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Some residents believe industrial hemp could be Alaska’s new cash crop with the passing of hemp legislation. Hemp advocate, Jack Bennett stated, “This is a soilless hemp growing medium, they are an industry overseas. Eighty percent of the micro greens grown in Europe and Asia are grown on these soilless hemp growing mediums.” According to Bennett there are around 2,500 products already made from hemp. The plant can be turned into paper, textiles, cement, building materials, and even biodegradable plastic.

New legislation is currently underway to make growing hemp legal in Alaska. This could open thousands of new opportunities for farmers in the last frontier. Bennett said, “In approximately a hundred day harvest on a hectare of land, it’s enough of the woody core of the hempstock that produces the insulation material, to build a thousand square foot shell, the cost is comparable to building with modern building materials.”

Bennett, who is building his own hemp home, says insulating with the plant will save thousands in heating costs. Bennett stated, “The savings is in your energy. You will lower your heating cost by at least seventy percent.” During the recent senate discussions, State Senator Shelly Hughes mentioned hemp’s therapeutic value. She said, “Not only farmers and ranchers in our state, but a number of other people were interested in developing, using oils to develop medications, lotions, soaps.”

A cannabinoid found in hemp, CBD, can have powerful anti–inflammatory, antiepileptic, antidepressant, sleep aid, and muscle relaxing effects. The proposal to legalize industrial hemp still needs to pass in the house and be approved by the governor. Bennett is optimistic of the outcome and believes hemp could be a game changer for Alaskans. Bennett said, “This plant is the tree of life that keeps on giving and giving. This plant’s fiber technology enables us to reverse our harm on earth, and at the end of the day, it enables us to make money. This is not just for our generations but our children’s future and the generation after that.”

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Hemp, Inc. Reports: Alaska’s Industrial Hemp Bill Passes Senate & Industry Update

The legalization of industrial hemp has a strong possibility of passing this time around after disinterest from Senate Bill 8, introduced in 2015, died in committee. Today, Alaskans are aware of the need to diversify their state’s economy, thus Senate Bill 6, which was introduced at the beginning of this year, has a better chance of passing. Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc. ( OTC PINK : HEMP ), said, “It’s time for hemp to make its rightful return to the American landscape. Alaska is another step closer to being the next state. Hemp, Inc. is also pleased to be a part of it through our Alaska Hemp Ambassador.”

Hemp, Inc.’s Alaska Hemp Ambassador, Jack Bennett, was invited to speak at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Department of Economics and Department of Petroleum Engineering on behalf of Hemp, Inc.’s ( OTC PINK : HEMP ) wholly owned subsidiary Industrial Hemp Manufacturing, LLC. On day one, of his two-day speaking engagement, Bennett spoke to students of the Department of Economics on how industrial hemp can be a solution to the state’s current fiscal crisis. Bennett also presented industrial hemp and CBD marketing data; discussed the agricultural laws being well received by both senate and house; and, hemp as part of the world-wide green building industry.

On day two, Bennett spoke to students of the Department of Petroleum Engineering, on Industrial Hemp Manufacturing, LLC’s Drillwall™ technology. The segment, Hemp Could Be Alaska’s New Cash Crop, aired yesterday on KTVF Channel 11. “The students were very excited about total plant-based non-toxic mud additives used in the oil well drilling industry. This is an emerging technology for them,” said Bennett.

Per Senate Bill 6, which was amended, the new section states that legislature shall reevaluate the regulation of industrial hemp in seven years. Also, “the commissioner of natural resources shall direct, administer, and supervise promotional and experimental work, extension services, and agricultural projects for the purpose of promoting and developing the agricultural industry within the state; procure and preserve all information pertaining to the development of the agricultural industry and disseminate that information to the public; assist prospective settlers and others desiring to engage in the agricultural industry in the state with information concerning areas suitable for agriculture and other activities and programs essential to the development of the agricultural industry in the state; and, review the marketing, financing, and development of agricultural products inside the state including transportation, with special emphasis on [UPON] local production, and negotiate for the marketing of agricultural products of the state with federal and state agencies operating in the state.” To read the full text, click here.

In other industrial hemp news, Missouri House Bill 170 also passed the state house with a 126 – 26 vote in favor of legalizing industrial hemp, yesterday, and has been passed to the state senate for the senate’s first read. HB 170 would allow those licensed by the Department of Agriculture to grow, harvest, and cultivate industrial hemp. According to a recent article, “supporters call the bill a development opportunity that could be a boon for farmers and help cultivate new business.” Under the proposal, people who want to grow hemp must apply with the Department of Agriculture and submit to a background check. Crops would also be subject to inspection.

