“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: "Love. They must do it for love."
Say Hello To The Cannabis Plant
Hemp, it turns out grows very well in Vermont. Fifty years of hemp prohibition ended with the 2018 Farm Bill and CBD is on the rise. All good news. Seems like the right time to meet some of the farms, the businesses, and the cannabis compound superstar of Vermont’s craft-hemp movement.
Hemp, a common name for Cannabis sativa L. is a legal but regulated agricultural commodity and the source of 1000s of food, fiber, medicinal, and "industrial" products. CBD or cannabidiol is a non-intoxicating compound found in all varieties of the cannabis plant. CBD may be the latest hemp revelation, and it won't be the last.
Cannabis sativa goes by lots of unscientific names, with hemp and marijuana being the most common. Both have CBD but what legally sets them apart is the amount of euphoria-producing THC or tetrahydrocannabinol in each variety. By current legal definition, hemp can contain no more than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight (a trace amount). This is an arbitrary quantity of THC that legally distinguishes hemp from marijuana, which is cannabis that measures over 0.3 percent THC.
No matter the source, CBD itself will not make you high. Period. And yes, it is legal in all fifty states. According to the World Health Organization, cannabidiol presents no risk of toxicity or dependence. Other research on CBD points to its excellent safety profile.
With hemp’s new legal status, we can expect to see considerably more clinical and human trials delving into CBD’s effectiveness. So far, the dozens of peer-reviewed studies I’ve evaluated (see below) point to CBD’s benefits as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and antipsychotic compound. Cannabidiol alone, or acting synergistically with hundreds of other active compounds in hemp is shown to have potential medical benefits in the treatment of addiction, anxiety, arthritis, cancer, cognitive decline, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, nausea, pain, and PTSD.
Just Google “CBD” and you'll get 190,000,000 hits. That’s a lot of CBD. According to one recent report, 22 million Americans, or an estimated 7% of the US population are using it. How could this be? Quite simply, they're finding relief.
"No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." ~ Winston Churchill
Rules of the Game
The long-anticipated DRAFT 'Vermont Hemp Rule' was released today by Cary Giguere, Director, Public Health, at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture (VAAFM).
The goal of the rulemaking process has been to clearly define the regulatory framework and product safety guidelines around which Vermont's federally compliant hemp program is to be built. I explored some of the process and the background for the Hemp Rule in a January post, here.
“One thing we have to realize from now on is that it doesn't matter if this is a dream or not. Survival depends on what we do, not what we think.”
In a previous post I was ringing the bell; from Maine to New York City, CBD hemp oil and other CBD consumables are being embargoed, and these products are being sent back to their maker. That's not good for anyone.
Since then, similar actions were taken in Ohio and other jurisdictions. Now, North Carolina has issued warning letters to CBD manufactures in that state, again citing FDA's statement on the issue. At least NC sent a warning, but the blockade is coming folks.
Let's be clear, these actions against hemp are being taken by state and local agencies, not the FDA. However, those states are taking the FDA's position; that CBD should not be used as a supplement because of a federal patent. It is not because CBD is found to be unsafe.
In Vermont, we're fortunate that all hemp oversight is with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture (VAAFM). Vermont's Administration and its Ag Agency have stated repeatedly there's "no way" the punitive actions we saw in Maine, and elsewhere will happen here. That's an encouraging and protective stance right now towards Vermont's CBD growers and processors.
However, at the end of the day, it is the FDA and not Vermont Ag that is poised to put the brakes on our budding hemp industry.
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad."
Klee Irwin, the founder of Irwin Naturals, has posted this valuable and concise explanation of where we stand right now with the status of hemp, CBD and the FDA. Klee deftly dissects the problem in his 14-minute video, and points the way forward for the hemp industry.
This short post ties in directly to my next one. Here, I want to let the video do the talking, it gives context and grounding to my fervor.
For those of us engaged with CBD as a farm or business especially, I can assure you, watching Irwin's talk is time well spent. Without further ado, or introduction...
But Before You Go...
I want to thank fellow blogger, attorney, and hemp and cannabis advocate from North Carolina, Rod Kight, over at Kight On Cannabis. Rod is insightful, much more prolific than I am, and always on message. Rod first drew my attention to Klee's video, and a number of other stories I follow and some I've passed along. Check him out.
As always, your comments and questions below are most welcome!
“Action expresses priorities.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
[updated 2/9/2019] Maine has a big CBD problem. Last week, Maine’s Department of Health ordered all hemp derived CBD-infused edibles to be removed from store shelves.
This week, their State House filled with dozens of hemp growers, processors and supporters to protest the crackdown on consumable CBD products. This is a painful and financially devastating situation for all those affected. Not to mention the uncertainty for 1000s of Mainers who rely on their daily dose of hemp oil.
As reported in the Portland Press Herald, Maine’s Department of Health has ordered that consumable products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, must be removed from stores, even though they are derived from legal hemp. CBD salves and smoking products are exempt, and only medical cannabis dispensaries can market CBD oils and tinctures.
At least one Vermont (CBD) processor has been told by their customer in Maine to take back their Vermont products as a result of the crackdown. This is getting serious, and very close to home.
“If you want to be incrementally better: Be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better: Be cooperative.” --- anonymous
Last week, representatives from a dozen Vermont businesses, UVM, and state government met around the table to talk hemp.
From my point of view, it was an event of historic significance, twenty-three years in the making.
