Hemp Diaries turned 2 today!
Hemp Diaries turned 2 today!
With Marie Jaramillo Peterson, both of us upbeat and optimistic
My talk at the hemp fest, submitted as op-ed to High Country News
The hemp festival in Alcoa, WY, was the first such venue since Wyoming legislators made it legal to grow hemp, initially as trial plots under the auspices of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA). the organizers had invited Hank Uhden of the WDA to present the agency’s point of view at the venue, which was held on June 17, 2017, but Mr. Uhden declined. WDA is charged with issuing licenses to farmers wishing to participate, and to implement regulations in keeping with the new law. It appears, however, the WDA is less than enthusiastic about hemp production in Wyoming.
First, the WDA convinced legislators to postpone the law’s effect until July 2018. July, of course, is too late to plant for that years’s season. Next, it issued a statement that, to implement the required testing, it would need equipment to the tune of $300,000 to $400,000 and that, since the legislation provides no funding, further delays were likely.
On April 19, 2017, I wrote WDA’s Director, Doug Miyamoto, saying, “I am pleased to alert you that it won’t be necessary for you to invest in the testing equipment … Neighboring Colorado, too, has testing requirements.”
I explained that THC testing in Colorado is done “by a certified laboratory that charges a per-acre fee to the grower. Hence, the testing costs are borne by growers, not the Department of Agriculture. I urge [WDA] to touch base with Colorado’s Department of Agriculture to learn the particulars.”
A few days later I received a letter from Mr. Uhden of WDA stating that the law “will require the department to sample and test cultivars.” Mr. Uhden attached copies of the pertinent legislation.
In response I emailed the director, pointing out that the referenced legislation authorizes WDA to “contract with laboratories to test industrial hemp and industrial hemp seed.”
Meanwhile I heard from various sources, including a legislator who was instrumental in the hemp bill, that the WDA encourages farmers (or the public) to raise money for its machinery.
Once again I emailed the WDA director. I mentioned that I’d be speaking at the hemp festival in Alcova, expressed my regret that the agency was not sending anyone, and that it’s a mistake to snub farmers who are trying to help get things going.I said I would forward a press release to local papers that includes the statement, “In my talk I’ll urge the WDA to enter into conversation with stakeholders, and to implement licensing with due diligence… . It appears that the WDA is urging farmers to raise money so it may retrofit certain testing machinery, saying that, if the funds don’t materialize, the agency will delay the licensing even more. Already it has succeeded in pushing back the law’s effective date to July 2018.”
This time I did receive a response from Mr. Miyamoto, whom I know personally from my hemp-lobbying efforts. He emailed that “we have not and will not ask producers to raise money for equipment or the implementation of this program.”
He noted that the legislation is not in effect as law “until July of this year.” Even so, he said, “we are working closely with the DEA [U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration], Wyoming Attorney General’s office, and UW to draft rules and regulations on a program that complies with federal laws. Once those rules are complete, there will be an open comment period for stakeholders across the state to comment on the draft rules and regulations before a final rule is completed.”
Mr. Miyamoto’s DEA reference goes to the heart of state problems. Ever since the Nixon Administration begat our War on Drugs, hemp has suffered misclassification as a Schedule ! drug, simply because it is in the marijuana family. Yet hemp is high in cannabidiol (CBD), which promotes wellness, and low in the psycho-active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that gets marijuana users their high. When Congress took action at last, it was tepid, half-hearted action. Instead of removing the hemp misclassification, its Agriculture Act of 2014, which President Obama signed into law, decrees that any state may determine its own hemp agriculture. Since then thirty-one states have defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and removed barriers to its production. Nevertheless, inasmuch as the DEA continues to insist that hemp remain classified as a Schedule I drug, states labor under a cloud.
Federal waffling has resulted in state regulations that are cumbersome and expensive. For example, two years ago Wyoming legislators legalized prescriptions of CBD oil for seizure-prone individuals. The law excludes many patients with conditions other than seizures who would benefit from CBD treatment. To add insult to injury, the application process is convoluted and expensive. Meanwhile, Colorado farmers and entrepreneurs have been producing hemp crops and CBD oil for several years—but, no thanks to federal regulations, transporting them across state lines remains illegal.
Another hemp fest will be held next year, organizers say, probably in Casper. They will again invite the WDA. “We are anxious to work with the agency to get hemp farming going in Wyoming,” says Marie Jaramillo Peterson. I’ll second that.
On June 17, 2017, Wyoming’s first-ever hemp festival was held in Alcova.
I’ll be speaking at this event
Hemp Fest, Saturday June 17!
I’d love to see you there!
Wyoming’s Department of Agriculture needs to get with it!
