Tags Posts tagged with "Kentucky"

Kentucky

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Hemp

Legislation was recently passed by the Senate that would update Kentucky law setting regulations for hemp production in the state that’s at the leading edge in the crop’s comeback. Senators voted 35-0 after little talk to send the bill to the House. It was a big change from four years ago, when Kentucky’s original law that laid the groundwork for state farmers to eventually grow brought stiff resistance.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, one of the bill’s sponsors stated, “It has gone mainstream, and a lot of the concerns that were expressed four years ago have proven to be unfounded.” The state’s experiment with hemp production is yielding more acreage and processors. State agricultural officials approved 209 applications from growers, allowing them to produce up to 12,800 acres of hemp this year. Experimental projects began in the state with a mere 33 acres in 2014. In 2016, almost 140 growers were approved to plant up to 4,500 acres.

Growing hemp without a federal permit has long been banned because of its classification as a controlled substance related to cannabis. Hemp and cannabis are the same species, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives cannabis users a high. Hemp got a limited reprieve from the 2014 federal Farm Bill, which allows state agriculture departments to assign hemp projects for research and development. Kentucky’s initial hemp law was enacted before Congress permitting hemp’s limited return. State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles recently stated, “There were a lot of things that could not have been predicted about the Farm Bill exemption. So this basically better aligns Kentucky law with the Farm Bill.”

The bill would broaden circumstances to ban people from being involved in hemp to include those convicted of any type of felony or any drug-related misdemeanors or violations. Currently, the 10-year restraint applies to people convicted of drug-related felonies. The measure would put into state law an appeals process for people denied licenses to grow hemp or those who have their licenses revoked. The state agriculture department started the appeals process this year as part of department policy for people turned down for licenses. The legislation is the product of months of work by University of Kentucky agriculture officials, the state agriculture department, and Kentucky State Police.

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The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has accepted over 200 applications from farmers who have been given the ok to cultivate up to almost 13,000 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes in 2017. Over 525,000 square feet of greenhouse space were approved for indoor growers, as well.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles stated, “By nearly tripling hemp acreage in 2017 and attracting more processors to the state, we are significantly growing opportunities for Kentucky farmers. Our strategy is to use Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture’s research pilot program to encourage the industrial hemp industry to expand and prosper in the state.” He continued, “Although it is not clear when Congress might act to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, my strategic objective is to position the Commonwealth’s growers and processors to ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture received just over 250 applications. Applicants were asked to identify which harvestable component of the plant would be the focus of their research: grain, floral material, or fiber. Some applicants selected more than one. Five universities will conduct additional research in 2017. The department officials named the recent decline in commodity prices as a factor that appears to be generating increased interest among growers in industrial hemp. In 2016, just under 140 growers were accepted to plant up to 4,500 acres. Program participants planted more than 2,300 acres of hemp in 2016, up from 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014.

To enhance the department’s association with local and state law enforcement officers, KDA will add GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates were required to be submitted on the application. Applicants also must pass background checks and consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any location where hemp or hemp products are being handled, processed, or grown.

Quarles stated, “We have made collaboration and communication with the law enforcement community a top priority for KDA’s management of this research pilot program.” Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp research pilot program assessed the applications and considered whether returning applicants had complied with instructions from KDA, local law enforcement, and Kentucky State Police. To advertise clarity and ensure a fair playing field while evaluating applications, The Kentucky Department of Agriculture relied on objective criteria outlined in the 2017 Policy Guide.

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Farmers are planting less tobacco in Kentucky after growing health concerns decreased demand. Alternatively, they’re increasingly turning to hemp and have more than doubled the cannabis variety types in 2016. The states has become the Number 2 producer in the United States, right behind Colorado.

Giles Shell, who cultivates with his dad and brother 45 minutes south of Lexington on a 200 acre farm said, “The profit is promising,” The family plans to dedicate 80 acres to hemp next year, land that for four generations was used to produce tobacco. “We’ve been willing as a family farm to be able to take this adventure.”

