10 Ways to Support The American Hemp Industry
Learn about the major challenges facing the American hemp industry while exploring ways of addressing and resolving them for the betterment of all.
Mid-November 2019, Washington: It’s been a couple weeks since the USDA published its Interim final rule “Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program” in the Federal Register in accordance with 2018 Farm Bill provisions...and listen, people are losing their shit...
“They’re handing the American cannabis industry to Monsanto!”
“They’re pulling the rug out from under new ‘hemp CBD’ growers and assigning control of the CBD market to the Big Pharma!”
“Get Trump out of office so we can reform these police-state regulations looking to strangle the hemp industry before it gets started!”
“Well, that’s it folks, hang it up, if you aren’t farming hemp for fiber or grain then long term you’re sunk.”
“The push against cannabis will never end, the drug war machine has created a new cash crop with high-CBD hemp!”
First of all, can everyone calm the $%^& down and take a breath?
Secondly, hemp had never been associated with cannabinoid production until recently.
Hemp’s always been fiber and grain cultivars. Now the U.S. government has created an issue by legally declaring all cannabis for cannabinoid production (CBD, CBG, CBC, CBN, etc.) is ‘hemp’.
It’s not. It’s marijuana in the process of being genetically bred to provide high levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, with very low levels of THC - again, a very new phenomenon. Agencies seem to be setting the THC bar so low, and presenting the testing in such a way as it puts tremendous stress on the CBD farmer.
Good, because we also need farmers interested in growing hemp for fiber and grain!
But here, have some tea or coffee if you’d prefer (there’s a shot of grandpa’s old cough medicine in it to help calm your nerves).
We’re in the process of FINALLY undoing close to a century of cannabis farming prohibition law while incorporating new high-CBD/low-THC genetics and everyone’s up in arms acting so surprised the USDA didn’t present absolutely crystalline interim rules right out the gate.
No Soapbox: Darby Hemp’s Initial Impressions
Given the context; given where we’re at as a country; given so many variables and interested parties when approaching cannabis, what the USDA came up with is admirable. Our hats are off to everyone in the agency along with partner agencies and people working hard within the cannabis industry to help make this another big winning step in the right direction.
Are the USDA interim rules perfect? No. Far from it. There’s a serious lack of certainty in critical areas and plenty of challenges presented, but generally speaking we agree with so many others that the USDA did a stellar job of following the quasi-directions set out by congress.
The 2018 Farm Bill was only the beginning of the next chapter of America’s ongoing relationship with cannabis.
Serious amendments are called for, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if it takes a while. For those who are only now realizing this, yes, it could take years (unfortunately, short of WW3 or a dire socioeconomic or military need) for America to see a thriving and robust hemp industry - including fiber, seed, root and flower.
In that light, here’s a list of ten ways hempsters here at Darby Hemp and around the country believe we can boost this new and struggling industry. These are things we’re spreading awareness about.
Let’s hope within a year most issues on this list have been reasonably dealt with.
1) Fund & Maintain A National Genetic Roadmap
According to the USDA, there will be no seed certification program initially.
That’s okay, it’s coming.
The U.S. government has data on hemp and cannabis in general tracing to the early 20th century, especially regarding the plant’s ability to provide its own weed killer through superior canopy growth. This dates back to the 1913 USDA yearbook and good ol’ Lyster H. Dewey - Botanist in Charge of Fiber-Plant Investigations, Bureau of Plant Industry.
He goes on about the costs and ROI per acre of fiber hemp, what kinds of soils it responds to and so forth, and it sounds a lot like hemp farmers are starting to sound today, well over a century later, only they’re mainly growing newly classified hemp for CBD today and the money valuations are bigger.
Unfortunately we lost the genetics Mr Dewey was studying thanks to prohibition.
A shame beyond words.
Some ditch weed hemp survives out east, but not the classic strains of hemp-cannabis that helped the British or Spanish or Dutch Navy’s dominate the high seas (arrrggg), or the European settlers in early colonial America (cue flutes & fiddles).
What farmers across America need is access to good seed for a variety of modern cannabis/hemp crops and a national genetic roadmap to know what genetics are ideal, where.
For example, what’s the best kind of hemp cultivar to use in the Pacific Northwest to grow for grain, or in the Southwest for fiber, or in New England for CBD-rich flower? It’s going to take some time, lobbying power and plenty of willingness from farmers to do the hard work of trial and error’ing then diligently sharing their data with not only the USDA and their state Dept. of Ag, but with the people and fellow farmers online through the blogosphere and social media.
