By Jack Kittredge adapted from Brookings Institution Article
The 2018 Farm Bill was not your typical farm bill. While it provided important agricultural and nutritional policy extensions for five years, the most interesting changes involve the cannabis plant. Typically, cannabis is not part of the conversation around farm subsidies, nutritional assistance, and crop insurance. Yet in 2018 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strong support of and leadership on the issue of hemp has thrust the cannabis plant into the limelight.
For a little bit of background, hemp is defined in the legislation as the cannabis plant (yes, the same one that produces marijuana) with one key difference: hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent of THC (the compound in the plant most commonly associated with getting a person high). In short, hemp can’t get you high. For decades, federal law did not differentiate hemp from other cannabis plants, all of which were effectively made illegal in 1937 under the Marijuana Tax Act and formally made illegal in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act—the latter banned cannabis of any kind.
It’s true that hemp policy in the United States has been drastically transformed by this new legislation. However, there remain some misconceptions about what, exactly, this policy change does.
By Jack Kittredge
One feels the excitement about cannabis at conferences and workshops everywhere today. The relaxation of federal rules on raising hemp, incorporated in the 2018 Farm Bill, have stimulated far-reaching activity throughout the private sector. Investors see a chance to put their money to use where it can do good –– alleviate pain, sequester lots of carbon, provide another healthful grain for human nutrition. Businesspeople see a chance to provide needed goods and services –– quality seed, processing equipment, marketing services. Consumers hope for lower cost benefits from this wonder crop finally legal –– new therapies, durable materials, useful products from the dozens of new cannabinoid and terpene molecules it produces. Farmers dream of finally raising a crop with which they can earn a reasonable living.
This issue explores this new energy, looks at the history and botany of cannabis, how it impacts the human body, talks with farmers raising it and businesspeople making and selling cannabinoid products, reprints various points of view about what the future of hemp will bring, and leaves the reader, hopefully, better informed about what to expect from this resurgence.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring THC, a well-known cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis.
Experts are still trying to fully understand the ECS. But so far, we know it plays a role in regulating a range of functions and processes, including:
• reproduction and fertility
The ECS exists and is active in your body even if you don’t use cannabis.
Read on to learn more about the ECS including how it works and interacts with cannabis.
By Jack Kittredge compiled from The Botanist Medial Dispensary
Cannabis is made up of hundreds of active chemical compounds, over 60 of which are cannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are naturally-occurring chemical ingredients that are found in the highest concentration in the female buds of the cannabis plant. These chemical compounds play an important role. They interact directly with the cannabinoid receptors found throughout the human endocannabinoid system. The medicinal benefits of cannabis can be attributed to the phenomenon of cannabinoids activating the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and body.
Terpenes are the compounds responsible for a plant’s scent and flavor. Unlike other botanical species, each strain of cannabis has a unique terpene profile. Terpenes and cannabinoids work together to develop a strain’s particular flavor and resulting high, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. Today, growers aspire to breed strains with high concentrations of both compounds due to their prized therapeutic effects.
By Jack Kittredge (compiled)
It’s important, first of all, to differentiate between the different types of cannabis. There are four species within the genus. One is cannabis sativa L, and that’s what we call hemp. That’s what was grown in both the British colonies on the East Coast and by the French in Quebec. But hemp is less than one percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound that produces hallucinogenic effects, so you really can’t get stoned off of hemp. It’s fibers were used for bales and ropes and sometimes paper and the other species of cannabis are cannabis sativa (without the L), which is much higher in THC and has become much more potent over the years. Then there’s cannabis indica and … cannabis ruderalis, the last of which was discovered by a Russian scientist in 1923. But that one’s almost invisible.
The cannabis or hemp plant originally evolved in Central Asia and people introduced the plant into Africa, Europe and eventually the Americas. Herodotus described the Scythians—a group of Iranian nomads in Central Asia—inhaling the smoke from smoldering cannabis seeds and flowers to get high. Hashish (a purified form of cannabis smoked with a pipe) was widely used throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia after about 800 AD. Its rise in popularity corresponded with the spread of Islam in the region. The Quran forbid the use of alcohol and some other intoxicating substances, but did not specifically prohibit cannabis.
By courtesy of Ministry of Hemp.com
The average New England farmer is 58 years old. The average farm is 68 acres and produces just $64,000 in income. Hemp farmers could expect to make between $50,000 – $100,000 per acre depending on the quality of the Hemp that they grow.
Hemp and CBD oil extraction could prove to be a major boon for the current farmers of New England and help secure farming life in New England for many generations to come! We at New England Hemp Farm are proud to support local New England farmers.
By Shane New and Gabe Brown Understanding Ag, LLC
There is a lot of talk going around rural America about paying farmers and ranchers to sequester carbon. Given the current low commodity prices, more money flowing to rural America would be welcome. But, what is that carbon really worth? We decided to do the math.
Oil is approximately 85% carbon and it’s a commonly traded commodity, so let’s use that as a baseline to help establish value.
• The average price of crude oil on 1/23/20 was $53.25.
• A barrel of oil weighs approximately 300 pounds.
