Marijuana and hemp socio-economics.

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Postby budman » Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:19 am

The Drug War Chronicle wrote:Feature: Industrial Hemp Push Underway in California, North Dakota 6/16/06

Moves are afoot in California and North Dakota to win approval of industrial hemp production at the state level, but the ultimate goal is removing the federal government as an obstacle to domestic cultivation of the valuable and versatile plant. Under current US law, hemp products are legal and hemp may be imported to be used in products produced here, but the plant itself cannot legally be grown in the US.

Still, seven states -- Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia -- have changed their laws to give farmers an affirmative right to grow industrial hemp commercially or for research purposes. This week, North Dakota took another step toward adopting administrative rules and regulations to breathe some life into its law with a public hearing Thursday. And in California, a bill that would move the Golden State to the hemp camp has already passed the state Assembly and is moving in the Senate after a legislative hearing Tuesday.

Hemp is classified as the same species as marijuana, Cannabis sativa L., but is a different cultivar and possesses different characteristics. Most important legally, hemp is distinguished from marijuana by its very low levels of THC, the primary psychoactive component in marijuana. Hemp plants typically contain THC levels under 1%. In the Dakotas, feral hemp, or "ditch weed," descended from the "victory hemp" of World War II grows everywhere, and, as local farm boy wisdom puts it: "You could smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole, and all you'd get is a sore throat and a headache."

Industrial hemp proponents point not only to the downright silliness of classifying hemp as a controlled substance, but also to its virtues as an agricultural crop and industrial product. The plant's fibers can be used to make everything from paper to automobile panels, while its seeds and oils are in high demand in the ever-growing hemp food industry. Next door to North Dakota, the Canadian hemp crop has expanded to 40,000 acres in the past six years, and American farmers want some of the action.

"With our proximity to the Canadian border, we can see hemp fields from here," said North Dakota Agriculture Department plant industries program manager Jeff Olson, whose boss, Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson is leading the push to get regulations in place. "We see it as another agronomic tool for farmers. There is plenty of economic potential there, and it is something farmers could consider growing instead of wheat, barley, or corn," he told DRCNet. "We passed our legislation back in 1999 after a groundswell from farmers led Assistant Majority Leader David Monson (R-Osnabrook) to sponsor it. Now it's working its way through the process."

A hearing on the regulations was set for Thursday, Olson said Wednesday afternoon, and it looked as if it would be favorable. The hemp industry would be well-represented, Olson said, while no opponents have signed up to speak. "We have a representative from Vote Hemp, and there will be a Canadian researcher, among quite a number we're expecting," he said. In written testimony, there was only one objection to the notion of industrial hemp, "from law enforcement out of South Dakota," he explained.

The regulations being discussed Thursday would allow farmers to grow hemp under the law passed in 1999. It won't be as easy as planting a crop of wheat or corn, though. "Under our law, farmers have to pass a criminal background check and apply for a license to grow. They will have to pay a per acre fee. There are requirements on how it's planted; it can't be surrounded by other crops and hidden from view," said Olson. "They will be inspected periodically throughout the summer, and if we grant them a permit, they will then have to apply to the DEA for permission," he told DRCNet.

North Dakota Ag Commissioner Johnson went to Washington in February along with ag commissioners from Massachusetts, West Virginia, and Wisconsin to meet with the DEA to seek ways of allowing industrial hemp production. In a statement issued at the time, Johnson said DEA officials were "cordial," but they warned legalizing hemp would be "extremely complicated" under existing law. "DEA has never responded to our earlier inquiries," Johnson said, "but today, we were able to present our case and learn from them what may be required in terms of regulations and safeguards."

Good luck, if the DEA's past (and present) position is any indication. The agency did not return DRCNet calls for comment, but DEA spokeswoman Rogene Waite reiterated the agency's longstanding position in an interview with the Associated Press last month, where she stated flatly that the federal drug laws do not distinguish between hemp and marijuana because both contain THC.

Still, Olson had an optimistic view for the record. "We're hoping that DEA will look at industrial hemp separately form marijuana. We don't think industrial hemp meets the definition of a drug, and our goal is to have the DEA determine that yes, hemp and marijuana are two separate plants to be regulated separately."

