|Legal or Not, Industrial Hemp Harvested in Colo.|
Posted by CN Staff on October 13, 2013 at 14:30:19 PT|
By Kristen Wyatt, The Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
Springfield, Colo. -- Southeast Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin tried an illegal crop this year. He didn't hide it from neighbors, and he never feared law enforcement would come asking about it.
Loflin is among about two dozen Colorado farmers who raised industrial hemp, marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin that can't be grown under federal drug law, and bringing in the nation's first acknowledged crop in more than five decades.
Emboldened by voters in Colorado and Washington last year giving the green light to both marijuana and industrial hemp production, Loflin planted 55 acres of several varieties of hemp alongside his typical alfalfa and wheat crops. The hemp came in sparse and scraggly this month, but Loflin said but he's still turning away buyers.
"Phone's been ringing off the hook," said Loflin, who plans to press the seeds into oil and sell the fibrous remainder to buyers who'll use it in building materials, fabric and rope. "People want to buy more than I can grow."
But hemp's economic prospects are far from certain. Finished hemp is legal in the U.S., but growing it remains off-limits under federal law. The Congressional Research Service recently noted wildly differing projections about hemp's economic potential.
However, America is one of hemp's fastest-growing markets, with imports largely coming from China and Canada. In 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products, up from $1.4 million in 2000. Most of that is hemp seed and hemp oil, which finds its way into granola bars, soaps, lotions and even cooking oil. Whole Foods Market now sells hemp milk, hemp tortilla chips and hemp seeds coated in dark chocolate.
Colorado won't start granting hemp-cultivation licenses until 2014, but Loflin didn't wait.
His confidence got a boost in August when the U.S. Department of Justice said the federal government would generally defer to state marijuana laws as long as states keep marijuana away from children and drug cartels. The memo didn't even mention hemp as an enforcement priority for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"I figured they have more important things to worry about than, you know, rope," a smiling Loflin said as he hand-harvested 4-foot-tall plants on his Baca County land.
Colorado's hemp experiment may not be unique for long. Ten states now have industrial hemp laws that conflict with federal drug policy, including one signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown last month. And it's not just the typical marijuana-friendly suspects: Kentucky, North Dakota and West Virginia have industrial hemp laws on the books.
Hemp production was never banned outright, but it dropped to zero in the late 1950s because of competition from synthetic fibers and increasing anti-drug sentiment.
Hemp and marijuana are the same species, Cannabis sativa, just cultivated differently to enhance or reduce marijuana's psychoactive chemical, THC. The 1970 Controlled Substances Act required hemp growers to get a permit from the DEA, the last of which was issued in 1999 for a quarter-acre experimental plot in Hawaii. That permit expired in 2003.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture last recorded an industrial hemp crop in the late 1950s, down from a 1943 peak of more than 150 million pounds on 146,200 harvested acres.
But Loflin and other legalization advocates say hemp is back in style and that federal obstacles need to go.
Loflin didn't even have to hire help to bring in his crop, instead posting on Facebook that he needed volunteer harvesters. More than two dozen people showed up — from as far as Texas and Idaho.
Volunteers pulled the plants up from the root and piled them whole on two flatbed trucks. The mood was celebratory, people whooping at the sight of it and joking they thought they'd never see the day.
But there are reasons to doubt hemp's viability. Even if law enforcement doesn't interfere, the market might.
"It is not possible," Congressional Research Service researchers wrote in a July report, "to predict the potential market and employment effects of relaxing current restrictions on U.S. hemp production."
The most recent federal study came 13 years ago, when the USDA concluded the nation's hemp markets "are, and will likely remain, small" and "thin." And a 2004 study by the University of Wisconsin warned hemp "is not likely to generate sizeable profits" and highlighted "uncertainty about long-run demand for hemp products."
