But some would-be producers of hemp say the legislation is more or less pointless.
The House gave first-round approval to House Bill 2173 on a voice vote Monday, with a final vote set for Tuesday. The bill still must go to the Senate.
The legislation paves the way for Kansas to create a commercial program to grow hemp, the industrial textile form of cannabis that is a close cousin of smokable marijuana.
But the bill effectively prohibits using Kansas-grown hemp in products intended for human and animal consumption, said Vernon Hammond, a pro-hemp activist and owner of two Wichita-area stores that sell hemp-derived CBD products.
It eventually allows for the sale of hemp fiber for uses such as rope, cloth or building material. However, those markets are not yet mature enough to support the cost of growing the crop, Hammond said.
America and the entire world is waking up to the promise of cannabis and tiring of prohibition
The pace of expansion within the “legalized” cannabis industry is impossible to miss. News of U.S. states “going legal” or large commercial operations “going public” are often front page news. Notably, an increasing number of non-cannabis businesses find themselves working with the industry as it expands and requires greater resources.
In all of this, people ask, “How is this legal?” Explaining the quickly-evolving U.S. regulatory framework is complicated — and it’s just as complicated at the international level.
A bill aimed at making the hemp plant an agricultural option for farmers across the state took a second step forward Monday, passing unanimously through the Senate agriculture committee.
Bill sponsor Sen. Rob Bradley said this bill aims to make Florida a “pioneer” when it comes to the burgeoning crop.
The Fleming Island Republican’s SB 1020 authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to administer a state hemp program and sets up rulemaking and a board of experts to develop the system. The idea is modeled after what Kentucky has done to revitalize farmland once used by the tobacco industry, Bradley said.
Hemp, a form of the cannabis plant, contains only trace amounts of THC — the naturally occurring component in marijuana that produces a high — and uses less water and fertilizer to grow. Hemp has been cultivated for approximately 10,000 years, according to the University of Florida’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Project, and can be used for fiber, building materials, animal feed and pain relief.
There’s a new demand study for recreational marijuana that the medical pot industry says shows current licensees can handle the extra demand.
Pam Althoff with Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois says numbers they’ve reviewed indicate it will take five years for the marketplace to level off, were lawmakers to pass legislation legalizing cannabis for adult recreational use. She said the first two years of that can be met by the current medical cannabis production and distribution licensees.
In an update earlier this month from the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, the Illinois Department of Public Health says there are 55 licensed dispensaries that so far in 2019 have sold $26.8 million worth of cannabis. The total sales since the program began in November 2015 is $286.9 million.
Reacting to those who say the the medical pot industry is trying to protect their carve out, Althoff said they’re looking for incremental expansion.
“[We] don’t want to see what happened in Oregon, what originally happened in California, with an overglut and very under-regulated product and program,” Althoff, a former state senator, said.
Kelvin McCabe with the Illinois Chapter of NORML conducted a different demand study and he expects a drastic spike in the number of consumers, from 30,000 for medical to an additional 770,000 for recreational.
“And we don’t want to have shortages, and we don’t want medical patients to run out,” McCabe said.
Many states have taken the slow and steady approach to the legalization of medical and recreation marijuana, but Illinois is doing it homework by sharing the results of a new study detailing the Illinois market demand so if there isn’t over demand or under demand. Steve Grzanich checked in with Pamela Althoff (Executive Director of Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois) to sort through what it would mean if legalization happened right now, and what we can continue to do to better ourselves before legalization.
This week the New Jersey Legislature could pass the most progressive recreational marijuana bill in the country.
New York may not legalize marijuana anytime soon.
My colleagues Nick Corasaniti, who covers New Jersey, and Vivian Wang, who covers the New York Legislature, explained.
What makes New Jersey’s marijuana bill so progressive?
Mr. Corasaniti: Mainly, two things: criminal records and access to the market.
• First, the bill would make it possible to expunge nonviolent criminal records for marijuana-related offenses (up to five pounds, one of the highest thresholds in the country).
People with past convictions, or who are incarcerated or on parole, would be eligible for a clean slate, and they could request expungement online.
