Steering 3-D Printing into Hemp ConstructionRead More
by DJ Reetz
Depending on whom you ask, hemp-based construction is either the savior of the world, or an impractical dream. The process of mixing milled hemp stalks with lime to create a concrete-like substance has seen some success, but the process remains costly, and the resulting hempcrete is not a true substitute for traditional concrete. A recent proposal to create 3D printed structures made of hempcrete may be addressing at least some of these detractions. The idea has gained attention after winning both the judges’ choice and popular choice award at the MIT Climate CoLab, a crowd-sourced scientific contest aimed at mitigating the impacts of global climate change.
The proposal was put forward by The Ancient Future Mystery People’s Pirate Academy, an organization aimed at empowering the population with locally sourced, environmentally friendly solutions to many of the problems facing the world. Naturally, these goals are well-met through hemp.
“I’d heard of hemp, and I knew that it was cool. I knew it was kind of like pot; I didn’t really know the difference that well,” says Chad Knutsen, the founder and self-described Captain of the Pirate Academy. Knutsen says he was first introduced to the enormous potential of hemp by a friend he met during the Occupy L.A. protests. His travels soon took him to Belize, where working to create an eco-community further exposed him to the potential of hemp. “Right away it became obvious that it was the plant that we needed in the world today to solve so many problems in so many industries. We can turn so much waste into abundance,“ he says. Utilizing hemp would allow for local control of materials, empowerment for farmers, and the wrestling of some control away from government officials. However, hemp farming was illegal in Belize, and the quest lead Knutsen to Colorado.
One of the more noteworthy aspects to come out of the time Knutsen spent in Belize was a unique milling system, which remains an integral part of the CoLab proposal to create hempcrete blocks that can be assembled into homes in a similar fashion to Lego bricks. “With our milling system we’re not using any friction, we’re not using heat, and we’re using very, very little energy,” says Knutsen. Using a patented mill design, pieces of hemp stalk are suspended in fluid then hit with a resonating vibration that breaks the material into extremely small pieces. “It literally vibrates the cells apart and pulls everything apart along natural molecular boundaries,” he says. The process creates micronized particles that have a larger net active surface area, allowing them to form a better bond with the lime particles and create a stronger material. It’s a process that benefits any material put through the milling process, and Knutsen claims that conventional flour refined in this method will have a drastically increased shelf life thanks to the preservation of its cellular structure. The added micronization of the milling can also increase the strength of traditional concrete, says Knutsen.
When used as outlined by the proposal, the resulting hempcrete is denser, heavier, and more importantly, sturdier than traditional forms. This means the hempcrete blocks that are produced can potentially be load-bearing, unlike more traditional forms, which can only be used as filling in a support structure’s frame. The micronized particles also have the added benefit of reducing the time required for the hempcrete to cure, cutting it by half or even two thirds, says Knutsen. “That’s what we’re trying to make possible, making it lighter than normal cement, but maintaining the beneficial properties that hempcrete brings.” Under the proposal, hempcrete blocks will be either printed or poured into molds that have been created using a 3D printer. The blocks will be similar in structure to bone, though on a much larger scale, with material occupying only the areas required to maintain structural integrity. “Either way we go, the 3D printing is a necessary element for creating this style of blocks. But we don’t necessarily plan to 3D print houses every time,” he says.
The resulting material maintains the carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative effect that hempcrete is known for, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere as the hemp grows and continuing this process as the hempcrete petrifies. Additionally, the process of 3D printing, which allows for what Knutsen calls “waste-less construction,” compounds the environmental benefit. Unlike traditional construction methods, material is created in the exact amount needed, avoiding the waste of excess lumber that is seen in traditional home construction. The process also allows for a more mobile construction template. Using a portable mill and the pre-rendered molds, a structure can be constructed anywhere that hemp is grown. “Anyone that has hemp can build a house right on site, without having to leave their property,” says Knutsen.
While the current model relies heavily on hempcrete blocks, Knutsen says he would like to eventually adapt it to create structures using lighter, more durable hemp plastics. “That’s really the end goal, having a super modular, simple form of construction that would last hundreds of years once it’s built,” he says. For the time being, such an idea is still a ways off. Currently, Knutsen is working with hemp producers in Colorado to try and create a verifiable proof of concept. There are certainly still barriers to break, and Knutsen anticipates that the biggest challenge won’t come from the legal status of hemp. “The biggest obstacle is really not regulatory,” he says. “The issue really is the fact that the concrete industry is really one of the most cemented industries — no pun intended — in the world.”
“Our big mission is to start helping people think about the long game,” Knutsen says. “If we can get our society to stop just planning for their lifetime, then I think that’s going to be a really key goal in determining if we’re going to survive as a species.”
Hemp Earth’s Founder Has Soaring Aspirations for the First Hemp PlaneRead More
by DJ Reetz
Hemp is taking flight, literally. The versatile crop is getting a new opportunity to soar thanks to a project from Hemp Earth. The idea: create an airplane made primarily of hemp.
“I wanted come up with something to draw a lot of attention to what we were doing, and to hemp,” says Derek Kesek, founder of Hemp Earth. The project, still in the funding and developmental stage, is attracting a bit of buzz these days, and that’s precisely the intention of doing something this bombastic.
“I discovered no one had ever built a plane of this scale from hemp,” says Kesek. After founding Hemp Earth in 2012, Kesek began to look for opportunities to make headlines with hemp. Already an experienced entrepreneur with a socially conscious inclination, he began a foray into the hemp industry with grand ambitions of changing the world.