Meanwhile, in Sacramento, the California Senate Public Safety Committee held a hearing Tuesday on that state's hemp bill, AB 1147. Sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the bill "would require industrial hemp to be cultivated only from seeds imported in accordance with federal law or from seeds grown in California, as specified" and would not authorize "the transportation or sale across state borders of seed or any variety of Cannabis sativa L. that is capable of germination."

The bill sets an upper permissible THC limit of 0.3% and requires laboratory tests of the crop to verify it. But it is the language about seeds that is crucial for strategic reasons.

"We're hoping that carefully crafted state regulations that explicitly prevent the parts of the plant controlled by the DEA -- the seeds and the flowers -- from leaving the state will mean the DEA has no power to regulate inside the state as long as farmers are following the state regulations, but that will probably require that we file a lawsuit," said Alexis Baden-Mayer, director of governmental relations for Vote Hemp.

The California bill does just that. "It was drafted specifically with the idea of limiting the crop to the production of legal substances and not letting viable seeds leave the state," said Baden-Mayer. "If California started to grow hemp, viable seeds would not cross the state line." It would be inconvenient for the industry, but "would be worth it for states to not engage in interstate commerce in hemp seed to avoid DEA control," she told DRCNet.

Although the Supreme Court a year ago rejected a similar challenge to the federal government's use of the interstate commerce clause to extend federal jurisdiction to medical marijuana, this would be different, Baden-Mayer argued. "Unlike the medical marijuana case, all the commodities associated with industrial hemp are legal. The only thing that's not legal right now is the plant in the ground."

But the California bill must pass before it can provide the basis for a legal challenge to DEA control over hemp, and North Dakota must get its regulations in order before farmers there can start the permitting process. The California bill faces a committee vote and a Senate floor vote before passing -- neither of which is assured at this point. And the North Dakota Ag Commission's Olson said given the process, farmers would be lucky to be permitted in time for the 2007 crop, and 2008 is more likely.

It can't happen soon enough for US agriculture. "American farmers are tired of looking around the world and seeing other farmers making healthy profits growing hemp for export to the US. They want change," said Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra.

Farmers aren't the only ones looking for a domestic hemp industry. Increases in US hemp food production -- sales are up 50% a year, said Vote Hemp -- are increasing demand for hemp seed and may cause hemp seed shortages to develop. The natural fiber composite industry, which has largely replaced fiberglass in vehicle interiors, is also hungry for hemp made in America. FlexForm, an Indiana manufacturer who uses 250,000 pounds of hemp fiber a year, is eager to expand its use of the fibers. "Hemp fiber possesses physical properties beneficial to our natural fiber-based composites," FlexForm said, adding that it would "gladly expand domestic purchases."

It has been 50 years since the last legal industrial hemp crop was planted in Wisconsin. It is not quite back yet, but industrial hemp in the US is poised to make a comeback -- if only the federal government will get out of the way or can be adjudicated out of the way.

<center>-- END --</center>

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Postby Midnight toker » Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:35 am wrote:Russian Scientists Claim to Invent Drug-Free Cannabis, Suggest it to Replace Wild Cannabis Worldwide

Created: 20.06.2006 18:47 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 18:56 MSK, 2 hours 33 minutes ago


<img class=postimg src=bin/cannabis_leaves.jpg align=right>Scientists from the Russian city of St. Petersburg have announced they had managed to develop a new, drug-free variant of cannabis which, if grown on industrial level, would cross with wild growing hemp end eventually force it out of existence.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Sergei Grigoryev of the Russian Plant Institute as saying that the amount of psychotropic substance in the new variant of cannabis is practically zero. When the new plant is crossed with the wild growing hemp the amount of psychotropic substance in the latter will gradually become less and less. If Russian hemp is grown on industrial level, it could even force the cannabis that is used for making hashish and marijuana out of existence.

The active substance in cannabis, thujone, creates Atrial natriuretic peptides which stimulates the consequent reactions in the body.