• Second, the state would require that at least 10 percent of licenses for marijuana businesses go to small companies. Those licenses would be geared toward low-income or high-crime cities, or ones that have had a lot of marijuana arrests.
Basically, places that have been hit hard by marijuana criminalization would reap some benefits of cannabis legalization.
New Jersey would be the 11th state to legalize marijuana, along with Washington, D.C. Wealthy, white investors have traditionally reaped the profits of the emerging industry.
Where would people be free to consume marijuana?
New Jersey’s bill would allow for “public consumption areas.”
People wouldn’t be able to consume marijuana outdoors in public spaces. There would be designated areas for use, mainly at marijuana dispensaries: buy the drug in one room, and use it in another.
The bill would also allow casinos and hotels to have consumption areas.
Also, the bill would allow marijuana delivery.
Where does New York stand on all this?
Ms. Wang: Legalization felt like an inevitability when Governor Cuomo announced his support for it in December. But that was just three months ago; that’s not a lot of time to figure all this out.
Two years of trade-dispute induced tariffs have decimated Virginia’s tobacco farmers, the president of Virginia’s Board for Agriculture and Consumer Services told his fellow board members Thursday. As he spoke Governor Ralph Northam was upstairs in the same building preparing to sign legislation the industry hopes provides a path forward for those same farmers.
Hemp. Industrial Hemp. Not for smoking but for squeezing out the oil.
Robert J. Mills of Pittsylvania County is already in the business of growing hemp, some of which he says is being grown to meet organic standards for the state of California. The production schedule for hemp is like tobacco’s, he said, it works well in the same soils, and tobacco curing barns can be used to dry the product.
“Sometimes when things sound too good to be true, they aren’t true,” Mills told the board. But clearly, he has high hopes. Those in the industry now have faced extremely high start-up costs (he said $20,000 per acre) and have operated without crop insurance or other protections. The changing law may make this a mainstream cash crop, but it will still be regulated.
The 2018 Farm Bill at the federal level liberalized the rules on hemp production and sales, and the legislation Northam signed Thursday brings Virginia’s rules in line. The companion bills, Senate Bill 1692 and House Bill 1839, both had emergency clauses, so the law is now in effect.
The law lays the groundwork for production of the oil from hemp in Virginia under state supervision, as well. It legalizes dealing in hemp by parties who are not the producers.
To qualify as industrial hemp the crop must test below 0.3 percent THC content, the intoxicant in the cannabis sativa plant. The THC content in marijuana for consumption is about ten percent, but any plant with THC above the limit is treated as marijuana under the law. CBD from hemp is not under the same restrictions as CBD from marijuana. Any other product from hemp is also out from under the old legal cloud.
Virginia Tech has been doing research and promoting the product through its extension service. An industry advocacy group was easy to find but is not registered to lobby at the General Assembly. It is (of course) run out of Nelson County.
Marijuana for medical purposes can be used in the form of buds, oils, and tinctures. Of these, the market for oil-based marijuana is expected to witness the fastest growth, globally, during the forecast period. Adequate dosage and proper route of administration of cannabinoids are the major areas of concern for healthcare providers. The health benefits of using cannabis oil or hemp oil over smoking marijuana have led to the increased demand for oil-based marijuana for medical applications, thereby contributing to its market growth.
Globally, North America was the largest revenue generator in the medical marijuana market in 2017, because of high investments in research and development activities to investigate the potential medical applications of cannabinoids. Moreover, Canada and some states of the U.S. are planning to legalize the usage of marijuana for medical as well as recreational purposes. For instance, by October 2018, Canada plans to legalize the drug use by adults. As per the current medical regime associated with cannabis, patients are allowed to access cannabis under the authorization of their healthcare providers. Thus, government initiatives to spread awareness about the medical application of marijuana and legalize its usage are expected to contribute to the market growth in the near future.
Several research projects have been funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to explore the possible benefits of marijuana in different medical conditions. Furthermore, increasing consumption of cannabinoid-based drugs approved for certain disorders is promoting the market growth. For instance, nabiximols (Sativex), a mouth spray containing two cannabinoids of marijuana, that is, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), is used for treating muscle control problems caused by multiple sclerosis. Nabiximols is approved in the U.K., Canada, and several European countries, and studies are being conducted for the drug approval in the U.S. as well.