“I’ve always loved cannabis,” he says. “I just saw a huge opportunity.” The potential growth in the hemp industry offered not just the chance to make money, but to make the world a better place along with it. Kesek sought a way to generate buzz around his company, thinking along the lines of Richard Branson (who he has no problem comparing himself to) creating large-scale publicity by doing something daring and over the top.
“We’re running it similar to Virgin. What I’m doing is I’m building a brand by doing exciting things like building planes and eco-villages out of hemp, then sublicensing out the brand,” says Kesek.
But the wild idea of building a plane out of hemp may have been a little too radical, and when he began shopping the idea to various aeronautical designers he was met with snickers and disbelief.
“Of course they laughed at me at first,” he says. “I guess they didn’t think it could be done. They weren’t really receptive.”
After finding many disbelievers, Kesek finally stumbled upon a company in Florida willing to undertake the endeavor, and he signed them to a contract stipulating that no less than 75 percent of the plane will be made of hemp. The design calls for hemp to be used in the wings, outer shell and interior features such as seats and pillows. It even calls for engines capable of running on hemp bio fuel.
The hemp will provide all the strength of traditional construction materials, says Kesek. “It’s pretty well the same,” he says. The hemp fiber is coated in a natural resin that creates a similar rigidity and strength to fiberglass.
“Basically it’s like building a fiber glass plane, it’s the same kind of method,”
The hemp textile that will make up the outside of the plane is being sourced by Enviro Textiles in Colorado, and in addition to being comparable in strength to fiberglass it comes with the added bonus of being environmentally friendly and will be completely biodegradable along with the resin coating.
“If it did just fall into the bush, then it would just go into the ground and not affect the planet,” says Kesek.
With the plan taking shape, Kesek hopes to have the plane making its debut next spring. And the location of its initial flight is of special significance as it is the site of the first successful flight by the Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
“People that were laughing at me in the beginning are now crawling back,” says Kesek. The goals of Hemp Earth to spread awareness for the wealth of applications of hemp as well as its potential for profit are closer to realization than ever before, and Kesek sees the plane as a tangible demonstration of just what hemp will offer in the near future. “When people talk they’re like, ‘hemp can do this,’ or ‘ hemp will do this.’ No, Hemp is doing this right now,” he says.
While others struggle with dogged legal battles, Kesek sees himself as the action over advocacy type — or rather, action as advocacy. Whether it’s the hemp plane or the planned eco village Kesek is putting together in Costa Rica where he plans to headquarter his company, for him a successful business is the best way to change the world.
“I’m about doing things, I’m not about resisting or fighting,” he says. “Why fight the system? Just start doing stuff.”
Has the Cannabis Revolution Spread to Washington D.C.?Read More
by David Bush, esq.
It is said that revolutions begin in the streets, not in ivory towers. Popular acceptance of cannabis did not start with the federal government, but in spite of it. Twenty-three states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana, while 13 others have legalized limited cannabis extracts for specific therapeutic use. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Twenty-two states have enacted laws regarding industrial hemp. Over a dozen of them have authorized or intend to authorize commercial hemp production.
We are in the midst of a revolution where state governments are telling their citizens that they may engage in conduct that is still federally illegal. The feds continue to view cannabis, all forms of cannabis, as Schedule I Controlled Substances, the worst of the worst. For all intents and purposes, America is facing one of the greatest continuing acts of mass civil disobedience for the greater good since Paul Revere tattled on the British and ruined their police action to subdue the colonies. It is taking time for the folks in Washington to catch up with the rest of us.
But what is cannabis, anyway? What does it have to do with marijuana and industrial hemp?
Marijuana and industrial hemp are the same plant. Both are cannabis. The Genus cannabis finds expression in three nominal species, or sub-species, respectively called sativa, indica and ruderalis. What we commonly refer to as “marijuana” and “industrial hemp” are merely variants of these sub-species. Marijuana varieties tend to have higher concentrations of delta-9-tetranhydrocannabinol (THC), the stuff that gets people high. Industrial hemp does not. The most well known chemical constituent of cannabis other than THC is cannabidiol, or CBD. Because CBD is non-psychoactive, it is commonly associated with industrial hemp. But CBD can be extracted from any variety of cannabis, regardless of THC content.
Most of the current legislative initiatives at the federal level are directed towards legalizing either industrial hemp, or cannabis used for medical purposes. Medical cannabis products are popularly referred to as either “medical marijuana” or “therapeutic hemp,” generally depending upon whether they are used primarily for the benefits of THC or CBD.
Federal law makes no distinction between varieties of cannabis. Under the current version of the Controlled Substances Act, all varieties of the genus cannabis are considered “marihuana,” without regard to THC content. Certain parts of the cannabis plant that lack significant concentrations of THC and are incapable of propagation are excepted. They include sterilized seeds, oil pressed from seeds, seed residue (“cake”) and mature stalks. But because the cannabis plant itself is still considered a controlled substance, its cultivation is still prohibited, even to make legal products. The current annual value of the hemp industry in America exceeds $500 million and expanding. Almost all of that value derives from raw materials imported from enlightened foreign countries, where hemp cultivation is not only permitted, but encouraged. Congress is facing increasing pressure to allow a home-grown cannabis industry, at least for industrial and medical purposes.
