Kentucky judge dismisses challenge of medical marijuana ban
By adam beam, associated press
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Sep 20, 2017, 4:57 PM ET
Kentucky’s ban on medical marijuana has survived an initial test in court, with a judge ruling Wednesday that the state has a good reason to “curtail citizens’ possession of a narcotic, hallucinogenic drug.”
Twenty-nine other states have legalized marijuana in some way, the most common being for medical purposes. While Kentucky lawmakers have embraced hemp — the fibers of the plant that are used to make rope, clothing and other products — and other uses for the cannabis plant, they have failed to consider a number of proposals that would let people use marijuana as medicine.
Frustrated, three people sued the governor and the attorney general earlier this year and asked a judge to throw out the ban because “denying sick people safe medicine” is unjust.
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate rejected that argument, ruling the state had good reason to ban the use of marijuana. He also said the state legislature has “discretion to regulate what is harmful to the public health and wellbeing.” He told the plaintiffs their only option was to persuade the state legislature to lift the ban.
“The Bevin Administration applauds Judge Wingate’s decision to follow the law and dismiss this lawsuit,” said Woody Maglinger, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. “Any change to Kentucky law should go through the legislative process.”
The people who filed the lawsuit could appeal the ruling. Their attorney, Dan Canon, said they have not made a decision yet.
“We respect the court’s decision, but we strongly disagree with it,” Canon wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “Our clients have said all along that they want the government to stop intruding into the relationship between them and their physicians.”
The plaintiffs all say they use marijuana as medicine. Amy Stalker said she used marijuana with a prescription while living in Colorado and Washington state to treat irritable bowel syndrome and bipolar disorder. She said she has struggled to maintain her health since moving to Kentucky to care for her mother.
Danny Belcher says he uses marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his service in the Vietnam War. And Dan Seum Jr., son of Republican state Sen. Dan Seum, said he uses marijuana to ease pain from his inoperable spinal problems.
Seum Jr. said doctors prescribed him Oxycontin, an opioid-based painkiller that is highly addictive and had led to a surge of overdose deaths in the state.
“I don’t want to be addicted to those type drugs,” Seum Jr. said. “Although cannabis, it doesn’t take (the pain) away completely; it allows me to function a little more. I can function and still not be addicted.”
By Erica Rucker
If Gov Matt Bevin really wants to avoid future state budget deficits and chip away at the pension disaster, instead of cutting services, he must work with state lawmakers from both parties to finally legalize cannabis.
Kentuckians are ready to join the growing number of states where it is legal to some degree — 29 and counting — by changing outdated laws that were based in 1930s “Reefer Madness” hysteria and racism, not research.
Allowing people in Kentucky to use cannabis for medical conditions would be the most humane step, but full legalization is the only logical, economically-sound decision.
It would offer us an option to raise money to repair the state economy and to fight the specter of opioid addiction that has gripped the state for too long. It also would give people safer recreational and medical choices for pain relief and pleasure. And it would benefit communities of color who are disproportionately arrested and prosecuted for drug crimes.
Polls have shown that Kentuckians overwhelmingly support legalization of medical marijuana, and about half support full legalization. With such wide public support across party lines, why have our legislators done nothing? Why hasn’t Bevin stepped in? He has claimed to support legal medical marijuana.
Given his hate for Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, this seems to be an area he could really stick it to the former governor’s son and boost his public image after a contentious year. Beshear has said he won’t support legalization until federal authorities agree.
Our lawmakers are stuck in the past. Look at the struggle it was to return hemp to Kentucky, a cousin of cannabis that historically had generated a lot of revenue in our state, until it was made illegal. And even today, some Kentucky counties remain dry and are losing revenue to nearby counties or states that have alcohol sales.
Kentucky is giving money away. Regardless of the law, marijuana continues to be imported into the state, and Kentuckians are buying it.
To put it plainly, our legislators are out of step with their constituents. Though they are certainly in step with the ancient lexicon and slogans surrounding the use of marijuana, are they being honest?
I’m doubtful. They are being scared and politically stupid.
The decision to support cannabis legalization would put almost no member of the Kentucky House or Senate in political jeopardy. One key supporter of medicinal marijuana, Sen. Morgan McGarvey, said his fellow Democrats need to take a stronger stand.
“I’ve seen people criticize Democrats for being too cautious in their approach. I think you have to realize there is a difference between campaigning and legislating. I have been supportive of a position of more expansive marijuana; but we can’t get that through. There are people who are suffering and there are people for whom this could help. While you can’t get everything you want, you can help some people,” McGarvey, of Louisville, told LEO.
“Call your legislators. Email your legislators. Let it be known that you feel this way. People don’t always feel empowered but these seats don’t belong to us. They belong to the people of Kentucky. Make your voice heard,” he said.
The proof that cannabis has medicinal treatments should be without question. In 2014 Republican state Sen. Julie Denton sponsored a bill to legalize cannabis oil to treat seizure patients. This bill passed and now cannabis oil can be used in some medically-determined situations.
Why are we still wringing hands over other forms of cannabis?
Civil rights lawyer Dan Canon, who is now running in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, recently filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of three people who want to be able to use medical cannabis in Kentucky.
“We’re challenging the prohibition on possession of cannabis by people who have a legitimate medical need. The legislature is refusing to act in the face of overwhelming public support and overwhelming scientific evidence,” said Canon. “This is not the sort of scary monster that the ‘Reefer Madness’ crowd has tried to sell to the American public over the last 80 years.”
Yet Beshear and Bevin want this case dismissed because they feel the Legislature, not a court, should make a decision about legalization.
If the legislators won’t act on their own, then Kentucky, are you ready to catch up with the rest of the nation? If the answer is yes, and by the numbers it certainly seems to be, then it’s time to get loud and in the faces of our lawmakers. It would certainly be to the benefit of the people of our state, much more than standing outside of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office, or writing letters that end up in a dead letter pile in Washington. Local and state political action has a direct and more immediate effect.
