Who would have thought that God had corporations in mind when he said “I have given you every plant bearing seed on the surface of all the earth?”

Is Foreign Money Buying Up Some of Michigan’s Corporate Cannabis State Grow Facilities and Dispensaries?

https://scontent.fftk1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/41550905_2330558496960272_723096575080923136_n.jpg?_nc_cat=0&_nc_eui2=AeEZARlqw_gjsDvkCYfr5Lq5mDQy1o5MKu-ztd0TsBJ_mPFqKpAji9F3iY_kJcywLLtWWnhfoWeqd97SDCccEnYwGbXMt6L4vMD7p9XDcSvnRA&oh=a899bb4633a5b81ad9f09145b8ab698d&oe=5C1D3D10

Bruce Cain·Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Introduction

Who would have thought that God had corporations in mind when he said “I have given you every plant bearing seed on the surface of all the earth?”

I have been a Cannabis Activist for 50 years and a Journalist/Activist for at least 30 years. I just wanted adults to be able to “grow their own” without government interference and become the only source of Cannabis for our state dispensaries. Instead our legislators are setting up a “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” in Michigan. And the same boilerplate is unfolding in CA, WA, CO, AZ and OR. As far as I’m concerned the people got screwed again. Rather than blather on let me refer you to a few of my recent essays which you can find at the links below.

===== The Coming War: Securing Our Right to Grow our own Cannabis from the Global Corporations BRUCE CAIN·SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 2018 1,231 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/the-coming-war-securing-our-right-to-grow-our-own-cannabis-from-the-global-corpo/2445909552101685/

Just Vote No on Michigan’s Cannabis Initiative: Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (November 2018) BRUCE CAIN·WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, 2018 419 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/just-vote-no-on-michigans-cannabis-initiative-regulate-marijuana-like-alcohol-no/2441433565882617/

The Global Marijuana March originated with International Drug Policy Day in May 1990. BRUCE CAIN·SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018 582 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/the-global-marijuana-march-originated-with-international-drug-policy-day-in-may-/2393282000697774/

Why the Right to Grow Your Own Medical Cannabis Must Be Protected from “Tax, Regulate and Control” State Models BRUCE CAIN·TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2017 3,920 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/why-the-right-to-grow-your-own-medical-cannabis-must-be-protected-from-tax-regul/1941658819193430/

The Complete Recent Essays of Bruce W. Cain https://www.facebook.com/bruce.cain.98/notes?lst=100000184321094%3A100000184321094%3A1536699785

This little bit of research began with a Facebook post from Adam Brook, who has been the Master of Ceremonies for the Hash Bash since 1989 to 2018. Here’s Adam’s Post:

Wild Bills gets DENIED! There is no Oasis!

Before I go on I want to briefly review my history with Adam Brook and the Hash Bash. The two of us have been involved, as Cannabis Activists, since around 1985. We were both instrumental in having the Hash Bash occur on the first Saturday in April rather than on April 1st. And we did that, around 1989, in order to increase attendance for what might be the longest running Annual Cannabis/Marijuana protest in US history. I have spoken at the Hash Bash nearly 15 times between 1990 and 2012 and Adam continues to MC the annual event. We’ve both been significant Cannabis Activists for many decades. So when he blocked me from his Facebook feed — after calling me a racist and xenophobe — I was taken aback. I am neither a racist, an Islamaphobe or a Xenophobe.

I grew up in Dearborn and have lived in the area for many decades. I’m not at all racist and have many great neighbors who happen to be Muslim. But all groups have their “bad actors.” The Jews had the Purple Gang. The Italians had the Mafia. And yes I do believe there is a fringe group of Muslims that are probably connected to Hezbolla – a Lebanese Shiite Terrorist group.

Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God By Matthew Levitt https://books.google.com/books?id=6QsxCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA323&lpg=PA323&dq=Zig-Zag+Counterfeit+Cigarette+Paper+Scheme+dearborn&source=bl&ots=UM1ExdVMVX&sig=xw__xZ5vpt5h6BG9YOYC7oznmmg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjI5aKwn7HdAhUMr4MKHdcVBQ8Q6AEwEHoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Zig-Zag%20Counterfeit%20Cigarette%20Paper%20Scheme%20dearborn&f=false

And there was a Chaldean Mafia operating in Detroit in 2011.

Chaldean_Mafia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaldean_Mafia

As you read this essay, largely focusing on Wild Bills Tobacco Outlets, it is obvious that they have little respect for our laws (e.g., the ZigZag Conterfiet Racket, 2004) and one has to wonder where are the money came to set up 75 stores in Michigan and more recently 3 stores in Ohio. Apparently the state feels the same way as they denied giving Oasis a dispensary in Lansing for previous criminal activity [Sept. 10 2018].

Frankly I have no formed opinion on Wild Bills but there is plenty of data to suggest they are not choir boys. And that is how I will present it in my essay. I will lay out the facts and let my readers decide. With 75 stores and recent acquisitions, of grow facilities and dispensaries, I guesstimate there is already over 200 million dollars in total assets for Wild Bill’s. * $50 million for grow warehouses if CRMLA (Prop 1) passes in November 2018 * $150 million, at least, for there 78 “Wild Bill’s Tobacco Outlets. [I’m guesstimating $2 million per outlet]. * ??? The Oasis Wellness Centers. * ??? Salaries for workers across 78 Stores. And my big question is this: where did all this money come from? Are there foreign Chaldean investors behind this? Or is it just a bunch of “rich greedy assholes?” What is not in dispute is that Wild Bill’s is trying to corner the market in both Cannabis production and distribution. What is not in dispute is Wild Bill’s has stated that they want to put the home growers out of business. Fuck that.