The first crack in the federal legislative armor appeared in 2014, with enactment of section 7606 of the Farm Bill, codified as 7 U.S.C. § 5940, and aptly named “Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research.” The Farm Bill authorized state departments of agriculture and institutions of higher education to conduct “agricultural pilot program[s]” and “other agricultural or academic research.” But it permitted research only where the cultivation of hemp was already allowed under state law.
There is a growing movement in Congress to do more. Several proposals have been introduced that will either remove all federal restrictions on industrial hemp, or in the alternative, prevent the federal government from interfering in state-legal industrial hemp activities. Some initiatives extend to marijuana. Four such proposals are discussed below.
The bluntest instrument that Congress can wield in the struggle to reform cannabis laws is simply to prevent them from being enforced. Three initiatives recently approved in the House of Representatives would deny funding to the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration to interfere with state-legal cannabis activities. The initiatives came in the form of amendments to H.R. 2578, an appropriations bill for the Departments of Commerce and Justice for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The first amendment protects state-legal industrial hemp farming. The second guards industrial hemp research and development carried out under the Farm Bill. The third prohibits federal interference with the possession, distribution or use of CBD in states where it is legal. These measures do nothing to change the legal status of cannabis and, if signed into law, would last only as long as the fiscal year. But they are a step in the right direction.
Industrial Hemp Farming Act
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in both the House (HR 525) and Senate (S 134). It seeks to create an exception under the Controlled Substances Act for industrial hemp, which is defined as cannabis with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. HR 525 has 56 co-sponsors, including 37 Democrats and 19 Republicans. S 134 has six co-sponsors, two Democrats and four Republicans.
Therapeutic Hemp (Charlotte’s Web) Medical Access Act
Like the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, the Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act (HR 1635) and the Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act (S 1333) aim to carve industrial hemp out of the Controlled Substances Act. But they coined a new term for industrial hemp by calling it a “cannabidiol-rich plant.” Curiously, the term is defined in the same way that industrial hemp is defined in the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, without any reference to CBD concentration. “Cannabidiol” is defined as CBD extracted from a “cannabidiol-rich plant.” Any CBD produced from marijuana varieties continues to be considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance. The bill would effectively grant industrial hemp growers a monopoly in the rapidly growing market for CBD products.
Respect State Marijuana Law Act
The simplest and undeniably the most radical proposal currently before Congress is HR 1940, called the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015.” The bill would render the Controlled Substances Act inapplicable to “any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.” It would effectively force federal recognition and acceptance of any state law legitimizing recreational marijuana, medical marijuana and industrial and therapeutic hemp. HR 1940 has 11 co-sponsors, six Democrats and five Republicans.
None of the legislative measures described above have been scheduled for hearings in the committees to which they are assigned. Prospects for passage of any them in the 114th Congress are low, but the mere fact that they have been introduced with bipartisan support and multiple co-sponsors is cause for optimism and hope. The federal government has not yet caught up with the rest of America in declaring its self-destructive drug wars at an end. Legitimate cannabis industries in this country are still in their infancy. Reform of our oppressive, illogical and anti-business drug laws still has a very long way to go, but change is coming. Stay tuned.
Hemp PhoenixRead More
by DJ Reetz
Up a winding mountain road, hidden among the charred pines left behind by the High Park fire, an otherwise innocuous construction site surrounds a cabin being built. Here, in the foothills outside of Ft. Collins, this particular cabin carries a distinction from the others in the area that share its sweeping views over the small town of Laporte and out to the plains, this one is being made using hemp.
“It’s practically impervious to everything,” says Melissa Rabe, CEO of the Loveland Hemp Company that’s providing the materials and one of the small group of people on site, as she pounds on the rough, grey material that makes up the cabin walls.
The modest cabin is constructed from a wooden frame, using the fire-cured standing timber from the surrounding area that gives even the interior space an exterior feel, but the truly noteworthy aspect of the cabin is the otherwise unremarkable grey material that is packed into the frame forming the building’s walls. It’s hemp, mixed with lime to form a sturdy, insulative, stucco-like wall.
“This whole thing will become like one piece of stone,” says Rabe. As the hemp and lime cures, it will absorb the CO2 from the atmosphere, creating a strong, and fire-resistant insulating wall. All it will need is a coat of stucco.
The project began after the landowner made the hard decision to rebuild the cabin he had lost in 2012 during the High Park fire. At the time, the fire was the second largest the state had seen, and homes in this densely forested area stood little chance to withstand the quickly spreading fire driven by high winds. The cabin’s owner, a longtime friend of Rabe’s, had owned the land since 1975, and the loss of his mountain retreat was heart breaking.
“We were able to do stuff up here and enjoy the land before it burned,” says Rabe. “He was very disheartened when it burned.”
Fortunately, Rabe, a hemp advocate and entrepreneur, was in a position to help. While not a strictly charitable endeavor, building the house out of hemp would be an opportunity not just to help a friend, but also to demonstrate the power and applications of hemp.
“On the one hand we’re helping a buddy out,” says Rabe. “On the other hand, it’s to show people what hemp can do. This is really our proof of concept.”
In March of last year construction began and a foundation was set. After some of the nearby dried timbers were lugged over by hand and set in place creating the natural frame, the process of creating the walls began. For this, roughly 8,000 pounds of processed hemp hurd is needed. The hurd is made up of processed hemp stalk and fiber, and looks a bit like wood chips, though it is much softer to the touch and less likely to give you splinters when handled. The hurd is mixed with lime and water in a ratio that is dependant on environmental factors of the area, and up here in the Colorado foothills, extreme cold can give way to blaring sun in a matter of days or even hours. It makes the process tricky, but Rabe says experimentation is key.
