GROWING JOBS IN COLORADO

There’s more to cannabis and Colorado than the crowd that’s smoking it. La Junta, CO is expanding production for another variety of cannabis that’s highly profitable: industrial hemp, used to make rope, canvas and paper products.  There’s more to cannabis and Colorado than the crowd that’s smoking it. La Junta, CO is expanding production for another variety of cannabis that’s highly profitable: industrial hemp, used to make rope, canvas and paper products. (Photo: rockymountainhempassociation.org.)

Cannabis and Colorado tend to go hand in hand but for many it is because of the association with marijuana. There is, however, another variety of cannabis that hasn’t received the same amount of press, industrial hemp. Hemp is a cousin to marijuana but without all of marijuana’s psychoactive and addictive properties. Prior to the 1940s, hemp was used to make rope, paper and canvas among other goods. The Declaration of Independence and many Bibles were once printed on hemp paper. Today, one Colorado community is betting that industrial hemp can revitalize its town.

In April, the Whole Hemp Company announced that it is expanding its industrial hemp growing, processing and extraction facility to La Junta, CO. The project will take a long-vacant, big box retail location and repurpose it into a facility that will house up to 200 employees. After the announcement, Kashif Shan, CEO of Whole Hemp Company, said, “Whole Hemp Company is really excited to be in La Junta and has been overwhelmed by the support that the local community has already given.” Whole Hemp Company focuses on extracting cannabinoid (CBD) from hemp plants by using critical CO2 extraction. The CBD is then formulated and packaged for the nutraceutical and supplement industries. The potential of this compound could eventually lead to pharmaceutical applications and already has been approved by Brazil’s FDA equivalent Anvisa as a treatment to epilepsy.

After the extraction of CBD oil is complete, the company is then left with a fiber byproduct that can be refined into other raw materials. Once a region can produce 5,000 or more acres of industrial hemp, the doors are open for a bio-refinery. These bio-refineries can take the hemp fibers and create plastics, fuels, chemicals, pulp, packaging and textiles to name a few. Currently Whole Hemp Company plans to plant 250 acres in 2015 with plans to plant 3,500 to 5,000 acres in 2016.

2016 and beyond look to be exciting times for La Junta as they continue to rebuild the industrial hemp industry from the ground up. “As an economic developer, I am always looking for ways to improve the multiplier (number of times money circulates in the economy), and if we follow the value chain, the hemp industry has the potential to greatly increase the economic outlook for the Arkansas Valley,” explained Ryan Stevens, Director of La Junta Economic Development.

“La Junta and the surrounding communities are receiving direct jobs from the Whole Hemp Company and farmers are going to gain revenue from outdoor grow operations. The companies that follow Whole Hemp Company to extract the oils and refine the byproducts into other raw materials will create additional jobs,” Stevens added. “It is possible we will see additional manufacturers locate here in La Junta to be closer to their raw material sources. And then there are the indirect jobs that will come from all of these extra people having paychecks. Ultimately the community is able to capitalize on Colorado’s cannabis laws without opening our doors to marijuana.”

Whole Hemp Co. is a Colorado Limited Liability Company that is committed to producing CBD oil that is 100 percent U.S. grown and processed and 100 percent caustic solvent free.

La Junta Economic Development is committed to expanding the employment base in La Junta, CO by attracting new businesses and retaining and expanding existing businesses. For more information on La Junta Economic Development, please visit www.LaJuntaEconomicDevelopment.com, or contact Ryan Stevens at (719) 671-9499.

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Wyden presses to lift federal ban on industrial hemp

Talks on Senate floor to mark National hemp History Week

From KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 7:29 PM PDT June 4, 2015  UPDATED: 7:29 PM PDT June 4, 2015

 

Sen. Wyden backs lifting ban on industrial hemp

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., takes to Senate floor to urge colleagues to lift ban on industrial hemp

 

WASHINGTON –

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Thursday again urged lifting the federal ban on industrial hemp, saying it has a wide variety of uses and economic benefits in Oregon and nationwide.

Hemp-based products contributed $620 million to the U.S. economy in 2014, but current federal regulations prohibit farmers from growing hemp in the United States, the senator noted.

“I’ve long said if you can make it and sell it in Oregon, you should be able to grow it in Oregon,” Wyden said in a speech on the Senate floor in recognition of National Hemp History Week.

“In my view, keeping the ban on growing hemp makes about as much sense as instituting a ban on Portobello mushrooms," he said. "There’s no reason to outlaw a product that’s perfectly safe because of what it’s related to.”

Wyden highlighted several products made in Oregon from industrial hemp by companies such as Milwaukie-based Bob’s Red Mill, which produces protein powder from hemp seeds, Creswell-based Fiddlebumps, which makes hemp butter and other skin care products, and Eugene-based Hemp Shield, which makes deck sealant and wood finish from hemp.

Wyden introduced a bill earlier this year with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to lift the ban on growing hemp domestically. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act, S. 134, would distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Al Franken, D-Minn., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., also cosponsored the bill.

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Myths of cannabis & hemp cross-pollination

Posted on April 8, 2015 | By Vivian McPeak

 

 

Note: I invited Joy Beckerman to guest blog on this important issue. The opinions expressed are her own. – Vivian

MYTHS & REALITIES OF CROSS-POLLINATION
by Joy Beckerman

Oh, the irony. On the one hand, marijuana and hemp activists have been tortured for decades by the DEA’s exceedingly absurd stance that marijuana growers will use industrial hemp fields to camouflage their marijuana plants; and on the other hand, there has recently arisen the hysterical stance by some populations of outdoor marijuana growers that marijuana and industrial hemp fields must be kept extraordinary distances apart in order to avoid cross-pollination. To be sure – whereas the DEA stance is unequivocally non-factual and has no basis in reality, the cross-pollination hysteria is actually grounded in truth, albeit recently a distorted and emotionally-based version of the truth. Greed inspires irrationality. Let’s have an intelligent conversation based in fact because there is no need for hysteria and cross-pollination is a common agricultural issue with a common agricultural solution…and one that would never require a distance of anywhere in the realm of 200 miles between plant species types. We don’t see the State of Kentucky in an uproar. Make no mistake, Kentucky’s Number One cash crop is outdoor marijuana while Kentucky simultaneously is the country’s Number One industrial hemp producer (both feral [i.e. leftover/wild] and deliberate, now that it is legal to cultivate there).