Kansas House Bill 2182, which authorizes the growth of Kansas agribusiness through development of an industrial hemp industry and enacting the Kansas agricultural industry growth act, passed the Kansas House of Representatives and is now working its way through the senate. Kansans, like residents of other states, see industrial hemp “as a way of bolstering the state’s economy, giving farmers more crop options, and bringing in new industry.” According to Arnett’s article in the McPherson Sentinel, Les Mason, who represents much of McPherson County in the Kansas State House of Representatives said, “A complete feasibility study would ensue, and the department would oversee and inspect growers and their crops. The long term goal of the project would be to provide an economic stimulus to rural communities with crop productions and hopefully manufacturing with processing plants being built and jobs created.”

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Palmer Republican Shelley Hughes introduced a proposal recently (Senate Bill 6) that would Permit for the creation of an Alaska hemp industry fully separate from commercial cannabis. Hughes said she introduced the proposal after hearing from farmers in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough who would like to cultivate hemp, particularly to feed livestock. Hughes said, “I’m hoping it maybe, in a small way, opens up an economic opportunity for Alaskans.” She noted the vast array of goods that can be created from hemp (some estimate more than 25,000 possible products) including food and construction materials.

It is still unknown if the crop will be profitable in Alaska. Hughes pointed to a 1916 document from the Alaska Agricultural Experiment Stations that says hemp “fruited abundantly” during a summer crop in the then-territory. Former Senator Johnny Ellis introduced a similar proposal last session that did not make it through the Legislature. Hughes had to reintroduce it, and adjusted it after reviewing hemp federal guidelines. Under the proposal, hemp would be considered an agricultural product, and excluded from Alaska’s definition of cannabis. The hemp industry would be managed by the Division of Agriculture, instead of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office.

Strictly controlled, state-run hemp pilot programs were made legal at the federal level by the 2014 Federal Farm Bill. Under Senate Bill 6, Alaska’s farmers would be able to produce, process, and sell hemp. An individual, college, or the Alaska Department of Natural Resources could partake in the pilot program. Hemp would be defined in Alaska statutes as cannabis sativa L., containing no more than 0.3 percent THC. That’s the common definition both at a federal and state level, which the California-based Project CBD says originated from a 1976 taxonomic report by a Canadian plant scientist who never intended to create the legal standard for cannabis vs hemp.

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Vega Biofuels to Provide Biochar to Alaska’s Legal Cannabis Industry

Vega Biofuels, Inc. (VGPR) announced today that it has signed a five year Agreement to provide the Company’s Biochar to legal cannabis growers in Alaska.  The state of Alaska is the most recent state to legalize both medical and recreational cannabis use.

The Agreement with AK Provisions, Inc. located in Anchorage is Vega’s largest single order for Biochar.  Biochar is a highly absorbent specially designed charcoal-type product primarily used as a soil enhancement for the agricultural industry to significantly increase crop yields. Biochar offers a powerfully simple solution to some of today’s most urgent environmental concerns. The production of Biochar for carbon sequestration in the soil is a carbon-negative process.  Biochar is made from timber waste using torrefaction technology and the Company’s patent pending manufacturing machine.  When put back into the soil, biochar can stabilize the carbon in the soil for hundreds of years.  The introduction of biochar into soil is not like applying fertilizer; it is the beginning of a process.  Most of the benefit is achieved through microbes and fungi.  They colonize its massive surface area and integrate into the char and the surrounding soil, dramatically increasing the soil’s ability to nurture plant growth and provide increased crop yield.

AK Provisions, Inc. plans to use Vega’s Biochar in its own grow facilities as well as market the product to other growers throughout the state of Alaska through a reseller agreement with Vega Biofuels.  The initial order is for 75 super sacks of Biochar.  Each super sack holds approximately 400 pounds.  Indoor grow facilities harvest their plants four times per year and start with new soil each time.

“By the pound, Biochar is much more profitable to the Company than our Bio-coal energy product and will have a noticeable impact on the Company’s bottom line.  The products are similar but each has its own unique qualities,” stated Michael K. Molen, Chairman/CEO of Vega Biofuels, Inc.  “We sell Bio-coal by the ton and Biochar is sold by the pound.  Growers in other states are reporting significant increases in their crop yields when using Biochar as their soil enhancement.  We plan to use the AK Provisions model as we increase our marketing efforts in other states that have recently approved growing legal cannabis.  Our goal is to have the first shipment to Anchorage in time for AK Provisions’ first planting this spring.”