If a GE Power employee tests positive for marijuana use after a manufacturing accident, company managers don’t have a way to figure out when the worker used the drug and whether they were impaired during the accident.
That could be a problem for the employer as lawmakers consider legalizing recreational marijuana in New York, a GE Power executive said.
There isn’t a test for marijuana like there’s a breathalyzer for alcohol that will tell you whether someone is impaired. Weekend users could, in theory, test the same as someone using on the job.
“If we’re legalizing it, we’re going to have lots of positives there,” said Maureen Young, GE Power’s executive counsel on labor and employment. “It’s going to lead to probably some inaccurate disciplinary actions because we can’t test for impairment.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing this year to make New York the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The governor said this week he is dropping his plan to legalize the drug as part of the state’s budget process, but he’s hopeful lawmakers will pass a bill in the weeks that follow.
Bills in the Assembly (A1617) and the state Senate (S1527) would require employers to establish impairment before taking disciplinary action against an employee, and would prevent employers from deciding not to hire people because they test positive for cannabis use.
Young believes figuring out how to test for impairment is critical before marijuana is legalized.
The cannabis market is awash in plant nutrition options. Growers of all experience levels may easily feel daunted by the sheer scope of nutrient program offerings. The range of data points needed to be adequately informed on plant nutrition is also deep; cannabis growers can’t go into this process without knowing precisely what they’re looking to get out of their crops.
With decades experience behind Harrell’s entrance into the cannabis space, the company’s MAX Rx program is set up in a way to fit any grower’s needs. Customization and compatibility are key—not only to what Harrell’s is offering the cannabis industry, but to all growers’ approaches to providing high-quality nutrients to their plants.
It’s vital to understand your own business and the background of any prospective plant nutrition partners, according to Harrell’s Director of Agronomy Jeff Atkinson.
The company was founded in 1941 in Lakeland, Fla. The goal has always been to deliver customized agronomic solutions for a spectrum of plant needs. As cannabis becomes the increasingly competitive marketplace we see today in the U.S., that custom-built product line-up is the sort of thing that will complete cannabis cultivation facilities of all sizes.
Here, Atkins lays out three fundamentals to working through that process and selecting a trustworthy partner. “For us, reputation is everything,” he says.
Cost and Value
“There are a lot of different sources for nutrients out there,” Atkinson says. “We’re able to provide a concentrated, quality product at a cost they likely won’t find.”
Of course, when selecting any vendor for your business, cost is king. Plant nutrition programs should be built into your business to increase yield and profits; if the cost is cutting into your bottom line, then you’re off to a bad start.
“The business is just going to get more competitive,” he says. “There are going to be more constraints on cost and overhead that go into producing these crops. Growers need to understand how much they are really spending on any number of things—lighting, facilities, fertility, … pest control. Once they have that information, they can take a look and say, ‘What are my fertility options? Where can I control my costs and where can I get a consistent product?’”
Before getting into the work of selecting a plant nutrition partner, growers should take a close look at precisely where their own business strengths and weaknesses lie—where to fit a solid program into the balance sheets.
“We look at it as an investment,” Atkinson says. “You get what you pay for.”
This is one of the tentpole mandates that drove Harrell’s to develop the MAX Rx line. Cannabis growers may be coming to the company from all sort of avenues in the industry; Harrell’s, in turn, insists that a plant nutrition partner must provide solutions that are compatible across all types of cultivation. Atkinson says that the company set out to create a line of products for cannabis growers, and that each must be clean, clear and compatible.
Look for the track record of a business.
“By using high-quality ingredients, you know that you’re going to have compatibility between products,” Atkinson says. “You know that they’re going to provide a plant response that you’re looking for—and you know that you’re going to get a good value for the money that you’re investing.”
“All of that [is] so that we have confidence as a company in our products—but, as an extension of that, our customers have confidence in our products, that they’ll do what they say they’ll do, that the customer is getting what we’re telling them they’re buying,” Atkinson says.