The medical controversy of cannabis lies in the potential harmful versus helpful effects. As a professionally administered drug, cannabis has been used in alleviating pain for cancer patients, helps to stimulate appetites of HIV afflicted persons, relieving inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract, and is known to open up the blood vessels improving circulation among its various proclaimed benefits. In conjunction with its benefits are the risks it subjects users to, among those being muscular attributes given to schizophrenics, muscular incoordination, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, confusion, difficulty walking, dysarthria, dry mouth, dysphagia, blurred vision, and vomiting most of all, as with opening up the blood vessels can produce the condition of excess blood volume which results in comas and cardiac arrest, leading to death.

The scientist went on to say that hemp is one of the oldest agricultural plants with 10 thousand-year history and at present it is “unjustly” associated with drugs like marijuana. Hemp must be used to make traditional fibers and oil, Grigoriyev said.

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Hemp, hemp, hurrah!

Postby budman » Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:36 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:July 16, 2006

The Santa Cruz Sentinel

Jondi Gumz, Reporter at Large: Hemp, hemp, hurrah!

If organic food can go mainstream, is hemp clothing right behind?

With a cluster of garment retailers and wholesalers operating locally, Santa Cruz is in fine position to snag a share of an estimated $270 million market, should California legalize cultivation of industrial hemp.

Although demand for products made of hemp has grown over the past decade, the plant has been tarred by its biological association with marijuana. Because of the U.S. ban adopted in 1937, hemp for industrial use is imported, mostly from China and Romania, although it's also grown in Canada.

Federal legislation, HR 3037, introduced last year to lift the ban is stalled despite the support of our local representative, Sam Farr. But there are new developments on other fronts:
<li>An informal European association for hemp processors gained official status last year. The group's fourth annual conference is planned for November in Cologne, Germany.</li>

<li>A commercial enterprise, U.S. Hemp, opened a retail store in Santa Cruz in mid-June featuring all hemp products, including a wide selection of clothing.</li>

<li>A bill to allow hemp farming under state license, AB 1147, quietly moved out of California's Senate Public Safety Committee on a 4-2 vote three weeks ago and is slated for a hearing in the Appropriations Committee in August. It passed the state Assembly, 44-32, and growers like Vanessa Bogenholm of Watsonville are hopeful.</li>
Santa Cruz has been a leader in the hemp clothing market. Case in point: Ecolution, which is based in Santa Cruz, founded a factory in Romania to manufacture hemp products in 1990, four years before the creation of the Hemp Industries Association trade group.

Avatar Imports, a wholesaler and retailer of clothing made from hemp and organic cotton, started in Brookdale in 1991, and has had a store in downtown Santa Cruz since 1999.

Richard Dash, who works out of Bonny Doon, has been designing hemp clothing since 1997. His products are sold online and locally at Avatar and EcoGoods a short walk away.

Eco Goods, which opened in Capitola 12 years ago, sells a variety of organic products, including hemp clothing. It's been in downtown Santa Cruz since 1996.

Goodhumans launched an online retail site in Santa Cruz in 2000. Hemp clothing is in its line of "environmentally responsible products."

U.S. Hemp is the first retail operation in Santa Cruz to focus entirely on hemp products. With a large space on Pacific Avenue near the main post office, it showcases hemp's versatility. Shoppers will find shirts, skirts, dresses, pants, hats, socks, backpacks, books and body lotions, as well as food items.

Monterey resident Leigh Waldenmeyer, who drove to Santa Cruz to buy fabric, happened upon U.S. Hemp and was intrigued.

"It's the first time I heard of all these new uses," she said. "I knew hemp was a plant, so it makes sense, but all of a sudden, it's out there."

Some business owners want to dominate their market, but not Avatar Imports partner Jeph Hemmer.

"I don't look at anybody as competition," he said. "The more in Santa Cruz, the better."

Still, I'm reluctant to predict that hemp's future is here. Here's two reasons from Jim Motavalli, editor of the environmental journal E Magazine.