For plants that require high potash and elevated pH, Biochar can be used as a soil amendment to significantly improve yield. Biochar can improve water quality, reduce soil emissions of greenhouse gases, reduce nutrient leaching, reduce soil acidity, and reduce irrigation and fertilizer requirements. Biochar was also found under certain circumstances to induce plant systemic responses to foliar fungal diseases and to improve plant responses to diseases caused by soil-borne pathogens. The various impacts of Biochar can be dependent on the properties of the Biochar, as well as the amount applied. Biochar impact may depend on regional conditions including soil type, soil condition (depleted or healthy), temperature, and humidity. Modest additions of Biochar to soil reduces nitrous oxide N2O emissions by up to 80% and eliminates methane emissions, which are both more potent greenhouse gases than CO2.

About Vega Biofuels, Inc. (VGPR):

Vega Biofuels, Inc. is a cutting-edge energy company that manufactures and markets a renewable energy product called Bio-Coal and a soil enhancement called Biochar, both made from timber waste using unique technology called torrefaction.  Torrefaction is the treatment of biomass at high temperatures under low oxygen conditions.  For more information, please visit our website at vegabiofuels.com.

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the following words: “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “ongoing,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “will,” “would,” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words. Forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which such performance or results will be achieved. Forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time the statements are made and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainty and other factors that may cause our results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from the information expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements in this press release.

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Hemp, Inc. Reports: Alaska on Track to Legalize Industrial Hemp

Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc. ( OTC PINK : HEMP ), said, “There have been previous legislative attempts to legalize hemp in Alaska. While met with disinterest then, I believe there’s a strong possibility this industrial hemp bill will pass now. Alaskans are aware of the need to diversify their state’s economy. This is all part of the rippling effect I mentioned yesterday and the day before yesterday: Arizona, New Mexico, and now Alaska is on its way to legalization. It’s time for hemp to make its rightful return to the American landscape. Which state is next?”

To see the most recent video of the mill being completed, click here. To see the video of America’s largest hemp processing facility (70,000 square feet under roof, on 9 acres) and 60-foot silo installation, click here.

During the committee hearing, Program Manager Rob Carter of Alaska Division of Agriculture said the division “sees great potential in industrial hemp, particularly as a forage crop for livestock.” While Alaska was the 3rd state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2015, it is not ahead of the curve with industrial hemp which can be used for a wide range of products, including fibers, construction, food, paper, insulation materials, textiles, cosmetic products, and beverages, to name a few, and is estimated to be used in more than twenty-five thousand products spanning nine markets (agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food/nutrition/beverages, paper, construction materials and personal care).

Hemp, Inc.’s “Hemp Ambassador to Alaska” and home builder, Jack Bennett of Homer, Alaska, has been building a model home and sourcing building materials made from hemp from the Netherlands. He’s committed to helping the industry grow. During an interview, he said, “Alaska is said to be in a fiscal crisis, but it’s a positive, it’s our opportunity. It’s our generation that gets to fix it. And hemp might not be the solution, but it’s a solution.”

Bennett has made numerous in roads with the state of Alaska, oil companies in Alaska and other companies interested in buying Hemp, Inc.’s oil absorbent, Spill-Be-Gone™ and LCMs (lost circulation materials) being produced in Spring Hope, NC. The interest was so great that David Schmitt, COO of Hemp, Inc.’s wholly owned subsidiary, Industrial Hemp Manufacturing, LLC flew to Alaska several months ago to meet with large potential purchasers of Hemp, Inc.’s products. Schmitt said, “We are confident these meetings and Jack’s long hard persistent efforts will pay off by producing a nice sized sales channel for Hemp, Inc.’s sales products.” Visit www.iHempMan.com.

 To see the most recent video of the mill being completed, click here. To see the video of America’s largest hemp processing facility (70,000 square feet under roof, on 9 acres) and 60-foot silo installation, click here.

The legislation will go to the Senate Finance Committee next, pending referral from Senate Judiciary. Having been called a miracle crop by many in the farming industry, Alaskans are hopeful SB6 will pass the senate and the house. More and more state legislatures are taking action to promote industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity. “It’s time for Alaska to join those ranks,” said Perlowin.