Wyoming legislators recently approved the growing of hemp in trial plots under the auspices of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. The WDA is charged with issuing licenses to farmers wishing to participate, and to implement regulations in keeping with the new law.
It seems, the WDA urges farmers to raise money so it may retrofit certain testing machinery, else it will delay the licensing for another two years or more. However, to implement the law’s testing requirements, it’s not necessary for the agency to spend beaucoup bucks: HS 116 authorizes it to contract testing with an independent lab. As I pointed out in letter to WDA’s director, Doug Miyamoto, Colorado has similar testing requirements. A lab tests the hemp’s THC, charging $25 per acre, with the cost borne by the growers. Still, WDA persists in its call for money, implying delay if $$ aren’t forthcoming.
I will be speaking at a hemp festival in Alcova on June 17. The organizers tell me they invited Hank Uhden of the WDA to present the agency’s point of view. In my talk I’ll urge the WDA to enter into conversation with farmers, and to implement licensing with due diligence. Our neighbors Colorado and Utah have been producing hemp for several years while our state has missed out. Now is our chance to move forward.
Did you know that in 1455 the first Gutenberg Bible was printed on hemp paper? That in 1619 Jamestown, VA, passed a law ordering its farmers to grow hemp? By1850, the U.S. Census showed 8,327 hemp plantations in the South, each with a minimum of 2,000 acres. Kentucky, once the nation’s top hemp-producing state, had rope and bagging factories that, in Lexington alone, employed 1,000 workers.
The wagons of the pioneers were covered with hemp cloth—indeed, the word “canvas” comes from the Arabic for hemp. In their heyday, merchant schooners and marine ships used many tons of ropes and rigging made of hemp. In its 1942 film, “Hemp for Victory,” the U.S. government urged farmers and gardeners to produce hemp for the war effort. Today European auto manufactures use hemp in lieu of plastics for their panels; fashion houses produce high-end “organic” clothing with hemp. China, Australia, and Canada annually sell us their hemp products to the tune of an estimated $450 million. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that continues to make it illegal to grow hemp.
What went wrong? For the past five decades, ever since the Nixon Administration begat our War on Drugs, hemp has suffered misclassification as a Schedule ! drug, simply because it is in the marijuana family. But hemp is high in cannabidiol (CBD), which promotes wellness, and low in the psycho-active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that gets marijuana users their high. If hemp were legalized, the U.S. would solve many problems, save millions of trees, and have a multi billion dollar hemp economy. Hemp is used for thousands of products, including as an alternative bio fuel.
At last Congress took action—tepid, half-hearted action, as is its wont. Instead of removing the hemp misclassification, its Agriculture Act of 2014, which President Obama signed into law that spring, decrees that any state may determine its own hemp agriculture. Since then thirty-one states have defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and removed barriers to its production. Nevertheless, inasmuch as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to insist that hemp remain classified as a Schedule I drug, these states labor under a cloud.
Horror stories abound in the media of over-zealous local law enforcement destroying hemp crops in the name of enforcing federal drug laws. However, after a law suit by the state of Kentucky, the DEA came up with a mealy-mouthed compromise: it will issue a “permit” to any state who seeks it, essentially promising not to interfere with that state’s agri-hemp business.
Federal waffling has resulted in state regulations that are cumbersome and expensive. For example, two years ago Wyoming legislators legalized prescriptions of CBD oil for seizure-prone individuals. CBD oil is derived from hemp leaves. Regrettably, the law excludes many patients with conditions other than seizures who would benefit from CBD treatment also. A 2011 review published in “Current Drug Safety” concluded that CBD “does not interfere with … psychomotor and psychological functions.” The authors explain that several studies found that CBD is “well tolerated and safe” even at high doses.
The seeds of the hemp plant have health benefits, too. Like flax seeds, hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids the body needs to resist illness. They also have the highest content of a type of globulin that promotes immunity. Our ability to resist and recover from infections and illness is directly proportionate to how quickly the body can generate large quantities of antibodies. If globulins are low, antigens can overwhelm the body’s immune response. Inasmuch as 65 percent of hemp-seed protein is the globulin, it is useful in many cases of infection.
For information on the hemp festival, please call the organizers at 307-324-6001.
Hemp Fest Coming!
I’l b speaking at a hemp festival in Alcova, WY, slated for Saturday June 17, 2017, from 5 to 10 PM, outdoors at the Sunset Bar and Grill
This is he flyer for the hemp festival at which I’ll be speaking.
Hemp Festival in Alcova, Wyoming
I’ll be the speaker at an event in Alcova, outdoors at the Sunset Bar & Grill, from 5 to 10 PM on June 17. Hope to see you there!