The hurd lime mixture is then poured into molds secured between the supports of the house and packed down to ensure it is dense enough. This is also made more difficult by the natural shape of the adjacently sourced wood, which requires the molds to be carefully trimmed to ensure the finished walls will be a uniform nine inches thick. After it has been allowed to cure the hemp is coated in a plaster stucco mix that the team incorporates hemp hurd into as well.
The end result is a sturdy wall that naturally dampens sound, is easily repaired, provides exceptional climate control due to its breathability, and is even resistant to fire.
“It’s a lot like sculpting a house,” says Rabe. “It’s fun, it’s creative.”
“It’s one of those things that’s just really hard to screw up, like an oatmeal cookie,” says Josh Rabe, husband, business partner and construction assistant to Melissa. “It’s a natural building process, you really just have to try it.”
Because of the variable and climate dependent nature of the hemp walls, a lot of builders will be intimidated by the process as there really is no definitive formula to follow, says Josh. But with a bit of experimentation and a willingness to let the process play out organically it really isn’t too hard to figure out, though he says he does recommend retaining an engineer as they have.
For now, the hemp being used comes from foreign sources, which for the time being is about half the cost of the limited amounts of domestic hemp. But Rabe says she foresees a time when the hemp used in these projects is sourced from Kentucky or Colorado.
The process is also more costly than some traditional construction methods due to the increased labor necessary to prepare the hemp walls, and the cost of the lime needed also plays a factor.
But so far, the project is shaping up to be quite a success, and if all goes as planned the cabin should be ready for occupancy this summer.
If you’re interested in learning about hemp construction be sure to check out the upcoming workshop Loveland Hemp Company is putting on June 13. Check out their Facebook page for details.
When it Comes to Hemp the Seeds of Change are Still Hard to Come ByRead More
by DJ Reetz
A year and a half into Colorado’s legal adult-use marijuana sales and the market is rolling along. With shops open and tax dollars pouring in, the marijuana market seems to be living up to the promises made by Amendment 64. But while the psychoactive and medicinal aspects of marijuana are being seen as a success by nearly everyone involved, the promise of domestically produced industrial hemp remains largely unfulfilled.
With no definitive source of seed, farmers in Colorado are still lacking the essential jumping off point to truly get the domestic hemp industry started. With the legal framework already laid out by Colorado’s Amendment 64 and codified federally by the recent passage of the Farm Bill, hemp farming on an agricultural scale remains on the cusp of realization in the state, yet the crucial issue of seed remains tantalizingly out of reach.
“Right now hemp is in the baby stages of certification,” says Rick Novak, Director of Seed Programs at Colorado State University. Currently, CSU is the designated recipient of hemp seed bound for Colorado from recognized foreign sources, where the university’s highly acclaimed agricultural department will begin the process of certifying seed for farmers to use.
For most crops, certified seed is an important facet of commercial farming. Certification means seed is recognized as safe to plant by the Department of Agriculture, indicating the seed has gone through the rigorous testing necessary to ensure it is free of disease and is not carrying any noxious weeds that would potentially overtake a farmer’s crop, and currently no such certification exists for hemp within the United States. This poses a problem for many farmers, who may be years away from being able to purchase and grow such seeds.
For certified seed to become a reality, the first step is importation of seed from recognized sources, such as Canadian and European seed breeders. If ownership and genetic lineage can be tracked, the imported seed begins life in the CSU Foundation Seed Lab, where plants can be tested to ensure they are under the legally mandated .3 percent THC threshold and for any genetic aberrations. Once the seed has been demonstrated to be safe for planting, the foundation level seeds can then be sold to farmers as registered seed, which will then be shipped to farmers all over the state. After successful harvest and inspection, the registered seed will be designated as certified, and can be sold as such, giving farmers access to seed that is demonstrated as viable and safe to plant.
The process is the same for all agricultural crops, the only real difference with hemp being the added regulation of THC levels, says Novak. “It doesn’t happen overnight as some people may think, and hemp won’t be much different,” he says.
For seed to be certified it must have a clearly identified genetic lineage and ownership. The seed must also have a clear variety detail, meaning plants grown from it must be botanically identifiable and unique beyond the simple fiber or seed variations that most people think of when it comes to industrial hemp.
“This is really the issue that the hemp industry has,” says Novak. “The problem going on right now is people have acquired seed from all over the world, we don’t know who owns what variety.”Without this clearly mapped out source, there is no path to certification, so farmers who have already planted and harvested hemp crops from smuggled or wild seed would not ever be able to have their seed certified, says Novak.
“A lot of people think, ‘Well I can go out to Kansas or Nebraska and I can harvest a plant and I can plant that,’” says Novak, but wild hemp will never be certified for this reason, and any seeds generated will never be marketable as such.
If these stringent requirements of ownership and lineage are established, the next step in the certification process is demonstrating to state officials that the seed in question will never yield plants with a THC level above .3 percent by weight when dry. For this, the seed will have to be tested in multiple environments throughout the state, as differing environmental factors can lead to different levels of THC. Test crops will need to be planted at different latitudes and elevations to ensure that the seeds will yield legal plants in any environment, a consequence of the extreme genetic variation within the cannabis species and the varying climate of the state.
When all these factors are considered, the timeline for certified seed to be available to farmers stretches years into the future.
“We know nothing in this state because we haven’t done the testing. Everything is what someone believes,” says Duane Sinning, Assistant Director of Plant Industries and Program Manager for Industrial Hemp with the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “Until we trial it here we really don’t know what’s best.”