“We are so different than the federal government. When you call Frankfort, your message gets to us. When you email our account, it comes to us. When you come to Frankfort you get to see us. It matters more on a state level,” said McGarvey.
States including Colorado are showing legalization works.
Colorado has experienced an economic boost of $2.4 billion, according to the Marijuana Policy Group, a collaboration between the University of Colorado Boulder Business Research Division and BBC Research & Consulting in Denver. The cannabis industry has created some 18,000 jobs — imagine those jobs in Eastern Kentucky where coal mines are closing.
It is time to ask for what most of us want: the chance to choose a safer alternative for a good time and good medicine.
Bevin needs to get his Kentucky chambers together and make these changes so that those who need medicine can receive, and those who use recreationally can boost the economic power of Kentucky to compete in a nation that is quickly leaving it behind.
BECAUSE THIS STORY IS SO IMPORTANT IN KENTUCKY I HAVE INCLUDED TWO SOURCES OF INFORMATION.
PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK TO THE VIDEO BELOW TO HEAR THE PRESS CONFERENCE WHICH WAS AIRED ON WLKY.
THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED TODAY, JUNE 14TH, 2017, IN JEFFERSON COUNTY KENTUCKY AGAINST GOV. MATT BEVIN AND AG ANDY BESHEAR BY DANNY BELCHER OF BATH COUNTY, AMY STALKER OF JEFFERSON COUNTY, AND DAN SEUM JR OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.
ABOVE: LINK TO PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO ON WLKY
FRANKFORT, Ky. —
Three people are suing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear over Kentucky’s marijuana laws, claiming their rights are being violated by not being able to use or possess medicinal marijuana.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday morning in Jefferson Circuit Court, was filed on behalf of Danny Belcher of Bath County, Amy Stalker of Louisville and Dan Seum Jr., son of state Sen. Dan Seum, R-Fairdale.
Seum turned to marijuana after being prescribed opioid painkillers to manage back pain.
“I don’t want to go through what I went through coming off that Oxycontin and I can’t function on it,” he said. “If I consume cannabis, I can at least function and have a little quality of life.”
The plaintiffs spoke at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Seum does not believe the state can legally justify outlawing medical marijuana while at the same time allowing doctors to prescribe powerful and highly addictive opioids, which have created a statewide and national epidemic of abuse.
That legal justification lies at the heart of the plaintiffs’ legal challenge, which claims Kentucky is violating its own constitution.
The lawsuit claims the prohibition violates section two of the Kentucky Constitution, which denies “arbitrary power,” and claims the courts have interpreted that to mean a law can’t be unreasonable.
“It’s difficult to make a comparison between medical cannabis and opioids that are routine prescribed to people all over the commonwealth, all over the country, and say that there’s some sort of rational basis for the prohibition on cannabis as medicine when we know how well it works,” said Dan Canon, who along with attorney Candace Curtis is representing the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit also claims Kentucky’s law violates the plaintiffs’ right to privacy, also guaranteed under the state constitution.
Spokespeople for Gov. Bevin and Beshear say their offices are in the process of reviewing the lawsuit.
In a February interview on NewsRadio 840 WHAS, Bevin said the following in response to a question about whether he supports medical marijuana:
“The devil’s in the details. I am not opposed to the idea medical marijuana, if prescribed like other drugs, if administered in the same way we would other pharmaceutical drugs. I think it would be appropriate in many respects. It has absolute medicinal value. Again, it’s a function of its making its way to me. I don’t do that executively. It would have to be a bill.” CONTINUE READING…
Lawsuit challenges Kentucky’s medical marijuana ban
By Bruce Schreiner | AP June 14 at 6:38 PM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s criminal ban against medical marijuana was challenged Wednesday in a lawsuit touting cannabis as a viable alternative to ease addiction woes from opioid painkillers.
The plaintiffs have used medical marijuana to ease health problems, the suit said. The three plaintiffs include Dan Seum Jr., the son of a longtime Republican state senator.
Another plaintiff, Amy Stalker, was prescribed medical marijuana while living in Colorado and Washington state to help treat symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome and bipolar disorder. She has struggled to maintain her health since moving back to Kentucky to be with her ailing mother.
“She comes back to her home state and she’s treated as a criminal for this same conduct,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Canon. “That’s absurd, it’s irrational and it’s unconstitutional.”
Stalker, meeting with reporters, said: “I just want to be able to talk to my doctors the same way I’m able to talk to doctors in other states, and have my medical needs heard.” CONTINUE READING…
The word “marijuana” plays a controversial role in cannabis culture. Many well-known organizations such as Oakland’s Harborside Heath Center have publicly denounced “the M word” in favor of our favorite plant’s Latinate name, cannabis. Even Salon Magazine, a major press outlet outside of the cannabis industry, published an article titled “Is the word ‘Marijuana’ racist?” last year.
As mainstream culture becomes a little more herb-friendly, the terminology used by the industry is coming to center stage. But, why exactly does the term “marijuana” cause so much debate? Even worse, why has the word gained publicity as a racist term?
To save you from reading those lengthy history books or some boring academic articles, we’ve created this brief timeline to give you the low-down on “marijuana”’s rise to popularity in the United States. Here’s what you need to know:
The Mexican Revolution
Prior to 1910, “marijuana” didn’t exist as a word in American culture. Rather, “cannabis” was used, most often in reference to medicines and remedies for common household ailments. In the early 1900s, what have now become pharmaceutical giants—Bristol-Meyer’s Squib and Eli Lilly—used to include cannabis and cannabis extracts in their medicines.
During this time, Americans (particularly elite Americans) were going through a hashish trend. Glamorized by literary celebrities such as Alexander Dumas, experimenting with cannabis products became a fad among those wealthy enough to afford imported goods.
Between the years of 1910 and 1920, over 890,000 Mexicans legally immigrated into the United States seeking refuge from the wreckage of civil war. Though cannabis had been a part of U.S. history since the country’s beginnings, the idea of smoking the plant recreationally was not as common as other forms of consumption. The idea of smoking cannabis entered mainstream American consciousness after the arrival of immigrants who brought the smoking habit with them.