We should also look to building and maintaining a genetic cannabis library of sorts. Darby Hemp bows in respect to the efforts of those like Phylos, setting out to,
“Assemble the world's largest database of hemp and cannabis genetic insights featuring thousands of heritage and modern varieties from over 80 countries.”
2) Streamline Proposed Sampling & Testing Systems
Because of the sheer scale of where the U.S. cannabis industry could be in 2023 when we combine both core umbrella-cultivars of cannabis - hemp for fiber, seed, and CBD-rich/low-THC flower, and medical or recreational cannabis for THC-related cannabinoid production - the people demand reasonable and accurate testing systems.
Is the USDA assembling an army soon?
How many testing agents will we need for a crop that can be transformed into medicines, herbal supplementation options, foods for humans and animals, and tens of thousands of other consumer, construction and industrial products?
How many labs will be required to process test kits from each and every cannabis plot?
Shall we include all the many smaller family and hobby farms sure to pop up across the nation as well to grow their own fiber and grain hemp?
There simply aren’t enough DEA-approved labs to go around unless the DEA plans to dramatically expand its operations just to help oversee hemp crops for cannabinoid production.
This makes no sense.
Sampling and testing should NOT be on the grounds of looking for criminal activity to be punished, thereby continuing the indefensible cannabis-based drug war. Instead, let’s streamline a reasonable system focused on being clear for consumer and economic purposes what the resource is.
Is it low-THC hemp for non-intoxicant cannabinoid production?
Is it a textile fiber cultivar?
Is it leftover biomass from grain production on its way to a biofuel plant?
Maybe it’s canna-waste headed to a special cellulose processing center for bioplastics?
If the 2018 Farm Bill along with evolving endocannabinoid science doesn’t bring about the complete 100% decriminalization of cannabis (while still keeping THC somewhat of a controlled substance like alcohol or nicotine), then nothing will and what are we doing here?
It makes one wonder why the USDA and the U.S. government even chose to light this fuse with both 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills in relation to hemp.
We’re so glad they did, but imagine if we diverted some of these endless resources intended for regulatory testing and sampling agents and put it into building things like a seed bank and genetic cannabis library so hemp farmers don’t need to worry about going hot and cannabis farmers can farm in this country without drug tzars breathing down their necks.
3) Provide Systematic Safeguards for Farmers
Many of the needs of farmers today vs. the hemp farmers of long ago have changed, but some haven’t. We need solid crop insurance and financial safeguards for our hemp farmers.
What if they’re trying to produce grain for you, or for their community, or they got seed with the intention of growing for CBG production for skin creams, and are sold bad plant genetics?
What if they’re setting out to help us revolutionize American textile manufacturing but the weather gives them a real wallop?
Good news is there’s some larger programs (Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, FSA Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance, etc.) rolling out in select states starting in 2020, but if you look there’s also a growing number of visionary providers stepping up to bat for farmers because they understand the long game here.
They see the economic and environmental implications.
If you do as well, be heard. Speak to your representatives. Get involved. Use social media to help sway public opinion towards taking care of our hemp farmers at this critical juncture rather than big pharma and their corporate partners.
Hemp is a viable commercial crop if there ever were one, with so much to offer our farming communities. Let’s make sure they get the same protections any soy, corn, or wheat farmer has had full access to.
4) Build Towards a ‘Zero Waste’ Cannabis Industry
Regardless of cultivar, whether for fiber, grain or flower, the cannabis plant shouldn’t be burned or wasted. Everyone agrees on this point, especially from core environmental standpoints, except those who seek to get paid to conduct this atrocious work. The only things we lack are processing and manufacturing to take the hot hemp or whatever kind of cannabis and transform it into biochar, biofuel, or bioplastic, rather than consumer extracts.
So, if you’re a farmer and you’re growing for cannabinoids, it would be better if you knew you could at least find a way to sell your biomass if the THC is too high. Or, knowing you’ll have a buyer for all that leftover biomass and fiber after growing for grain.
If huge cannabis crops begin being burned across America in 2020-2021, that will truly be a sign certain systems within the nation have gone completely insane for Drug War profits.
5) Diversified & Crowd-Funded Capital Investments
We need to build ‘from seed to shelf’ paths to market for farmers and entrepreneurs.