<table class=posttable align=right width=200><tr><td class=postcap colspan=2><b>Where hemp stands</b>

Worldwide output for three fiber crops:
Crop Harvested in 2005</td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Hemp fiber</td><td class=postcap align=right>52,436 hectares</td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Flax fiber</td><td class=postcap align=right>501,246 hectares</td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Cottonseed</td><td class=postcap align=right>35,085,742 hectares</td></tr><tr><td class=postcap colspan=2>Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations</td></tr></table>"The hemp clothing industry is constrained somewhat by the lack of really large hemp production worldwide, and the U.S. ban on planting," he explained. "Also, hemp's producers make too many exaggerated claims."

Could hemp save forests logged to produce paper? Or hempseed oil replace diesel fuel? That's what advocates say.

Aaron Carvajal at U.S. Hemp, Marquita Garcia at Avatar Imports and Lily Ruderman at Eco Goods can't stop singing the praises of hemp's ability to grow without fertilizer and pesticides and leave nutrients in the soil for the next crop.

I can understand their enthusiasm, given that industrial hemp has so many uses, and that some of the newest clothing styles are quite chic.

Frankly, the problem is that hemp has a bad reputation. Ask a teen what he knows about hemp and he'll answer you: Rope or dope? Ask a banker, and he'll start to giggle.

Note to hemp lobbyists: California State Sen. Jeff Denham, who represents a major agriculture community, abstained on AB 1147 even though California Certified Organic Farmers, based in Santa Cruz, supports it. Denham's staff said he needed more information on hemp production and he'd also like to hear from law enforcement, which has yet to make its position known.

Advocates haven't helped their case with in-your-face green logos that seem to promote pot smoking rather than ecological benefits. What hemp needs is a makeover, so people in the mainstream will take it seriously.

In downtown Santa Cruz, Skateworks sells IPath sneakers made of hemp, but they blend right in with the rest of the merchandise. When Mervyns starts selling hemp clothing without advertising it as hemp, then hemp fashion will have arrived.

Contact Jondi Gumz at

On the Web

Hemp opponent Jeanette McDougal, retired drug prevention educator.

Nov. 11-12 in San Francisco,


Hemp Industries Association, nonprofit trade group.

Wrote 'The Emperor Wears No Clothes,'

a history of hemp.

Campaign for legal cultivation of industrial hemp.

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Profiles of hemp pioneers

Postby budman » Tue Jul 18, 2006 2:02 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:July 16, 2006

Profiles of hemp pioneers

The Santa Cruz Sentinel

<span color=postbold>Avatar Imports</span>

Address: 814 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz
Phone: 427-5140
Owners: Tim Frankel, Jeph Hemmer and Jhaindra Ghimire
Employees: 5 soon to be 6

There's a hint of incense when you walk into Avatar Imports, a clothing shop specializing in organic cotton and hemp garments.

The owners are most proud to report their certification by the Fair Trade Federation, thanks to their garment manufacturing operation in Nepal, where workers earn more than a living wage.

Manager Marquita Garcia points out hemp styles, some blended with recycled silk.

"It's the softest wearable hemp I've ever seen," she said.

A Dash Hemp shirt priced at $40 is a bargain in her opinion.

Another of her favorites: Sweatpants with a gusset at the crotch, priced at $50.

"We have more for men than women but we're working on it," she said.

Besides the ecological benefits, hemp clothing stays cleaner longer, she added.

The store carries hemp shirts by Crop Circles and reusable coffee filters made in Thailand, in addition to local brands.

Frankel and Hemmer, who developed the Santa Cruz Hemp logo, said their hemp clothing selection is smaller than it used to be.

The best hemp comes out of China, Frankel explained, but he and Hemmer stopped doing business with China because of concerns over sweatshop labor.


<span color=postbold>Eco Goods</span>

Address: 1130 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz
Phone: 429-5758
Owner: Elaine Berke
Number of employees: 5-7

Eco Goods is much more than a hemp store, carrying a wide selection of organic products. Variety is the best way to describe it. You'll find backpacks, linens and shoes in addition to clothing for men and women.

The hemp selection includes a hand-loomed camisole by Dash Hemp, a local brand, for $49.95, hemp silk skirts by Of The Earth, priced at $58, and shoes by Ecolution, another local brand, $79.95.