The first bill criminalizing the cultivation of “locoweed” was passed in California. The bill was a major push from the Board of Pharmacy as a way to regulate opiates and psychoactive pharmaceuticals, and seemingly did not stem from the “reefer madness” or racialized understanding of “marijuana” that paved the way to full-on prohibition in the 1930s.
The Great Depression had just hit the United States, and Americans were searching for someone to blame. Due to the influx of immigrants (particularly in the South) and the rise of suggestive jazz music, many white Americans began to treat cannabis (and, arguably, the Blacks and Mexican immigrants who consumed it) as a foreign substance used to corrupt the minds and bodies of low-class individuals.
In the time just before the federal criminalization of the plant, 29 states independently banned the herb that came to be known as “marijuana.”
It would not be an overstatement to say that Harry Anslinger was one of the primary individuals responsible for creating the stigma surrounding cannabis. Hired as the first director of the recently created Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, Anslinger launched a vigilant campaign against cannabis that would hold steady for the three decades he remained in office.
A very outspoken man, Anslinger used the recent development of the movie theater to spread messages that racialized the plant for white audiences. In one documented incident, Anslinger testified before Congress, explaining:
“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind… Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage.”
In another statement, Anslinger articulated: “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
In retrospect, Anslinger’s efforts with the Bureau of Narcotics were the reason “marijuana” became a word known by Americans all over the country. When making public appearances and crafting propaganda films such as Reefer Madness, Anslinger specifically used the term “marijuana” when campaigning against the plant, adding to the development of the herb’s new “foreign” identity.
Cannabis was no longer the plant substance found in medicines and consumed unanimously by American’s all over the country.
The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was the culmination of Anslinger’s work and the first step to all-out prohibition. The bill federally criminalized the cannabis plant in every U.S. state. In order to discourage the production of cannabis use, the Tax Act of 1937 placed a one dollar tax on anyone who sold or cultivated the cannabis plant.
On top of the tax itself, the bill mandated that all individuals comply with certain enforcement provisions. Violation of the provisions would result in imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Though the word “marijuana” is the most common name for cannabis in the United States today, its history is deeply steeped in race, politics, and a complicated cultural revolution. Some argue that using the word ignores a history of oppression against Mexican immigrants and African Americans, while others insist that the term has now lost its prejudiced bite. Regardless of whether or not you decide to use the word yourself, it’s impossible to deny the magnitude and racial implications of its introduction to the American lexicon.
(Catching up on old news…It’s here because it’s important!)
As cannabis is legalized for medical and recreational use on a state-by-state basis, safety regulations regarding cannabis products are becoming increasingly important. One aspect of safety regulations involves setting maximal allowable limits on pesticides. Such regulations are particularly significant given that medical populations, including young and immunocompromised patients, are among the intended consumers of cannabis products.
The cannabis industry has a pesticide problem – actually, many problems. A number of studies have reported high levels of pesticides on cannabis samples taken from the medical markets in Washington and Colorado [Russo p66, Sullivan]. There have been cannabis product recalls in both states and in Canada because of pesticide infractions.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets pesticide standards and tolerance levels nationally. But the EPA has not approved any pesticides specifically for use on cannabis because it is a federally illegal substance. So, as of now, it’s up to each state to decide on a single “action limit” for each pesticide applied to cannabis. An action limit refers to the maximal allowable level of a pesticide. This limit is reported in units of parts per million (ppm). A 1 ppm limit on a pesticide means that up to 0.0001% of the product’s weight can be from the pesticide.
A state cannot set a pesticide action limit that is more permissive than regulations for general use on food crops established by the EPA. In some cases, the EPA’s limit for food products is adopted by state marijuana regulators. But in other cases a stricter limit is determined by the level of quantification that can be “reasonably achievable by analytical chemists” [APHL p15]. In other words, action limits are often based on the ease of detecting chemicals rather than a prioritization of their dangers.
The same limit for a particular pesticide applies whether a product is meant to be smoked, vaporized, or ingested – even though different modes of administration can dramatically change the toxicity of the pesticides. Cannabis is still consumed primarily by smoking. Yet there is next to no information on the health effects of burning pesticides. This information vacuum is likely attributable to lobbying by the tobacco industry. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the “EPA does not assess intermediate or long-term risks to smokers because of the severity of health effects linked to use of tobacco products themselves” [GAO].
In other words, because cigarette-smoking is already known to be harmful, federal officials decided that it’s not important to understand the adverse health effects of inhaling combustible pesticides. Consequently, state regulators are lacking crucial information about many pesticides. Two pesticides used in the cannabis industry, myclobutanil (generally sold as Eagle 20) and pyrethrins, underscore the inconsistency of current pesticide regulations.
Pyrethrins are a natural family of six pesticides produced by chrysanthemum. They break down quickly in sunlight or heat. They are highly toxic to aquatic life but have low toxicity to warm blooded animals, including humans. The EPA maintains that pyrethrins do not pose a chronic risk for mammals (including humans), except potentially for people who regularly spray them on crops [EPA p9]. In commercial products, pyrethrins are generally sold with piperonyl butoxide (PBO), a compound that synergizes with pyrethrins, allowing them to be effective at lower doses. Pyrethrins should not be confused with pyrethroids, synthetic chemicals that are as different from pyrethrins as THC is from synthetic “spice” or “K2” bath salts.1
The action limit for pyrethrins is 1 ppm in every state that has set pesticide regulations for marijuana. California recently released proposed regulations, setting the pyrethrin limit at 0.7 ppm for edibles and 0.5 ppm for other cannabis products.2 Hearings will be held on this proposal four times in the month of June. The regulations can be found here.
