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Farm Bureau on industrial hemp: ‘Comeback crop’ will benefit farmers

industrial hempAn expert panel outlined the politics, agronomics and economics of industrial hemp Jan. 13 at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th annual convention. Federally outlawed for more than 50 years, industrial hemp is making a comeback.

U.S. Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, a staunch supporter of hemp as an agricultural crop, shared how he helps people understand the difference between hemp and its more infamous cannabis cousin, marijuana. “Hemp and marijuana are two plants in the same family,” Comer explained, “the same way that broccoli and cauliflower are in the same plant family.”

Ken Anderson, founder and president of Legacy Hemp, the leading U.S. contractor with hemp farmers, strongly advised anyone who is considering growing the crop to first secure a buyer.

“There are a lot of opportunities, but it can be expensive to start growing hemp,” Anderson said. He credited Farm Bureau’s advocacy with playing a key role in the recognition of industrial hemp as a legitimate farm crop.

Calling industrial hemp “the little engine that could,” Katie Moyer of Kentucky Hemp Works discussed the broad range of hemp varieties and advised farmers to carefully consider which one to cultivate. “The crops are completely different” she said of varieties grown for cannabidiol, or CBD, oil versus those grown for fiber, grain or seed.

Anderson noted that would-be growers also should consider the availability of labor. “Hemp grown for CBD use is much more labor-intensive,” he said. He also recommended that new growers make hemp part of a crop rotation rather than their sole crop.

The 2014 Farm Bill gave states the authority to establish hemp pilot programs to study its growth, cultivation and marketing. To date, 35 states have done so. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. That deregulation benefits growers, who may now transport hemp and no longer face barriers related to business concerns such as insurance and banking.


Hemp farmers work to set industry apart from marijuana

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Dan Chang of Kria Botanicals in South Burlington answers questions at the hemp hearing. Photo by Anne Wallace Allen/VTDigger

Daniel Chang, co-owner and operator of Kria Botanicals, moved to Vermont with his family four years ago expressly to join the state’s fast-growing hemp industry.

Although at that point hemp, the cannabis plant that does not contain high levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC, still had a low profile in Vermont, Chang saw opportunity in the state’s agricultural economy and its reputation for quality products.

Now Chang, who ran a microbrewery in Minnesota, operates a CBD extraction company and laboratory in South Burlington. He was one of several hemp industry leaders who got together at the Statehouse on Friday to talk to lawmakers about their business. CBD is a product with medicinal uses that is extracted from the hemp plant.

“I saw a unique opportunity,” said Chang. “In the last couple years I’ve been working with farmers… growing hemp in Vermont, learning about genetics, farming, climate.” Along the way, he and Kria CEO Bill Lofy saw a need for a laboratory that would help them extract CBD to sell wholesale.

“How does a farmer who grows an acre of hemp get that raw commodity into safe, sellable form? How do value-added processors know their products are legal?” Chang said. “ The legitimacy in this industry will come through analytics.”

The House Agriculture and Forestry Committee and the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee held the joint hearing to learn more about the fast-growing industry, which gathered momentum in December when Congress ended the federal prohibition on hemp production.

Now, after a long period of working largely without conventional business supports such as insurance and loans, Vermont producers are working with banks and joining forces to help their industry grow the way they want it to.

One of their first priorities, the producers told lawmakers, is to make sure all hemp growers and CBD producers are held to quality standards.

Carolyn Partridge

Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, chair of the House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. Photo by Bob LoCicero/VTDigger

Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham and chair of the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee, said she’d like to use CBD lotion now, but she’s worried that it would show up on a drug test. Partridge drives a school bus.

“I grew hemp this year, and I’d like to make some salve out of it,” said Partridge. “I’d love to rub some stuff on my knees, but I’m worried that I’m going to get busted.”

Reliable lab testing can take care of that, said Carl Christianson, who founded the Northeast Processing hemp operation and laboratory in Brattleboro.

“We have to make sure we have trustworthy foundation of analytics so when people have a label that says it has no THC, they can trust they won’t be drug-tested and fail a drug-test,” Christianson said. “These challenges from an entrepreneurial perspective are also opportunities.”

Another priority is to educate the lawmakers and the public on the difference between hemp and marijuana.

“We want to make very clear that we see hemp as an agricultural good, something that is totally removed and different from marijuana in terms of the medicinal and recreational side of marijuana,” Christianson said. “It is important to go through the process of regulation.”