"You didn't see this kind of quality eight to 10 years ago," said manager Lily Ruderman, a UC Santa Cruz graduate. "It's easy to take care of. You can machine-wash it."

She is a fountain of information about industrial hemp.

"It's very environmentally friendly," she said. "It's a fast-growing, renewable resource, and it doesn't need fertilizer or pesticides."

The first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were printed on hemp paper, according to a handout created by Eco Goods owner Elaine Berke, and in the future, hemp plant pulp could be used to make gasoline or methanol.


<span color=postbold>U.S. Hemp Co.</span>

Address: 2017 North Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz
Phone: 471-9224
Owner: Aaron Carvajal, partner Amy Hoppen
Number of employees: Will hire 4-5

What's striking about the U.S. Hemp store is its size. It looks like an upscale boutique, with socks and shoes, shirts and skirts, and beanies and bags attractively arranged. All the merchandise is made of hemp.

"It's got the strength of denim but is nearly as soft as cotton," owner Aaron Carvajal said of the fiber. "It also protects from UV rays."

As a fabric, hemp is like a chameleon, light and delicate in a woven scarf, tough and sturdy in denim jeans, and textured and indestructible in a shoe.

Prices range from $18 for a longsleeve shirt that is 55 percent hemp to $90 for a men's polo shirt by Dash Hemp, a local brand. Another local brand, Ecolution, is everywhere, from a stylish mini-backpack, $28, to a purse, $38, and a courier bag, $67.

The colors include basic black, tan and olive, but some of the women's clothing comes in blue, purple or orange.

"A lot of our textiles are from China, a little bit from India," Carvajal said. "In today's environment, it's probably not feasible to manufacture in the U.S. at all."


<span color=postbold>Ecolution</span>

Address: 953 Tower Place, Live Oak
Phone: 800-987-4367 for retail orders
Founder/president: Dylan Hilsman
Number of employees: 18 in Santa Cruz, 160-175 in Romania

Dylan Hilsman was ahead of the curve when he started Pan World Traders, a hemp business, in 1990. Since growing hemp was illegal in the U.S., he developed a hemp processing factory in Romania. It's a fair wage operation. After expanding production capacity five years ago, sales quintupled to more than $5 million a year.

Today, the Ecolution brand is sold worldwide. The wholesale manufacturer is known for its diversity of hemp products, from twine to fabric and clothing, shoes and canvas bags. About 18 employees work in a sales and distribution office off 17th Avenue in Live Oak, and 160 to 175 employees are in Romania.

"A lot of the competition has come and gone," said vice president of sales James Roberts. "We stuck it out, partly because we don't have any external investment. It's just us committed crazy people."

Hemp grown in China often is processed with chemical acids, but Ecolution uses a mechanical process to preserve the integrity and strength of the hemp fiber.

Roberts, a 2001 politics graduate of UC Santa Cruz, believes the American ban on industrial hemp cultivation will be lifted eventually, but he doesn't foresee a rapid shift to American processing.

"It would take millions in investment," he said.

He admits to feeling bothered when advocates claim hemp will save the planet.

"But it could be used as a shade crop for strawberries," he pointed out. "That could save a lot of money and a lot of plastic."


<span color=postbold>Dash Hemp</span>

Address: 2720 Smith Grade, Santa Cruz
Phone: 1-877-561-1824
Owner: Richard Dash
Employees: 2

Richard Dash used to sell his hemp fashions mainly to hemp stores. Since he began approaching mainstream boutiques last year, his wholesale sales quadrupled.

"It's a whole educational process," he said, explaining that people need to touch and feel the fabric. "There is the stigma that hemp is drugs."

A Cal history grad who started Hemp Dash in 1997, Dash has more changes up his sleeve.

He's going to a big trade show in Salt Lake City for retailers of outdoor wear. He's added coordinates to individual items. He's hired Erika Dietrich to help him develop more for women.

"I simply came to my senses," said Dash, who's been in the apparel business since the 1970s. "Women spend a lot more than men do."