No doubt it will be helpful to found our discussion on a necessary botany lesson, especially since the most common misunderstanding about the “difference” between marijuana and industrial hemp is that “hemp is ‘the male’ and marijuana is ‘the female.’” In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. “Cannabis” is the plant genus, “sativa” is Latin for “sown” or “cultivated” (and is included in many scientific plant species names), and the “L.” we often see associated with Cannabis sativa merely stands for the surname initial of Carl Linnaeus, the Swiss botanist who invented taxonomy. Cannabis sativa is a member of the Cannabaceae family. Within the Cannabis sativa plant species, we have the drug type known as “marijuana” and we have the oilseed and fiber type known as “industrial hemp.”

Both plant types – marijuana and industrial hemp – can be dieocious, which is to say they can be either exclusively male or exclusively female; and they can also be monoecious, which is to say they can have the staminate (i.e. the male pollen-producing part) and pistillate (i.e. the female ovum-producing part) on the same plant. However, marijuana is a high-resin crop generally planted about four feet apart for its medicine or narcotic rich leaves and buds, whereas industrial hemp is a low-resin crop generally planted about four inches apart for its versatile stalk and seed. The different kinds of marijuana are classified as “strains” and the different kinds of industrial hemp are classified as “varieties” and “cultivars.”

Industrial hemp is non-psychoactive with a higher ratio of CBD to THC, thus smoking even several acres of it will not result in achieving a high; conversely, only a memorable headache is achieved, regardless of Herculean effort. Marijuana flower production and industrial hemp production cultivation processes are distinctly different. Finally, there is no such thing as a plant or plant species known as “Cannabis hemp” and “hemp” is not a synonym for “marijuana,” “pot,” or “ganja,” etc. Botanists have argued for ages over whether a separate plant species “Cannabis indica” exists, and that age-old debate is not being addressed here.

The significant difference between the two types that effects cross-pollination and legitimately frightens marijuana growers is that hemp plants go to seed fairly quickly and would thus pollinate any marijuana plants growing in the same field or in a nearby field. This is botanically analogous to field corn and sweet corn, one of which is grown for human consumption, and one of which is grown for animal consumption. Corn producers take great measures to prevent any cross-pollination between their field and sweet corns; including growing the different varieties of corn at different times or making sure there is sufficient distance between the different fields. Either way, these corn producers do what is necessary to ensure that pollen carrying the dominant gene for starch synthesis is kept clear of corn silks borne on plants of the recessive (sweet) variety.

Cross-pollination of hemp with marijuana would significantly reduce the potency of the marijuana plants. While hemp farmers are not going to want marijuana cross-pollinating with their hemp and increasing their hemp’s THC content, it would be entirely more disastrous for the marijuana grower if hemp were to cross-pollinate with their marijuana due to the cost of producing and value of selling medical and adult-use marijuana. The concern is real. The concern is valid. But the concern does not merit the level of hysteria that appears to have arisen in Washington. We must take a note from Kentucky.

Industrial hemp is primarily pollinated by wind, and most pollen travels approximately 100 yards, give or take. Bees, of course, can also pollinate hemp; and bees travel up to three miles from their hives. It is also true that, depending on the weight and size of any plant pollen, combined with other natural conditions, wind-borne pollen can technically travel up to 2,000 miles away from the source. Yes, it’s true, up to 2,000 miles. And also it would be beyond ridiculous to give serious agricultural consideration to this extreme factoid for entirely obvious reasons.

Cannabis case in point: Kentucky. Kentucky may not have legal outdoor marijuana grows, but you’d better believe that – like every other state in the nation – there’s a whole lotta marijuana being deliberately cultivated outdoors; and on quite a grand scale in Kentucky, which state learned centuries ago that Cannabis grows exceedingly well in that climate and soil. Kentucky was always been the heart of our nation’s industrial hemp farmlands, thus Kentucky is covered with more feral hemp than any other state. This issue of marijuana and hemp cross-pollination is old news and no news at all to the marijuana growers of Kentucky, who experience and demonstrate no sense of hysteria like that which has risen up in Washington.

Global industrial hemp leader and professional industrial hemp agrologist Prof. Anndrea Hermann, M.Sc, B.GS, P.Ag., who has been a certified Health Canada THC Sampler since 2005 and is the President of the U.S. Hemp Industries Association, has assisted with creating and reviewing hemp regulations in Canada, the European Union, South Africa, Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand, and several U.S. States. Anndrea refers to this issue of cross-pollination as the “Cannabis Clash” and “Cannabis Sex 101.” So what is the answer? What is a safe distance between marijuana and hemp fields?

The Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA), which is the global agency to which most developed countries subscribe for agricultural purposes, has completed its draft industrial hemp seed certification regulations, which rules include a range from a minimum distance of three (3) feet to a maximum distance of three (3) miles between different pedigrees and cultivars of industrial hemp. This is the same with Health Canada’s industrial hemp regulations. But we are talking about safe distances between two plant types – marijuana and industrial hemp. Absent intense research and collection of hard data that will be interesting to conduct as we move forward and funding becomes available, experts agree that a distance of ten (10) miles between hemp and marijuana fields is exceedingly appropriate to avoid cross-pollination. Or as Anndrea Hermann would say, “a nice, country road drive!”