There were strict controls on hemp among anti-drug sentiment over the last few decades, making it illegal to grow without a government permit as the plant got tied in with cannabis. The United States farm bill authorized agriculture departments to create industrial hemp research pilot programs in 2014. This reopened production opportunities. According to the state’s agriculture department, only 33 acres were planted in Kentucky that year. According to the state’s agriculture department, plants rose to 922 acres in 2015 and skyrocketed to over 2,300 acres in 2016.

According to the department, the state’s first hemp crop was grown in 1775, and almost all of the country’s production was grown in the Bluegrass region following the Civil War. The crop was included with federal legislation that outlawed marijuana harvesting in 1938, and output decreased to almost nothing following the Second World War.

Doris Hamilton, the industrial hemp program manager for Kentucky’s agriculture department, said cultivators are seeking alternatives as prices for other commodities remain grim and the tobacco market continues to decline.

Steenstra stated that most of the hemp products sold in the United States are being imported from other countries. Farmers now have an opportunity to get a foot in the market as the demand rises.

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For over 12,000 years, hemp has been used as a crop in many civilizations around the globe. Hemp was one of the first crops to ever be spun into fiber. It has an amazing amount of functionalities; from paper to food to clothing. Hemp is also environmentally friendlier than wheat and cotton. Beginning in the late 1600s, hemp was a vital cash crop in the United States. George Washington farmed hemp to produce rope and canvas.

Hemp seed has a THC level below 0.3 percent which is not enough to get anyone high. The U.S. banned industrial hemp production in the beginning of the 20th century. This followed federal laws that passed banning all kinds of marijuana. Even though hemp had a rocky history and has an uncertain future; it has the potential to generate growth in the US economy and create jobs for American farmers.

Hemp farming was originally banned in the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This law enforced a tax on the sale of all forms of marijuana; therefore, it became economically impossible to produce. As a result the hemp industry faded away. Hemp was grouped with marijuana again in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970; this time declaring it a Schedule I drug despite the fact it is not potent enough to make anyone high. Even though it became legal to import fully manufactured hemp in 1998, it was still illegal for hemp to be cultivated at all on US soil. Later the 2014 Farm Bill included an amendment permitting research on industrial hemp production by states that passed legislation to legalize hemp farming.

Because of this new law, universities, agriculture departments and licensed farmers in 20 states were able to begin pilot programs and conduct research. Scientists are watched closely by the government and DEA to make sure that the hemp grown has THC levels that are in compliance with federal standards. Despite this, the DEA still does not allow licensed researchers to import hemp seed. Therefore, it could be months before they can put the seed in the ground and start their research.

The hemp industry has still managed to achieve success despite all the obstacles it has faced. Hemp products in the U.S. are valued at $581 million and these numbers continue to grow. Because of its economic potential, there is widespread bipartisan agreement that hemp farming could net large gains for the agricultural and manufacturing industries in the U.S. Hemp has many functions. It is able to be used in a wide array of products manufactured or sold in the U.S. such as: natural soaps, clothing and even cars. It is also a good source of fiber and is found in brands such as: Hempzels, Living Harvest and Nutiva. None of these manufacturers buy their hemp domestically because it is not available. Manufacturers and American farmers would both benefit if it were available domestically and it would probably be cheaper than importing it.

More companies might consider using hemp in their products if locally sourced hemp was available. Since legalizing the commercial production of industrial hemp in 1998, Canada has seen an increase in small businesses finding new ways to use and market hemp products – and most of these businesses have experienced growth. Food products especially have high potential in the US market: Manitoba Harvest, a Canadian hemp-based food company, reported 500 percent growth in sales over the past five years with about half of the sales coming from US consumers.

The legalization of industrial hemp could also seriously help American farmers: hemp seed is valued at anywhere from $477 – $900 per acre, compared to wheat, which is valued at $485 per acre. Support for this issue by organizations of local farmers has lead to bipartisan support in Congress: Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul represent two of industrial hemp’s biggest supporters, largely because they believe in this industry’s potential to create jobs for their constituents in Kentucky, where the soil and landscape is a good fit for the crop. Paul argues that the new industry could help replace unproductive land that was previously used for tobacco farming and coal mining.