Otherwise, he said, hemp farmers and CBD producers might find themselves regulated the same way marijuana growers are, which could suppress their business. The Legislature is expected to take up the matter of taxing and regulating marijuana this winter.

It’s also important to make sure the Vermont trademark is protected, said David Barash, CEO of Luce Farm Wellness. Barash said he has been running agricultural consumer products businesses in Vermont for 40 years.

“One of the challenges I’ve seen in the market here in Vermont, and one of the things that is being observed in an early market such as CBD and hemp, is that many folks use a Vermont label without the produce being grown in Vermont or processed in Vermont,” Barash said.

“In some places the oil is purchased at the cheapest rate and put in a bottle with Vermont label. The risk here is pretty significant,” he added.

Hemp plants growing in Chittenden. Photo courtesy of Robin Alberti

Hemp is an industry that can revive Vermont’s farm economy and attract educated professionals, the industry leaders said. Christianson moved to Vermont from Boston last year and opened his business in October. He and his wife are building a house in Weathersfield.

Some of the hemp business owners also met with officials from the Agency of Agriculture this week to talk about regulations for hemp growers and laboratory operators. Most of the industry regulation will happen through the rulemaking process, with minimal involvement from lawmakers. But there’s value in educating lawmakers about hemp, said Lofy.

The Legislature would have to be involved if the industry tries to change the legal concentration of THC in CBD products, which is now set at .3 percent, said Lofy. And there are regulatory structures that must go through the legislative process. For example, Lofy’s business can extract THC from CBD.

“The Legislature can provide some clarity,” he said. “What do we do with THC when we extract it? Can we engage in commerce with a medical dispensary? Should we destroy it? Right now the statute does not address that issue.”

Chang and Lofy have formed a loose partnership with Christianson; with Rebecca and Joe Pimentel of Luce Farm Wellness, a hemp and CBD operation in Stockbridge; and with Brenden Beer and Amy Skelton, owners of Kitchen Cabinet Medicinals in Greensboro.

“We’re competitors with one another, but we have a shared vision for this state,” Lofy said. “We believe we’re all going to be able to thrive with proper and thoughtful regulation.”

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Cornell in Our Community: New York can lead industrial hemp production

With 25,000 different finished goods deriving from industrial hemp, it is a growing commodity in states across the country. New York has an opportunity to be a lead in growth and production, both for the stalk and seed. Hemp products that have been trending include anything from healthy foods, organic body care, clothing, construction materials, biofuels, plastic composites and more. This industry could be an opportunity for both farm operations and manufacturers.

Hemp (cannabis sativa) is used for fiber, oils, and medicinal reasons. There are specific types of cannabis which have low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, and those are classified as industrial hemp. THC is the principal intoxicating agent in marijuana. Industrial hemp has a rate of .3 percent THC or less. In New York state, these have been the focus of the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program.

In 2018, approximately 3,500 acres of New York farmland was approved for industrial hemp research. That was an increase of 1,500 acres from 2017. For comparison, there are approximately 400 acres of hops being grown across New York State. As time continues, there are more processors becoming registered around the state, including CNY Hemp Processing, Inc, who had their ribbon cutting right here in Madison County on Jan. 11 and should begin production shortly. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is accepting applications on a rolling basis for future research partners in the areas of grain and fiber. Nationally, industrial hemp products generate around $600 million per year in sales, according to New York State Ag and Markets.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Specialists are working with Cornell CALS to develop a team to establish a nationally recognized program studying industrial hemp and offering that knowledge to growers and processors. The commercial interest in industrial hemp has been high, and the Cornell faculty are leading research in hemp breeding, pathology, entomology, biochemistry, sustainable cropping systems, tissue culture, and genome editing, controlled environment agriculture, and food product development.

If you are interested in growing industrial hemp, there are a lot of considerations to take into account. For more information on Cornell’s work with hemp visit hemp.cals.cornell.edu.

Celexus, Inc. Completes Its First Acquisition Into the Hemp Industry, Bio Distribution, Inc.

PHOENIX, Jan. 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Celexus, Inc. is proud to announce the completion of their first acquisition into the Hemp industry, Bio Distribution, Inc. With the recent passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, Celexus feels very comfortable now in entering the rapidly growing Hemp and CBD market.