This is not a complicated issue or a new issue. This is basic agriculture. Marijuana and industrial hemp are best friends and this is no time for them to start picking unnecessary fights with one another. Ten miles, folks; ten miles!

http://www.thesmokersclub.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/WeedBee.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/79/Cannabis_sativa_Koehler_drawing.jpg

Joy Beckerman is the President Hemp Ace International LLC, and the director of the Hemp Industries Association, Washington Chapter

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Report: $620 Million in Hemp Products Sold in the U.S. in 2014

Report: $620 Million in Hemp Products Sold in the U.S. in 2014

Hemp Foods and Body Care Retail Market in U.S. Achieves 21.2% Growth in 2014

WASHINGTON, DC — The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a non-profit trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, has released final estimates of the size of the 2014 U.S. retail market for hemp products.

Data from market research supports an estimate of total retail sales of hemp food and body care products in the United States at $200 million.  Sales of popular hemp items like non-dairy milk, shelled seed, soaps and lotions have continued to skyrocket against the backdrop of the new hemp research provision in the Farm Bill, and increasing grassroots pressure to allow hemp to be grown domestically on a commercial scale once again for U.S. processors and manufacturers. The HIA has also reviewed sales of clothing, auto parts, building materials and various other products, and estimates the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2014 to be at least $620 million.

The sales data on hemp foods and body care, collected by market research firm SPINS, was obtained from natural and conventional retailers, excluding Whole Foods Market, Costco and certain other key establishments, who do not provide sales data — and thus it underestimates actual sales by a factor of at least two and a half. According to the SPINS data, combined U.S. hemp food and body care sales grew in the sampled stores by 21.2% or $14,020,239, over the previous year ending December 31, 2014 to a total of just over $80,042,540. According to SPINS figures, sales in conventional retailers grew by 26.8% in 2014, while sales in natural retailers grew by 16.3%. Indeed, the combined growth of hemp retail sales in the U.S. continues steadily, as annual natural and conventional market percent growth has progressed from 7.3% (2011), to 16.5% (2012), to 24% (2013), to 21.2 in 2014.

“The HIA estimates the total retail value of all hemp products sold in the U.S. to be at least $620 million for 2014,” says Eric Steenstra, Executive Director of the HIA. “Eleven new states have passed legislation and new businesses are rapidly entering the market now that American farmers in a handful of states are finally beginning to grow the crop legally. Challenges remain in the market and there is a need for Congress to pass legislation to allow farmers to grow hemp commercially in order for the market to continue its rapid growth,” continues Steenstra.

When the 2013 farm bill was signed into law in February of 2014, the hemp amendment to the farm bill, Sec. 7606 Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research, defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana in states where hemp is regulated under authorized hemp pilot programs. This was an historic moment in the longstanding effort to legalize hemp as the act asserts that industrial hemp is not psychoactive, having less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol on a dry weight basis and therefore presenting no drug value.

The bill further allows for states that have already legalized the crop to cultivate hemp within the parameters of state agriculture departments and research institutions. In 2014, 1831 acres of hemp were licensed in Kentucky, Colorado and Vermont. Many licensees were unable to obtain seed in time to plant due to DEA seed import requirements. We estimate that approximately 125 acres of hemp crops were planted during 2014.

In January of 2015, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in both the House and Senate, H.R. 525 and S. 134 respectively. If passed, the bill would remove all federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp, and remove its classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

Currently, 21 states may grow hemp per Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill, including California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

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Farmers, Industry Leaders Excited About Future of Industrial Hemp in Kentucky

KENTUCKY — Kentucky Hemp is coming back. Fiber, seed, fuel, oil, and artisan products are simmering in the recently revived hemp industry.

 

kentucky-set-to-be-first-state-to-legalize-hemp-production.si

 

SEE GRAPHIC HERE

Research and debate about bringing hemp back has circulated since the 1990s, when other countries like Canada and Australia re-legalized hemp production. Finally, last year, the 2014 Farm Bill provided a framework for U.S. state agricultural departments and universities to plant hemp seed on U.S. soil as long as individual state law allows it.

Now, Kentuckians are turning their research and theories into a promising hemp industry.

“We don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” said Josh Hendrix of the newly formed Kentucky Hemp Industries Association (KYHIA). “We haven’t had a hemp industry for over 70 years.”

He says research is necessary to reduce risk to farmers. His organization and others, who have participated in hemp trials, are testing for the best seeds to plant, and the best way to harvest and process hemp crops. Part of KYHIA’s mission is to disseminate its research and provide education about the hemp industry.

Hemp production was deterred in the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. Then, in 1970, the Controlled Substance Act coupled hemp with the drug, marijuana, making hemp illegal as a narcotic. Hemp does not hold the drug’s THC properties, but the plant is from the same genus, cannabis, and looks similar.

Before 1937, 98% of hemp seed used in the U.S. came from Kentucky. Now, they have no seeds. Hemp trials have used seeds imported from other countries.

“2014 was a celebratory year, just to get seed in the ground,” said Hendrix. “2015 has seen a nice expansion, with 326 applications.”

Kentucky farmers can submit applications to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to participate in the hemp revival. They must provide production plans to be approved, and pass a background check to appease the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Kentucky U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with two Oregon senators, submitted a bill on January 8, 2015, to decouple hemp from marijuana, and remove hemp production from DEA enforcement.

“We don’t know if or when it might become a legal crop,” said David Williams, of the University of Kentucky. “We also do not know how large an industry the market will support. We extrapolate based on data from other markets, but we cannot know exactly what the market will be in the U.S.”

A Promising Market

Kentuckians have deep roots with the hemp plant, and have grand plans for bringing the industry back. Industries, like tobacco and coal, are facing hard times, and hemp may offer both profitable alternatives.

Hemp advocates, like Hendrix, also see hemp as a crop to sustain dwindling family farms, and increase young and new farmers. Artisans can use hemp for cloth, beauty products, teas, and countless other items. The organic market for hemp is also highly profitable and growing.

Seventh generation family farmer, Andy Graves, grows conventional grains like soy, wheat, and corn. His generation is the first in his family to not grow hemp. The Graves family was the top hemp seed producer when hemp was legal, and is set on renewing that legacy.