Every group has their bad apples. And what I do not want to see is a Cannabis Mafia monopolize the Cannabis business, in Michigan, as the Italian Mafia once monopolized Alcohol. Frankly I want it to remain in the hands of small growers which is why I am imploring people to boycott Wild Bill’s while encouraging you to “grow your own” and put the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies” — in Michigan and other states — out of business.

So let us begin disassembling this story by going back to Adam’s post.

Wild Bills gets DENIED! There is no Oasis!

Adam gave no link to any article describing “why” Wild Bills Tobacco got denied. And that began my research.

This is how Wild Bill’s Tobacco Website describes themselves:

===== About Wild Bill’s Tobacco

Wild Bill’s Tobacco, formerly known as Smokers Outlet, is the 5th largest tobacco retailer in the country. The first store opened in 1994 and the company slowly expanded to more than 60 stores over the next 22 years. At Wild Bill’s, we specialize in providing the best quality tobacco products at competitive prices all under one roof for the convenience of our customers.

Our stores are equipped with the largest well humidified walk in humidors containing fine cigars from across the world. Many of our locations have a lounge area where customers can relax and enjoy a fine cigar with friends. All staff members are trained and equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to assist the customer and provide exceptional service. http://www.wildbillstobacco.com/about/ =====

The 75 Stores are mainly in Michigan and there are 3 locations in Ohio. They are named both “Wild Bill’s and Mr. Vapor.

http://www.wildbillstobacco.com/locations/

How Wild Bill’s Tobacco, Smokers Outlet Management and Oasis Wellness Centers are related

===== The top donor to the the current campaign, shown as giving a total of $150,000 as of June, is a company called Smokers Outlet Management in Troy, according to the campaign finance statements. The company owns 68 Wild Bill’s Tobacco shops across Michigan, its website says. But its plan is to use the name Oasis Wellness Centers to open a major chain of marijuana shops in Michigan, according to statements made to state lawmakers’ committees and summarized in a memo filed with the state House Judiciary Committee in 2015 by the company’s vice president, Paul Weisberger.

Top 6 Donors to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol:

1.) Smokers Outlet (chain of 68 Wild Bill’s Tobacco shops), Troy, $150,000

2.) Marijuana Policy Project (nonprofit with 32,000 members), Wash, D.C., $58,161

3.) Andrew Driver Jr. (with Advance Electric), Gaylord, $35,000

4.) David Kelley (investment banker), Traverse City, $10,000

5.) Alec Riffle (with Tree City Health Collective dispensary), Ann Arbor, $10,000

6.) Wholesale Hydroponics (store for marijuana growers), Lansing, $10,000

Michigan marijuana campaign brings together activists, moneyed investors, tobacco dealers

Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press Published 11:03 p.m. ET July 15, 2017

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/07/16/marijuana-legalization-michigan/481154001/ =====

Wild Bill’s has some really big plans for Cannabis Grow and Distribution Facilities

Under the name, Oasis **, Wild Bill’s is willing to pay $21 million dollars for a 320,000 square foot building to 50 percent of the company’s dispensaries across the state. So we can project that they somehow have the capital to invest $40 to $50 million dollars to supply all their dispensaries. Are they planning to convert the 75 Wild Bill’s Tobacco stores into dispensaries. And gee where is all this money coming from?

===== BANGOR TWP, MI – The Bangor Township Board of Trustees have thrown their support behind bringing a medical marijuana grow and distribution facility to Bay County.

Trustees unanimously agreed at their meeting Tuesday, May 9, to support an investment of a grow and distribution facility. Before any type of industry comes to town, however, the township needs to update its code of ordinances.

About 50 people were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.

Oasis Wellness Center, based out of Clawson, Michigan, is interested in investing $21 million into the former Dow Chemical Co. and Crane Resistoflex building, 4675 E. Wilder Road.

During public input, Oasis Vice President Paul Weisberger said his company is looking to employ more than 100 people in the 320,000 square-foot building. Weisberger said Oasis is not currently in the medical marijuana field.

Bangor Township Supervisor Glenn Rowley said other companies have reached out to the township, although Oasis has been the most vocal.

Rowley said future board meetings will discuss ordinances and layout details.

“There’s one opportunity to do this right and we want to make sure we have that,” Rowley said. “We agree we are going forward on this.”

As part of the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, which went into effect last December, application processes for licensed dispensaries is expected to be finalized by Dec. 31.

Bay County township supports medical marijuana facility Updated May 10, 2017; Posted May 9, 2017 https://www.mlive.com/news/bay-city/index.ssf/2017/05/bangor_township_agrees_to_impl.html =====

===== BANGOR TOWNSHIP, MI — A medical marijuana company has approached Bangor Township about investing $21 million to purchase and convert an old factory building into a grow and distribution facility.

But before the controversial industry comes to town, the township’s board of trustees needs to throw its support behind it. A discussion takes place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, at Bangor Township Hall, 180 State Park Drive. It’s unclear at this time if the board is going to make any formal decisions on the matter Tuesday evening.

