Hemp And Cannabis in Southern Oregon Skirmish

As Oregon’s legal marijuana market goes official on July 1, 2015, two different aspects of cannabis agriculture are at odds.

Some of the world’s finest wines are produced from grapes grown in southern Oregon. In nearby fields, some of the planet’s choicest cannabis strains benefit from the same climate. The medical marijuana plants appear like small trees, protruding with arm-sized buds worth big money when harvested, dried and trimmed.

Cannabis Bud

Cannabis Flower Without Seeds

The aromatic female cannabis flowers glisten as they await the wind-borne arrival of pollen from male cannabis so they can produce seeds and complete their reproductive cycle. But the pollen never arrives, as growers are quick to uproot any male plants. Pollination would ruin the monetary and medical value of the crop as surely as a late season hail storm. Sinsemilla (Spanish for “without seed”) cannabis can sell for up to two thousand dollars a pound; seeded marijuana has no market value.

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp crop.

Now a new player is entering the Oregon cannabis agriculture: hemp. Like medically valuable sinsemilla, hemp is also marijuana, cannabis sativa. Unlike sinsemilla, hemp is grown for the seeds; they are the most valuable part of the hemp crop, although the entire plant is useful in dozens of ways. Indeed, hemp seeds themselves and the oil produced from them are arguably the world’s most nutritious food. They are sources of essential oils and proteins that our bodies cannot produce themselves, and they provide perfectly balanced omega 3 fatty acids, excellent nutrition for brain and body. If you were abandoned on a desert island with the choice of one food, hemp seeds might be your single best pick. Continue reading

Now both Oregon senators lead on bill promoting American hemp freedom, S 3501

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley

For a country that prides itself on being “land of the free,” the USA has some strange laws. American farmers, for example, lack the freedom of farmers in Canada and China to grow hemp, one of nature’s most ubiquitous and useful crops. American food processors lack the freedom to make food product from hemp seeds, perhaps nature’s most nutritious food. All such foods, now becoming hugely popular, must be imported.  But now, Oregon’s senior senator Ron Wyden has been joined by freshman senator Jeff Merkley, in c0-sponsoring the Hemp Farming Bill – S. 3501. This bill would amend the draconian Controlled Substance Act, exclude hemp from the definition of marijuana and end its absurd Schedule I status. Other co-sponsors span the political spectrum, even though there are only two of them, Socialist IndependentBernie Sanders from Vermont and Libertarian Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The state of Oregon has long pioneered essential legislation and change. The Oregon Bottle Bill was the nation’s first. In 1998, Oregon voter followed their California neighbors in amending state laws to allow for the freedom to use medical cannabis. In 2009, joining several other states, Oregon’s governor signed legislation passed by both Oregon House and Senate to allow the state’s farmers and entrepreneurs the freedom to grow hemp and produce food, fuel and fiber products from the crop.

Currently Oregon’s leadership is taking place in the US Senate. The premier legislative body is mired with the likes of pathetic senators, e.g. Sessions, Grassley , Kyl , Lieberman, Feinstein and dozens of other denizens. Oregon’s two senators, veteran Ron Wyden and first-termer Jeff Merkley stand out as among the best in the Senate’s history.  Oregon senators lead on a bill to grow hemp in America.  For even though states such as Oregon have passed legislation allowing their citizens the freedom to prosper by farming hemp and from it producing made-in-Oregon products. But any Oregonian planting hemp would soon be forcibly arrested by jackboot squads and subjected to forfeiture of his land to the federal government. The USA, specifically, the DEA maintains an iron fist with federal statues severely criminalizing any production of hemp, cannabis sativa.

Dismally, the web site www.govtrack.us rates the chance of successful passage and enactment into law of this needed legislation at about 4%. Please urge your senators to support your state’s farmers and entrepreneurs by joining Oregon’s senators in co-sponsoring  the Hemp Farming Bill, S 3501. 

 

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden supports American’s right to grow hemp.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has introduced an amendment to the farm bill to allow American farmers to grow hemp. Currently all hemp raw materials must be imported. The DEA disallows Americans from growing the source plant cannabis sativa, even in the many states where voters, legislatures and governors have acted to allow their farmers and entrepreneurs to profit from hemp. Wyden’s home state of Oregon legalized hemp cultivation in 2009.  Currently, even in these states, planting hemp risks SWAT raids by DEA, forfeiture of land and long imprisonment. The accomplished Democrat Senator seeks to allow American citizens the freedom to help feed thriving markets for the plant’s nutritional and fiber products. The bill, S. 3240 is similar to legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Ron Paul, R-Texas, H.R. 1831. Lucia Graves reports on Wyden’s bill in Huffington Post.