“The market is so big,” Graves said. “We haven’t even scratched the surface.”

Graves is also the CEO of Atalo Holdings, Inc. The group contracted 5 farms to grow hemp in 2014 and for 2015 they’ve expanded to 26 farms. Atalo has three subsidiaries: Hemp Oil Kentucky, Kenex, and Kentucky Hemp Research and Development — each focuses on seed, fiber, and research and development, respectively.

Oil from seed, Graves said, has a quick return. Once Atalo has a revenue stream from oil, it will invest in fiber operations. Fiber operations have a higher barrier to entry because of the cost of new machinery.

Hemp seed can be harvested using the same equipment as conventional grain. As far as processing, Graves said that seed pressing equipment that is currently used for chia and sesame seeds can also be used for hemp. He will add chia and sesame to his portfolio as well.

Graves is using the most popular hemp seed for oil: Finola, from Finland. Atalo has guaranteed a no loss crop by securing a deal with Hemp Oil Canada to buy any seed Atalo cannot sell.

‘We haven’t scratched the surface of the market.’

Atalo has been approved for 356 acres of hemp, and is hoping for up to 500. 10-12 acres will be devoted to organic hemp seed production. Their research and development subsidiary aims to be an educational asset to the hemp industry in the U.S., Graves says.

Hendrix, Graves, and Williams all emphasize that they are building a new industry from the ground up. It will take research and time, but, Hendrix believes they have “the right people, the right place, and the right time” to build the industry and create jobs.

The Hemp Capital of the U.S.

Other groups germinating in the Kentucky hemp industry include The Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association, which focuses on biomass and high capacitance graphene nano-sheets; and Sunstrand LLC, which focuses on industrial fiber. There are many others cropping up. Stay tuned, says Graves, new developments are breaking on Kentucky soil.

The laws may not be set yet, but hemp advocates in Kentucky are confident that their state will soon be known for more than bourbon, and re-claim their name as the ‘Hemp Capital of the U.S.’

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JOIN THE KENTUCKY INDUSTRIAL HEMP ASSOCIATION (KYIHA) HERE

American Green Signs Five Leases in Kentucky for CBD-Only Shops; Ordering an Additional Twenty ZaZZZ Age-Verifying Medical Marijuana Machines

ZaZZZ is the world’s First Consumer Automated Medical Marijuana Vending Machine. Improved second generation 3D touch screen machines will be delivered to Michigan and Arizona. American Green’s ZaZZZ machines in Kentucky will be the first of it’s kind to vend Hemp products directly to the consumer. American Green will also be ordering an additional 20 ZaZZZ from VE Global for distribution throughout the country.

Tempe, AZ, March 02, 2015 –(PR.com)– American Green (OTC: ERBB) — With the signing last week of an additional five ZaZZZ leases, American Green is ordering the next twenty machines built by VE GLOBAL. These new 3D touch screen ZaZZZ vending machines will join the other eighteen machines currently under various stages of public release into Medical Marijuana approved states. The two machines carrying Hemp products will be brought online in Arizona at Hempful Farms and the other in Michigan with the Michigan Hemp Company. All 28 machines represent a multi-state effort that meet regulatory compliance while creating a process for broader expansion with the forward-thinking companies who have, or expect to be ordering, the new Consumer operated ZaZZZ Medical Marijuana Vending Machines.
Annual sales for the United States vending industry are estimated between $19 Billion and $29 Billion. The income produced by a single Zazzz vending machine can vary depending on the kind of products being dispensed and the location of the machine.
“We are very happy to bring a new technology to Kentucky so we can offer exceptional hemp products to our consumers and are excited to build long term relationship,” says Chris Smith of Vice President of Green Remedy whose home office is in Bardstown, KY. “We share American Green’s vision to deliver quality products in the safest possible way using 21st century capabilities. Green Remedy is proud to be the first company in Kentucky to embrace this technology.”
American Green is expanding national operations of the second generation ZaZZZ into its 6th state. The Kentucky machines are the first machines to carry Hemp products along with products from American Green including it’s vape pen, ogtea, and clothing line. Further distribution of ZaZZZ into Medical Marijuana approved states will continue throughout the year.
"We are constantly improving ZaZZZ with our own in house R&D. We are also using real life data from our from our existing machines in Colorado and Washington State to help improve ZaZZZ. We have recently integrated our proprietary Tomassi patent into ZaZZZ and have added a 3D touchscreen for ease of use,” say Carl Kaiser, Director of ZaZZZ Logistics.
“ZaZZZ will always be improving with every day bringing more requests, opportunities, accomplishments and, most of all, a one day closer to our goal of creating the safest, consumer automated, verified vending system in America. I’m extremely excited to be part of making this happen,” Kaiser concludes.
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More About American Green, Inc.
Founded back in 2009 as one of the first publicly-traded medical marijuana-related companies in the world, American Green is proud to have the largest certified shareholder base which now numbers well over 50,000. The Company is keenly focused on developing, retailing, branding, and establishing commercial cultivation solutions under its proprietary American Green name along with our partners who are licensed retail medical marijuana dispensaries. American Green believes that the renewal of the legalized cannabis industry in the United States will aid in getting our economy back on its feet through increased employment in all related sectors — retail, real estate, contracting, farming and more. Additional revenues, fueled by taxing cannabis sales, and the decreased cost of housing prisoners who are no longer in prison for possession of cannabis should contribute to the renewal. Hard work and a clear vision propel American Green into the future. The centerpiece of our company is ZaZZZ, our unique automated vending solution designed specifically around American Green’s licensed proprietary patent technology.
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This press release contains forward-looking statements. The words or phrases "would be," "will allow," "intends to," "will likely result," "are expected to," "will continue," "is anticipated," "estimate," "project," or similar expressions are intended to identify "forward-looking statements." Actual results could differ materially from those projected in American Green’s and/or Greenhouse Solutions’ ("the Company" or “the Companies”) business plan(s). The joint venture for the use of CBDs should not be construed as an indication in any way whatsoever of the future value of the Company’s common stock or its present or future financial condition. The Company’s filings may be accessed at the SEC’s Edgar system. Statements made herein are as of the date of this press release and should not be relied upon as of any subsequent date. The Company cautions readers not to place reliance on such statements. Unless otherwise required by applicable law, we do not undertake, and we specifically disclaim any obligation, to update any forward-looking statements to reflect occurrences, developments, unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statement.