He plans to open a wholesale office in the Sash Mill in Santa Cruz to complement his online sales. His Web selection is small and upscale, aimed at people over 30 who can spend $79 for a hand-loomed hoodie or a knit polo shirt. Satisfied customers include Virgin Air's Richard Branson.

About six years ago, Dash switched to his manufacturing operation from Los Angeles to China.

"No country makes better piece goods," he said.

For a long time, he resisted, but when a longsleeve shirt turned out three-quarters length, he called his travel agent. He was impressed with the quality of labor in China. A friend runs the factory for him.

Dash likes hemp clothing himself. He finds it comfortable.

"I haven't worn a cotton T-shirt in 10 years," he said.


<span color=postbold>Goodhumans</span>

Address: Mailing address 500 Soquel Ave. Suite F, Santa Cruz
Phone: 1-866-420-4208
Owners: Rich and Mary Ann Waters
Number of employees: 0

Some people say it's more stressful to be self-employed, but Rich Waters hasn't found that to be the case. He used to write software over the hill and his wife Mary Ann used to work on catalogs for L.H. Selman Glass Gallery.

They founded Goodhumans, an online retailer, six years ago. Their niche: People who want to be environmentally responsible, but don't want to spend "an arm and a leg."

The Web site lists 453 guidelines to be a better human being. It also features nearly 50 items of hemp clothing, including socks, shoes, board shorts, exercise pants, casual and dressy dresses — nothing over $70. Local brands Ecolution and Dash Hemp are available.

Waters said he likes hemp because "it's natural and it's healthier to wear."

To cut waste, he doesn't mail catalogs, but prints copies on demand. He downsized to a 1,000-square-foot warehouse for more economical storage of stock.

"We can get stuff within a week from the manufacturer," he said.

The biggest challenge is figuring out what customers want. In the fashion industry, buyers typically order in spring for the fall season. Sales have grown due to repeat business, but so has competition, sign of a maturing industry.

"Now we focus on Internet advertising," Water said. "We want to make sure we're the top hit when they're ready to buy."

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Consider hemp over canola for oilseed production

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 10:09 pm

Capital West wrote:Consider hemp over canola for oilseed production

Angela Eckhardt
Capital Press, The West's AG Website
October 27, 2006

Just about everyone would prefer biofuels to petroleum, but choosing the right fuel crops for cultivation in North America isn't easy, especially for Western states. That's because one of the most viable crops - hemp - is legally off-limits.

Instead, canola is getting all the attention. The June 2006 report, "Assessment of Biodiesel Feedstocks in Oregon," prepared for the Portland Development Commission, presented canola as the best oilseed crop for the region. Last month, the Oregon Legislature's Emergency Board agreed to finance a $235,000 canola research study.

But not everyone is cheering over canola. Vegetable seed producers have serious concerns not only over cross-pollination, but over the potential for canola to spread diseases that are already a problem in the Brassica species, including blackleg, Sclerotinia stem rot and club root.

"This is dangerous," said Sen. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby, at the legislative hearing. "There's no reason on God's green earth to introduce a known weed and carrier of pests."

We might take our chances with canola if there were no alternatives, but that's not the case.

The 2002 American Society for Horticultural Science publication, Trends in New Crops and New Uses, describes an excellent oilseed alternative in a chapter entitled "Hemp: A New Crop with New Uses for North America," ( ).

Hemp is celebrated for weed and pest resistance, and like canola, it boasts extensive root systems that improve soil tilth. Moreover, the markets for hemp products are virtually infinite. In 1938, Popular Mechanics magazine declared that hemp "can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, raging from dynamite to cellophane."

Though hemp has not been cultivated for oil yield until recently, even the strains cultivated for fiber already rival soybeans in oil output.

Advances in hemp oilseed production have been rapid and encouraging since March 1998, when Canadian law was changed to allow commercial hemp cultivation. Whereas European countries have focused on hemp fiber production, Canada is specializing in oilseed production and processing.

"Hemp, in our opinion, is particularly suited to be developed as an oilseed crop in North America," the ASHS report proclaims, noting that, "While the breeding of hemp fiber cultivars has proceeded to the point that only slight improvements can be expected in productivity in the future, the genetic potential of hemp as an oilseed has scarcely been addressed."