Ironically, this farm bill amendment finally allows Americans farmers to grow perhaps the world’s most nutritious food. The farm bill has been implicated as a prime cause of America’s obesity crisis by subsidizing some of the planet’s least nutritious food. The bill creates a flood of subsidized calories, primarily from corn, including high fructose corn syrup. These excess calories that have swollen the American waistline and have brought the country to a health care precipice. Finally, if this passes, the farm bill amendment S. 3240,  will encourage American farmers to grow and produce hemp seed and its oil, vital sources of essential fatty acids such as omega-3. New research just released shows the cognitive damage caused by excess fructose consumption on the brain and how such damage can be reduced by consumption of fatty acids such as omega-3s.

A better bill would have done more than simply excluding hemp from the definition of “marijuana,” but this is key reform and Senator Wyden (and Ron Paul) are to be commended. Hopefully, the US Congress, currently one of the country’s historically worst, will support American farmers and entrepreneurs by passing this job-creating amendment.

 

DEA’s regulatory morass stifles American capitalism.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Congratulations to Canadian hemp food producer Manitoba Harvest for its new Hemp Hearts. Long a supplier of hemp foods, the Winnipeg company has come up with a new product mix for hemp seeds.

I am happy to be able to purchase this highly nutritious food, filled with brain friendly Omega 3s, essential oils, fiber and protein, even at $16/pound.  As an Oregonian, though, I am sorry that hemp seeds cannot be grown in my state (and country). Farming is an important state industry and Oregon farmers could doubtless produce a bountiful crop of this food Americans so desperately need. How about an Oregon Harvest, instead of having to import what Oregonians could grow. In 2009, Oregon even passed state legislation, signed by the governor and now state law, allowing Oregonians to grow hemp. But no Oregon farmers are growing hemp because the DEA would crush them and take their land in forfeiture if they did, just one of many ways this bloated agency’s regulatory morass stifles American (and Oregon) capitalism. Silly regulations bluntly enforced by the DEA prevent fellow citizens from growing these powerhouse foodstuffs on American soil.

If the DEA had its way, Americans would have no access to hemp seed foods at all. That’s right, perhaps the most nutritious food on earth would not be a choice available to American consumers. Americans being fattened into diabesity by their obesity-inducing diets could not, by DEA mandate, purchase omega-3 rich hemp seed oils nor seeds until quite recently. Until overturned by court order, this federal bureaucracy restricted the rights of Americans to buy and consume hemp seeds, quite possibly the planet’s most nutritious food. Similarly, the rights are stolen from American farmers and entrepreneurs to grow and monetize one of humankind’s oldest crops.

In addition to supplying sublimely nutritious food, hemp is (or would be) one of American industry’s most useful basic resources. Virtually every part of the plant is usable. Fiber and fuel are two key areas.

Superb hemp-based building materials, comparable and even superior to wood provide vast opportunities in construction and manufacturing. In terms of working and building materials, hemp, of course, amplified the productivity of early Americans by providing them rope, canvass and a host of other materials. Deemed such an important contributor to colonial productivity and prosperity, some colonies required the growing of hemp. Its use declined with the availability of seemingly endless forests for wood building materials and with the introduction of oil-base synthetic fibers. With end of exploitative forestry and the passing of cheap oil, hemp fiber again has a great future as a source of construction material, building material and fiber for fabrication. Many building materials incorporating organic material from cannabis sativa are gaining favor.

  • Hemp can be incorporated into fiber board, insulation, and hempcrete, a more natural form of concrete.
  • Productivity with these materials is multiplied. First, they are carbon negative, a crucial consideration in a warming world. Cannabis plant material comprising hempcrete and similar products sequesters carbon away, out of the atmosphere. Such materials may be locally sourced, as hemp can grow nearly anywhere, saving transportation and carbon costs.

Clothing is a basic human need. Hemp fabric is already a preferred material for providing comfortable, hypoallergenic, UV protective cloth.

Using hemp for fuel offers huge American opportunities. Pure hemp seed oil can be used directly by any diesel engine. For now, hemp oil makes for an expensive fuel, but of course, it is against the law to produce it here in the USA. Maybe that has something to do with the high cost.

