to recognize the benefit of regionally bred varieties – better yield, disease resistance, sustainability, etc. and demand those be used for their products.”

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KY: Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program now taking applications for 2017


Image result for KENTUCKY HEMP

New measures set to enable sustained growth of the program

FRANKFORT (October 11, 2016) Kentuckians interested in participating in the industrial hemp research pilot program in 2017 are invited to submit an application with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“The pilot research program will continue to build on the successes of the previous administration by developing research data on industrial hemp production, processing, manufacturing, and marketing for Kentucky growers,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. KDA’s objective is to expand and strengthen Kentucky’s research pilot program, so that if the federal government chooses to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, Kentucky’s growers and farmers will be positioned to thrive, prosper and ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940 that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. Participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016 compared with 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of the program.

Applicants should be aware of important new measures for the 2017 research program, including the following:

· To strengthen the department’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates must be submitted on the application. Applicants must consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored, or processed.

· To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA will rely on objective criteria, outlined in the newly released 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications. An applicant’s criminal background check must indicate no drug-related misdemeanor convictions, and no felony convictions of any kind, in the past 10 years. Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp pilot project program will consider whether applicants have complied with instructions from the department, Kentucky State Police, and local law enforcement.

· As the research program continues to grow, KDA’s hemp staff needs additional resources and manpower to administer this tremendously popular program. The addition of participant fees will enable KDA Hemp Staff to handle an increasing workload without needing additional taxpayer dollars from the General Assembly. Program applicants will be required to submit a nonrefundable application fee of $50 with their applications. Successful applicants will be required to pay additional program fees.

Grower applications must be postmarked or received by the KDA marketing office no later than November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST. Processor or handler applicants are encouraged to submit their applications by November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST.

For more information, including the 2017 Policy Guide and a downloadable application, go to kyagr.com/hemp.

CONTINUE TO KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF AGRIGULTURE

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.

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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.

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


 

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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.

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