The company, which township officials are declining to name, hopes to purchase the old Dow Chemical Co. and Crane Resistoflex building at 4675 E. Wilder Road and hire 140 people to work at the plant. If plans come to fruition, the plant would supply medical marijuana to 50 percent of the company’s dispensaries across the state.

Medical marijuana company wants to invest millions into Bay County Updated May 6, 2017; Posted May 6, 2017 https://www.mlive.com/news/bay-city/index.ssf/2017/05/medical_marijuana_bay_county_d.html =====

Wild Bill’s is denied a provisioning center in Lansing

===== Accordingly, the latest round of state approvals didn’t grant a license to a single Lansing-based business. Oasis Wellness Center of Lansing — with local approval for two local growing operations and two processing facilities — was denied for state prequalification for those and several other business enterprises across mid-Michigan.

City records indicate Oasis planned five local businesses centered around Beech and Hazel streets. The state board suggested the owner was arrested twice but failed to disclose that information in its state applications. The would-be shops were also turned down based on the poor “moral integrity” of the company’s founders.

State officials eye marijuana deadline extension [Sept. 10 2018]

Local licensing system remains stagnant amid statewide changes http://lansingcitypulse.com/article-16421-State-officials-eye-marijuana-deadline-extension.html =====

Who own’s Wild Bill’s Tobacco?

Mike Samona, CEO Justin Samona, Chief Marketing Officer Paul Weisberger, VP Oasis Wellness Centers

===== The best business news for Wild Bill’s Tobacco, based in Birmingham,Michigan, with 50 stores, was when the state of Michigan enacted a 50-cent tax cap on individual cigars at the end of2012. “It allowed us to be much more competitive with our online competitors last year, which led to an increase in sales,” explains Justin Samona, chief marketing officer. Wild Bill’s specializes in premium cigars, with cigar lounges in20 locations and walk-in humidors with Spanish cedar paneling and advanced humidification systems in all 50 stores.But the top trend in 2013 was the electronic cigarette craze in Wild Bill’s stores, just as it was across America,according to Samona. “We see the paradigm shift and we feel that e-cigs are here to stay,” he says. “Wild Bill’s is  quickly becoming known as the electronic cigarette destination. Our stores are equipped with modern e-cig super centers, which we call ‘Mr. Vapor.’The chrome shelving and blue LED lights attract customers right when they enter the store. Customers can sample disposable e-cigs, rechargeable kits, tank kits, mod systems and over 100 different flavors of e-liquids and strengths.”  In 2013, the chain improved its business through customer service management.“  The HR management team here launched many creative bonus and incentive plans,”Samona explained.  One such plan that caused great excitement was the profit-sharing program, which is eligible to all managers that have been with the company for three or more years.The thinking behind it comes from Mike Samona, CEO. “When you have loyal, satisfied customers, your business becomes more referable, thus more profitable,” he says.   “We’ve discovered that staff members will provide much better service to our customers, whether it’s through up-selling, converting or handling complaints, when they know a percentage of the profits will go to them.”

https://tobaccobusiness.com/magazine/TOB_jan-feb_2014/files/assets/basic-html/page22.html Related: https://issuu.com/crainsdetroit/docs/cd_20140609 =====

If I had to guess they are possibly Chaldean as that is a common Chaldean (Catholic) surname. But who knows.

Wild Bill’s got busted in 2005 when it used to go under the name Smoker’s Outlet. “Wild Bill’s Tobacco, formerly known as Smokers Outlet, is the 5th largest tobacco retailer in the country.” In this case nearly 30 of their stores were selling counterfeit “Zig Zag” rolling papers . . . for which they ultimately got caught and busted. What other illegality went under the radar?

===== BOLLORE S.A., Plaintiff, CIVIL ACTION NO. 04-CV-73867-DT vs. DISTRICT JUDGE ANNA DIGGS TAYLOR MADISON HEIGHTS TOBACCO MAGISTRATE JUDGE MONA K. MAJZOUB https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-mied-2_04-cv-73867/pdf/USCOURTS-mied-2_04-cv-73867-0.pdf =====

Next look at all the defendants (e.g. law breakers) in this case and take note of all the businesses owned by Wild Bills or Smokers Outlet Management that owns Wild Bills. And finally look at the names: many of which suggest Middle Eastern ancestry. Possibly Chaldean?