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Mr. Stephen Shearin
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1221 W Warner Rd Suite 103
Tempe, AZ 85284
(480) 443-1600

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Mitch McConnell’s Love Affair with Hemp How the Kentucky senator picked a fight with the DEA and became one of Washington’s top drug policy reformers.

Last May, a shipment of 250 pounds of hemp seeds left Italy destined for Kentucky as part of a pilot project made legal by the 2013 federal farm bill. Kentucky farmers had long hoped for a crop that could fill the void left by the decline of tobacco, and many thought that industrial hemp, which is used in a vast array of products, could be that crop.

The hemp seeds cleared customs in Chicago, but when the cargo landed at the UPS wing of Louisville International Airport, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized it, arguing that importing hemp seeds required an import permit, which could take six months to process. If farmers couldn’t get those seeds into the ground by June 1, the entire first year of the hemp pilot program would be dashed.

The DEA would have succeeded in blocking the seeds from reaching Kentucky farmers and university researchers but for the efforts of the state’s agricultural commissioner, who sued the agency and, most improbably, Mitch McConnell.

McConnell—then the Senate’s minority leader—worked furiously to free the seeds from the DEA’s clutches and continued the pro-hemp drumbeat throughout 2014, as he campaigned for reelection. This year, as Senate majority leader, he’s taken a further step by co-sponsoring the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. While the farm bill carved out an exception to allow hemp cultivation in Kentucky, the 2015 bill would remove hemp entirely from the list of drugs strictly regulated by the Controlled Substances Act. It would, in essence, legalize hemp production in the United States.

“We are laying the groundwork for a new commodity market for Kentucky farmers,” McConnell told me. “And by exploring innovative ways to use industrial hemp to benefit a variety of Kentucky industries, the pilot programs could help boost our state’s economy and lead to future jobs. … I look forward to seeing industrial hemp prosper in the Commonwealth.”

Yes, Mitch McConnell said that. About hemp.

To grasp how McConnell—the quintessential establishment Republican—came to champion industrial hemp, you must first understand the economics and internal politics of Kentucky, as well as McConnell’s relationship to Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul. It’s also helpful to know that close to $500 million worth of hemp products produced by Canada and other countries is already sold in the United States through such stores as Whole Foods. McConnell’s move also has potential ramifications beyond the marketplace, providing a credible threat to the Controlled Substances Act since it was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970.

“The fact that Majority Leader McConnell is a co-sponsor of a hemp bill shows how fast the politics are changing on this issue,” said Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit group that favors reform. (Bill Piper should not be confused with Billy Piper, former McConnell chief of staff and current K Street lobbyist).

***

The story of how Mitch McConnell evolved on the hemp issue began in 2010. Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, was running to replace the retiring Jim Bunning in the U.S. Senate and spent much of the primary season blasting McConnell, who not only represented the establishment but also supported a different Republican candidate. The McConnell-Paul relationship changed dramatically after Paul prevailed in the primary and McConnell vigorously stepped in to support him in the general election against the Democratic nominee, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.

The bond only grew when Paul came to the Senate in 2011. Paul encouraged McConnell to consider the hemp issue because it was favored by conservatives and Tea Party types, according to two sources familiar with those discussions. McConnell listened.

The other Kentucky Republican who played a role in McConnell’s evolution was Jamie Comer, the state’s newly minted agriculture commissioner. In August 2012, Comer held a news conference before the 49th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast—a big shindig on the Kentucky politics circuit—to announce that legalization of hemp in the state would be his No. 1  priority in the next legislative session. Paul and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, another Kentucky Republican, were there to support Comer; each later testified in support of Comer’s measure before the state Senate agriculture committee in February 2013, along with Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville.

“I engaged with Jamie Comer,” Yarmuth told me. “He reached out to me. From the beginning it’s been a bipartisan thing.”

In Washington, D.C., McConnell was approached multiple times from hemp supporters back home. After the fourth such approach, the senior senator from Kentucky turned to his chief of staff, Josh Holmes, and said, “We’ve got to look into this.”

***

If, like the average U.S. senator, you are unfamiliar with the botany of the cannabis plant, here’s a quick primer:

For starters, hemp is sometimes referred to as marijuana’s “cousin,” which is an unhelpful metaphor because hemp and marijuana are actually the same species, Cannabis sativa. They are simply different strains, and they are cultivated and harvested in different ways.

The cannabis plant is dioecious, which means its male and female flowers grow on different plants. This is unusual: Dioecious species—including gingkoes, willows and a few others—make up only 6 percent of all flowering plants.

Hemp is produced after the male plant fertilizes the females—something that happens almost immediately once the plants flower. Marijuana, on the other hand, is produced from the unfertilized flower of the female plant. A person interested in growing marijuana wants only female plants; a plant that shows signs of male flowers is plucked immediately, before it can mature and pollinate the females around it.

Pollen contamination is one of the chief concerns of marijuana growers, legal and illegal, because as soon as a female flower becomes pollinated, she stops making her THC-rich resin and begins focusing entirely on seed production. (Hemp is defined by Kentucky law as containing less than 0.3 percent THC; unfertilized marijuana flowers could have THC levels of 20 percent or more.)