But the European Food Safety Administration (EFSA) has concluded that it is safe for humans to ingest up to 0.4 mg pyrethrins per kg bodyweight every day [EFSA]. By this estimate, an average 135 pound human consuming state-approved cannabis could ingest 55 pounds of product in a day without toxicity due to pyrethrins.3 This calculation can be inverted, and an action limit can be determined from the maximal amount of cannabis products used in a day. For example, if one assumes that no one ingests more than 1% of their body weight in cannabis products (about 1.1 pounds for an average human), then 40 ppm is a stringent enough action limit to prevent pyrethrin toxicity, according to the EFSA.
While the European Food Safety Administration’s limit for pyrethrins does not take into consideration the synergistic toxicity between pesticides, it does provide a viable starting point to base action limits on safety.
The toxicity of myclobutanil highlights the importance of considering how a cannabis product is consumed. When heated myclobutanil decomposes into hydrogen cyanide, a toxic compound that causes neurological, respiratory, cardiovascular, and thyroid problems at concentrations of 0.008 ppm [MSDS]. Smoking or vaping cannabis tainted with myclobutanil residue is a bad idea. This pesticide is now banned for use on cannabis in Oregon [Farrer p11]. However, in Nevada up to 9 ppm of myclobutanil is allowed on cannabis as of January 2017 [DPBH].
Since smoking is still the most preferred method of consuming cannabis, it is essential to know the safety of pesticides when heated. Vaporization leads to temperatures around 200˚C, while burning causes temperatures above 400˚C. Unlike myclobutanil, pyrethrins likely break down into two safer chemicals when heated without burning: chrysanthemic acid and a rethrolone. This breakdown may be reduced in the oily solution of a concentrate. When smoked it is not clear how pyrethrins will decompose and how dangerous these chemicals will be.
There’s ample reason for state officials to be cautious and to err on the side of safety with respect to pesticide regulations. But being stringent without a basis in science may have the unintended effect of pushing cannabis cultivators to use harder-to-detect pesticides that are more toxic.
It is paramount to study the effects of heating pesticides. Lacking pertinent data, regulations should at least be geared toward reducing the use of pesticides that we know burn to highly toxic compounds, and regulations should give some leeway to pesticides and growing practices that are safer. Moreover, regulations need to be malleable, so that as research provides us with a better understanding of pesticide toxicity, regulations follow suit.
Adrian Devitt-Lee is a Project CBD research associate and contributing writer.
Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.
1 Pyrethroids account for 30 percent of global pesticide use, according to Chinese researchers at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. Known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, pyrethroids have been linked to early puberty in boys, which can stunt growth and cause behavioral problems. Exposure to pyrethroids also increases the risk of testicular cancer in men and breast cancer in women.
2 California’s proposed regulations do account for some differences between ingesting and vaporizing pesticides. However, this is because compounds enter the bloodstream through the lungs much more easily than they pass through the digestive tract. They do not consider the effect of heating solvents or pesticides. Moreover, in their reference to exposure limits for solvents regulators confuse two different units. The short-term exposure limit (STEL), applicable to acute inhalation, can be measured in ppmv or mg/m3. Ppmv stands for parts per million by volume, which is sometimes written “ppm”. Limits on cannabis are given in ppm by weight, which is measured as the grams of adulterant per million grams of cannabis product, or µg (microgram) of adulterant per gram product. The relevant ppmv in the lungs is not simply the ppm contamination on cannabis. The relationship between ppmv and ppm depends on the volume of the lungs and the amount of cannabis product inhaled. The concentration (in mg/m3) of adulterant inhaled is approximately L*c/V, where L is the limit in ppm, c is the amount of cannabis used in grams, and V is the volume of the lungs in liters.
3 The relationship is as follows: Let b be the individual’s body weight in kg, L the regulatory limit in ppm, A the acceptable daily intake in mg pyrethrins/kg bodyweight, and C the maximum amount of cannabis consumed by any individual per day in grams. 1 kilogram is equal to 2.2 lbs. Safety would mean that these variables satisfy:
A * b ≥ 10-3 * L * C
Substituting b = 62 [kg], L = 1 [ppm], and A = 0.4 [mg/kg], we see that C ≤ 24,800 [g] or C ≤ 54.7 lbs.
On the other hand, if we suppose that b ≥ 0.1 C (that the individual consumes less than 1% of their bodyweight in cannabis each day), the limit must satisfy L ≤ 40 [ppm].
- Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL). “Guidance for State Medical Cannabis Testing Programs.” May 2016.
- European Food Safety Administration (EFSA). “Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance pyrethrins.” 2013.
- Farrer, D. “Technical Report: Oregon Health Authority’s Process to Determine Which Types of Contaminants to Test for in Cannabis Products, and Levels for Action.” December 2015.
- “Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS): Myclobutanil.” 2009.
- Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) “Monitoring List for Pest Control Substances and Plant Growth Regulators.”
- Russo E. “Pesticide Contamination of Cannabis in the Legal Market.” Presented at the 2016 International Cannabinoid Research Society.
- Sullivan N, Elzinga S, Raber J. “Determination of Pesticide Residues in Cannabis Smoke.” Journal of Toxicology, volume 2013.
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Reregistration Eligibility Decision for Pyrethrins.” June 2006.
- US Government Accountability Office (GAO). “Pesticides on Tobacco: Federal Activities to Assess Risks and Monitor Residues.” March, 2003.
Hemp use predates the Agrarian Age, as hemp fibers have been found in pottery in China and Taiwan dating to 7,000 years ago. The classical Greek historian Herodotus (ca. 480 BC) reported that the inhabitants of Scythia would often inhale the vapours of hemp smoke, both as ritual and for their own pleasurable recreation. So presumably the Scythians were the first recorded stoners.
In Europe, hemp growing and production became quite popular during the Medieval Age, having disseminated in that direction along with much of the technology of the Arabic Golden Age in Northern Africa. In Europe hemp seeds were used for food and oils, the leaves for teas and the stalks for fibres, including rope, clothes, sails and paper. Estimates put the number of Europeans actively involved in hemp growing and production in the 15th and 16th century at well over 50%.