Habib Ajame, Defendant Mahmoud Ajami, Defendant Alsahil Enterprises, Incorporated, Defendant Amazing Dollar, Defendant Amazing Dollar of Highland, Defendant Steve Bahri, Defendant Baldwin Mini Mart, Incorporated, Defendant Bemis Road Service Station, Incorporated, Defendant Citgo Gas Station, 496 Main Street, Defendant Dina’s Dollar, Incorporated, Defendant Divon, Incorporated, Defendant Dort Highway 200, Incorporated, Defendant Edward Eid, Defendant Eid Enterprises, Incorporated, Defendant Mary Fawaz, Defendant Flint Tobacco, Incorporated, Defendant Joseph O. Garmo, Defendant Samer Hanna, Defendant Aoun Jaber, Defendant Jaber’s, Incorporated, Defendant John’s Marathon, Incorporated, Defendant Madison Heights Tobacco, Incorporated, Defendant Main Street Express, Incorporated, Defendant Marci, Incorporated, Defendant Mega Mile Gas and Mart, Defendant Awatif Misho, Defendant North Pointe Marathon, Incorporated, Defendant R and S Food and Gas, Incorporated, Defendant SAC Investment, Incorporated, Defendant John Samouna, Defendant Luke Samouna, Defendant Mazin Samouna, Defendant Saza, Incorporated, Defendant Shadia Enterprises, Incorporated, Defendant Shell Gas Station, 1220 North Wayne Road, Defendant Shell Gas Station, 28851 Hoover Road, Defendant Gurdial N. Singh, Defendant Roy Sitto, Defendant Smokers Discount, Defendant Smokers Outlet Management, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Centerline, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Centerline, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Eastpointe, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Eastpointe, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Ferndale, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Ferndale, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Hazel Park, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Hazel Park, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Highland, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Madison Heights, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Roseville, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Roseville, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Shelby Township, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Shelby Township, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights II, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights II, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Taylor, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Troy, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Troy, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Warren II, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Warren II, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Waterford II, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Waterford II, Incorporated, Defendant Speedy’s Gas and Groceries, Incorporated, Defendant Sunoco Gas Station, 3142 Miller Road, Defendant Sunoco Gas, 3000 East Eight Mile Road, Defendant Sunoco Gas, 6401 West Eight Mile Road, Defendant Sunoco-Miller Road/1-75, Defendant Super Mobil, Defendant Tobacco Road, Defendant Tobacco Road, Ltd, IV, Defendant Webb Operating Company, Defendant Charles A. Zain, Defendant Bollore, S. A., Plaintiff North Atlantic Operating Company, Incorporated, Plaintiff North Atlantic Trading Company, Incorporated, Plaintiff https://www.gpo.gov/…/USCOURTS-mied…/content-detail.html

More bribes and criminality as the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” gets ready to put all the small growers out of business

===== The U.S. Attorney’s office has indicted three would-be Michigan medical cannabis dispensary owners, accusing them of attempting to bribe officials in Garden City to approve their license, the Detroit Free Press reports. Brothers Mike and Ali Baydoun, along with their nephew Jalal Baydoun, are accused of offering bribes to the three city council members, the mayor, and the police chief.

Federal authorities say the Baydouns handed an envelope with $15,000 to a city council official – $5,000 each – in December and offered to buy the city a police car, pay a police officer’s annual salary, and give the officials a 25 percent cut of the dispensary’s profits. The councilor handed the envelope of cash over to the FBI. The indictment also alleges that the family said they would put $150,000 in an escrow account that would be used to pay additional bribes.

Under the city’s medical cannabis ordinance, only two cultivation licenses are available and the accused were hoping the bribes would convince officials to amend the rules, add another license, and award it to them, allowing them to grow 1,500 medical cannabis plants in the city.

The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment further on the investigation or who else from the State might be suspected of colluding with the Baydouns.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Indicts Three for Attempting to Bribe Michigan Officials for MMJ License 8/04/2017 https://www.ganjapreneur.com/us-attorneys-office-indicts-three-attempting-bribe-michigan-officials-mmj-license/ =====

A Short History of Wild Bill’s Strategy to Monopolize “Corporate Cannabis” in Michigan

If you are from others states expect the same crap to play out: the Rich Ganjapreneurs — like Wild Bill’s — will soon be pushing to prohibit adults to “grow their own” in their homes. To put it in the simplest of terms the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” — both the State Government and the Approved Millionaire Ganjapreneurs — don’t want any competition. In future years “your” Wild Bill may come in the form of a Microsoft Executive, Big Pharma or possible a foreigner with deep pockets. But if we don’t stop this crap everyone is going to see a “Wild Bill” coming to monopolize the market in your state eventually. “Money talks, bullshit walks.”

1994: Wild Bill’s (under the original name “Smokers Outlet”) opens there first store.

2004: Wild Bill’s (under the original name “Smokers Outlet”) get busted for selling counterfiet ZigZag rolling papers at nearly 30 of its stores throughout Michigan.

2015: Wild Bill’s announces its intent to open a major chain of marijuana shops in Michigan, according to statements made to state lawmakers’ committees and summarized in a memo filed with the state House Judiciary Committee in by the company’s vice president, Paul Weisberger.

===== Excepts from Weisberger’s Letter: (Vice President of Wild Bill’s Oasis Wellness Centers)

“We believe that the grow operation needed to supply consistent, high quality medical marijuana should be based in a larger scale “commercial grow” type model.” [What I call a “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly.”]

“This would allow for a consistent and cost effective supply of product while at the same time moving the grow operations out of our neighborhoods.”

“We must bring this above ground and out of the neighborhoods through a commercial grow operation that provides consistent lower cost medical marijuana.” [05/07/2015]

RE: Michigan House Judiciary Committee; House Bills 4209 and 4210 From: Paul Weisberger, vice president, Wild Bill’s Oasis Wellness Centers http://house.michigan.gov/sessiondocs/2015-2016/testimony/Committee339-5-7-2015-5.pdf =====

2016: (December) The Legislature passed laws to tax,regulate and control the market: to create what I call the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly.” Once in place (October 2018?) the vast number of small growers — who sold their overage to local dispensaries and “patients” — will become instant criminals if they continue to sell without a license none of them can afford. In practical terms it will cost literally millions to “get into this game.”