We were invited to Montpelier to offer our initial feedback on a "preview" version of the (soon to be released) draft Rule that will guide the new Vermont hemp registry program. The rule, constructed over the last several months, establishes the registration and quality control platform for the state's hemp growers and processors.
The goal of the rulemaking process, led by the Agency of Agriculture (VAAFM), has been to clearly define the regulatory framework and product safety guidelines around which our state's federally compliant hemp program is to be built.
Gary Giguere, our host and a VAAFM Section Chief, along with his colleague, Stephanie Smith, Chief Hemp Policy Enforcement Officer, opened the 3-hour meeting and helped set the stage for the group.
"... the face of Vermont agriculture is changing. And we believe that hemp is going to have a role in that (change)." ~ Cary Giguere, Vermont Agency of Agriculture
“Let us declare Nature to be legitimate. The notion of illegal plants is obnoxious and ridiculous in the first place.” ~ Terence McKenna
Hey Vermont. Spring is just around the corner, and it's time to make plans for growing hemp at home. CBD anyone? I'm offering a workshop in Middlebury to help you get started.
When this journey began I was a younger man, a good stretch before hemp and CBD had made the scene.
I’ve been an organic gardener for as long as I can remember; food, flowers, herbs, fruit trees, you name it. As a kid in Oregon in the 1970’s - before eradication teams and drones, a little grass in the garden was pretty common. My mom had two plants that grew behind the pole beans. No big whoop.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tzu
The buzz you hear around the 2018 Farm Bill, that's the sound of the hemp industry coming alive.
It is an exciting and historic development that the 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp (i.e., Cannabis sativa containing 0.3% THC dry weight or less) from the federal list of controlled substances. This forever redefines hemp as an agricultural commodity.
State Agencies of Agriculture are staffing up; they will play the part of local rule-maker, regulator and enforcer.
The rise of innovation, production, and sales of hemp and hemp products is upon us. As America's newest ag-based economy gears up, we celebrate hemp's reformed legal status. Unfortunately, we can't yet cheer its complete emancipation.
We've come a long (long) way, and not to take anything from the epic drive that got us here, hemp is still going to be a highly regulated crop in the wake of the 2018 Farm Bill.
“Today, not starting is far, far worse than being wrong." ~Seth Godin
Hello friends, hello world. [inaugural post and manifesto]
For a while now, hemp has been on my mind. It's also in our garden, and all around the house. Seems like it's everywhere you look!
You see it on shelves. It's growing on farms. It's in my food, my body, my bloodstream. It's in our jeans. For some, it's contagious. It's really here, and it's not going away.
Hemp has such charisma, such a vibrant history. People all around the world speak of hemp with great affection: Cannabis, Konopli, Kender, Chanvre, Cañamo, Canapa, Hampa, Nasha, Ta-Ma, Hanf, Asa, Ma.
Hemp spoken here is a way of saying, "we speak the same language". This language is energizing our culture right now, and that's something I'm excited to explore with you.
My name is Netaka, or Tak (hint; sounds like "tock"). I’ve been close friends with hemp for a number of years; as an early adopter, merchant and entrepreneur, storyteller, hemp grower, and still a true believer.
I’m launching Tak About Hemp to delve into the American Hemp Experience. We're not a "news site", more like a platform where we explore what's shaping hemp culture; the events, people, and products, as well as hemp policies, production & processing techniques. We engage in heady commentary, and discuss what's working ~ or what's not, so that hemp in the U.S. can reach its full potential.
"History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes." ~ Anonymous
Once upon a time..
Early people and their animals followed the moving and migrating herds northeast through Africa. They settled into the hills and valleys of the fertile north in what is now central Asia. The people began farming for food and sustenance, they learned new ways of life. They had time together in one place to create culture (from the Latin colere; to tend, cultivate).
Generations passed, and in a low smokey tent on the steppes a tribal woman spun Cannabis fibers; twisting them into cordage, weaving them into coverings for her feet, making rope to hold animals.
Hemp was grown with the very earliest cultivated crops. The 10,000-year-old remnants she left behind establish the oldest known physical link to tending and working with Cannabis.
In the very spots where culture bloomed, there were cattle and crops. And there was cannabis. True story. Pretty sure there's a connection there.
"Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy."
Hands together now.
As they say at the beginning of all the big events, "Before we get started, there are some people we'd like to thank."
There are so many people that contributed to end hemp prohibition, so that we can start the transitional move to regulation.
I particularly admire these individuals and groups with their longevity, their passion, and the drip.drip.drip of persistent effort toward the goal of legalized hemp.
So here is my very short shout-out list. Which is silly of course, because we could easily fill volumes with each person's unique contribution to the cause.
"It's better to be an optimist who is sometimes wrong than a pessimist who is always right". ~ Mark Twain
On Thursday December 20, 2018, with a stroke of the presidential pen, hemp prohibition is over.
In last Thursday’s signing ceremony of the Farm Bill, hemp or Cannabis sativa with less than 0.3% THC, was officially removed from the nation’s list of controlled substances.
The Drug Enforcement Agency was compelled to surrender. Oversight of the US hemp industry now moves to the USDA and the individual states. The hemp provisions of the Act are effective immediately.
For a full reading of the changes affecting hemp in the “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018”, click here
The end of hemp prohibition is arguably the most far-reaching opportunity in decades to affect family farms and rural communities. Not to mention the innovators and purveyors of food, fiber and medicinal products nationwide.
Hemp's bright future awaits. Hang on! It's going to be a wild ride...
I'm Netaka, friends call me Tak ("tock"). I write from Vermont and curate Tak About Hemp.