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Hemp production in the United States is finally becoming relevant again. After the 2014 Farm Bill allowed states to grow hemp legally for research purposes, Kentucky implemented a pilot program. Ryan Quarles, Kentucky’s agricultural commissioner told Kentucky Public Radio. “In the first year, about 30 acres were planted. In the second year, about 900. This year, over 2,000. And we fully expect there to be substantial growth in 2017,”.

Kentucky state Department of Agriculture will be accepting applications for the Pilot Program until November 14th, and they must be submitted with a $350 application fee, per grower address. Other fees involved in participating in the pilot program include those for producers and private labs, which can range from $400 to $1,000 depending on the size of the facility, along with a $50 nonrefundable application fee.

Kentucky and Colorado are leading the nation in innovation and production of industrial hemp, a product that has been imported for the last 80years. Having to first learn old techniques due to lack of innovation and advanced production materials, the farmers are getting better at producing hemp and learning the best times to plant the crop. With all the different uses for hemp – hundreds, if not thousands – hemp farmers are expected to make a solid return. Kentucky and Colorado are expected to see great growth from the innovation and production of industrial hemp.

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Kentucky’s first hemp crop being experimented on, as allowed by new federal law, is going on throughout the state. Greg Hall, The Courier-Journal Kentucky is speeding up hemp production in the third year of testing its possibility of being a cash crop. The state Department of Agriculture stated on Friday that it has allowed the planting of over 4,500 acres of hemp for 2016 which is 900 acres more than what was allowed in 2015. Moreover, the testing started with just 33 acres in 2014, but the momentum built up after a change in leadership at the Agriculture Department.

The resurrection of legal hemp development was credited to by then-state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Comer kept running for representative a year ago, losing in the Republican essential to Matt Bevin. In any case, his successor as Agriculture Commissioner, Ryan Quarles, has accepted the part of supporting for hemp.

“Hemp is a bridge from Kentucky’s past to our future,” Quarles, a Republican, stated. “The Kentucky Department of Agriculture and our partners are committed to building upon the solid foundation of research for a Kentucky hemp industry that will create jobs and new marketing opportunities.”

Kentucky has been at the cutting edge in endeavors to return hemp to standard status. The minor testing crop yielded in 2014 was the first lawful hemp crop in years in Kentucky. Growing hemp without a government grant was banned in 1970 because of its grouping as a controlled substance identified with cannabis.

Hemp and weed are the same species, Cannabis sativa, yet hemp has a minuscule measure of THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gives weed users a high. Hemp got a restricted respite with the government ranch charge, which permits state agriculture departments to assign hemp projects for innovative work in states, for example, Kentucky that permits hemp developing.

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Albeit Kentucky has battled for a very long time while to get any consideration from the General Assembly on the issue of medical cannabis, the reason will have more grounded fortification in 2016. This week, previous Congressman Mike Ward reported the arrangement of Legalize Kentucky Now, a gathering looking to “influence policy, public perception, and elected officials” with an end goal to authorize the crop for medical benefits in Kentucky. The charitable association will endeavor to influence administrators at the session, which began on Tuesday in Frankfort, to quit fooling around with laws that allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients.

“While no one policy solution can solve every problem, legalizing medical marijuana will make a real difference across a range of issues: increased tax dollars, compassionate use by those suffering from illness, reduce the over-reliance on prescription pain narcotics that can lead to addiction and heroin and is ruining our communities, and the social justice effects of decriminalization will benefit Kentuckians of all races and economic classes,” it states on the group’s website.

Ward, who began heavily supporting medical cannabis twenty years ago once the drug helped his brother deal with AIDS, said to the Courier-Journal that legalization in Kentucky “is absolutely something that is going to happen.” The only step that remains is mixing the perfect proposal with the right person of power willing to fight.

Since 2015’s gubernatorial vote, there have been sundry projections that lawmakers in Kentucky would make a massive push in 2016 to attempt to make some sort of medicinal cannabis program. This is due to the fact that before Republican Governor Matt Bevin was voted into office, he said during a debate that since there is “unequivocal medical evidence” that marijuana is beneficial to one’s health, he would allow a bill that would allow the drug to “be prescribed like any other prescription drug.”