• Oil is 82-87% carbon and 12-15% hydrogen.
• 300 pounds, multiplied by 85% = 255 pounds of C in each barrel of oil.
• To get the cost per-pound of carbon in oil, we take $53.25 and divide that by 255 pounds, which comes to = $.209.
So, using this oil-based, carbon-value metric, one pound of carbon is worth 20.9 cents.
By James Vosper
Republished from an article by GoodEarth
Resources, an Australian Eco Energy Consultancy
We submit that industrial hemp be seriously considered as a crop that can contribute significantly to the Australian Government’s aim to reduce global atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.
Industrial hemp has been scientifically proven to absorb more CO2 per hectare than any forest or commercial crop and is therefore the ideal carbon sink. In addition, the CO2 is permanently bonded within the fiber that is used for anything from textiles, to paper and as a building material. It is currently being used by BMW in Germany to replace plastics in car construction. It is therefore additional to what would otherwise be grown or sourced from oil. It can be constantly replanted and as such meets permanence criteria as defined by the Kyoto Protocol.
By Greg Freemyer, Director of Forensics and Disputes, SullivanStrickler consulting
If you use traditional farming techniques of plowing the ground and planting seeds, the answer is zero net carbon sequestration, but in the 21st century new soil science has been developed that drastically changes the answer.
There are 3 aspects you need to consider:
• Visible growth above the ground
• Hidden growth in the plants roots
• Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) exuded by the roots
Visible growth above the ground will likely be burned or allowed to rot within a few years and thus has no long term sequestration capability in my possibly naive understanding of hemp products.
Plant roots also decay within a few years and thus have no net sequestration capability.
SOCs exuded by the roots is the potential jackpot and that is where 21st century science kicks in. Prior to 1996 no one, and I mean no one, knew plants could exude SOC and have it build up for decades in the soil.
By by Susan Gunelius author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide Sep 3, 2019
It’s been eight months since the 2018 Farm Bill passed, which legalized the production of industrial hemp, and already, the market has changed considerably. The supply of and demand for industrial hemp skyrocketed thanks to a booming cultivation market, and now, hemp-derived CBD products appear on store shelves across the country – from cannabis dispensaries and smoke shops to supermarkets, big-box stores, and even gas stations.
Today, the demand for hemp-derived CBD products and other hemp products continues to grow as does the number of growers, processors, and other license holders. The team at Cannabiz Media is tracking 12,343 active hemp licenses as of September 1, 2019 in the Cannabiz Media License Database and more licenses are added all the time. Those 12,343 active licenses are split with 11,944 in the United States and 399 in Canada.
Hemp Cultivation Growth from 2018 to 2019
The biggest hemp-related story of 2019 is booming cultivation. As with most industries, the hemp industry is dependent on supply, which starts with seeds and cultivation. In 2019, supply is skyrocketing.
By Susan Gunelius Jan 14, 2020
More than a year has passed since the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp farming, production, and sales legal in the United States again. During that time, a lot of farmers and entrepreneurs have jumped into the hemp industry, and with the release of interim hemp rules by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in late 2019, many people hope 2020 would be a huge year for hemp.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s coming for the U.S. hemp industry in 2020.
1. More Licenses, Less Acreage
One of the biggest hemp industry stories in 2019 was oversupply and subsequent plummeting prices. When hemp farming was allowed in many states, many farmers and entrepreneurs jumped into the industry without comprehensive business plans, sales contracts, or enough money to harvest, dry, and store their crops. As a result, prices plummeted as supplies eclipsed demand, and many crops were left unsold.
For example, in Vermont, more than 1,000 growers were registered with the state by October 2019 (double the number in 2018), and those growers covered 9,000 acres of land. At the same time, hemp prices dropped by 80% because there wasn’t enough demand. Farmers simply couldn’t sell their crops.
By Benjamin Morgan-Dillon
My journey in the world of soil started at a very young age. I grew up on a farm in a small, rural community in southeastern Massachusetts, playing in our family’s garden beds. I enjoyed pulling up weeds and flowers alike, not knowing much but wanting desperately to help. We had large vegetable, herb and flower gardens, chickens, goats, a giant pig, cats, dogs, and various other pets. As I grew older, my experiences shaped me into a more aware gardener who loved to grow vegetables and fruits alike, but I never saw a career for myself in agriculture.
Creating my business, Acadia Farms, has been an adventure in learning and has been greatly influenced by my family. My mother is a writer, an artist, and an animal trainer. Her creativity and open-mindedness was a catalyst for my own. Her love for animals and devotion for their care was definitely a guiding principle in the development of our Harmony CBD pet product. My father was an auto mechanic, who ran his own business from the age of twenty. My father came from a family of blue-collar workers, salt-of-the-earth people who knew the importance of a day’s work for a day’s pay, which is where I learned work ethics. More importantly, he taught me to have a deep love of nature, a passion for environmental awareness, and a commitment to an organic and sustainable lifestyle. My grandfather was a dedicated Brown University professor, who loved his students. He has truly inspired my path as an educator. My grandmother was a teacher and an avid gardener. She kept an organic garden where we planted my first vegetables as a child.