Hemp has a strong historical influence on every continent, with varied cultural and religious traditions. Many African spiritual practices involve consuming hemp smoke to enhance awareness and generate visions like the Dagga ‘cults’.
The Spaniards brought hemp to the Western Hemisphere and cultivated it in Chile starting about 1545. However, in May 1607, “hempe” was among the crops Gabriel Archer observed being cultivated by the natives at the main Powhatan village, where Richmond, Virginia is now situated; and in 1613,
Samuell Argall reported wild hemp “better than that in England” growing along the shores of the upper Potomac. As early as 1619, the first Virginia House of Burgesses passed an Act requiring all planters in Virginia to sow “both English and Indian” hemp on their plantations. The Puritans are first known to have cultivated hemp in New England in 1645.
In more modern times, hemp was a popular crop in antibellum Kentucky and other southern states. It was commonly used for a variety of products, most notably the paper on which the U.S. Constitution was written. Several of our founding fathers were hemp farmers.
All this changed with William Randoph Hearst, who began demonizing hemp in order to leverage his great tracks of forest for paper production instead of needing to buy hemp from other farmers. His effort to demonize the plant was also instigated by his racism, as many hispanics and blacks used hemp for recreation. The word, marijuana, is the hispanic term for that form of hemp which has psychoactive ingredients.
There are several varieties of hemp, most of which have very little THC [tetra-hydro-cannabanoid], the mind-effecting component. For most of U.S. history, the distinction was well-understood and laws reflected that awareness. Like so many with the power of media, however, Mr. Hearst did his best to cloud that distinction, as he was against hemp in any form. Indeed, industrial hemp was referred to as ‘ditchweed’, while hemp for medicinal or recreations purposes has come to be known as marijuana.
An analogy would be poppies, where you have the breadseed poppy seeds that can be found on bread or rolls, in contrast to the opium poppies grown to create morphine and heroin.
As reference, the timber and lumber industries, textile and petro-chemical industries are the most influential in keeping hemp illegal. As usual, we can follow the money. Then for pot there’s the pharmaceutical industry, the alcohol lobby and all those anti-drug agencies with self-preservation interests. We learn much from understanding these connections.
With this background, let’s consider how hemp might again play a pivotal role in our culture.
Assuming access to air and water, our most regular needs are for food and energy. In the World4 culture, these needs, at least for the industrialized world, are met through global corporations like ADM, Monsanto, BP and Exxon. And of course, hemp is illegal to grow in much of the industrialized world and particularly the United States.
But as noted above, hemp is easily grown with little required in the way of fertilizer or pesticides. As such, hemp typifies a sustainably-oriented plant. Corn, by comparison, requires heavy doses of fertilizer, especially nitrogen, and requires a good deal of pesticide use, with Roundup often used to kill weeds, and genetically modified corn seed that is resistant to the effects of Roundup. With the vast expanses of corn grown in this country, it should be no surprise that the runoff from these chemicals has created a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. And let us not forget that our tax dollars subsidize these efforts through farm and energy subsidies.
With hemp, we have a low-impact, high-yield crop that can be used for a variety of uses. The stalks and fiber can used for composites that can be a wood substitute in an array of products. They can also be processed to create ethanol. They can be burned as a carbon-neutral resource, since the carbon they release is but the carbon the plant ingested during it’s life. Durable, light-weight, and strong, it’s difficult to imagine all the uses for industrial hemp were we to focus on designing and building hemp-based products.
With hemp oil we have another energy-rich resource, which can be used in cooking, as lamp oil and as a medicinal, as its high concentration of essential fatty acids is great for the skin and overall health.
Hemp seed can be used as a food as well. The roasted seeds are crunchy, they can be used in soups and casseroles, mixed with cereals or other foods. They’re highly nutritious, have a good deal of protein and again, are positive-impact environmentally.
Hemp has remediation properties too. It absorbs heavy metals in the soil, reducing their toxicity and harmful environment effects. There are vast expanses of hemp in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear accident for just that reason.
Hemp can be grown successfully in nearly every state in these United States. One can imagine a culture where locally produced hemp provides a good portion of the energy, food and product needs for our communities. This methodology would provide employment in both production and processing of the plant. It would reduce the environmental damage caused by our overused, subsidized corn. [Corn syrup is a cheap, low grade sugar that’s in a ton of processed foods.] Re-integrating hemp into our culture is just good, common sense.
And then there’s marijuana. The heathen devil-weed [a term coined by Heart’s yellow press] was blamed for all sorts of bad behavior as part of the demonization process. But as usual, someone who smokes pot and acts badly likely acts badly anyway, with marijuana as the straw man. Marijuana reduces aggressive behavior, unlike alcohol. This slander against the singular most influential plant in human history is but one example of the dysfunctionality of our culture.
Weed does indeed have psychotropic properties of note. Being stoned has a curious effect on the mind. Most say it tends to enhance whatever we feeling or experiencing at the time, offering a heightened experience of music or games or food [the proverbial munchies]. It is often used as a mind-quieting agent as well, as the stream of thoughts so constant to most of us becomes less pressing in a marijuana state of mind. In our fear-ridden, highly-stressed culture that alone could be of great value.
It’s worth noting that marijuana has not been placed as the medical cause in a single death in this country. Compare that with alcohol, tobacco, or the host of concoctions the pharmaceutical industry markets to us constantly. Mary Jane is decidedly benign.
As a medicinal, hemp oil has the afore mentioned essential fatty acids that are very effective for skin issues like excema and when ingested enhances body health. Medical marijuana is much in the news these days, being legal in California and a handful of other states. It’s value in alleviating the worst effect of cancer treatments, chronic back ache and other issues is well-documented. Imagine if our culture actually encouraged research on medical marijuana. Not likely when the legal drug cartel we call the pharmaceutical industry has so much influence in government.
Proposition 19 is a measure on the ballot in California this fall that makes hemp legal. It merits our support for all the reasons indicated in this writing. Perhaps with this ballot measure passing we can begin to reverse the foolishness that has withheld leveraging this marvelous plant for the last 100 years.