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While trying to fight the antagonistic leaders of the alcohol and tobacco lobbies that have had an impact on the system for years to keep the production of marijuana illegal, Perry Clark, Democratic Senator, has apparently submitted a proposal to the State Legislature with the goal of legalizing marijuana in Kentucky.

Last week, in Frankfort, a city where alcohol can is still regulated and prohibited, Clark took his bill up to the steps of the Capitol building. The bill is the “Cannabis Freedom Act,” and is aimed towards nullifying existing laws centered around the growing, possession, and distribution of cannabis by suggesting that cannabis is treated similarly to the way alcohol is handled.

“It is abundantly clear to me that cannabis while being much less harmful, should be treated the same as alcohol,” Clark stated. “The Cannabis Freedom Act is an outline on how to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older in Kentucky. It is time for this discussion in our Commonwealth.”

In summation, this proposal would result in Kentucky acting like states such as Colorado and Washington, which have fully legalized the crop in order to stop a ton of arrests while also bringing in a great economic resource to generate tax revenue for the greater good of the states. New reports suggest that unlike the projections that key officials in Colorado made before the beginning of the marijuana industry, legal marijuana has not led to increased criminal activity and has actually raised over $100 million in tax revenue this year.

“What we have seen is it hasn’t been the catastrophe some people feared that it would be,” Colorado’s Pot Czar, Andrew Freedman, stated.

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According to an analysis by the Boulder-based Hemp Business Journal, sales of hemp products will reach $500 million nationwide in 2015. That is 25% more than it was in 2014 when the United States accumulated approximately $400 million worth of such hemp-based products imported into the United States. That will likely change since hemp farming is now legal after being prohibited for 77 years. Three states have had a great majority of contribution in hemp production during 2015: Colorado (2,000 acres), Tennesee (1,000 acres), and Kentucky (922 acres).

At the moment, there is no system to track what hemp is being grown for at the moment, but in Colorado, the plants are typically for CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical compound, according to the publisher of the Hemp Business Journal. “That’s the real story — the CBD market,” he stated. Sales of products infused with CBD are usually for pain relief and may reach up to $85 million in 2015.

“A couple of years ago, there was no CBD market,” Murphy added. “(Look) how fast that emerged in a year or two.”

Much more data on CBD sales is soon to come, but one can deduce that since 51% of hemp is coming from Colorado, it is clear that, as Murphy said, “Colorado is really driving that.”

Some farmers have guessed that the growth has been even more rapid than what others are predicting. For instance, industry insiders believe the CBD market is closer to $300 million nationally, according to Alexis Korybut, president of Boulder-based CBDRx.

“And that’s probably conservative,” he said, noting that the number was based on observation and stories rather than a real number. Either way, he still believes that the market is very undervalued.

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Hidden away amidst a farm off of a narrow in Clark County, Kentucky, 27 acres of hemp grew throughout the summer. Now that the summer is over, farmers are ready to harvest and process the plants. Kentucky has been deemed a leader by industrial hemp advocates because of growths such as this one. Now that one successful harvest has gone through, Kentucky will work on expanding the industry.

“In two years, we’ve come a long way,” said James Comer, Agriculture Commissioner. “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 hemp plants in Winchester are just a portion of the hundred acres of hemp cultivated this year for GenCanna, which migrated from Canada to Kentucky in order to be a leader in the hemp revolution. Hemp plants differ from marijuana in that they contain high amounts of cannabidiol and low amounts of THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets you high. GenCanna specifically chose to come to Kentucky over any of the other states because the agricultural resources and optimal conditions for hemp plants to grow.

“We have been in this industry for many years, and we are setting a new bar in Kentucky,” said Matty Mangone-Miranda, GenCanna CEO. “Kentucky’s kept the focus on industrial hemp” instead of being uncertain on the issue in terms of other forms of cannabis cultivation that states such as Colorado have accepted. Mangone-Miranda claims his group is in the long run thanks to the fact that it may very well grow into a billion dollar industry.

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