Still, there are seeds of hope. Global hemp production has increased from 250 million pounds in 1999 to more than 380 million pounds in 2011, according to United Nations agricultural surveys, which attributed the boost to increased demand for hemp seeds and hemp oil.
Congress is paying attention to the country's increasing acceptance of hemp. The House version of the stalled farm bill includes an amendment, sponsored by lawmakers in Colorado, Oregon and Kentucky, allowing industrial hemp cultivation nationwide. The amendment's prospects, like the farm bill's timely passage, are far from certain.
Ron Carleton, a Colorado deputy agricultural commissioner who is heading up the state's looming hemp licensure, said he has no idea what hemp's commercial potential is. He's not even sure how many farmers will sign up for Colorado's licensure program next year, though he's fielded a "fair number of inquiries."
"What's going to happen, we'll just have to see," Carleton said.
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
CannabisNews Hemp Archives
|Comment #4 posted by museman on October 14, 2013 at 11:52:33 PT|
|Why yes, I agree. If more people followed his example of taking ones own liberty, and not waiting for 'the law' -which is not on the side of any 'people' but the wealthy and powerful- then the Nation of the Fee, might become the Nation of the Free.|
"What's in your wallet?"
[ Post Comment ]
Comment #3 posted by mexweed on October 14, 2013 at 10:37:20 PT:|
|The reason hemp production will soar is that voting majorities and entrepreneurs will discover its biggest pro bono use-- reforestation, or as we'll possibly then say, rieferforestation.|
Hemp is credited with being an important PRECURSOR CROP for trees. A reforestation strategy featuring hemp goes this way:
1. Launch a deadwood and downed branches gathering project in drought-stricken areas to prevent billion dollar forest fires!
2. Haul good workable logs and branches to nearest road where, loaded into trucks and trailers, it can be sent to town to replace live-cut lumber in carpentry and manufacturing (Law of Supply and Demand, through waste-revention)!
3. Haul sacked sawdust, chips, shreds, bundled weedstalks etc. to gullies, ravines, dry creekbeds, where starting with finest materials lowest and bundled stalks on top, fill up with a thick mound of bio-mass which will trap water-runoff to fortify later local rainfall!
4. Plant HEMP SEEDS which will germinate, grow long roots to hold material in place, and finally each year leave litter, rich topsoil for future trees!
5. After a few years of hemp crops, seed with fast-growing invasive perennials like ailanthus, eucalyptus, cottonwood, willow (depending on your local climate) which will provide security against drought!
6. After a decade or two, seed with the noble hardwoods and pines you want your children to live among!
This program does not primarily aim to make money for anyone, its impact is spread along millions of miles of dry creekbed rather than centered in one owner's property, but if the premise is correct that it will protect against climate deterioration, we should lobby for taxpayers to subsidize it!
Barack Obama said in 2013 SotU Address, "For the sake of our children and our future, ... I urge the Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change." This could refer to the use of deadwood logs and sticks to replace live-harvested wood on the market (Step 2).
To spread hemp subternocturnally, roll each seed and some high quality POTting soil in a used paper towel or doubled sycamore leaves, carry dozens around on your bicycle along with a dibblestick (sharp at one end), poke a 2-inch-deep hole among the roots of a neglected or rundown hedgerow or bush no one looks at much, stand the BROWNSPLIFF upright therein, ride some hundred yards and plant the next one, etc. The plant will grow unobserved, get shade and waterdrippage, go to seed, and the next year hemp will be everywhere!
[ Post Comment ]
|Comment #2 posted by The GCW on October 13, 2013 at 18:37:00 PT|
|It stands to reason that if Colorado citizens may grow cannabis with THC, then free Colorado / American farmers may grow hemp with out THC.|
It's time to reintroduce hemp as a component of American agriculture.
[ Post Comment ]
|Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on October 13, 2013 at 16:04:23 PT|
|Thank you again Mr. Ryan Loflin, you have true courage and you are a true Amerian patriot!|
Post Comment ]