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USDA To Present At Oregon Hemp & CBD Connex Conference

OREGON: The HEMP & CBD CONNEX CONFERENCE will take place January 29-30, 2020 at the Portland Expo. 

GROWING HEMP IS NOT THE “FIELD OF DREAMS”
What you need to know before you grow: From seed to harvest to shelf, invest in two days in educating yourself in all aspects of the industry.

When the farm bill passed in December 2018, there were 500 farmers growing 11,000 acres of hemp. We saw a demand for hemp biomass and smokable flower with a limited supply. Biomass was selling for $35-$45 a pound. Fast forward to 2019: this looked like the “Field of Dreams”. Applications increased to 1,900 farmers registered and over 60,000 acres farming hemp. We estimate that over 50% of the crops failed in 2019 for many reasons: lack of planning, bad genetics, and harvest and drying roadblocks. Mother nature brought record rainfall and a hail storm that damaged over 1,000 acres. With any new industry and no limit to how many acres could be grown, farmers planted too many acres, not realizing the massive undertaking and hurdles they would encounter. In 2019, farmers soon realized this was not the “Field of Dreams” with overproduction and prices plummeting to $5-$15 per pound and finding reputable buyers makes for a challenging year.

The Hemp & CBD Connex Conference is a collaboration of the entire hemp supply chain from seed to harvest to products on the shelf. Invest two days in educating yourself in all aspects of the industry. Here is your chance to have one-on-one contact with the pros that will guide you in best practices for your business. Oregon & Washington Department of Agriculture and the USDA will present updated rules and regulations and offer clarity to the confusing, evolving nature of these regulations. The conference will feature hands-on displays and demonstrations, will address roadblocks and offer solutions for best production and profit. Visit the “Farmers, Processors & Buyers Lounge” to consult on selling your biomass. Learn about crop insurance, farmer co-ops, futures contracts and partnering with processors for splits and toll processing.

With 30+ educational seminars and nearly 60 speakers, the CCC 6.0 Hemp + CBD Connex offers educational sessions, providing up-to-date data on Regional and Federal legislation. We are honored that USDA Under Secretary, Greg Ibach has the Chief of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Plan for the USDA, Bill Richmond, joining us to review and provide updates on the Interim Hemp Regulations. Ben Thiel, USDA Risk Management Agency Regional Director, will discuss NEW Hemp Crop insurance as well as Whole Farm Revenue Protection. Regionally, both Oregon and Washington will be providing updates via their Departments’ of Agriculture representatives, Sunny Summers and Steve Howe, and via their cannabis programs with Steve Marks and Rick Garza.

Dr. Jeffrey Steiner from the Oregon State University Global Hemp Innovation Center will touch on Hemp Research. Economic analysts Beau Whitney and Chase Hubbard will discuss issues regarding economic impact and global market hemp supply chain that limited the market in 2019, and what it will take to be successful in the future. Additional topics below will be covered by representatives from the likes of Big Sky Scientific, Canopy Growth, CO2 Dynamics, Empower Bodycare, Lazarus Naturals, Strength of Hope and Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm.

The INDUSTRIAL HEMP SHOWCASE will feature displays of the many industrial uses made from hemp-fiber, including hempcrete, biofuel, livestock feed, paper, rope, bioplastics. The is even discussion about Hemp as a replacement for Kevlar. Hemp offers many different uses that can promote a more sustainable world. Hemp products can be recycled, reused and are 100% biodegradable. Proponents of hemp claim that it can help reduce global warming because it takes out large amounts of carbon dioxide per acre, more than most plants.

The CBD MARKETPLACE, a shop within the expo, will offer a wide variety of hemp and CBD products to review and purchase, from health food products, topicals, transdermal patches, edibles, beverages, pet brands and much more. On January 30th, consumers are invited to try products, meet the producers and consult with medical professionals about the benefits of CBD products.

In this 6th year of the conference, we explore the expansion of the Hemp industry highlighting the vast potential of HEMP and CBD products. We are grateful for the many people who donated their time to help others in this industry, including top pros and regulators sharing their insights. We’re proud to offer this conference at an amazing value compared to other higher-priced events. Oregon is at the forefront of establishing a business model that can be shared with other states. We’re focused on fostering the innovators so they can learn, share and help build the industry. The Hemp & CBD Connex Conference is brought to you by the Cannabis Collaborative Conference.

 

How ‘Gentleman Farmer’ Mike West Became The Cannabis Industry’s First Man Of Science

By Brandon A. Dorfman
@BADorfman

“I got into the [cannabis] industry because I was trying to grow plants to save my life,” Mike West told me over the phone recently. A farmer, researcher, and entrepreneur, West has an encyclopedic knowledge of cannabis that’s matched only by his passion for helping people.

“Nothing that the government’s going to do is going to prevent sick patients, sick parents from producing medicine for their children,” he continued.