2017: (May) Wild Bill’s offers $21 Million for a 320,000 square-foot building in Bangor Township to supply just 50% of it’s projected dispensaries.

2017: (July) Wild Bill’s becomes the top donor to the CRMLA Initiative ($150,000)

2017: (Sept) Wild Bill’s (Oasis) Gets on one of the 5 working groups (growers) regulated by the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) for the State of Michigan.

===== Per the August 22 statement from LARA/BMMR, almost 750 applications were received and of those, more than 550 were valid and complete. From that huge pool of citizens the Departments have selected the advisory groups who will make recommendations to LARA for rules governing the different business types; LARA is not obligated to honor the recommendations.

Michigan: LARA Announces Medical Marijuana Workgroup Members September 27, 2017, 8:00 am Rick Thompson Medical Marijuana https://www.weednews.co/michigan-lara-announces-medical-marijuana-workgroup-members/ =====

2018: Wild Bill’s now has 75 Stores in Michigan and 3 in Ohio

2018: (Sept) Wild Bill’s is denied a provisioning center in Lansing because the owner had 2 arrests and because of the “poor moral integrity” of the company’s founders.

2018: (July) Michigan awards the first 7 Medical Marijuana Licences for the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” — which was put in motion through legislation in December 2016.

===== Michigan awards first medical marijuana licenses Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Published July 12, 2018 https://www.freep.com/story/news/marijuana/2018/07/12/medical-marijuana-michigan/779840002/ =====

2018: (Nov) If Prop 1 (CRMLA) passes, in November’s Election, those that get a “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” licence stand to profit from a $700 million dollar industry while all the smaller growers will become instant criminals if they continue to grow or sell to groups or individuals. This is what Wild Bill’s and all the other Millionaire Ganjapreneurs are betting on. That is why Wild Bill gave more money than anyone else ($150,000) to get it passed.

Concluding remarks:

The Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly will probably be operational in the next year. And once it becomes fully operational you can expect an increase in arrests and home invasions for home growers. The State will want all the profits from “seed to sale” and will therefore be incentivized to put the small growers out of business: regardless of whether they are growing for themselves or continuing to sell their overage.

Meanwhile you just have to wonder where Wild Bill’s is coming up with 50 million dollars to buy growing facilities and millions more for their dispensaries. And where did the Baydoun’s come up with $150,000 dollars in bribes to open a dispensary in Westland, MI. Could some of this money be coming from Terrorist organizations or other crime syndicates?

When my friend Jack Herer died in 2009 he could not have foreseen this nightmare. It was not what either of us had hoped for. I really thought I had retired from this fools crusade but I seem compelled to carry on. Perhaps the best solutions is to encourage everyone to “grow their own” and put these “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies” out of business.

I also want to make clear that I don’t really know that Wild Bills is a criminal syndicate. I do know that it took me hours to find the little information that I did find on their operation. But where is all of this money coming from? I am no nearer answering THAT question than when I began. And Wild Bill’s is but one of many groups that want to get into these “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies. Frankly they all deserve thorough investigation. Until that happens — which it never will — let me just say:

Grow Your Own.

Destroy the Corporate Cannabis Beast.

We cannot allow our government to take away our right to grow a plant the really belongs to all of us.

Please share this essay and others that I have written on Cannabis Policy. We cannot allow this to end this way.

SOURCE LINK

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Hemp taking over Kentucky’s tobacco resources; 22 companies investing so far

Image result for farm, 27 acres of hemp grew all summer

By Janet Patton

jpatton1@herald-leader.com

October 25, 2015

WINCHESTER — Tucked away off a narrow country road in Clark County, in the middle of a farm, 27 acres of hemp grew all summer. Now, the plants will be harvested and processed.

Kentucky, hailed as a leader by industrial hemp advocates, has grown the hemp. Now the state is working on growing the industry.

“In two years, we’ve come a long way,” said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is now running for Congress. “We’ve proven first of all that it’s not a drug, which was very important for the opposition to realize. And we’ve proven it’s economically viable, or there wouldn’t be 22 companies that have made an investment in the state. … What we’re doing now is working with the companies that want to go to the next step to commercialize the product. ”

The plants in Winchester are part of the 100 acres of hemp — high in cannabidiol and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (the high-inducing chemical in marijuana) — grown this year for GenCanna, which moved from Canada to Kentucky to be in the heart of the hemp revolution. It deliberately chose to come to Kentucky over other states, including Colorado, because of the agricultural resources and the climate, both meteorological and political.

“We have been in this industry for many years, and we are setting a new bar in Kentucky,” GenCanna CEO Matty Mangone- Miranda said. “Kentucky’s kept the focus on industrial hemp” rather than cloud the issue with other forms of cannabis cultivation, as Colorado has permitted.

Mangone-Miranda, who estimates that hemp could become a billion-dollar industry, said his group is in hemp for the long run.

“The industry is likely to have a bubble, then stabilize with a market of diversified products,” he said, citing potential uses in sports drinks, nutritional products, supplements and more.

GenCanna has invested more than $5 million in Kentucky, according to company officials, although it has yet to see any revenue. That will come once the company is able to deliver a stable source of low-THC/high-CBD hemp.

“The only way to have hemp become an agricultural commodity is to grow lots of it and see what happens,” said Steve Bean, GenCanna’s chief operating officer.