As more states legalize industrial hemp, more opportunities become available for Hemp, Inc. to process the raw hemp. Hemp, Inc.’s commercial, large scale, 70,000 square foot industrial hemp processing facility, on 9 acres of land in Spring Hope, North Carolina is the only one of this magnitude in North America. The milling portion of Hemp, Inc.’s industrial hemp processing facility has just been completed which strategically expands the company’s worldwide industrial base for producing hemp-based products. Hemp, Inc.’s industrial hemp processing facility is bound to become the mecca of this new clean green agricultural and industrial American revolution.

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Alaska is very close to its first legal sales of marijuana, nearly two years after voters passed a bill allowing the recreational use of pot by adults. Retails stores are being permitted by the state Marijuana Control Board, and just a few hurdles remain until commercial sales begin. The biggest road block is getting past waiting for labs to test the raw product. Two labs have been licensed by the state, both in Anchorage. The compound is awaiting final review from the municipality and state and final approval from an accrediting lab.

“If we’re going to start testing by definitely the beginning of November, I think it rolls in pretty well with everything else,” he stated.

Arctic Herbery received the first-ever marijuana license for a retail store from the city of Anchorage on Tuesday evening.

“Maybe people have come to terms that I’m not such a bad guy.” He plans to open his store towards Nov. 1, and he expects a major opening similar to when national chains open in Alaska’s largest city, and lines of customers snake around the business for days. Once the labs open their doors, she believes beginning sales about a week later.

The lab testing procedure takes about 3 days, and then the marijuana will have to be driven from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Like everyone else across the state, owner Tara Bass has to sit tight for cannabis to be cleared by a testing lab. Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.

Voters in five states – Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada – will consider making recreational pot legal in November. In midst of local elections on Tuesday, voters in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough north of Anchorage approved allowing the sale of marijuana in unincorporated areas, but one city in another part of the state put the brakes on sales.

“Things are finally happening.” He says AK Green Labs is about a week behind CannTest in the race to open. For Destiny Neade, she’s not going to wait until she is totally stocked with edibles and concentrates and will open with just marijuana on the shelves.

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Legal marijuana has been available in the state of Alaska for almost two years, however, the severely flawed program has yet again taken another major hit this past Thursday. In a statement directed to almost 11,000 Alaska-based members of the U.S. Army, Major General Bryan Owens made the Army’s position on marijuana as clear a day, with going as far as to even have issued a freedom-stifling new mandate to the state’s soldiers.

The official order allows Alaska’s soldiers to reflect on the fact and not forget that cannabis remains a Schedule I drug and “those who use, have or distribute marijuana or any derivative on an Alaska base are in violation the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” Maj. Gen. Owens’ order also goes on to forbid all soldiers stationed in Alaska from “attending any marijuana, cannabis or hemp fairs, festivals, conventions or similar events.” Any event or gathering that advocates the use, possession, or cultivation of marijuana, as well hemp, is currently off limits to Army members stationed in America’s largest state.

“These types of events typically involve, but are not limited to, promoting the use of marijuana and disseminating information on the growing and processing of marijuana,” the news release stated. “Attendance at such events is inconsistent with military service and has the potential to adversely impact the health, welfare and good order and discipline for soldiers stationed here.”

The order was a pre-emptive attack by the Army, as they are expecting a big amount of these gatherings taking place in the state’s marijuana industry; Alaska just issued its first retail sales license to Fairbanks shop Frozen Budz, with many more soon to follow with the same result. When the Army first caught wind that marijuana businesses were offering military discounts on tickets or products, Maj. Gen. Owens himself had to law down the law.

“It’s well-meaning people who are trying to reach out because they support the soldiers and their families,” stated John Pennell, head of Media Relations for U.S. Army Alaska. “The community here is extremely supportive of the military,” Pennell further explain. “In some cases that can be less than helpful. For example, we’ve had a couple businesses that are in the process of getting licenses to legally sell marijuana, and they advertised a military discount.”

“We’re trying to make sure that we do everything that we can to keep the soldiers informed of what would get them in trouble,” added Pennell.

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The owners of Frozen Budz have high hopes now that they’ve received Alaska’s first retail marijuana license. Destiny Neade, co-owner of the Fairbanks business, received a round of applause from the audience after she won unanimous approval for the inaugural permit from the five-man Alaska Marijuana Control Board.