Bio Distribution is in motion to become a recognized leader in the cultivation and distribution of Hemp seeds, clones and eventually, CBD oils. They currently own a nursery in Phoenix, Arizona and are pursuing the expansion of their greenhouse footprint throughout the southwest.

The facility in Phoenix is 120,000 square feet of greenhouse on 7.9 acres. The land surrounding the nursery is set up to expand the greenhouse an additional 60,000 square feet, enabling us to increase our production capacity. This facility has been set up with agricultural lighting, drip systems, storage areas, and sufficient water rights to supply our demand. Bio Distribution plans on building several more structures on the property to install Hemp dryers and extraction equipment.

This is the first step for Bio Distribution to achieve its overall goal of becoming a key supplier of high-quality strains of Hemp seeds and clones as well as the wholesale distribution of CBD oils internationally. A turnkey operation like this will allow Bio Distribution to become a full-service provider to the Hemp farmers. We can supply them seeds or clones up front and in turn purchase the harvested biomass back from them to be dried and stored until we are ready to extract the CBD oils from the biomass.

To stay in compliance with all federal and state regulations, Bio Distribution is strictly adhering to all license, cultivation and sales regulations. As announced by the Arizona State Agricultural Department, they will begin accepting applications for growing and processing Hemp in May of 2019. We want to be ready to meet the demand of the licensees for high grade, high percentage CBD Hemp seeds and clones.

About Us:

Celexus, Inc. is an acquisition, management and holding company for early stage, high growth businesses, and technologies within the Hemp industry. It is the objective of Celexus, Inc. to control every aspect of the Hemp farming industry from seeds to extraction and distribution. See website, www.celexusinc.com.

Precautionary and Forward-Looking Statements

This release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. “Forward-looking statements” describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as “may,” “future,” “plan” or “planned,” “will” or “should,” “expected,” “anticipates,” “draft,” “eventually” or “projected.” You are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude or risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, and other risks identified in the Company’s disclosures or filings with OTC Markets, Inc. You are further cautioned that stocks of smaller companies like Celexus are inherently volatile and risky and that no investor should buy this stock unless they can afford the loss of their entire investment.

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Q&A: Harmony Hemp’s Roundy highlights category poised for growth

HEALTH

BY DSN STAFF

Courtney Roundy’s interaction with the ill son of a friend led him to start Harmony Hemp. Now, the company hopes to be at the forefront of the CBD explosion at retail. The category is poised to grow even more in 2019, with the recent Farm Bill allowing legalization and regulation of hemp. Drug Store News talked with Roundy about Harmony Hemp and the category in general.

Drug Store News: Tell us about Harmony Hemp — from the company’s beginnings to where you are now.
Harmony Hemp Courtney RoundyCourtney Roundy: In 2016, I began learning about CBD from my good friend whose son was experiencing positive results treating schizophrenia with CBD. Having known my friend’s son prior to diagnosis and after, it touched my heart, and it would be the catalyst for further research and the development of Harmony Hemp. Research has been Harmony Hemp’s primary differentiator. We have delved into several condition-specific formulations enhanced by CBD as a result of the evidential findings of this remarkable plant and are working on bringing a patented delivery method to market.

With 34 years of food, drug and mass experience and existing vendor relationships among all major retailers, I knew I was in a unique position to bring Harmony Hemp’s vast selection of cross-category products to a larger audience and help as many people as possible with their overall wellness. Our motto is “Treat Your System Not Your Symptoms.”

DSN: You say that everyone should have access to the benefits of hemp? Why?
CR: With the myriad of health issues consumers face today, it is important to provide easy access to natural, safe alternatives to prescription medications. Hemp products containing CBD clearly provide a more traditional, holistic approach in treating many common health issues. Treating the endocannabinoid system with CBD will bring homeostasis to individuals and has been found to be a promising, natural treatment for many common health issues. By providing easy access through our retail partners to this miraculous plant, together we can make a difference in people’s lives.

DSN: How do we get retailers involved in the category?
CR: Historically, CBD has been limited to nontraditional retail outlets and online, which excludes a large segment of the population who could benefit most from CBD. Retailers have an amazing opportunity to introduce quality Harmony Hemp CBD products to their loyal customer base. Trade publications have done a phenomenal job of getting the message across to retailers; it is our job to carry out a more detailed educational piece to our buyers and their wellness teams.