Coming to Kentucky had other benefits, too. Many farmers were eager to get into the crop, which decades ago proliferated in the Bluegrass; hundreds applied to be part of pilot projects to grow hemp. The crop still can legally be grown only in affiliation with the state Department of Agriculture and entities that sign detailed memos of understanding.

Kentucky also has resources that in the past were used for tobacco that have converted well to hemp cultivation.

In fact, GenCanna’s headquarters is now in part of a former Philip Morris office building stuffed with former labs. The place was practically abandoned as the cigarette maker began retreating from Central Kentucky.

And next door is a processing center in a former tobacco seed plant, where GenCanna built a system to turn the chopped-up hemp plants into a sort of dried powder to sell as a nutritional supplement.

The Shell Farm and Greenhouses in Lancaster is turning its fields away from tobacco, growing 157,000 hemp plants on 40 acres outdoors and 3,500 plants in a greenhouse.

“And we’ll be growing it indoors all winter,” Giles Shell said. Shell’s greenhouses once raised flowers; now he’s working on hemp genetics.

“There’s no seed crop, so we have to take cuttings to get the plants in the field. So I’m selecting genetics, for a hardier plant — bigger, fuller,” Shell said. “We’ve got a problem with variegation or chimera, so I trying to select away from it.”

Next year, Shell intends to grow even more hemp.

“We’re going to quit raising our tobacco crop, and if we do any flowers, it will be downsized,” Shell said. “Last year, we raised 120 acres of tobacco. This year, we dropped to 80. Next year, we will drop to none. There’s not a market any more for tobacco and not enough money once you factor in labor and chemical costs.”

Both the offices and the processing center are shared with Atalo Holdings, another hemp entrepreneur company, this one formed by Andy Graves and other Kentuckians working on crushing hemp seed for oil and other fiber production. Graves also grew the 27 acres of hemp for GenCanna.

Other groups, including the Stanley Brothers of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil fame, also are pursuing the hemp’s potential.

Kentucky could be on the cusp of a green revolution — a hemp boom that could go in myriad directions or spiral into a bubble of speculation.

“It could,” Comer acknowledged. But, assuming that sometime in the next two years, Congress makes it legal for anyone to grow hemp, he said Kentucky should be well-positioned, with a jump-start on the infrastructure.

“We get requests every day for companies that want to start processing hemp. I worry that some may not have the credibility of some of the others, and that’s why its taking longer to certify, to get more background info,” Comer said. “We’re not picking winners and losers, but those that have credibility. Our reputations are on the line here, too.”

GenCanna has more contracts with farmers than any other company at this point, Comer said. It’s the only one in the cannabidiol business with signed contracts with national chains to buy their hemp product, he said.

“GenCanna is the real deal,” he said. “And they’ve given me assurances everyone will be paid, and all the farmers are happy.”

The Shell family, which has a three-year contract with GenCanna, certainly is now.

“We were very leery — I was the most reserved in my family of starting to do this,” Giles Shell said. “But … I felt like we were the best route to help commercialize this crop. Demand is really high, and supply isn’t there. Basic economics will tell you that’s profit.

“We’ve got a year ahead of everybody else that’s going to get into the game.”

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter; @janetpattonhl.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/10/25/4104501/hemp-taking-over-kentuckys-tobacco.html#storylink=cpy

The Great Kentucky Hemp Experiment

By Jessica Firger 10/11/15 at 10:05 AM

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Above:  Western Kentucky University senior Corinn Sprigler helps harvest hemp plants at the WKU Farm in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in September 2014. Hemp potentially could be much more lucrative than tobacco if universities and farmers taking part in the Industrial Hemp Research Program, established by James Comer, Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture, continue to hone their skills cultivating the crop. Bac To Trong/Daily News/AP

Filed Under: U.S., Hemp, farming, Agriculture, Kentucky

The Shell Farms & Greenhouses is an expansive 1,000-acre property in Garrard County, 37 miles south of Lexington, Kentucky. The five-generation family farm is operated by 31-year-old Giles Shell and his 60-year-old father, Gary. The two are whizzes at making ornamental flowers flourish, and like most farmers in the area, the family has grown tobacco for years.

In late June, the younger Shell stood outside one of six greenhouses on the farm and held up a yellowed tobacco plant with limp rootstock. The Shells know how to save sickly tobacco plants like this one, but they don’t want to anymore. “I’m hoping it’s our last crop,” Shell said.

Along the winding back roads of Central Kentucky’s bluegrass country, horses and cows graze on lush plains. For decades, tobacco helped farmers here keep their families clothed and fed. But that’s changing. Tobacco production facilities have slowly migrated to North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee due to consolidation within the industry, which has resulted in an ever-shrinking demand for the crop in Kentucky. There’s a replacement crop starting to come in, though: The Shell greenhouses that once nurtured thousands of tobacco plants are now home to 3,200 industrial hemp plants.

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hemp_1

Hemp Rescues Kentucky’s Flailing Agriculture Industry

As demand for tobacco diminishes, the state’s farmers are turning to growing cannabis—but not the kind you smoke. slideshow

It’s been close to 70 years since anyone in Kentucky—or anywhere in the U.S.—attempted to legally cultivate industrial hemp in massive quantities. But today, the Shells and other skilled farmers are taking up the cash crop yet again, under the auspices of the five-year pilot Industrial Hemp Research Program, established by James Comer, Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture, which vets and licenses farmers in the state.