“The earliest we could do inspections is minimum two, probably three years,” says Novak. However, Novak and Sinning both agree that if a foreign source could bring their established genetics to Colorado the certification process could be shaved down to two years, provided they are the recognized owners of the seed variety.
“Three years is what I would of told you two weeks ago,” says Sinning. “It could be sooner if somebody can take the risk.”
“In order to get up to speed you’re going to have to attract companies that are willing to do research and development into varieties,” says Novak. “The industry won’t be sustainable for a long period of time if it’s just a bunch of wild plant material.”
“In the mean time there’s nothing stopping [farmers] from growing or selling their crop,” says Novak.
“It doesn’t mean the industry stops, it just means it continues with some testing constraints,” says Sinning.
Some farmers in Colorado are already licensed and growing hemp, albeit without certified seed.
“I think it’s overemphasized,” Alfonso Abeyta, a fourth-generation farmer in the San Luis Valley who sits on the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Hemp Rules and Regulations Board and currently holds a license to grow hemp. Currently, Abeyta is growing uncertified seed, which carries a certain risk. “It’s a gamble it won’t grow,” he says, and it’s also a gamble that what’s being grown will have an acceptably low level of THC. “Right now, what we’re growing we’re testing on a monthly basis,” he says.
The continual testing of THC levels is something farmers wouldn’t have to deal with if they were to grow certified seed, says Sinning. Certified seed would provide not just an assurance of quality, but also allow regulators the assurance of acceptable levels of THC. But without certified seed, farmers are left to contend with regular testing and the possibility of planting a field of unusable and possibly diseased hemp.
“That’s a really scary part for farmers currently,” says Novak. In this regard, having access to certified seed would function as a form of crop insurance, guaranteeing that farmers would be able to grow a crop that they wouldn’t have to cut down prematurely due to rising THC levels as the plants develop. It would also mean a lesser burden on regulators, who wouldn’t be compelled to inspect crops, according to Sinning.
“If you’re growing certified seed you don’t have to worry about that,” says Sinning. “On a whole different level it means that the seed is free of noxious weeds and disease. It’s really to provide some safety for all other agriculture in the state […] Nothing would be worse than hemp having a pest and moving that around the state,” he says. “That would be a huge black eye for the industry.”
While farmers and agricultural scientists may view hemp as just another potential crop, the newly legal status of hemp poses some obvious challenges.
“It is a slow process, and really it’s because the DEA are used to drugs and they view this as a drug,” says Sinning. Problems with the importation of hemp seed have delayed the process, says Sinning, and that could push back large-scale industrial hemp farming. As of this writing there were no imported seeds held by the Colorado Department of Agriculture according to Sinning, which means nothing that would be headed to CSU to be used as foundation seed and nothing to be sold to farmers for registration and eventual certification.
However, the chokepoint of DEA oversight has been cleared, according to Sinning, and It’s just a matter of the routine inspection by Customs and Border Control officials for pests, disease and other potential biological contaminants.
“It’s going through the same checks as any other seed would,” says Sinning.
With any luck, the seed will have cleared these checks and already be in the ground by the time this article is in newsstands and the arduous process of crating reliable, certified hemp seed will have begun.
“There are still many hurdles to clear,” says Sinning. Hopefully the largest of these hurdles has been cleared, and domestically produced hemp on a truly agricultural scale will be possible in the next several years.
Biorefinery Technology Developer PureVision To Pursue Industrial Hemp Biorefining—Creates PureHempRead More
FORT LUPTON, Colo. – March 12, 2015 – PureVision Technology, Inc., a Colorado-based biorefinery technology developer, announced today that it has formed a subsidiary company to promote and develop industrial hemp biorefineries.
The subsidiary, PureHemp Technology LLC, has obtained exclusive rights to the PureVision biorefining technology for processing industrial hemp into traditional and never-before-produced products.
On behalf of PureHemp, PureVision is conducting a robust pre-commercialization program—using its laboratories and pilot plant and a milestone-based approach—to target a path to profitable commercial-scale hemp biorefineries.
PureVision’s patented refining technology takes in raw biomass—like corn stalks, wheat straw, or, in PureHemp’s case, industrial hemp—and produces sugars, pulp, and lignin for making hundreds of bio-products. PureVision’s process has advanced from proof of concept, to bench scale, to an operating one-half-ton-per-day continuous pilot plant at the company’s Fort Lupton headquarters.
The company has processed many different biomass feedstocks for global clients, most recently conducting initial trials on industrial hemp.
“The PureHemp initiative offers new business opportunities for farmers, end-product manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and investors,” said Carl Lehrburger, a PureVision and PureHemp cofounder.
“The PureVision technology offers an entirely new way to process industrial hemp into consumer and industrial products,” he said.
“In Colorado, Oregon, and the 19 other states permitted to grow industrial hemp, we’re seeing increasing awareness and interest by farmers and skyrocketing demand for hemp-based products. Emerging products include food supplements and sweeteners, specialty chemicals, papers and tissues, plastics, lightweight composites, and the many other products that can be sustainably made from the hemp plant.”
Presently, nearly all the hemp seeds, oil, and fiber imported to the United States are from countries like Canada and China.
Current practices of cultivating and harvesting industrial hemp result in significant underutilization of the whole plant. The traditional applications of industrial hemp are fiber for rope and textiles, pulp for paper, and seeds for oils for food products and animal feed. Once fiber and seeds are removed, the remainder of the plant is often underutilized.