Of course, it is probable that medical care is the field where cannabis sativa, if freed of DEA strangulation, could make it grandest contribution to American well being and productivity. With the discovery of the endocannabinoid regulatory system in the 1990s, and subsequent exploration of its many functions in human physiology, and entire new area of medical research was opened. Or at least it would have been, had the entire cannabis plant not suffered DEA Schedule 1 status. Nearly all medical research is stymied by this most restrictive classification.

Recent congressional legislation has enhanced DEA scheduling capabilities. In effect, this bloated federal agency is allowed to write it own laws, on its own, by scheduling any substance it chooses. Bizarrely, legislators running on small government, anti-regulation platforms are quick to burden American capitalists with new regulations that benefit only DEA bureaucrats.

So American capitalists, entrepreneurs, farmers and dozens of other productive professions are being denied a hugely important raw material of food, fiber, fuel, medications, literally thousands of products to serve the real needs of Americans. The prosperity and well being of millions of Americans are sacrificed at the bureaucratic alter of the DEA. This is big government at its very worst.

Southern Oregon sheriffs wallow in tax-payer anti-marijuana money.

A tax-payer funded boondoggle is underway at the Jackson Country, Oregon sheriff’s office. The sheriff is adept at exploiting huge sources of federal money targeted at eradicating marijuana. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, a gravy train of (borrowed) federal dollars awaits local law enforcement willing to focus on marijuana eradication, an easy sell. Even hundreds of millions of stimulus dollars were allocated to warp police incentives towards focusing on cannabis rather than crime.

The DEA plays sugar daddy with federal money borrowed from the Chinese. In the case of Jackson County and surrounding counties such money provides for the funding of a permanent marijuana eradication task force, greatly expanding the providence of local law enforcement. In a state totally broke, in good part from expensive public employee pensions and benefits, the specter of generating more expensive and militant bureaucracy is alarming, especially when this eradication armada provides exactly no public benefit. With agreements between counties, Jackson County deputies can spend their days in SWAT gear eradicating marijuana crops in other counties, instead of providing police services in their own county. Such an agreement allows for paramilitary forces permanently porking on the public dole.

Instead of doing real police work, the sheriffs, deputies and personnel from multiple agencies play in the woods in SWAT costumes driving their machine-gun turreted assault vehicle.  They commonly lease $1,000/hour helicopters. Instead of solving crimes with victims, marijuana eradicators accomplish nothing except for providing price support for the crops they don’t find. That, and building towards their own bloated pensions.

To better harness this flow of federal tax dollars into his SWAT bureaucracy, the Jackson County sheriff has actually hired has own PR flack, paid by tax payers, a former local news anchor adept at gaining favorable reporting of the multi-county task force. And it worked. Even though it is only mid-summer, already the sheriff and the flack has had a PR day.  The local newspaper headlined, “Counties take aim at pot menace.

All three local TV news stations were present and each was given the opportunity to do a customized story. The content of the stories reflected exactly the propaganda intent of the sheriff’s PR office. Unfortunately, these talking points to which the news organizations so blindingly conformed are false,  actually propaganda lies with the goal of justifying plant eradication as a key law enforcement priority:

  • Lie # 1: The marijuana grows are the work of Mexican drug cartels. This is a favorite if unsupported assertion and portrays the brave SWAT teams meeting a grave foreign threat. Each of the “news” organizations was quick to recite and repeat this cartel assertion. Actually there is no proof of any involvement of so-called cartels, except that some of the garden keepers were Hispanic. News flash, Hispanics do most of the agricultural work in the USA. Perhaps the sheriff should be searching out Mexican cartel involvement in spinach growing.
  • Lie # 2: The grows represent a source of danger to hikers and people in the woods. This fallacy is always repeated. The reality is otherwise; no hikers have ever been killed when stumbling upon a marijuana grow. Statistically, Americans are far more likely to be shot to death by SWAT teams than marijuana gardeners.
  • Lie # 3: Counties must band together in marijuana enforcement because eradication in one county forces into other counties. Of course this whack-a-mole syndrome is a fatal flaw to all drug enforcement, but the real reason for this marijuana eradication bureaucracy cartel is to protect and expand the job security, benefits and pensions of the participants.
  • Lie # 4: Marijuana eradication is dangerous and requires SWAT style intervention. This is another totally bogus assertion, common in the war on drugs. In truth, eradication could be done with unskilled laborers and perhaps a couple of cops. Instead, large teams of highly paid cops don jack boots and automatic rifles. Oh, that’ s right, they get paid even more taxpayer dollars when clad in SWAT costumes.
  • Lie # 5: The litter left by growers and harm to natural areas is a function of marijuana agriculture. Again, any such damage is a function of prohibition. When prohibition ends, pot will no longer need to be grown hidden away in the wilderness.
  • Lie # 6: Marijuana is a menace. Actually, this plant provides powerful medical benefits, including pain relief, anti-inflammation and anti-oxidant action. It is among the safest of all medications, is non-toxic, has no lethal dose and has never killed anyone. It is a safer pain reliever than aspirin, which kills several hundred Americans each year. Indeed, it may become the aspirin of the 21st century, if its prohibition can be wrested away from the law enforcement special interests and its blatantly false Schedule I status changed.