Shifting gears so dramatically hasn’t been easy. The biggest problem is the learning curve: Hemp isn’t tobacco, which means it’s unlike the crop farmers in the area are most familiar with. A major component of the pilot project has involved figuring out the optimal way to make the plant flourish in a much rainier environment than California or Colorado, where most cannabis is currently grown. Farmers have experimented with a number of techniques: covering the beds to prevent over-watering (as you would, for example, with tomatoes) and growing cuttings in flower pots (as they do with ornamental flowers).

And there’s another undeniable challenge: Industrial hemp is really just a few genetic tweaks away from marijuana and outsiders often don’t know one from the other. “When the stuff really starts to flower it has the same look and smell as marijuana. That’s why we have security” to contend with potential plant thieves, says Shell.

The difference between the two cannabis sativa plants is the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical compound in the plant that’s responsible for causing the high. In order for cannabis to be considered industrial hemp, it must contain THC levels less than 0.3 percent; any more and the plant has officially crossed over into weed territory.

Currently all cannabis sativa—whether grown to ease chronic pain, get stoned or make rope—is a schedule I controlled substance, a result of the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970, though state marijuana laws have changed some of the classifications at local levels. This is viewed as unfortunate by marijuana activists, but also by many in the agriculture industry, including Comer. He hopes to single-handedly turn industrial hemp into Kentucky’s No. 1 cash crop—and in the process, breathe new life into family farms that have lost millions of dollars with the fall of the tobacco industry.

Most industrial hemp is grown in China. With the right processing methods, the highly versatile plant can provide several notable revenue streams. Cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound in the plant, can be extracted from the leaves, blossoms and stems for medicinal and nutraceutical purposes. Cannabis oil derived from cold-pressing seeds is a healthful alternative to the oils sitting on most kitchen shelves, and it is already used in a number of cosmetic and beauty products. Other genetic variants of the plant are cultivated to produce fiber that can substitute for cotton, wood and plastic—a more sustainable way to make everyday products ranging from T-shirts to particleboard and even car dashboards.

And then there’s the potential for food. Hemp seed—high in fiber, antioxidants, omega-3s and protein—has a mild, nutty taste akin to flax. With the right marketing it could become the industry’s next superfood. It would also make for nutrient-packed animal feed.

Kentucky has a long, but mostly forgotten, history of hemp farming. The Speed family, intimately close friends of Abraham Lincoln, were hemp farmers in the state, as was Henry Clay, the 19th century statesman. Kentucky led the U.S. industrial hemp business until the end of the Civil War, when production of the crop declined and was generally replaced by tobacco. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 put the kibosh on all production and sales of cannabis, including industrial hemp, but the crop saw a rapid resurgence during World War II. Hemp fiber became essential to produce military necessities such as uniforms and parachutes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture launched its national “Hemp for Victory” program, which provided seeds and draft deferments to farmers. In 1942, farmers planted 36,000 acres of hemp seed. A USDA-funded informational film from that year noted that “hemp grows so luxuriantly in Kentucky that harvesting is sometimes difficult.”

With backing from Senator Rand Paul, Comer’s proposed legislation—Senate Bill 50—passed in 2013. It created a regulatory framework for farmers to legally grow hemp in the state. In addition, Paul and Comer were able to get a provision added to the federal Farm Bill that legalized hemp production in states like Kentucky that had programs set up to grow the crop. The bill was signed by President Obama in 2014.

10_16_Hemp_02 Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has backed the efforts of Comer to return hemp to its historical position as one of the Bluegrass State’s cash crops. Its history in Kentucky includes even Abraham Lincoln, whose in-laws grew hemp, as well as Henry Clay, the 19th century statesman. Kentucky led the U.S. industrial hemp business until the end of the Civil War, when production of the crop declined and was replaced by tobacco. Carlos Barria/Reuters

Though state and federal lawmakers support the efforts, Comer says it hasn’t been easy for Kentucky’s agriculture department or any of the farmers in the pilot program. Last year was the first for Kentucky’s pilot program, but it yielded only 33.4 acres of industrial hemp in the state. The farmers were capable of growing much more, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has made it challenging, says Comer. The DEA’s cannabis eradication program provides funding to local law enforcement to form a SWAT team of “cowboys flying around in helicopters.” They have been known to sweep through private farms to confiscate the plants, and have even been known to mistake okra for marijuana.

Despite all this, the project has nearly doubled its hemp production this year, and at least 500 people in the state are now employed at it as a result. Comer says he hopes farmers will soon be able to grow at least 10,000 acres. “We want to be the Silicon Valley for industrial hemp,” he says. The state’s backcountry has already become fertile ground for startups like GenCanna Global, which has partnered with six local farms to grow hemp for CBD.

Matty Mangone-Miranda, GenCanna’s president and chief executive officer, and Chris Stubbs, its chief scientific officer, conducted early work to cultivate low-THC, high-CBD cannabis plants formerly called “hippie’s disappointment”—since it doesn’t cause a high—and now known as Charlotte’s Web. It’s produced by the Realm of Caring Foundation as a dietary supplement under federal law and as medical cannabis for sale in states that allow for its use. The story of Charlotte’s Web first came to public light in 2013, when CNN aired Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary Weed, featuring Charlotte Figi, a 5-year-old with a rare refractory epilepsy disorder known as Dravet syndrome that caused her to have up to 300 seizures per week. The Figis were preparing to sign “do not resuscitate” forms for their daughter when a friend connected them with the founders of the company, and the girl gained nearly complete seizure control once she started ingesting the CBD oil.