I had asked West if legalization and the subsequent corporatization under the ‘Big Cannabis’ model had taken away from the art of growing, a constant lament of many of the old-school folks from the black market days. An accomplished academician that also considers himself a “gentleman farmer,” West was hesitant to see the issue in anything but shades of grey.

“We’re seeing a ton of technological innovations,” he told me. “Twenty years ago, there was traditional hash, that was about it. Over the last 10 years, we’ve come out with a couple different types of solvents — alcohol, butane, propane…” From there, he rattled off several significant steps forward taken over the past two decades, benefits that can only come from a legalized industry as opposed to a black market.

“Patient access ends up improving, [and] the cost in a lot of the recreational states has significantly decreased,” he said, ultimately making his point.

And West isn’t wrong. Aside from some high-priced craft flower, the benefits of legalization, and, in turn, corporatization, have been enormous. They include price drops as high as 80 percent in some states, making it extremely hard for groups like the cartels to stay in business.

The benefits to a scientist like West are immeasurable.

“[Access] improves, not only to more economical flower but a broader range of herbal supplements and nutraceuticals,” West told me. “And as a scientist, it opens up the door for doing that research that could potentially lead to future pharmaceuticals.”

Newlyweeds Pam Dyer and Mike West

But as much as the scientist in him loves to hear the machines purr, as he told me, the gentleman farmer understands that cannabis, legal or not, has always been about people. As legalization efforts in states like Washington opened the door for business, and really for scientific progress, patient’s rights began to fall to the wayside in many ways.

“I’ve been, pleasantly surprised the way that legalization has had and America being that laboratory of democracy,” West told me, adding in one caveat. “I love to talk about and constantly joke about … two steps forward one step back with when legalization happened.”

His main gripe, though perhaps that’s too stubborn a word to use, has to do with legislative bills that strip patients of their rights to homegrown medical cannabis. As the old-school black market crowd might say, it’s the death of the art of growing — only instead of science winning out; it’s for-profit patient care.

“As part of some of the bills, they took away some patients rights,” explained West, discussing corporate creep in the growing legalization movement. “Now there’s lots of home growers that are exporting illegally. And those are the ones that are getting clamped down on and having lots of people’s houses get raided.”

Despite his years of entrepreneurship — or, perhaps, guided by them — West has always been a patient advocate first. And I could hear that in his voice as we spoke. Even in states where home grows are allowed, patients still run the risk of being harassed by law enforcement, a terrible situation for all involved.

As for my original question, though, had forward progress spelled death for the so-called art of growing cannabis?

Mike West is positive if he’s nothing else.

“It’s something,” he told me, “you got to take the good with the bad.”

“I love the science side of it…”

West first took an interest in cannabis sometime in the late 1990s. With an epileptic sister and other family members suffering from various ailments and illnesses he became what he referred to as a ‘cannabis refugee,’ traveling from Texas to Colorado — in his case not just looking for the plant, but looking to study the plant.

“I ended up seeing a research study looking at treating epilepsy with cannabis,” he told me, speaking of his earnest beginnings that would go on to launch a now 20-plus year career. “[I] tried to go to school to study cannabis, but they didn’t allow us to study cannabis at the time. So we ended up studying kind of a mix of molecular biochemistry and international law, and I ended up focusing on trying to research biofuels.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to studying cannabis, not much has changed today. At one point in our conversation, West mentioned a few universities are now teaching horticultural classes or showing students how to run analytical testing equipment for use in the cannabis industry. Due to federal law, none of them can offer hands-on experience with the plant.

For West, however, the hands-on experience came easy. Whether he was working at dispensaries or hydro shops in college, or even, as he told me, doing a small stint at a law firm helping medical growers become medical collectives, West was always learning.

Mike West Positive Nelson

“My passion — I more than anything consider myself a research scientist,” West said. “Obviously [I] can’t do that research science at universities, currently very few allow any cannabis research. The federal government makes university research hard.”

“I focused on trying to do as much research as I can in the private sector,” he said, reminding me of the path that most people with a science-focus have to take in this industry.

To-date, according to West, he’s built medical labs in around 13 or 14 states, hemp labs in six states, and recreational cannabis labs in four states. He’s currently working with a Canadian company that’s building labs in Kansas, outside of Vancouver, and outside of Toronto — not to mention the fact that they also have some operations going on over in Australia and Europe. Then there are the hemp labs in Oregon, Colorado, and Washington, and the teams he’s training in Kentucky too.

“I love the science side of it,” he told me in the most laid back voice possible.

Since those early days in Colorado as a ‘cannabis refugee,’ Mike West has established himself as one of the preeminent researchers in the cannabis industry. As a researcher, entrepreneur, author, and adviser to numerous companies in the medical, adult use cannabis, hemp farming, extraction, and products industries his bio reads like a crossbreed somewhere between Raphael Mechoulam and Jack Herer.