For decades, the law enforcement lobby has peddled anti-hemp talking points that just didn’t add up. During the 2013 farm bill debate, the DEA asserted that, “It can be extremely difficult to distinguish cannabis grown for industrial purposes from cannabis grown for smoking. This is especially true if law enforcement is attempting to make this determination without entering the premises on which the plants are being grown.”

James Higdon is a freelance writer based in Louisville and author of The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History. He can be reached at @jimhigdon. Full disclosure: His father, Jimmy Higdon, is a Republican state senator in the Kentucky state legislature.

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Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/03/mitch-mcconnell-hemp-115671.html#ixzz3TKOJY7Z0

Southern Oregon medical marijuana growers fear industrial hemp could ruin their crops

 

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Southern Oregon marijuana growers want to ban industrial hemp production from the region out of fear that hemp may pollinate their crops and render them worthless.

Some outdoor marijuana growers want industrial hemp cultivation to be limited to eastern Oregon – far from their lucrative marijuana crops. At the very least, they don’t want hemp in Josephine, Jackson and Douglas counties.

Compared to Oregon’s marijuana legalization movement, the effort to launch an industrial hemp industry in Oregon has been an understated one propelled by a small but passionate group of advocates. When one of them, Edgar Winters, of Eagle Point, got a permit this month to grow industrial hemp on 25 acres in the heart of the state’s outdoor marijuana growing region, his neighbors were alarmed.

Allowing industrial hemp in an area known for churning out high-grade marijuana could undermine the industry, growers argue.

"You don’t come into the middle of cannabis growing country and try to put up a hemp farm unless you don’t know about it, unless you really don’t know how far hemp pollen can travel," said Casey Branham, a Jackson County medical marijuana grower who supports industrial hemp but wants it grown elsewhere in the state.

"It basically makes the medicine worthless," he said.

Branham and his neighbors worry hemp pollen will find its way to their unpollinated female cannabis flowers, known as sensimilla, slowing their growth and leading to seeds. The result: weak, seedy marijuana.

"No one will buy seeded flowers, period," said Cedar Grey, a Williams medical marijuana grower. "The flower market is so competitive these days. You have to have world-class flowers. Anything that is seeded is reminiscent of the 1960s or pot from Mexico. No one is interested in that at all."

And it’s not just southern Oregon’s outdoor marijuana growers who are worried about hemp’s implications. Portland’s indoor marijuana growers worry about hemp pollen drifting into their warehouses through ventilation systems or being tracked into their operations on workers’ shoes.

Shane McKee, a medical marijuana grower who owns two Portland dispensaries, said the potential complications posed by industrial hemp have caught cannabis growers by surprise.

"Nobody really saw the repercussions," said McKee.

Hemp and marijuana are different types of the same species, Cannabis sativa. But hemp lacks marijuana’s most coveted component: THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. In hemp’s case, the gene that fires up marijuana’s high THC production is essentially turned off. So while hemp’s sturdy stalks provide fiber for textiles and its seeds can be added to yogurt and smoothies, the plant is a lousy choice for people seeking marijuana’s high.

Anndrea Hermann, a hemp advocate who lives in Canada and teaches a course on the crop at Oregon State University, said marijuana growers’ concerns are legitimate.

"Is there a risk? Yes, there is a risk to the marijuana growers," said Hermann, who also serves as president of the Hemp Industries Association and owns a hemp products company. "And I will tell you it’s a hard pill to swallow."

Winters is the first to obtain a license to grow industrial hemp from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Another three people have applied, said Ron Pence, operations manager for commodity inspection for the agency, which oversees the state’s new industrial hemp program.

Pence said the agency has authority to limit where some agricultural crops, such as rapeseed, are cultivated. But it does not have that authority when it comes to industrial hemp.

"It would need a legislative fix," he said.

Oregon lawmakers have taken note of marijuana growers’ objections. Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, said growers peppered his office with emails once Winters’ plans became public. He said lawmakers are exploring potential solutions to protect both crops.

"Nobody wants one crop to endanger another crop," he said.

Oregon’s robust outdoor marijuana growing culture sets it apart from places like Kentucky, which also has a state hemp program. Oregon’s outdoor growers are organized, have an attorney and even a lobbyist. While Kentucky’s agriculture officials are enthusiastic boosters of industrial hemp, marijuana remains illegal.

"Marijuana growers are not so vocal" in Kentucky, said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a national hemp advocacy group. "They are not in a position to be able to call up their legislators to ask for a bill protecting their crops."

Winters, for his part, doesn’t see a major problem cultivating hemp near marijuana crops. He said the growing cycle for hemp is shorter than the one for outdoor marijuana and that an earlier harvest means it would not pose a threat to cannabis.

"It’s been doable all over the world," said Winters, who’s also a medical marijuana grower. "People have misconceptions about industrial hemp."

He said marijuana growers need more "education and training and knowledge" about hemp and that he plans to meet with outdoor growers to address their concerns.

He said he’s received strong criticism from marijuana growers and even personal threats since word of his plan spread.

"It’s a viable crop," he said. "There is no way we are going to be forced out of the county. I can tell you that. We are here to stay."

— Noelle Crombie

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Colorado Hemp Farmers Cultivate American Jobs Without Federal Approval

Some people want you to believe that the federal government cannot be effectively defied, but farmers in Colorado are proving them wrong.

While Colorado may be in the headlines for their marijuana legalization experiment, that is not the only issue in which they are effectively nullifying federal law. They are taking action against the federal industrial hemp ban as well. A Denver Post report, Colorado’s first legal hemp crop comes in amid constraints by fed laws, elaborates on this booming industry:

Legal hurdles aside, advocates are passionate about hemp’s commercial potential. The most common uses are food products and cosmetics derived from seeds and seed oil. Fiber from the stalks of hemp plants are used in clothing and industrial applications, including as a strengthening agent in concrete.

2014 marked the first year of state-authorized hemp cultivation in Colorado. About 30 growers filed applications to plant a total of 1,811 acres. But because state law does not yet require detailed reporting, no statistics exist on how much actually was planted and subsequently harvested.