After the CNN documentary ran, Realm of Caring couldn’t keep up with the resulting high demand, says Mangone-Miranda. They still have thousands of families on their waiting list. “The lack of supply of oil was a huge problem,” he explains. “For me, the logical solution was that we needed a massive, sustainable and reliable supply.” To solve the problem, GenCanna has invested in Kentucky’s farms with the goal of planting 200,000 plants that are genetically similar to Charlotte’s Web in 2015.

Now, GenCanna has an increasing list of companies looking to purchase CBD oil to develop novel products that have absolutely nothing to do with treating rare seizure disorders or making healthy granola. The company has received proposals for CBD-infused sports drinks, wine, beer, Listerine-type fresh breath strips and transdermal patches.

Over the summer, GenCanna, along with Atalo Holdings—another hemp cooperative—purchased a 147-acre former tobacco seed development and breeding facility in Winchester, Kentucky. Along with storage, processing, formulating and shipping buildings, their new Hemp Research Campus includes an over-8,000-square-foot laboratory with breeding rooms. The two companies hope the Hemp Campus will serve as an incubator for the industry, says Steve Bevan, GenCanna’s chief operating officer. “With the Hemp Campus we think we can bring more and smarter people here,” he says. GenCanna and other companies hope to plant their flags before imminent changes in federal and state cannabis regulations allow Big Pharma to enter the picture. “They’re going to throw money in a big way, so we want to understand as much as possible because we have a belief that this stuff is food.”

There is currently a bill in U.S. Congress that would reclassify hemp from a narcotic to an agricultural crop. If the law were to pass, it would minimize the red tape for established hemp farming programs. For example, says Comer, “we won’t have to send staff to a field to do GPS coordinates and then get that information to the state police and all this bureaucracy.”

Despite the regulations and red tape, industrial hemp has already been a saving grace for some of the farmers in the pilot program. The Halverson family, for example, was preparing to shutter their operation, which primarily grew ornamental plants, until GenCanna approached them. The company offered to pay the rent for their property, cover all expenses upfront—including a refurbishing of the greenhouse—and provide salaries to the family and a staff of more than 20. One condition: They would turn all their energies to cultivating hemp and work with GenCanna to learn how to grow this complicated plant and find a way to breed the best version of the plant that is stronger and more aggressive.

hemp_8 Tobacco farmers only earn the equivalent of about 4 cents per pack of cigarettes. It’s still uncertain how much revenue hemp will bring into Kentucky’s agriculture business but the farming community is hopeful. Jessica Firger for Newsweek

In the beginning, the Halversons were skeptical. The family are Sabbath-keeping Christians, and it was hard to know what their neighbors would think. But by that time the family had run out of money and options other than to close the farm. So they went for it.

At first, they were the subject of the weekly gossip at church. “You get to finishing some choral music, and then the conversation after is ‘Are you guys really growing that stuff?’” says Mikkel Halverson. “We feel that growing hemp is more than just work—it is a way we can help those in need. It is part of a healing ministry.” Now, the Halversons’ 36,000-square-foot greenhouse overflows with thousands of hemp plants.

Halverson knows he could probably make a lot more money if he grew the type of cannabis that gets people high, but his family has decided they will not grow a version of hemp that could potentially be smoked, no matter how skilled they become at farming the crop. “I think God made all of the plants,” he says. ”But we’re going to stick with CBD hemp.”

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky Ag Commissioner Gives Farmers Green Light To Grow Hemp

Reported by: Aaron Adelson

Email: aadelson@wtvq.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AAdelsonABC36

 

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he hopes Kentucky farmers plant hemp in April.

 
“We used to grow tobacco on the farm and now basically we just have cattle and grow hay, and it just

seems like a good alternative crop,” said Steven Albert, a farmer from Green County. 

Albert came to a Hemp Commission meeting to learn more. 

The state legalized industrialized hemp if federal law would allow it.

Well, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not prosecute the two states that legalized marijuana.  Furthermore,

Comer says the man who wrote the memo testified the government would not prosecute hemp farmers.

Comer says this gives Kentucky the green light.

“This is a very exciting first step, and we’ll just have to see.

History will decide whether this was a defining moment in Kentucky agriculture, or not,” said Comer.

He and Senator Rand Paul plan to send the DOJ a letter announcing the state’s intent to move forward.
“I can’t imagine why they would be opposed to it,” said Comer.
Things are moving quickly, but farmers like Albert need to learn how to grow hemp.

“Farmers in Green County know how to grow tobacco, tomatoes, anything you can think of,

but when I ask them how do you grow hemp?  How do you harvest hemp?  Most of them say they don’t know,” said Albert.

The state needs to work out some regulatory issues before anybody puts seeds in the ground.

CONTINUE READING…

Hemp for Victory

HEMP for Victory (1943)! Weekend Watching

Submitted by BeaReady on Sat, 12/25/2010 – 21:31

This fascinating documentary is about 10 minutes of not so ancient history. Many questions in how this crop became obsolete and even illegal today. Would love to see this thread include some real historical facts useful in future ‘nullification’ action, particularly for southern states devastated by government regulation of the tobacco industry.

http://www.classiccinemao…