DSN: What about marketing, merchandising?
CR: We realize it is extremely important to build initial customer awareness and trust at store level. Our ad budget is considerable over the next three years, and we are coming in heavy from the start, we have already begun initiating promo calendars for 2019. Our merchandising options are vast. For example, our 50-unit, cross-
category side panel shipper is the most popular with food, drug and mass as it gives our retail partners major exposure of a trusted hemp brand in the categories of personal care, OTC and pet care.

DSN: How are you supporting your products with consumers? Education?
CR: Customer education on lifestyle changes and self-care can help promote consumer wellness. We strive to educate the public on how to “Treat Your System Not Your Symptoms,” and we are working with several physicians to improve the quality of our education materials continuously.

DSN: What do you think the future holds for this category?
CR: Over the course of my career, I have never seen so much attention given to a single product or been approached by more key-level executives in food, drug and mass. I have seen several items come and go that have had considerable hype, momentum and money behind them, but none with more consumer response and genuine efficacy for a customer’s overall well-being. These are very exciting times.

Senate Hemp Bill Passes Committee

Indiana Public Media News

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Hemp could grow up in Schuylkill County

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ALYSSA A. COLLINS, PH.D. Industrial hemp production from the Penn State Extension.

Potential producers of industrial hemp in Schuylkill County can get their feet in the door.

Applications are now being accepted for the re-opened 2019 growing season of the product, according to the state Department of Agriculture. It could mean industrial hemp may be the county’s next cash crop.

“Growers in Schuylkill County can apply for this research, and we would see it grown here. I am aware of a few growers interested, but I do not know if anyone actually applied,” Tanner C. Delvalle, horticulture extension educator for Schuylkill and Berks counties, Penn State Extension in Pottsville, said Tuesday.

State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding on Tuesday announced that the state has submitted its plan for industrial hemp to the United States Department of Agriculture and will re-open the 2019 program to include applications for commercial growing operations.

Industrial hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species of plant. “Unlike marijuana, industrial hemp is grown mainly for fiber and seed and must maintain a much lower concentration of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, below the 0.3 percent legal threshold,” the PDA release states.

New opportunity

“There is some evidence that hemp may be able to be grown in soil that is less-than-optimal for most crops. If that’s the case, then areas of Pennsylvania like Schuylkill County, which haven’t been as active in agriculture as other areas of the state, may find that this crop is economical for them to grow in a way that others have not been. This could open new opportunity for these farmers, even now when many in ag are struggling due to depressed dairy prices, trade wars, and climate challenges,” Alyssa A. Collins, Ph.D., said. Collins is director of the Southeast Agricultural Research & Extension Center, and an assistant professor of plant pathology and environmental microbiology at Penn State University.

Collins is also the director of a Penn State research farm in Lancaster County that has been involved with growing hemp for research trials, according to Dwane L. Miller, agricultural extension educator for Penn State Extension, Pottsville. Miller said he was unaware of a Schuylkill County farm raising industrial hemp, and directed inquiries about its production to Collins.

‘Jump into the pool’

One of the things that the PDA announcement now allows for is growth of unlimited acreage, and for commercial purposes instead of limiting it to research projects, according to Collins. “With a much larger acreage permitted to be grown in the commonwealth, we can now attract fiber and seed processors to the state. Having processors to sell to will make it worthwhile for certain growers to ‘jump into the pool,’ where they may have been hesitating before,” she said.

While Collins hasn’t heard directly from any Schuylkill County growers, she regularly get calls from people from throughout the state and country who are interested in starting the crop. “Many are farmers of other crops, some are non-farmers who are exploring the possibility. All of these folks have really insightful questions about the crop, policy, processing, and market chain.”

Tangles and weeds

Lessons learned on the Lancaster hemp plot are being shared.

“Our primary challenges reflect what I believe many farmers will struggle, or have struggled with, namely weed management. There are no herbicide options for this crop yet, and so for farmers like us, who would like to avoid tilling to control weeds — so we can farm more sustainably — there are not good ways of suppressing weeds so that the hemp can outgrow them,” Collins said.

Another real dilemma is that producers don’t currently have efficient harvesting equipment for hemp.

“Farmers have been repurposing equipment used for other crops to harvest seed and fiber hemp varieties, but these machines are better suited to less-fibrous plants and tend to get tangled,” Collins said.

Producers also need to find a buyer for the crop. Hemp grown for fiber needs to be processed to break it down into usable fibers. Currently, there are no processing plants in Pennsylvania, and shipping a crop out of state is cost prohibitive, she said.