Industrial hemp growers in Colorado face the possibility of prosecution for operating in violation of federal law. Still, in heroic acts of civil disobedience, they work to unleash a cash crop on society that could conceivably provide jobs and prosperity for thousands of people. Their bravery makes the feds deal with open defiance of their laws, and facilitates the effort to reform antiquated public policy toward success.

On marijuana, the feds pretty much waved the white flag of surrender. They ‘allowed’ Colorado and other states to legalize, after the states had already chosen to do so without asking for federal permission. This capitulation allows the feds to spin marijuana legalization like it is their reform, and that they deserve partial credit. In reality, it was decisive action taken by the states that forced the feds to cede power and accept inevitable reform. It worked on marijuana legalization, and it is starting to work on industrial hemp too.

The feds have already started to give up on industrial hemp prohibition as well. Last year’s farm bill contained provisions allowing states to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes only. But, Colorado farmers are proceeding with commercial cultivation without a federal rubber-stamp of approval. Some farmers in SE Colorado even started cultivating industrial hemp before receiving the go-ahead from their state government! This the kind of bold, fearless approach that is needed to show the government who’s boss, and press the issue until eventual reforms are enacted.

So what are you waiting for? Non-compliance has got the feds on the run. Our Hemp Freedom Act is a government jobs bill that can work – by simply limiting the federal government’s negative impact on our economy! Get an initiative going now, and we can push back at the state level against the feds and their illogical prohibition on industrial hemp. Fight to bring a sustainable industry back to America, and subvert unconstitutional federal power today!

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Dr. Bronner’s Year-End Report from the Front Lines of the Fight for Cannabis Reform and GMO Labeling

Both cannabis policy reform and the movement to label genetically engineered foods in the United States made huge strides in 2014. Major battles were won, some narrowly lost, but ultimately victory is inevitable. Our company Dr. Bronner’s has devoted significant financial, staff and other organizational resources to both movements, and it is instructive to analyze them side by side.

First on the cannabis front, 2014 saw victories in DC (Measure 71: 70 to 30), Oregon (Measure 91: 56 to 44) and Alaska (Measure 2: 53 to 47), continuing the incredible momentum from victories in Washington (Initiative 502: 55 to 45) and Colorado (Amendment 64: 55 to 45) in 2012, themselves set up by the narrow loss in California in 2010 (Prop 19: 47 to 53) that triggered the first serious national and international debate on ending cannabis prohibition. Only Florida “lost” with 58% of votes in favor of medical marijuana, 2% short of the needed 60% (Measure 2). As most Huffington Post readers understand, by any rational measure of analysis marijuana use is much less problematic than alcohol, while its prohibition has caused untold harm to otherwise productive nonviolent citizens and their families, wasting taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources.

Dr. Bronner’s Director of Social Action, Adam Eidinger, was campaign manager for the successful Yes on 71 campaign in DC. Adam and Dr. Malik Burnett of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) alongside other stellar staff, ran an incredible campaign educating local voters as well as the country’s political elites nationally that prohibition is an unjust racist policy that disproportionately impacts communities of color. Despite blacks and whites using cannabis at similar rates, DC arrests over 8 times more black people than white people for cannabis possession. Saddling a young man with jail time and a record obviously compromises one’s future as well as tears families apart. Dr. Bronner’s contributed $100,000 directly to the campaign and $100,000 to Drug Policy Alliance, earmarked to help power Dr. Burnett’s crucial work there.

Dr. Bronner’s also contributed $100,000 each to Oregon’s effort led by the New Approach team, as well as the Marijuana Policy Project’s (MPP) effort in Alaska. The contribution to MPP for Alaska was arguably much more crucial given the relatively small overall budget and closeness of the race in a traditionally red state. However, we also gave $2 million to the Oregon Yes on 92 GMO labeling campaign, that coordinated closely with the marijuana campaign in registering and driving the youth vote, that benefitted both campaigns tremendously.

The Nation published a great article the week prior to the election that nails competing dynamics in play in the cannabis legalization movement. DC was the first legalization campaign to run primarily on a racial justice platform, and absolutely crushed it. Alaska’s campaign was based on the MPP “safer than alcohol” playbook that won in Colorado, while Oregon was run on the similar “New Approach” strategy that won in Washington state. Clearly there’s more than one way to win the fight for legalization. Looking forward to California and the four to five other states in play in 2016 we can draw from the best of all these efforts. California in particular will be important to write the model regulations that we want reflected at the national level, which will happen soon after the wins in 2016.

While the Oregon and Alaska victories are sweet indeed, victory in DC for us was the sweetest. In the recent Congressional “cromnibus” spending bill debate, the crushing DC victory helped open room for riders to pass into law that prohibit the DEA from interfering with state medical marijuana programs as well as state industrial hemp programs. These are huge long-sought victories for the movement, and Americans for Safe Access (ASA) deserves most of the credit for successfully passing the medical marijuana rider via majority vote in the Republican house over the summer. Dr. Bronner’s has been a longtime supporter of ASA, having given close to $700,000 over the past ten years. Dr. Bronner’s has also been closely involved in efforts to re-commercialize industrial hemp farming, being a longtime supporter of Vote Hemp as well as recently being a crucial partner to the amazing efforts in Kentucky that have inspired the entire Kentucky federal delegation, including Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul, to publicly support and help make hemp farming a reality in the United States again.

Unfortunately though, DC legalization itself seemed to be the sacrificial lamb in the spending bill debate, with Congress attempting to block implementation of DC’s legalization initiative. However, DC has been so galvanized by the overwhelming mandate and outraged by Congressional meddling, that they are challenging Congress to a showdown that Congress is highly unlikely to win, and legalization will be the law of the land in DC come January. The Guardian provided a great overview of this latest struggle in their “Capital v Capitol” story. The high profile national and international political theatre of DC standing up to Congress for its right to determine its own cannabis policy is incredible.