Perhaps one of the most beneficial characteristics of this renewable resource is that the hemp plant can be used in its entirety, and that a streamlined life-cycle assessment yields positive impacts on the environment throughout the growth, harvest, and production stages. The industrial hemp plant offers a wide variety of high performance applications through the many aspects of community design, and will help strengthen our local economy, return power back to our local agricultural industry, and restore the environment as it grows. – Scott Blossom
Well said, Mister Blossom. Perhaps this fall [in California Ballot Measure Prop 19] we’ll begin to see a return to sanity in our policies toward this marvelous and versatile plant. And wouldn’t it be just swell to see this happen in the wider context of a return to localism. Very World Five – dude.
Just 2 miles outside of downtown Cave City, Kentucky, the landscape quickly turns from old brick and mortar to farmhouses and dirt roads. Down one such dirt road, a 45-acre plot of land rests nestled between patches of trees, large stretches of wildflowers and tall grasses. Two 2012 Clayton model mobile homes, an old red barn and a spattering of newer-looking structures dot the immense sea of green grass.
The dirt road leads to a gravel pathway almost up to the door of the main house. This is the new home and farm of the Wilson family, one of Kentucky’s first families to enter into the world of hemp farming through the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program.
Inside, two men, the heads of the two households, scurry around in the small kitchen of the main home. Dodging the kitchen island, the dog and each other, they are busy making phone calls to clients and searching for a product or a tool or a piece of paper. There is much to be done on this April day, as the summer is quickly approaching.
One of them is a burly bearded man in a farmer’s plaid button down. The hat he wears reads “Green Remedy,” and it is adorned with buttons and pins with pro-hemp sayings, phrases and images. Tufts of curly gray and black hair stick out from beneath the hat, and a salt-and-pepper goatee wraps around his bright smile.
This is Chad Wilson, sometimes better known as the Hemp Preacher.
He doesn’t remember when he first got the name or even who gave it to him; all he knows is that it has caught on over the years.
“I can get up on a soapbox pretty quick,” he laughs. “Thing is I get to speakin’ and it just turns to preachin’.”
Chad knows he is not the only one out there who preaches the power of hemp as a versatile and strong plant. He believes in its abilities to rejuvenate Kentucky farms and the agriculture industry across the nation.
As for his nickname, Chad does not want to end up as the face of Kentucky hemp, although he slowly starting to gain that reputation. He said his biggest goal is to spread the word about the industry and to help it grow with or without his name.
This year, Chad and his family are taking their involvement in the industry one step further. They will be planting and growing their own hemp in order to have a hand in every aspect of the production.
“We’re trying to get into a position where we help others, and we feel like it’s our calling; by doing that we help grow the industry.”
Hemp History and the IHRPP
Hemp has been planted on American soil since the Colonial Era. According to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky planted its first crop in 1775, and the state would become the leader in hemp production for years to come. In 1850, hemp production was at its peak with 40,000 tons of the crop coming out of Kentucky’s soil. However, in 1938 all forms of cannabis, including hemp, were outlawed, and so began its disappearance from the American farm.
During World War II, a small resurgence occurred in the industry, as hemp was used to make rope and materials for the war effort. Once the war ended, the crops began to dwindle and died out completely by 1958.
The “Second Prohibition,” as it is called by some hemp enthusiasts, occurred in 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act was passed, declaring Marijuana a “Schedule 1 substance.” Although hemp is also from the cannabis plant, it is grown and cultivated differently than marijuana. However, much of the legislation passed in the 19th and 20th centuries lumped both plants together without exception.
While marijuana is grown in a wider, spread out area, hemp farmers hope that stalks will grow up rather than out. Marijuana is also grown and harvested for its THC content. Hemp is cultivated for its seed and fiber. It has been used to make lotions, clothing and hair care products, but until recently it has been a U.S. import.
The 2014 U.S. farm bill allowed certain states to test hemp farm pilot programs. Kentucky was one of the first states to adopt the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, and from its installation has seen the acreage of crops planted go from zero to 2,300 acres in just under 3 years. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture hopes to see continued growth in the industry as the 2017 season begins around late May. However, many local farmers still worry about the risks of industrial hemp farming.
In a letter included in the 2017 IHRPP Policy Guide, Ryan Quarles, KDA Commissioner, stated the importance of maintaining flexibility and strong communication between farmers, government officials and law enforcement agencies:
“Freedom, flexibility and latitude to try new methods and applications are essential to the success of any agricultural research pilot program… the Department must work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement officials to devise and oversee a research pilot program that encourages continued expansion of industrial hemp production while also effectively upholding laws prohibiting marijuana and other illegal drugs.”
Still, some small family farm owners have not seen this kind of flexibility from their local law enforcement and government. In fact, they have experienced quite the opposite sentiment as regulations on percentages of the cannabinoid, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are strictly enforced.
This month, Kentucky agriculture officials seized and burned almost 100 pounds of Kentucky industrial hemp from grower, Lindsay Todd. Her crop, when measured for THC percentage, came out at .4083 percent according to officials. That means the crop was one-tenth over the legal limit of .3 percent, giving officials the right to eliminate it.
Chad Wilson weighed in on the incident, saying that alternatives are necessary if the IHRPP is to continue successfully in Kentucky.
“There have to be rules and regulations, but there also have to be concerns for the farmer and mitigation of loss…the plants are affected by the environment, by the weather, by stress that can throw those levels off,” Chad said.
As long as the law remains at .3 percent and no compensation for loss is provided, Wilson worries other farmers will be reluctant to begin growing their own crops in Kentucky.
How it all began
For most of his life, Chad Wilson, like many of his now critics, had a deep-seated opposition to hemp based on the assumption that it was the same as marijuana and was detrimental to society.
“I didn’t understand what hemp was, that it wasn’t marijuana. That’s how we were raised here in the South,” said Chad. “So I’ve made this incredible journey from where I was to where I am now.”