The hemp industry is the most promising industry and agricultural revolution to hit the U.S. in a century. It’s on our doorstep. But, if you haven’t noticed, there’s a serious economic paradigm shift also happening from Salt Lake to Shanghai, from Hollywood to Hong Kong. We need capital investment in farming equipment, in processing technology and manufacturing methods.
Let’s not forget lobbying dollars.
And listen, we don’t want it all coming from the corporate state. We don’t want the lion’s share coming from wealthy political radicals. We don’t want billionaires running the show!
For you capital investment might be purchasing some hemp seed oil from a local farmer to cook with or run a diesel engine on around the farm. Or, maybe you could pitch in a buck-a-month to support Darby Hemp. Whatever. You get the idea. Find an American hemp operation and give it some of your good loving.
6) The FDA Stance on CBD
We the PEOPLE need to know what our government’s stance on CBD is going to be. We need the FDA to issue their initial interim-style rules just as the USDA did on non-intoxicating and non-addictive phytocannabinoids like CBD, CBG, CBN, CBC, etc., so we can see whether we agree with them or not.
Selling extracts - will they make the people fight to do it, or force us to create a black market for these products which will likely result in harm to people similar to what we’re seeing recently as a result of additives in black market THC vapes?
Regardless of their stance, YOU can understand the truth by simply taking the time to familiarize yourself with current endocannabinoid system (ECS) science, and the basics behind supplementing this system with cannabinoids.
If you need these compounds, for whatever reason, it IS within your power to grow them yourself. Thing is, that’s hard and it can take some capital investment for those less crafty among us.
7) The Treasury Dept. to Move on Banking
Formal banking guidance would be extremely helpful at this point. The National Credit Union Admin recently issued some guidance, but there are still so many questions regarding how formal banks and conventional lending institutions will do business with the hemp industry.
This issue is definitely ongoing...
8) Safe & Secure Interstate Transportation
A steady stream of stories have made it clear over the last year that police departments across the land are still perceiving cannabis as a cash crop for the predatory legal system.
Why is there still such a financial incentive in so many areas for police departments and agents involved with interstate transportation to harass, detain, arrest, and fine people involved in the transportation of American cannabis?
It’s an outrage. The USDA is making moves in the right direction, but it’s obvious by the first interim rules the DEA has had a horrible influence. Honestly, the DEA should be completely taken out of the picture when it comes to hemp and cannabis, which itself, again, should be completely decriminalized.
THC DOES have medical value in human beings, and yes it should be controlled, but it shouldn’t be a Schedule 1 substance alongside heroic or peyote...unless we’re talking about unnaturally high levels or pure concentrations or black market synthetics coming into the country from abroad which are a completely different story.
9) Heavy Tariffs on Foreign Hemp and Cannabis Products
Why should massive amounts of foreign hemp from China and Europe be allowed into the U.S., when we’re in the process of building the foundations of a domestic hemp farming industry and infrastructure?
Same could be said about Canadian hemp products. Hasn’t Canada made enough money from Americans thanks to the trade imbalance that went on for so many years? Definitely an ongoing issue as well.
So far there’s been no official word on any tariffs related to cannabis or cannabis products.
10) FULL Lift of Cannabis-Based Felony Conviction Ban
No average American citizen with a cannabis-related felony conviction on their legal record should be banned from participating in the hemp industry.
The notion is shameful. From the outset this has always been a reprehensible push by the drug war era agencies and interests, but the USDA hasn’t gone far enough by limiting the background checks to founding or executive members and investors.
If anything, the for-profit system that enjoyed tremendous economic benefits as a result of cannabis prohibition should be looked at as a likely candidate for reparations. How many lives have been destroyed because of unfounded and unscientific cannabis laws? How many families torn apart? How many Americans wrongfully died as a result of Drug War laws related to cannabis?
Yet, how many hundreds of billions were made by this system by prosecuting, fining, incarcerating and enslaving Americans involved with cannabis?
Now this system seems to be trying to weaponize hemp, but the people won’t stand for it.
There’s much to be done to ensure 2020-2030 sees a hemp-fueled agricultural revolution where the crop helps the nation embrace cannabinoid-based medicine targeting the ECS, hemp fiber for everything from clothing to construction, and hemp seed-based nutrition. If you agree, show your support. And feel free to Cast your lot in with the DH crowd for $1.