What also makes the victory in DC extra special for Dr. Bronner’s, is that Washington Post Magazine ran a frustrating cover story on our own Adam Eidinger in January, and editorialized against Yes on 71 with weak, out of touch drug war hysteria in September. Back in January, I wrote an unpublished letter to the editor standing up for Adam and our advocacy work, which the 2014 election has now vindicated.

My January 2014 Washington Post Magazine letter to the editor:

Your cover story on local DC activist Adam Eidinger chose to inaccurately portray him as an ineffective Don Quixote figure, belittling the causes he fights for as well as our company. As explained to the reporter, we cap executive compensation at five times that of the lowest paid warehouse worker, and no profits are distributed to owners for personal use. Profits not needed for business development are dedicated to the causes we support.

Adam is closely involved in how we strategically deploy resources to reform draconian drug laws that disproportionately target people of color; notably Washington, D.C. has the highest arrest rate for low level marijuana violations. Adam has also effectively helped build the national movement to label genetically engineered food crops. We are fighting the chemical industry machine that has enthralled much of our country’s elites, to expose their agenda to engineer resistance to the toxic chemical herbicides they sell (Google “Agent Orange Corn” to see what’s coming next).

There were moments when Adam’s true stature was portrayed, but ultimately was undermined by a shallow and frivolous anti-activist caricature.

As a sign of the political and cultural turning of the tide, it’s also worth noting that the New York Times called for ending cannabis prohibition nationally in a series of well-written editorials over the summer.

Pivoting to the fight for GMO labeling, the movement in its modern resurgent form is only a few years old, driven largely by widespread and growing alarm at ever-increasing amounts of toxic pesticides applied to genetically engineered crops. See for example Tom Philpott’s article “How GMOs Unleashed a Pesticide Gusher” in Mother Jones. Over 99% of GMO crops in US soil are engineered to produce insecticide and/or tolerate heavy herbicide use, which like overdosing antibiotics in factory farms has rapidly created resistance in target weed and insect populations. GMO crops are being saturated with ever more toxic pesticides, including neonicotinoid insecticides banned in the EU due to suspected link to massive bee die-offs and Colony Collapse Disorder. While this is great for the chemical industry that both sells the GMOs and the pesticides used on them, our environment and collective health are paying the price. 64 other countries have the right to know if their food is genetically engineered, but the chemical and junk food industry have spent tens of millions of dollars to make sure Americans are kept in the dark.

In the face of record spending by pesticide and junk food companies, the GMO labeling movement gained huge momentum and strength from narrow losses to enact mandatory GMO labeling in California in 2012 (Prop 37: 49 to 51) and Washington in 2013 (Initiative 522: 49 to 51), and set up major victories in 2014. In May, Vermont became the first state to enact mandatory labeling, and Jackson county in Oregon banned planting of GMO crops due to GMO sugarbeet pollen contaminating and ruining neighboring fields (Measure 15-119: 66 to 34). Maui also banned genetically engineered crops because of massive pesticide spraying (See Maui County Genetically Modified Organism Moratorium Initiative: 51 to 49). And statewide in Oregon, the Yes on 92 campaign came within five hundredths of one percent of winning (Measure 92: 49.97 to 50.03), showing friend and foe alike how easily we can win in a bigger 2016 presidential electorate. An underfunded effort in Colorado did not fare well, unfortunately, but it serves as an important movement lesson for 2016.

Dr. Bronner’s was a leading financial contributor to all these efforts, and also devoted significant staff time and other organizational resources, especially to the Oregon effort. Two great articles to review in particular are Katie Ayers’ “Oregon Poised to Mandate GMO Labeling” in Reader Supported News that really dives into the heart of the matter; and also this thorough piece in the Register Guard “Even If Defeated GMO Issue Is Not Going Away.”

Vermont, Jackson county and Maui are all currently being sued by the pesticide and junk food industries, and these industries are frantically lobbying Congress to pre-empt states’ rights to enact mandatory labeling of GMOs. They know that the nationwide movement to label GMOs continues to surge and grow in strength even as their major GMO traits continue to fail and pesticide use goes through the roof. The USDA audits chemical inputs every five years for major crops, and in spring of 2015 will publish updated data on herbicide and insecticide use on GMO corn that will force even the most biased journalists and scientists to confront the truth that GMOs amount to a massive pesticide industry boondoggle that is not boosting yields.

I published a popular Huffington Post blog article about major mainstream media publications running interference and covering for the pesticide industry even as EPA and USDA rubber-stamped approval for their next generation 2,4 D herbicide tolerant crops. We expect, as with the movement arc of ending cannabis prohibition, that more and more major media will wake up and get a clue; but those that don’t are just another obstacle on the way to inevitable victory.

The bottom line is, the GMO labeling movement is on fire and surging. We will likely prevail in one to two New England states legislatively in 2015, and as necessary in a major state in 2016 via the initiative process, as we keep bringing a bigger, better and more strategic fight. Like the narrow loss on the cannabis front with Prop 19 in 2010 in California, which educated and moved the debate forward setting up subsequent victories in 2012, the GMO labeling movement is poised to rack up major wins in 2016. But we are as likely to achieve victory through the market by 2016, as we are unleashing and fueling major cultural and market drivers and expect more and more food companies to flip and accept mandatory labeling just as they did in Europe. Chipotle is already disclosing and moving away from GMOs, as is Cheerios, Grape Nuts and other high profile brands. Whole Foods is mandating GMO labeling of all products by 2018 in its stores and many major mainstream retailers have refused to carry GMO salmon if or when approved.

Our experience with the movement to end cannabis prohibition over the past 15 years shows how much faster and stronger the modern movement to label GMOs is growing in a much shorter time. People are waking up that we have to transform our agricultural policies and dietary choices and eat more sustainably if we want to feed future generations, which requires as a first step that citizens are properly informed and empowered to make wise choices.

More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-bronner/dr-bronners-yearend-repor_b_6357178.html

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