But he’s never lost his initial drive nor forgotten what turned him to cannabis in the first place.

“Having family members that were medical patients really got me interested in developing products,” West said as we continued our conversation. “Unfortunately, it’s incredibly difficult to do that research under the same methodology that’s done with traditional pharmaceutical research.”

When he’s not helping to set up the next great laboratory or medical collective or hemp farm, Mike West is focusing on phytocannabinoids and working with patient-driven studies. Again though, the inability to do research at university labs makes the process difficult for West and the industry at-large.

So, he told me they use workarounds. A lot of that involves bringing university professors, doctors, naturopaths, or herbalist to him. For example, he told me, he’ll hold educational seminars, and bring these specialists into the dispensaries, saying to the patients hey if you have this medical condition these are the products that may or may not work better for you.

It’s a way to collect user surveys; to collect data.

“Being able to collect user surveys, you can start to make those correlations,” he said.

Beyond the issue of university research, West and I discussed the difficulty he and others like him have when it comes to finding an adequate product to use in testing. For those in the academy fortunate enough to work with cannabis, the quality is — well, it’s schwag.

“If you want to do research at the university, you have to get approved by the FDA, by the DEA by NIDA — the National Institute on Drug Abuse,” said West, explaining the harrowingly frustrating process. “NIDA contracts out their cultivation to currently one producer, [the] University of Mississippi and University Mississippi doesn’t have passionate cultivators.”

West told me how his team wanted to use the government schwag for a PTSD trial in Colorado. They obviously wanted to test the product to make sure that they were not providing anything dangerous to the patients first.

Under Colorado’s regulated market, the federal government’s cannabis didn’t pass the test for microbial contaminants.

“We’re seeing this weird juxtaposition where the black market or legal market or medical market is able to produce a higher quality product than the U.S. Government,” West lamented. “[It’s] nothing more than ignorance, in my opinion.”

He continued: “A lot of the universities are forced to take a hurry up and wait approach because they’re forced to wait for the federal government to hurry up and change the laws.”

“…teach them as much as we can.”

A few days or weeks before our conversation, Mike West was sitting in a classroom learning his trade. After 20-plus years in the industry, the one thing he’s learned is that he has much more to learn.

“That’s the real key to success in this industry is learning how to be as efficient as possible and as responsible as possible,” he told me towards the end of our conversation. “And if you can throw in a dash of big corporate social responsibility, ultimately, I think that a lot there’s a ton of opportunities in the cannabis industry for entrepreneurs.”

Which brought us to CANNAVAL, the first educational medical cannabis and hemp conference and expo in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The event, which will be hosted by former senator and now Agriculture Commissioner Positive T.A. Nelson, along with 420MEDIA in association with NT Media Productions looks to be one of the key gatherings of industry professionals this summer. And Mike West is scheduled to speak.

“We organized a tour of a couple of farms and retail shops and processing labs and testing labs so they can the see the steps in the political process that it goes from the time you plant the seed to the time that it goes to the retailer,” West told me, explaining how he first met then-Sen. Nelson. Without the agricultural commissioner, the Virgin Islands may very well not have medical cannabis today. The effort he put in towards helping that law pass was crucial.

“Nelson spent the last couple of years getting that law passed,” said West. “That opens up the Virgin Islands to start allowing the farmers to get licenses to do what they’ve been doing for decades.”

“We want to be able to make sure that the farmers start off on a good foot,” he continued.

Unlike other cannabis events, CANNAVAL is designed to educate and empower. It will give all those who attend, including companies and organizations an exclusive opportunity to network with government officials, entrepreneurs, medical and seasoned professionals in an open and welcoming environment that will cultivate and inspire.

And the guest list is top notch as well, including some of the cannabis industry’s biggest names such as Sierra Riddle. Dan Herer, Adam Dunn, Roz McCarthy, and, of course, Agricultural Commissioner Positive Nelson.

And Mike West.

“I think there’s a dance Friday, Saturday’s the conference, and then Sunday — what’s going to beat a networking day hanging out on the beach and enjoy some of that beautiful Caribbean sun,” West said, clearly excited to be a part of the event.

But for West, he’s going to do what he always does.

“We’re looking at trying to set up a conference,” said West, echoing what Positive Nelson told him. “To educate the consumers, educate potential business people in the Virgin Islands, teach them as much as we can.”

Ohio Senate Votes In Favor Of Establishing An Industrial Hemp Program

OHIO: State Senators Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) and Brian Hill (R- Zanesville) announced the unanimous Senate passage of their legislation that would create an industrial hemp program in Ohio administered by the Department of Agriculture. 

Senate Bill 57 clarifies that hemp and hemp derived products, including CBD oil may be sold legally in Ohio.