PDA approval

Redding said the passage and signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, particularly the language removing industrial hemp from regulation under the Controlled Substance Act, and providing for commercial production of industrial hemp, are welcome changes that will benefit both Pennsylvania producers and consumers.

On Tuesday, the PDA approved 84 permit applications for commercial growing operations. “Over the past two years, the PDA has administered the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, legitimized by the 2014 Farm Bill and authorized in Pennsylvania statute by the Industrial Hemp Research Act. Acreage caps — previously set at 100 acres — have been lifted for the 84 approved applicants and acreage will no longer be restricted under the new program.

“Additionally, there will not be a cap on the number of applications accepted for 2019. The 84 approved applications will be finalized first; additional applications will be reviewed and processed on a first come, first serve basis,” the PDA release said.

Applicants are required to submit fingerprints to the FBI to obtain a criminal history check, proof of which must be attached to the paperwork. The growing sites must be in Pennsylvania, and a single GPS point at the entrance to the growing locations must be included.

Application forms can be found at www.agriculture.pa.gov/Plants_Land_Water/industrial_hemp.

For additional data on hemp production, visit https://extension.psu.edu/industrial-hemp-production.

Contact the writer: ; 570-628-6007

Judge nixes federal attempt to test hemp for THC in lawsuit

CHARLESTON – A federal judge threw out a motion Wednesday in the federal government’s lawsuit against a Mason County, West Virginia, hemp farm that a defense attorney said “reeks of desperation.”

In a memorandum opinion and order, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers nixed a request from U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Mike Stuart and his legal team seeking to test the THC content of the defendant’s hemp, which is now a legal product under state and federal laws.

“Upon consideration, the Court finds that, since this action was filed in September, the United States has never directly challenged the THC level in the plants until now,” Chambers wrote.

Last week, Chambers issued an opinion stating that he had “become increasingly doubtful of the government’s case on the merits” and dissolved an injunction that prevented the farmers from transporting or selling the hemp.

Chambers’ actions Wednesday resumed the dissolving of the injunction, which he had paused last week to field arguments. The opinion is not a final ruling in the case.

Hemp is used to make textiles, foods, fabrics, cosmetics and other products, and is sometimes confused with marijuana.

The key difference, in short, is: Hemp won’t get you high.

Independent of the lawsuit, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, which regulates the sale of industrial hemp in the state, completed testing on the defendants’ product Wednesday as part of its regulatory role.

Results show the crop was .065 percent THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. Federal law says hemp must be below 0.3 percent THC. If the hemp were above that threshold, it would be considered marijuana in the eyes of the law. Both substances come from the cannabis sativa plant.

Stuart’s request to test the THC content of the hemp marked a break from the allegations he’d made when he filed the lawsuit.

Originally, he alleged that the defendants – Matthew Mallory, Alternative Medicinal Options LLC, Gary Kale and Grassy Run Farms LLC – obtained their hemp seeds unlawfully in Kentucky, in violation of their licensure proposal in West Virginia. He also said they did not install security measures around the farm, like fencing, a gate with a lock, cameras and signage to note the difference between hemp and marijuana.

Attorneys for the defendants noted the shift in Stuart’s argument when they resisted Stuart’s most recent motion.

Because the charges are civil, and not criminal, the farmers’ plants, property, equipment and seeds could all be seized and forfeited to the government. Stuart’s complaint states that the United States is subject to receive either $250,000 in civil penalties or twice the sum of the defendants’ gross receipts, whichever is greater.

Carte Goodwin, an attorney representing Mallory, said Wednesday’s ruling made for a win, as his client may now meet contractual obligations.

“My client was very happy that the judge rejected the government’s attempt to further delay resolution of this case,” he said. “He looks forward to putting this behind him.”

West Virginia legalized hemp for research purposes in 2014 and commercial purposes in 2017. In 2018, Congress legalized hemp at the federal level, as well. Earlier this week, The Associated Press reported that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has approved 1,035 applications to produce more than 42,000 acres of industrial hemp in 2019.

West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt told the state House Finance Committee earlier this week that the department has received 199 industrial hemp applications, a large increase despite the lawsuit. However, he’s seeking more funding for a testing machine and more staff to help build up the program.

June 2018 findings from the Congressional Research Service estimate hemp as a $700 million industry annually.

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