She and her husband Nick Neade have poured more than $150,000 into their fledgling business. The board has been working on rules for the industry since the November 2014 vote approving the recreational use of marijuana. State marijuana regulators approved the Neades’ application during a two-day meeting in Anchorage.

The board was also to consider marijuana retail permits from 16 other applicants, plus a rash of manufacturing and cultivating permits. The Neades’ also received approval for a product manufacturing facility, and regulators painstakingly addressed many of her 40 or so proposed products to make sure they adhere to state regulations.

More than 25 were approved before the board decided to hold some for another meeting because the process became so lengthy. Frozen Budz received approval to make such items as cannabis-infused butter, oil, brownies, caramels, truffles, cookies, cupcakes, fudge, banana bread, ice cream, granola bars and breakfast treats called Wake and Bake Bars.

“We’re kind of that home-feel bakery but infused with marijuana” she said.

“It’s incredibly exciting obviously, and really proud to represent the industry in such a responsible way,” said co-owner Leah Levinton.

“I think as a family business, we will wrap in the family values into our business practice.” Levinton, her mother, Jane Stinson, and her brother, Evan Levinton hope to open shop in December.

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There has not been a bit of cannabis sold in Alaska, however, some bank accounts connected to people in the growing marijuana industry are already being taken away. Referencing strict federal laws around marijuana, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union has ceased to keep the accounts of multiple customers open. Credit Union 1 has also closed down someone’s account, according to company officials. Cole Hollister, one of the owners of Fairbanks-based cultivation facility Pakalolo Supply Co. Inc. received a letter informing him that his account with Alaska USA was shut down.

“It recently came to our attention that you are an affiliate of the marijuana cultivation facility, Pakalolo,” the letter states, citing the company’s state cannabis license number. As the first company licensed by the state, Hollister just started growing commercial marijuana in late July. He states that this move was entirely uncalled for.

“Nothing’s happened yet,” he responded. “There’s no business, there’s no income, there’s no illegal activity going on.”

The letter gives Hollister thirty days to close the account.

“It’s just standard practice for us,” Dan McCue, senior vice president of corporate administration at Alaska USA, said. “If it’s an account related to the cannabis industry, it’s an account that we can’t maintain.”

McCue did not want to confirm how many accounts were shut down, but the Fairbanks Daily-News Miner reported ten personal accounts linked to cannabis-related businesses had been taken away.

“It’s not just sales,” McCue added. “That’s the distinction. It’s related to the business, so there’s all kinds of things you can do to get your business started. We established a policy, we have the right to do that.”

Hollister stated that he kept the account for over three decades and that it is merely a savings accounts. He claims that the account has never been used for anything related to cannabis.

“They have no reason and really no justification to assume guilt,” Hollister said.

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The Borough Assembly agreed to allow five marijuana businesses in Fairbanks obtain state licenses, which will be the start of a road towards full legalization.

“I am glad that this era of prohibition seems to be coming to an end. It will be good for the welfare of our society,” Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblyman Christopher Quist said, following the votes on Thursday.

Eighty percent of these companies are going to specialize in cultivating cannabis indoors, while the remaining twenty percent is going to specialize in growing marijuana outdoors. The Alaska Marijuana Control Board also came together on Thursday to look over the licensing applications for marijuana businesses, approving some licenses for Fairbanks cultivators. The state gives local government the chance to protest cannabis laws the same way that alcohol licenses are. Assemblyman Lance Roberts and Assemblywoman Diane Hutchison tried to fight the licenses to no avail.

“I am saddened with the way our society is going with the acceptance of such a toxic substance,” said Roberts.

The companies that were finally approved from the borough are the following: “the Tanana Herb Co. at 3495 Old River Landing, Purple Quail at 440 Skyridge Dr., Alaska Cannabis Cultivators at 2693 Arla St., Pakalolo Supply Co. at 1851 Fox Ave. and Rosie Creek Farm at 2659 Livingston Loop in Ester.” Rosie Creek Farm was the first cultivator to receive a cannabis license from Alaska, which must have come with great joy.

The Marijuana Control Board held a meeting in Anchorage, giving numerous cultivators licenses for the recently legalized cannabis industry after a delay because of Alaska’s lack of authority to give national background checks. The ability to undergo background checks is a law that has not been approved by Governor Bill Walker yet. Mike Emers, the owner of Rosie Creek Farm, states that he is excited to finally begin growing some marijuana, but is not sure whether Alaska’s approval means that he can begin today.

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