“It is important to understand that hemp is not marijuana, it is much more versatile and lacks an appreciable amount of THC to cause any psychotropic effects,” said Huffman. “This is an incredible opportunity for our farmers to help diversify their crops by allowing them to grow legal hemp.” 

With the recent passing of the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, industrial hemp has been removed from the list of scheduled substances banned by the federal government and can now be grown as a commodity crop throughout the United States. 

“This an exciting opportunity for farmers to expand the crops they plant,” said Hill. “Farmers can rotate hemp to improve soil health while earning more profit than many traditional cover crops. I’m eager to see all the ways that Ohio will benefit from this legislation.” 

Many states have adopted a hemp pilot program, permitted by federal law, so that farmers in their jurisdictions could begin planting and harvesting hemp. Hemp can be used in over 25,000 commercial products including feed, fiber, biofuels, clothing and plastic.

“Farmers are always looking for new options to diversify their operations,” said Adam Sharp, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “We applaud Senators Hill and Huffman for introducing legislation to help bring industrial hemp to Ohio and to allow farmers to explore the potential of this quickly growing market opportunity.”  

This legislation will now be sent to the House for further consideration.

Arkansas Plant Board Adopts Industrial Hemp Regulations

ARKANSAS: The Arkansas Plant Board approved regulations for the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program today at their quarterly meeting. The approval came after Mary Smith, author of the regulations and ASPB Seed Division Director, presented several public comments collected during a thirty-day public comment period that concluded June 15th.

TreeOfLifeSeeds_ArkansasPlantBoard_Pic2 (1)Many of the comments were inconsequential and did not result in recommended changes to the current draft of regulations. One comment however resulted in a change, where licenses will be suspended instead of revoked as a result of violations, pending a hearing. The regulations that were approved by Governor Asa Hutchinson in May are now headed to the Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC) for approval. The ALC’s next meeting is scheduled for August 17, 2018 at 9am. Once approved by the ALC, the adopted rules and regulations will be filed with the Secretary of State’s office and will become effective ten days after filing.

When the hemp regulations become effective, the ASPB will establish the protocol to grant licenses to Arkansas farmers and processors. Although it’s likely that licenses will not be granted in time for the 2018 growing season, local farmers and companies welcome the opportunity for next planting season. Industrial Hemp is a versatile crop that can be used to produce a variety of products such as CBD extracts, paper, building materials, food products, and biofuel.

According to local Hemp Genetics and CBD company, Tree of Life Seeds’ CEO, Jason Martin, “the ability to grow and process industrial hemp in the natural state is a game changer for Arkansas farmers who will now have a viable alternative crop that can provide increased profits at a time when farming profits are low.”

North Carolina Farmers Free To Grow Hemp Again

NORTH CAROLINA: While cooking oil was the main topic of Dean Price’s presentation to the school board, another key component to biofuel would be the growth of farm crops that could supply fresh oil.

Price said two products that could be grown here in North Carolina are canola and hemp.

Back in 1900, hemp was the biggest crop in the state, Price said. Then in the 1930s, confusion over the differences between hemp and its cousin marijuana led to laws outlawing hemp.

The component in marijuana that produces a high is known at tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While that plant has a good amount of THC, hemp has only a trace in its leaves.

 

American Hemp: Colorado Biotech Firm Ramps Up Processing Plans

COLORADO:  A Colorado biotech company plans to open a large-scale industrial hemp processing facility that will take the crop’s would-be waste — namely hemp stalks — and make it useful.

The hemp biorefinery is being established by Fort Lupton-based PureVision Technology, Inc., and illuminates the growing enthusiasm around hemp entrepreneurship. But the northern Colorado company’s recent announcement also points to the ongoing federal legal challenges to jump-starting American processing of industrial hemp. The plant, which is cannabis without psychoactive properties, has been grouped alongside heroin, MDMA/Ecstasy and other federal Schedule 1 drugs for more than 40 years. Hemp farming returned to Colorado last year on a limited basis.

PureVision Technology already processes plant waste from such crops as corn and wheat into raw materials including pulp for paper and sugars for biofuel. The company sells those fresh raw materials internationally to consumer-product manufacturers.

 

Hawaii Legislature Approves Two-Year Study of Hemp

HAWAII:  State lawmakers as we speak accredited a toned-down bill authorizing the College of Hawaii’s school of agriculture to conduct a two-yr research of hemp.

Senate Invoice 2175 stated the analysis will concentrate on the potential use of hemp as a biofuel feedstock and to be used in phytoremediation, the use of crops to take away contaminants from soil.

The motion was made attainable by the passage earlier this yr of the federal Agriculture Act of 2014, which authorizes states and universities to legally conduct hemp analysis.

In accordance with the bill, the plant inventory for use within the research have to be licensed by the state Division of Agriculture as industrial hemp, versus marijuana, its psychoactive cousin.