The biggest challenge for using hemp as a fuel source is yet another sign of its great potential, say proponents: it is the very high value of the oil. But prices would become more reasonable once Americans could legally cultivate hemp rather than relying on imports. In the meantime, farmers could see strong profit margins by selling the highly nutritious edible seed and oil.

Many states have successfully passed bills to legalize hemp cultivation in direct challenge of federal law. You can read about these efforts at,, and

Most recently, Assembly Bill 1147 was approved by the California Legislature before it was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 30, due to the federal government's continued prohibition of hemp.

Long-time hemp advocate Jack Herer also opposed AB1147, but for a very different reason. His concern was that the low-THC (0.3 percent) varieties of hemp that would have been allowable under the law are less productive for industrial uses compared to strains with natural levels of the cannabinoid, which he said serves as a sunscreen for the plant.

Further, Herer worried that low-THC strains would cross-pollinate and interfere with California's medical marijuana crops. Instead, he urged the governor to legalize cannabis in its natural form.

Several different regulations have been promoted as a way to make hemp acceptable under America's current War on Drugs, including licensing, inspection, genetic modification and testing of THC content. But all of these steps would unnecessarily increase production costs while reducing the plant's value for medical use and perhaps for all other uses as well.

How ironic that a plant's medicinal value could be the very thing that prevents farmers from cultivating it to heal the earth.

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Sundance: Strangers in alt. fuel vehicles are so much less t

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:24 pm

The Gristmill wrote:Sundance: Strangers in alt. fuel vehicles are so much less threatening

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/freedom-fuels.jpg></tr></td></table>Posted by Kate Sheppard at 5:02 PM on 27 Jan 2007
The Gristmill

I first heard about Sundance's renegade biofuels enthusiasts via email. The folks from Freedom Fuels, a new documentary about biofuels, were in town for Sundance -- well, roaming town that is. They weren't actually in the festival, but they were there to screen their movie regardless, traveling around town in a biodiesel-powered school bus showing it to anyone who'd climb aboard and watch. "We would love to have ya come on by and say howdy," wrote Heidi, one of the film promoters. I love saying howdy, so I was game.

But I kept getting waylaid. Watching movies, chasing the Everything's Cool people, trying to touch celebrities. It's a rough life, trust me. So I kept missing them. They'd call and update me on their locale, since not having a permit meant they had to keep moving. "We're at the Starbucks," Heidi would tell me. "We've moved closer to Albertson's," she updated me later. "We're on Main Street."

Finally, after several days of chasing, I caught up with the film director/producer, Martin O'Brien, downtown, after they'd abandoned the bus in favor of a music venue. I asked him a bit about the film, and why they'd decided to take it on the road ... literally.

O'Brien, a resident of Oakland, Calif., had worked as a bricklayer, rave promoter, and medical marijuana ... uh, he said, "in the medial marijuana world." And then he met the fuel of his dreams.

"I got fed up with driving around with blood dripping out of the back of my car from Iraq," said O'Brien. "And somebody told me the story about Rudolph diesel, and how he invented the first diesel engine to run on peanut oil. I realized I could actually get off oil myself, so I made it my personal thing."

And so he got a diesel truck, and started filming Freedom Fuels, and 12 months later, here he was not at Sundance exactly, but in the vicinity of Sundance, driving around on the bus, talking to folks about biofuels, and handing out fliers and films to scary looking guys in big trucks. And not expecting to make a dime on it -- they're giving the film away.

So, why deploy it this way?

"I mean, look at Sundance. All these different people come here to tell their stories. There's even a documentary they're making right now called The Waiting Line, about waiting to be seen at a film festival, or waiting to be seen on TV," said O'Brian. "With our distribution system, it cuts all that out of the middle. So we can just go directly to the people."

Even, that is, if the people are in Starbucks.

"I don't like Starbucks, but people go in there. It's function before fashion though, any means necessary. The ice caps are melting," said O'Brian. "I'm trying to avoid that if I can."

The film is free! free! free! And online. Check it out. Here.

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