PureHemp plans to revolutionize the existing global hemp industry by uniquely converting more of the plant to value-added raw materials and products. New products that can be produced from industrial hemp include beverages, plastics, chemicals, and sweeteners.
“The emergence of a new generation of hemp products, along with the U.S. trend toward legalizing industrial hemp cultivation, are driving forces behind the creation of PureHemp,” Lehrburger said.
About PureHemp Technology
A wholly owned subsidiary of PureVision Technology LLC, PureHemp Technology LLC’s mission is to commercialize PureVision’s biorefinery technology for converting industrial hemp to sugars, lignin, pulp, and many hemp-based products. Industrial hemp is the world's premier renewable resource, approximately four times richer in biomass/cellulose per acre than nearest rivals: corn stalks, sugarcane, kenaf. The 2014 Farm Bill allowed pilot programs of hemp cultivation by universities and agencies in states where hemp is legal: 10 at the time including Colorado, and now 21. The bill defines industrial hemp as Cannabis sativa L. “with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis." By contrast, marijuana—a variety of the same plant—has THC levels of five to 20 percent. Canada lifted its ban on industrial hemp in 1998; now, a billion-dollar industry there and a growing piece of worldwide annual production, approximately 123 million pounds in 2014.
About PureVision Technology
PureVision Technology, Inc. is developing an advanced biorefining technology platform for converting nonfood biomass—straw, corn husks, industrial hemp—to biomaterials like sugar, pulp, and lignin for producing bio-based consumer and industrial products. Bio-based products from PureVision sugars include ethanol, polymers, and biodegradable/renewable plastics. Value-added co-products from the unique PureVision lignin biomaterial include carbon fiber for making lightweight composites. Nonfood biomass, or cellulosic biomass, refers to wood, grasses, or the inedible parts of plants. Cellulose and lignin are the most common organic (carbon-containing) compounds on earth. Based in Fort Lupton, Colorado, PureVision Technology was founded in 1992 to develop technologies for refining cellulosic biomass. The company remains privately held and is led by its three founders: Ed Lehrburger, Richard Wingerson, and Carl Lehrburger.
The Big Red Nation Goes GreenRead More
by Erin Hiatt
State lawmakers often shy away from growing industrial hemp within their borders, citing its relationship to the psychoactive marijuana plant. The state of Nebraska took a stab at approving industrial hemp but was unsuccessful 13 years ago. During this year’s session, Nebraska State Senator Norm Wallman introduced a bill to allow production and marketing of industrial hemp and it cruised through virtually unopposed, 39-2. It seems the winds in Nebraska have changed. But have they?
Legislative Bill 1001 made the harvest of industrial hemp legal in the Cornhusker state thanks to Provision 7606 in the 2014 Farm Bill President Obama signed. This provision allows for institutions of higher learning, like the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to grow and study industrial hemp without federal interference.
Senator Wallman introduced the bill with the intention of using industrial hemp to streamline and improve crop rotations, but he expanded his views to see that the harvest of industrial hemp could potentially be very lucrative for Nebraska farmers. Timothy Kettler, a soil scientist in the Department of Agronomy & Horticulture at UNL agrees with Wallman, telling The Daily Nebraskan that "crop rotation helps to break disease cycles that can be debilitating to a farmer’s yield. Hemp would provide a new, more profitable plant to rotate in fields."
Some who opposed the bill trotted out the predictable objections, claiming that growing hemp is simply done to disguise marijuana grows and also offering up the "slippery slope" argument, that having industrial hemp crops in Nebraska will be the first step toward a legal cannabis market, like those in Washington and Colorado.
Naysayers may have a few reasonable arguments, however. Nebraska shares their southwestern border with Colorado and nebraska.net reported that Nebraska law enforcement is having a difficult time with Colorado cannabis. Reports paint a picture of legal (in Colorado, that is) marijuana flooding the Nebraska market, law enforcement being diverted from serious drugs like methamphetamine and just generally being run ragged by lack of resources and manpower.
Nebraska Senator Steve Lathrop, who was a full supporter of the bill and debated it on the Senate floor, very thoughtfully reassured the dissenters, saying firmly that "the state of Nebraska is not getting into the business of marijuana like they are in Colorado."
Lathrop continued with his very practical approach saying, "This is actually a commodity. It has certain properties that make it very useful in the manufacturing of a variety of products."
As for addressing those who say you can hide marijuana plants in a hemp field, he says, "If hemp pollinates any nearby marijuana plants, genetically, the result will always be lower-THC marijuana, not higher-THC hemp. This stuff will ruin a marijuana crop if it’s in the same location."
It went through the Senate like a slam-dunk but that hasn’t given the green light for the bill to be put in effect. Last May, hemp.org author Steve Elliott wrote, "Nebraska won’t be harvesting a legal hemp crop this fall, despite the Legislature’s passage of a law allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp for research. State bureaucrats at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture are still working on the rules."
The Department of Agriculture wants to research the industrial hemp programs of other states before moving ahead and adopting rules to support the Farm Bill provision. Agriculture Department spokeswoman Christin Kamm summed it up pretty succinctly, saying in an email to the Lincoln Star, "There will be no hemp research projects initiated under a program this year." A bummer of a stall tactic, but there’s always next spring. Nebraska’s waited 13 years, what’s one more?