In 2011, Chad Wilson discovered the benefits of hemp after he began seeing posts about its various uses on Facebook. He started to look deeper, and he found information about the use of industrial hemp farming for vital remediation of the soil.
Then, as he looked further, he found stories about medical hemp and CBD oil helping children and adults with epilepsy or other painful health problems.
After being given the book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy,” Chad said things changed. He is now an advocate and self-proclaimed activist for the agriculture industry and industrial hemp in Kentucky.
In an effort to spread the word about hemp and provide hemp-based products to a larger market across the state and country, Chad and his partner, Chris Smith, founded Green Remedy, Inc., in October 2014. It is a company dedicated to the production of solely hemp products such as hair and skin care items, foods, and oils. The company also sells Cannabidiol products such as tinctures, capsules and concentrates.
Cannabinoids can be found in both hemp and marijuana plants. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) does not cause euphoria or intoxication, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Instead, preclinical studies have shown that CBD has “anti-seizure, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-tumor, anti-psychotic, and anti-anxiety properties.”
Green Remedy, Inc. specializes in the now-legal production of this medicinal cannabis product.
In March 2015, hemp hit home for the Wilson family when Chad’s father suffered a stroke that left him virtually speechless for months. He would look with blank expression at his family members and respond to them with a simple “yes” or “no.”
“I knew we had to get CBD into his body,” Chad said.
Chad’s sister was a nurse practitioner who did not agree with the use of CBD, and she was especially against using it on her father. Not wanting to cause a divide in the family, Chad let go of the idea.
Six months later, Chad’s father was still having trouble formulating full sentences and engaging in conversation. His eyes looked different. They were dimmer than before.
Chad, unable to wait any longer, took his father to his computer. He sat him down and told him to read about the U.S. government patent on CBD oil, which states, “nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention.”
“Take it,” Chad’s father looked at him with pleading eyes. “I’ll take it.”
In less than 10 days, Chad noticed a change. His father was speaking again, in full sentences. A year later he was laughing, joking and living on his own with a new lease on life.
“They said he would never drive again. They said he would never live on his own again. He would probably never speak again, never ride his motorcycle or be able to care for himself. We put him on CBD, and now I have my daddy back,” Chad said behind tear-filled eyes. “I have my daddy back.”
The Local Perspective
Not everyone shares the Wilsons’ sentiments about hemp and its role in American agriculture. Chad has faced ignorance and even discrimination from people around the country. Some of the most obvious opposition and lack of knowledge comes from his own locale, South Central Kentucky.
On Broadway Street, one can find a variety of antique shops, small restaurants and a number of “For Sale” signs. Squatty buildings with chipping paint and once-bright shop signs beckon a number of town locals and some tourists on a good day. Along Broadway, one patio set-up seems to catch the eye.
Magaline’s Antique Mall, with its plastic patio chairs and array of flowers and small trees, sits awaiting customers.
Inside, Magaline Meredith stands behind the counter.
“Hemp!? You mean that marijuana stuff? I’m afraid I don’t know nothing about that, darlin’,” she said.
A clay-like concealer covered her creviced face, and bright eyes shown through the thick black mascara under her polka-dotted hat.
“Come right on in, sugar,” said the old woman with raspy southern drawl. Her attention drifted to a raincoat-clad customer walking in the door.
“What can I do ya for…oh, well hey there honey,” she said, growing louder with the realization that her guest was actually someone she had been expecting. The man began to chat with Magaline’s husband behind her and they quickly engaged in a conversation about a plastic credit card scanner.
“Ya know, we used to use that hemp in the Navy. Made ropes and such,” he said.
“Yeah, and they’re usin’ it to make plastic and lotsa cool things nowadays,” said the man in the raincoat. “Hell, they could probably make this credit card swiper outta hemp.”
“So it doesn’t get you high like real marijuana then?” Magaline asked, her bright eyes now sporting a look of confusion.
“I guess not,” said her husband.
“Well then, I guess I’m fine with them plantin’ it,” Magaline said, and they all went back to their search, leaving the conversation behind without a second glance.
Scenes like the one at Magaline’s are common in the state of Kentucky. While some people do know about hemp’s alternative uses, many still group the plant with its high-in-THC counterpart, marijuana.
In May of 2016, Chad paid a visit to the Warren County Justice Center to help his son get a driver’s license. Once he entered the building, Chad was told that he would have to leave the premises if he did not remove his Green Remedy hat. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the officials said that Chad’s hat “promoted marijuana” and so he would have to remove it before going any further.
Chad, not wanting to cause a scene, removed the hat but was disheartened by the entire event. After having explained himself to the officials and telling them that he was in fact a licensed grower, they still made him take off the hat.
“The only way this industry is gonna grow is if people take down these walls and freely communicate and share ideas,” Chad said. “And right now we’re still not seeing that.”
The Plan of Action
Back on his own farm, Chad and his son, Jordan, patiently await planting day. For now, June 1 is the set date when the first cutting will be placed in the soil. The Wilsons will be experimenting with cloning their plants rather than planting seeds.
“Cloning helps us ensure that the plant has good genes,” said Jordan. “That way it’ll be easier to regulate those THC levels and the quality of the plants we’re farming.”
With the planting of the cuttings quickly approaching, there is still much to be done on the farm- a shop to be furnished and cemented, greenhouses to be readied and careful protection of the plants themselves. Although the weather has been an obstacle in the process, the Wilsons remain hopeful that they will have a fully functioning farm within the next couple of months.
“We have a pretty good outline of what we’re going to do,” said Jordan. “But we don’t want to make anything too strict because things happen. It may rain. We may have some other setback. We just know what our end goal is, and we know we’ll make it happen.”
The Wilsons hope that the entire farm will one day become a place that draws people to Cave City. Chad believes that his farm has the potential to bring life back to the small town with an agritourism approach.
Jordan has planted radishes and carrots while he waits for the day to start planting the hemp cuttings. Another goal for the Wilson family, which Jordan is especially passionate about, is to run a certified Kentucky Organic produce farm. First, they will have to prove to the KDA that the land has been free of pesticides and chemicals for a three-year period.