By Jodi Helmer
reprinted with permission from Foodprint
When Rye Matthews started growing hemp grain on his Vermont farm in 2015, he sold his harvest to food manufacturers for products ranging from hemp milk and cheese to protein powder and cooking oil.
Matthews hoped that the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed hemp cultivation as part of state-run pilot programs with strict regulations, would start to open the market for the once-verboten crop, driving demand for hemp grains and creating a robust domestic market.
The novice farmer was also optimistic that food manufacturers, once forced to import hemp grain and seed used in protein powders, snacks, milks and other products from farmers outside the United States — giving it a bigger carbon footprint — would be eager to source the ingredient from local farms.
“A lot of the row crop farmers who are growing corn and soybeans are well suited to growing hemp grain crops,” Matthews explains. “It should have been a good opportunity for farmers who wanted to diversify their crops and enter into the industrial hemp market.”
By Jack Kittredge
The towns around Hardwick, Vermont, have become the center of a dynamic economy based on processed agricultural products. This fact has been noted in these pages before (Fall, 2012 issue). Enterprises like High Mowing Seeds, The Bee’s Knees Restaurant, Vermont Natural Coatings, Vermont Soy, Jasper Hill Cellars, and the Vermont Food Ventures Center all exemplify the vigorous small business activities that have grown here.
In the last few years a new addition to this activity has been that of a company developing products based on the medicinal properties of a certain crop, a plant recently exempted from a federal prohibition on growing if raised in specific ways consistent with the Farm Bill. That plant is hemp, and the company is Sunsoil.
In early 2016 Alejandro Bergad and Jacob Goldstein founded Green Mountain CBD (later to become Sunsoil) and bought a farm in Hardwick to grow hemp.
By Tim Hanrahan, Lovelight Medicinals, Windham, ME
Marijuana, Hemp and Cannabis are commonly talked about in the news everyday. A new multi-billion dollar a year industry is springing up like a weed (pun intended). I find that much of the information available is inaccurate, steeped in emotion and rarely giving the whole truth. I hope to dispel some commonly held myths about this amazing plant and maybe help some future cannabis or hemp growers to see a path forward.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis sativa is a fast growing, dioecious annual originating from Central Asia. It is now commonly found growing in all regions of the planet that can support flowering plants. It is photosensitive and requires shorter days to produce flowers and seed. Being a dioecious plant some seeds will give you a male plant and some will give you a female plant. The female flowers are what we are after when using it for medicine. The stalks provide the fiber and cellulose for other products,
Artifacts of cannabis use date back to the earliest human history. Scientist have found remains of the cannabis plant in some of the oldest human archaeological sites. We have formed a relationship with this plant that I and others feel is critical to our success as a species. But more on that later….
By Brett Melville, Canna Cran Farm LLC
Good Day from Canna Cran Farm LLC, in Carver, MA. I am a second generation cranberry grower, whom purchased half the farm from family in 2018. The farm consists of 26 acres, 11 of which are cranberry bogs, a series of water holes totaling appx 10 acres, and now, 2 acres of CBD hemp.
After working in other industries, namely in power plants, excavating, various trades, and starting another engineering services small business, I found myself most passionate being in the great outdoors farming the Earth. Plus you get to play with trucks, loaders, tractors and other farm equipment as part of making a living, not bad!
Once a very fair and lucrative cranberry industry thrived in Massachusetts with old timers even squeezing in acreage in their backyards, planting in a cedar swamp, or accompanying a bog around a kettle pond, just to get growing. Fast forward many years, most growers, other then large growers who inherited large family farms generation after generation, have been forced to have a second job, or business to sustain. Prices dropped drastically over the last decade forcing some out of the industry. This has also been caused by greed in the corporate world that governs pricing, a drop in demand by consumers, and oversupply coming from Wisconsin and Canada fueled by the deceitful acts of said “corporate world.”
By Brenden Beer
For those who have fallen under the spell of the cannabis plant, it may not be hard to transport oneself deep into mid August in the rolling hills of the Northeast, walking down a dirt path adjacent to row upon row of vibrant electric green growth. The warm summer wind is testing the sturdy base of these three month old annuals whose growth is impressive to even the most seasoned farmer. A trained eye might look further into the future and see, even smell, the inflorescence begin to take true form in only a month’s time as the unpollinated bracts swell, and the air becomes saturated with complex essential odors.
For those who haven’t experienced this, and are considering the introduction of this plant into their farming system, you will without fail become equally enthralled. For all that the plant can do, for the earth, the body, and the industrial world, the one thing it cannot is answer the simple, most frequent question; “Can you make money?” For the four years I’ve been a licensed Hemp grower in Vermont under various circumstances, there is no simple answer.
Cannabinoid research has been progressing since the first isolation in the 1940s, with continued investigation into the effect of synthesized cannabinoids in the United States until 1970, when its classification as a Schedule I narcotic thus compromised extensive private and public research within US borders. Elsewhere discovery continued, mainly focused on the psychotropic uses and effect of the cannabinoid Tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC”. While other cannabinoids were recognized, it was this particular one which scientifically and socially defined the plant throughout the 60s and 70s.