July 2014 - Cannabis News Across the GlobeRead More
by John Schroyer
FRENCH WINERY USES HEMP AS BUILDING MATERIAL
The Chateau Maris in Languedoc, France, might be the first of its kind. It’s an otherwise traditional French winery, but its cellar is constructed completely from hemp.
The 9,000-square foot cellar’s building material is just one factor that went into making the entire chateau a net-zero energy operation, complete with a green roof and solar panels. Hemp’s breathability was a perfect match for the winery, since it keeps the inner temperature between 54 degrees and 63 degrees at almost all times, in spite of the weather.
TENNESSEE OPENS DOOR FOR INDUSTRIAL HEMP
One of the most recent states to breach the topic of farming industrial hemp is Tennessee (along with its neighbor, Kentucky), but in The Volunteer State, hemp farmers may have to wade through a lot of red tape in order to sow a single seed.
Under rules proposed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, would-be farmers would have to pony up a $500 license fee. Their crops would be subject to random THC testing. Growers will also have to give the state GPS coordinates for their hemp fields.
Any farmer willing to deal with all the regulations will be able to apply for a license later this year, and begin cultivating hemp in 2015.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN FLORIDA TIGHTLY REGULATED
The Sunshine State Legislature has joined the growing number of states that permit a form of medical marijuana, but Florida’s restrictions are some of the tightest in the nation.
Under the "Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act," smoking marijuana is still illegal, whether it’s for medical reasons or otherwise. The only medical form that’s legal is a cannabidiol extract, an oil that can be used to treat a handful of ailments such as epilepsy, and was made famous by the Charlotte’s Web strain from Colorado. Other patients who will be able to obtain the oil legally include those with cancer and muscle spasm-inducing diseases, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
FLORIDA MILLIONAIRE FUNDING MEDICAL MARIJUANA BALLOT PUSH
Though the Florida Legislature passed a narrow bill permitting medical marijuana for epileptics and cancer patients, cannabis proponents aren’t satisfied. They are pushing ahead with a ballot measure for November that would broaden the medical spectrum of medical conditions that qualify patients for legal marijuana.
But opponents of the measure, also known as Amendment 2, are always quick to note that a lone millionaire is behind most of the funding for the ballot measure campaign.
Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, a prominent Democrat, has given the Amendment 2 campaign more than $4 million to try and expand qualifying conditions to include any "conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient." That means Florida’s cannabis community would start to look more like Colorado’s marijuana scene.
WASHINGTON STATE BOLSTERING CAMPAIGN AGAINST STONED DRIVING
In advance of adult-use marijuana sales beginning this month in Washington, state traffic officials ramped up an anti-DUI campaign targeted at those who smoke marijuana. They want to get the word out that stoned driving will still be punished severely.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission launched an ad campaign with the slogan "Drive high, get a DUI" with 30-second TV spots that feature people who are high and attempting normal tasks. The obvious implication is if you smoke a joint, you’re too stoned to get behind the wheel.
Extra state troopers are out on the highways looking to crack down on stoned drivers. In Washington, a DUI will cost an offender at least one day in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
MARIJUANA BREATHALYZER INVENTED
Cops may soon have a new tool with which to nail drivers who have been toking up. An ex-Canadian Mountie reportedly has helped invent the first-ever marijuana breathalyzer.
Kal Malhi, a former member of the Canadian Mounted Police, told a Vancouver TV station that he and radiologist Dr. Raj Attariwala came up with the "Cannabix Breathalyzer" because law enforcement officials don’t have any other reliable way to tell whether a driver may be stoned.
Though the patent on the device is still pending, according to some reports Malhi and Attariwala are planning on showing their new invention to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Authority.
SMARTPHONE APP ALLOWS MMJ HOME DELIVERY
If you’ve ever heard that saying, "There’s an app for that," this one takes it to a new level. If you live in Washington state, you have a medical marijuana card, and you want to get marijuana delivered to your home, there’s an app for that.
The new app, called "Canary," is the brainchild of University of Washington students Josiah Tullis and Megh Vakhaira. It allows users to order any amount from a gram up to an ounce at a time. Users can even order snacks to go along with their cannabis.
"The uncertainties are not in the technology; the technology has already been done before. The uncertainties are in the legality on the business side," Tullis told Time Magazine.
The pair are already interviewing drivers from Uber and Lyft as potential hires.
FEDS SEIZE MORE HEMP SEEDS BOUND FOR LEGAL FARM
Federal agents made headlines in May when they seized a shipment of hemp seeds legally bound for cultivation in Kentucky. Though those seeds were ultimately released by the Drug Enforcement Administration, a similar occurrence has taken place at the Canadian border over a shipment headed for Colorado.
Colorado hemp activist Tom McClain purchased 350 pounds of hemp seeds in Canada after the Colorado Legislature passed rules for hemp cultivation. But when he tried to drive back through North Dakota, his seeds were confiscated by border agents.
"They were just a little confused as to what to do. According to them, I couldn’t bring them in," McClain told The Associated Press.
A spokesman for U.S. Customs Enforcement told The AP that the seeds were being evaluated because hemp and marijuana seeds can look very similar.
The Kentucky case ended when the state Department of Agriculture sued the DEA, and it gave up the seeds.
COLORADO CANNABIS FINANCIAL CO-OPS LIKELY A WORTHLESS TOKEN GESTURE
A first-of-its-kind law in Colorado to create credit co-ops for cannabis dispensaries is likely nothing more than a token gesture. It won’t do much to relieve dispensaries’ need to do most of their business with cash, according to several industry players.