Both Chad and Jordan are confident that they will receive the certification, as most of the land has not been farmed in years. Except for the back, where there was corn and soybean production, the Wilson family can prove that there have not been any chemicals or sprays on the land for around six to 10 years.
With big plans ahead of them, the Wilsons work daily to ensure that their farm will run smoothly. Chad wakes up almost every morning at 5 a.m. to begin his day making phone calls, doing business and readying the farm.
After the cuttings of hemp are planted in the greenhouse beds, the Wilsons will finally have a hand in all aspects of hemp agricultural production.
“I especially care about keeping [the hemp plants] inside, away from external factors like bugs and bad weather, especially if they will be used medicinally,” Chad said, mentioning the importance of knowing exactly where your hemp products come from.
Chad will get to oversee every part of the process from plant birth to the lab at Green Remedy and then, he hopes, into the lives of people in need.
Once everything is up and running smoothly, the final steps in Chad’s plan include making the farm a training center for anyone who wants to grow hemp. Old farmers who want to try something new. New farmers who have never put one seed in the ground. Anyone with a true desire to grow the plant will be welcome to listen and learn the Hemp Preacher’s lessons.
“My hope is that I can build something that’s a benefit to the farmer and the agricultural economy around Cave City. Then, eventually we can experiment with new crops…see what works and what doesn’t, and then we can train farmers based on that research,” Chad said.
“We’re starting a new page of history for this farm.”
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.
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For Immediate Release
Monday, April 14, 2017
CONTACT: Lauren Stansbury, 402-540-1208
2016 Annual Retail Sales for Hemp Products Estimated at $688 Million
Hemp Food, Body Care, CBD and Supplements Retail Market in U.S.
Achieves 25% Growth in 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading grassroots hemp advocacy organization working to change state and federal laws to allow commercial hemp farming, has released final estimates of the size of the 2016 U.S. retail market for hemp products. Data from market research supports an estimate of total retail sales of hemp food, supplements and body care products in the United States at $292 million. Sales of popular hemp items like non-dairy milk, shelled seed, soaps and lotions have continued to increase, complemented by successful hemp cultivation pilot programs in several states, and increasing grassroots pressure to allow hemp to be grown domestically on a commercial scale once again for U.S. processors and manufacturers. Vote Hemp and Hemp Business Journal have also reviewed sales of clothing, auto parts, building materials and various other products, and estimates the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2016 to be at least $688 million.
Of this $688 million hemp market, Vote Hemp and Hemp Business Journal estimate that hemp foods constituted 19% ($129.3 million); personal care products constituted 24% ($163 million); textiles constituted 14% ($99.5 million); supplements constituted 4% ($26 million); hemp derived cannabidiol or CBD products constituted 19% ($130 million); and hemp dietary supplements constituted 4% ($26 million); industrial applications such as car parts constituted 18% ($125.5 million); and other consumer products such as paper and construction materials accounted for the remaining 2% of the market.
The sales data on hemp foods and body care, collected by market research firm SPINS, was obtained from natural and conventional retailers, excluding Whole Foods Market, Costco, Alfalfa’s Market, and certain other key establishments, who do not provide sales data — and thus it significantly underestimates actual sales. According to the SPINS data, combined 2016 sales of U.S. hemp food, body care, CBD products and dietary supplements grew in the sampled stores by 24.64% or approximately $23 million, over the previous year 2015, to a total of nearly $117 million. According to SPINS figures, sales in conventional retailers grew by 36.54% in 2016, while sales in natural retailers grew by 11.64%. Indeed, the combined growth of hemp retail sales in the U.S. continues steadily: annual natural and conventional market percent growth has progressed from 7.3% (2011), to 16.5% (2012), to 24% (2013), 21.2% (2014), 10.4% (2015),
to nearly 25% in 2016.
“Vote Hemp estimates the total retail value of all hemp products sold in the U.S. to be at least $688 million for 2016,” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “To date, 32 states have passed legislation that allows hemp farming per provisions set forth in the 2014 Farm Bill, and the U.S. remains the largest consumer market for hemp products worldwide. However misguided drug policy still prevents our farmers from cultivating hemp at the scale needed to meet consumer demand, so instead nearly all the hemp to supply the U.S. market is imported. We need Congress to pass federal legislation to allow commercial hemp farming nationally, to let our farmers and American business take advantage of the robust economic opportunity hemp provides,” continued Steenstra.
Data was gathered and analyzed in partnership with Hemp Business Journal, the leading provider of market intelligence to the hemp industry. Sean Murphy, founder and publisher of Hemp Business Journal said, “The hemp industry is being lead by the Natural Products channel. Food and personal care categories have traditionally lead the industry and continued to do so in 2016. The emergence of Hemp CBD—a category growing at 53%—drove the hemp industry to a total market size of $688 million. Hemp Business Journal estimates $130 million in hemp industry sales is from the Hemp CBD category, nearly 20% of the total market. This category is being driven by channel sales in the Natural Products Industry, smoke shops and online verticals, with pharmaceutical players quickly moving into position to capture market share.”
Vote Hemp has calculated that approximately 9,650 acres of hemp crops were planted in 15 states during 2016 in the U.S., 30 universities conducted research on hemp cultivation, and 817 State hemp licenses were issued across the country. This hemp cultivation is legal in 32 states, which have lifted restrictions on hemp farming and may license farmers to grow hemp in accordance with Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill, the Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research amendment. To view the Vote Hemp 2016 Crop Report, which gives a state-by-state breakdown of hemp acreage grown in 2016, please visit:
To date, thirty-two states have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. These states are able to take immediate advantage of the industrial hemp research and pilot program provision, Section 7606 of the Farm Bill: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
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Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow the agricultural crop. More information about hemp legislation and the crop’s many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com or www.TheHIA.org. Video footage of hemp farming in other countries is available upon request by contacting Lauren Stansbury at 402-540-1208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.