The entire county PR effort tries to reinforce the idea that somehow cutting down medicinal plants, even in other counties, should be the highest priority for Jackson County’s chief law enforcement officer. Too bad the local media only breathlessly repeat the talking points of the sheriff’s PR flack, rather than doing any real reporting.

For example, in a state strapped by public employee pension costs, the reporters could examine the PERS retirement benefits for the sheriff, his PR flack, and team of eradication agents. The sheriff’s retirement check from Oregon taxpayers will be higher than $10,000, perhaps closer to $20,000 each month. The squads of eradication agents, along with the propaganda officer, will all get their own generous benefits, including health insurance for life, all on the tab of Oregon state taxpayers. Should not they actually do useful police work for the time they are actually employed?

In these end days of cannabis prohibition, so called ‘public servants’ are milking the system, wasting desperately needed resources and personally benefiting with tax-payer financed lavish retirements. Such excess is nauseating in a state facing a severe economic crisis and cutting desperately needed human services to the bone. Programs such as those helping Oregon’s aging citizens stay at home instead of nursing home are cut, while huge squads of cops waste borrowed dollars on extravagantly expensive eradication raids.

The war on drugs, especially on cannabis, has been an obscene failure, devastating the constitution and bloating the budget deficit as collateral damage.

Instead of wasting billions of dollars each year in its war on cannabis, the Obama administration should focus divert this funding to research in the exploding medical marijuana industry and to exploring the uses of hemp as food, fuel and fiber. The anti-carcinogenic properties of cannabis alone more than justify such an investment. Meanwhile, local Oregon sheriffs should stop milking the federal government of borrowed funds for expensive and useless marijuana eradication boondoggles.

Drug War Idiocy – Importing hemp from China

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp

China is currently the world’s largest producer of hemp and exports fiber and seed products to the USA. World trade opportunities are growing rapidly for hemp seed, hemp oil and fiber, textiles and other products of the plant cannabis. Only the USA is being left behind, a consumer, not a producer, of new green agricultural products that provide food, fuel and industrial and textile fibers.

American hemp entrepreneurs are crushed beneath the heels of tax-paid bureaucrats. Green, tax-paying jobs and products are being sacrificed to the whims of the DEA, a self-serving government agency working to maintain its power and enormous budgets.

Hemp seed is arguably the humankind’s single most nutritious food. To its shame, the DEA tried to ban Americans from all access to this food in the 1990’s. The agency, by administrative fatwa declared that because of THC content, no hemp product could be even imported, much less grown domestically. The federal bureaucrats were finally dissuaded from their dishonorable hack only by the courts. Their efforts to deprive their countrymen of nutritionally supreme products such as hulled hemp seeds were declared to be over-reaching by one of the few good court decisions of the drug war.  A federal court rejected the DEA’s strangle-hold on hemp food.

The current situation where Americans import hemp seeds and products from China (along with Canada and other countries) illustrates, in microcosm, the USA’s perilous economic situation. China sells 4 times more to the USA than it buys. American money and assets flow to China, now holder of nearly  a trillion $ of US debt. Chinese goods and products, including foodstuffs such as hemp seeds and fiber products, flow to the USA.  Dollars to pay for them flow to China. For Americans to be importers, not exporters, of such an agricultural product is ludicrous. American farmers are the most productive on earth, at least when not crippled by inane federal restrictions. The free market in the USA for the potentially highly valuable hemp crop has been crushed by the DEA. Like the apparatchiks of the Soviet Union telling farmers what to grow, the bureaucrats at the DEA exercise total control, backed by vast powers of punishment.

A dozen states, Oregon the latest, have passed laws specifically trying to give their farmers and entrepreneurs the freedom to produce and profit from hemp. But there is a catch. No American can currently grow even one cannabis plant without breaking federal law and risking ruin by the DEA.