The problem is the Federal Reserve System, which would have to give the thumbs up to Colorado House Bill 1398. The bill was aimed at giving dispensaries access to bank accounts and credit lines, since many banks refuse to do business with cannabis companies for fear of federal prosecution, since marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
Dispensaries are at a greater risk of being targeted by criminals, since they’re forced to deal in cash, while traditional businesses can use electronic transfers, checking accounts, and so on to protect their finances.
But the Fed hasn’t given any indication that it will sign off on the electronic transfer services necessary for HB 1398 to work, according to the Craig Daily Press. In other words, nice try, Colorado lawmakers, but no deal.
FDA CONSIDERS LOOSENING FEDERAL MARIJUANA RESTRICTIONS
Marijuana could be moved from a federally classified Schedule 1 drug to a lower tier, a step toward possible decriminalization by federal regulators.
The Food and Drug Administration, at the behest of the Drug Enforcement Administration, is taking a look at whether or not to recommend the downgrade, according to an FDA spokesman at a recent congressional hearing.
But the spokesman wouldn’t give many details, saying he wasn’t sure when the analysis might be finished, or if the agency may recommend that the DEA change marijuana’s classification.
ADULT-USE MARIJUANA SALES BEGIN IN FORT COLLINS
Fort Collins became the latest Colorado town to start selling adult-use marijuana in mid-June, when the doors at Organic Alternatives swung open and let in dozens of waiting customers.
Though there are roughly a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries in Fort Collins, Organic Alternatives was the first to begin retail selling under a state-obtained license. There are two other adult-use stores in the region.
Another Fort Collins-area recreational marijuana merchant, Flower Power Botanicals, will likely open a few months down the road.
KENTUCKY CANNABIS ACTIVISTS HOPE TO BUILD ON HEMP MOMENTUM
Republicans all over the state of Kentucky have been embracing industrial hemp as a potential cash crop for their state, and cannabis activists in the southern state are hoping to channel that enthusiasm into legalizing medical marijuana.
State legislators held their second hearing of the year in June on the topic, and will hold at least two more this summer. During the most recent hearing, Democrats spoke up in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, but old party divisions surfaced when the Republican chairwoman got upset over marijuana supporters demonizing former U.S. President Richard Nixon and his role in criminalizing marijuana.
"If Kentucky moves in that direction of medical marijuana, it would be extremely limited in who can prescribe it and who can dispense it," the chairwoman told The Associated Press.
Hemp Fiberboard Poised To Replace PlywoodRead More
by Skyler Cannabaceae
Want to support legal hemp production, but not sure how? It can be as simple as choosing hemp fiberboard over plywood for your next building project. Take a few tips from the experts into consideration.
Ryan Loflin, 41, is Colorado’s hemp farming pioneer. He saw the potential in hemp last year when he used his dad’s farm in southern Colorado to grow hemp after
Colorado legalized the practice. “Right now we are really focusing on seed production.” he said.
Other entrepreneurs have been researching the uses of processed hemp for everything from salad dressings to building materials for decades. They are looking forward to seeing more hemp farms in this country.
Loflin told THC in a phone interview that a great benefit to growing hemp instead of other crops is that no pesticides are needed. Pests are naturally averse to the cannabis plant, so the farmer saves money and time, and consumers can buy products that are good for the environment. In addition to saving the world from pesticides, you can save some trees while you are at it.
THC caught up with Greg Flavell last week in New Zealand where he is building houses. Flavell owns Hemp Technologies, a hemp building company based in Asheville, North Carolina. He points out that hemp not only saves trees, but it is more efficient.
“Trees take 10 years to grow. Hemp only takes four or five months.” Flavell said. So there it is, in a nutshell - the first advantage of hemp fiberboard over wood.
A Congressional Research Service (CSR) report titled “Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity” published Feb 14, 2014 expands on this. According to the report, “Industrial hemp production statistics for Canada indicate that one acre of hemp yields ... an average of 5,300 pounds of straw, which can be transformed into about 1,300 pounds of fiber. “
By comparison, a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals that a single acre of trees produces less than one-fourth the amount of fiber from an acre of hemp.
“The longest bundle of fibers in an old-grown Douglas Fir is three-quarters of an inch.” Tim Pate explained. “If you take a hemp plant, that bast fiber on the outside is going to be as long as that plant is tall.”
Pate was a member of the company that teamed up with Washington State University to create “medium-density fiberboard” (MDF) from hemp, so he knows his stuff.
Not only is the fiber longer than wood, but it is higher quality. C & S Specialty Building Supply, a now-defunct Oregon-based business that included Pate, Bill Conde, Dave Seber and Barry Davis, brought the idea to a Washington State University researcher named Paul Maulberg. Together they created a hemp MDF prototype that met or exceeded all tests.
“If you can find a non-toxic way to create building materials, you could win a Nobel Peace Prize.” Pate said. The MDF project closed in on that goal, showing just how well non-toxic hemp was suited for building.
“That fiber doesn’t break down after just a few seconds,” he said, referring to hemp fiber in a steam exploder. This is important because the extraction process is used to bond the strong hemp fiber with other materials to create composite materials such as hemp MDF.
The hemp fiberboard created at WSU proved in tests to be stronger than steel and a report issued by the Boulder Hemp Initiative Project shows that not only does hemp stand up to force, but heat and water as well.
“Hemp hurds can be pressed and injected with phenolic resin to make a particle board that is resistant to fire and water,” Pate said. “The board also makes a good insulation and thermal barrier.”
With all of these benefits, why not build with hemp?