The success of the Canadian company, Manitoba Harvest, is impressive. It demonstrates the type of innovative, entrepreneurial and jobs-providing enterprise the natural resource of hemp can provide. FoodBizDaily reports:

  • Hemp foods are one of the hottest health food trends in North America, and a fast-growing Canadian company is demonstrating that there is a healthy appetite for nutritious hemp foods overseas.
  • Due to a vigorous international sales initiative over the past few years by Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils (www.manitobaharvest.com), exports of their hemp foods beyond North America have skyrocketed more than 500% over the past year.  So far in 2009, the company has exported products to eight nations (in addition to the United States) including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan.

Good for Manitoba and Canada, but let us also have a Montana Harvest, and Oregon Harvest and Idaho Harvest of hemp. Such success could be emulated by American hemp farmers and entrepreneurs, were they free of the bureaucrats and ill-conceived laws that restrict them. Growing hemp for nutritious food, strong material, fine fabric and alternative fuel is the most basic kind of productive activity, adding value by feeding, clothing, sheltering, transporting and employing people. For Americans to be denied participation in this productive, innovative, worldwide hemp boom is a disgrace. This is a clear example of another way drug war idiocy is crippling the USA. Supposedly living in the land of the free, Americans are not free to grow, thrive and prosper this extraordinary plant resource.

A great resource for promoting hemp is Vote Hemp. The single issue advocacy group provides useful political tools, such as an automated way to write your congress person and request support of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009. Let American be growers, producers and entrepreneurs of hemp based products! We will export hemp foods, fibers, and fuels to the world!

Victory for hemp in Oregon!

With the signature of Governor Ted Kulongoski, Oregon has agreed to allow its citizens the freedom to farm and develop industrial hemp. Hemp is one of humankind’s oldest and most useful crops. It provides great value in thousands of uses. A century ago hemp was an important American crop. The renaissance of hemp cultivation in the USA could provide a major stimulus of true productivity to a country sorely in need of solutions. Hemp can help provide for the most elemental of human needs, by producing food to eat, fibers to wear and materials for building products and structures.

After passing with big majority in both of the house and senate in Oregon, and now signing by the state;s chief executive, Oregon has declared an independence from a smothering federal policy on industrial hemp. Oregon freedom fighter Sen. Floyd Prozanski was the sponsor of state Senate Bill 676. The state senator has sponsored similar bills going back to 1997.  Prozanski commented,

Unlike its pioneering bottle bill, Oregon was not the first state to free the production and use of hemp. Over a half dozen other American states now allow use of hemp for for fiber, food and fuel. The actual senate bill language hints at some of these productive uses:

Oregon’s law is different from most of the new state laws freeing up the farming of hemp in that it does not require a permit from the DEA. This unreasonable requirement by most of the states is a non-starter as the DEA would never grant such a permit. Oregon is also the first western state to begin to free this resource from the federal DEA bureaucracy.  The Beaver State is first in the west only because California governor Arnold Swartzenegger twice vetoed hemp freedom legislation that had passed California’s legislature.

The change in Oregon law, however, does nothing to change the asinine and cruel federal designation of cannabis sativa as a Schedule I drug with draconian restrictions on its cultivation. In the eyes of the DEA, it may be a capital crime to grow a field of hemp. Although hemp has very few of the cannabinoids that give other forms of cannabis their mild psychoactivity, the DEA could still persecute any large hemp grow as a grave federal crime. Just how hemp agriculture will get underway in Oregon (and other states) is unclear.

  • Any Oregon farmer brave enough to exercise his new state’s right to grow a hemp crop could be fairly certain he or she would be inviting a raid by dozens of armed, armored, jack-booted and masked government goons. Arrest at gunpoint while sprawled on the ground would quickly follow, then land forfeiture, months of prosecution and perhaps years of imprisonment.

A solution to the increasingly assertive voice of the American people demanding change on cannabis/hemp issues, changed gained through state initiatives or legislation, is to reschedule cannabis sativa. Changing it from Schedule I down to Schedule V would avoid catastrophic raids and persecutions. Americans could regain the productive resources from hemp, and curative medicines from cannabis, that they enjoyed a century ago.

In any case, Oregon’s actions help unleash Oregonian entrepreneurs wishing to develop hemp crops and products from their choke-hold by federal bureaucrats. Oregon’s governor and legislators, especially Senator Floyd Prozanski, deserve thanks and praises for this liberating legislation. Hopefully, federal changes will allow Oregonians to use hemp to provide people with food, clothing, shelter and fuel.