World’s Tallest Hemp Hotel Opens in South Africa

Hemp Hotel is a 12 story hempcrete buildingA new hotel made from hemp has opened in South Africa, marking a major milestone for the country’s green building sector. The hotel, called the Hemp Hotel, is located in the city of Cape Town and is made entirely from hempcrete, a building material made from hemp and lime.

Hempcrete is a sustainable and environmentally friendly building material that has a number of advantages over traditional building materials. It is strong, durable, and fire-resistant, and it also has excellent insulation properties. Hempcrete is also a carbon-negative material, meaning that it absorbs more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it releases during production.

The Hemp Hotel is the tallest building in the world to be made from hempcrete. It is a twelve-story building with 24 rooms, and it is designed to be energy-efficient and low-maintenance. The hotel also has a number of sustainable features, such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and a green roof.

The opening of the Hemp Hotel is a major step forward for South Africa’s green building sector. It shows that it is possible to build sustainable and environmentally friendly buildings that are also beautiful and comfortable. The hotel is expected to attract visitors from all over the world, and it is hoped that it will inspire others to build with hempcrete.

In addition to the environmental benefits, hempcrete is also a cost-effective building material. It is estimated that the Hemp Hotel cost about 20% less to build than a conventional hotel of the same size. This is due to the fact that hempcrete is a relatively easy and quick material to work with.

The Hemp Hotel is a pioneering project that is setting a new standard for sustainable building. It is hoped that the hotel will inspire others to use hempcrete in their own construction projects.

U.S. Hemp Crop Valued at $238 Million in New USDA Report

The U.S. hemp acreage saw a significant drop in 2022, a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows. USDA’s National Hemp Report documents major losses in the value and acreage of hemp across every metric that it reported on for 2022.

Last year, “the value of hemp production in the open and under protection for the United States totaled $238 million, down 71 percent from 2021,” the report says.

Planted area for the Nation in 2022 for all utilizations totaled 28,314 acres, down 48 percent from 2021. Floral hemp cultivation was down 66% as compared to 2021 as sales and demand have slowed dramatically due to a failure to regulate by the FDA. Area harvested for hemp grown for grain in the United States was estimated at 5,379 acres, down 35 percent from last season. Area harvested for hemp grown in the open for fiber in the United States was estimated at
6,850 acres, down 46 percent from last season.

Rep. James Comer (R-KY), chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf last week, announcing an investigation into the agency’s decision and criticizing the “insufficient rationale for inaction” on CBD regulations.

Bi-partisan group introduces “Free to Grow Act” in House

Today, a bipartisan coalition of House legislators introduced the “Free to Grow Act” to end the unfair drug felony prohibition for hemp farmers. The bill was introduced by senior House Agriculture Committee member Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, alongside Representatives David Trone (D-Md.), David Joyce (R-Ohio), and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.). The Free to Grow Act aims would expand economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals.

“While hemp production was federally legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill, the industry’s growth is being stunted by red tape, discriminatory policy, and regulatory uncertainty,” said Pingree. “The upcoming Farm Bill gives Congress a once-in-five-years opportunity to correct the unfair policy that bans people with drug convictions from growing hemp. I am proud to join Reps. Trone, Joyce, and Mace in that effort by introducing the Free to Grow Act, addressing this injustice and supporting a thriving hemp economy.”

Despite the fact that Congress legalized hemp farming under the Farm Bill in 2018, the law prohibits people with a felony drug conviction within the past 10 years from cultivating hemp. This is especially troublesome considering that the annual value of U.S. hemp production has grown to over $800 million. By preventing formerly incarcerated individuals from participating in a growing industry, we are further exacerbating their potential inability to start a business and thrive financially.

Vote Hemp worked along with the Farm Bureau and the Drug Policy Alliance to remove this prohibition in the 2018 Farm Bill. It was originally proposed by Sen. Grassley (R-IA) as a lifetime ban but thanks to work by the original coalition, the provision was limited to those convicted within the past 10 years. The Free to Grow Act corrects this irrational and punitive policy and allows those who paid their debt to participate as hemp farmers. “Vote Hemp strongly supports the Free to Grow Act and thanks the sponsors for their support” said Eric Steenstra, Vote Hemp’s Executive Director.

Vote Hemp comments on Maryland SB 516

Today Vote Hemp submitted comments on Maryland bill SB 516 specifically concerning the proposed THC milligram cap that would destroy the Maryland hemp industry.

We are urging the Maryland legislature to amend the bill to remove the THC cap provision and work with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and hemp industry stakeholders to address any concerns.

United Nations Report: Commodities at a Glance

United Nations Hemp Commodity Report - 2022The United Nations has produced a commodity report on industrial hemp. This report discusses the general uses of industrial hemp, and how they are reflected in international production and trade statistics. Based on current practical experiences and empirical expertise, it also defines the steps that could be taken by developing countries where climate and agronomic characteristics are favorable for its cultivation in order to exploit its economic and social potential.

The full report can be viewed here.

FDA Mulls Regulating CBD Products

FDA regulation of hemp CBD foods

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is exploring the safety of legal cannabis-infused food and supplements and will eventually create a set of recommendations on how to regulate cannabis-derived products in the coming months, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The agency is studying the long-term impacts of daily use of CBD, whether it can be safely consumed during pregnancy and other usages. The agency is also concerned about CBD’s impact on future fertility, according to Patrick Cournoyer, who is in charge of developing the agency’s cannabis strategy.

“Given what we know about the safety of CBD so far, it raises concerns for FDA about whether these existing regulatory pathways for food and dietary supplements are appropriate for this substance,” FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock told the Journal.

CBD is legal, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp, but the FDA is in charge of regulating hemp products. However, many companies that manufacture CBD products have operated without specific guidelines on production and marketing, while some states have moved forward ahead of the FDA with their own rules on these products.

The FDA does say that CBD and similar chemicals are not allowed in foods and marketed as supplements, but that has not stopped the cannabis-derived product market from proliferating. The market was worth $4.6 billion in 2021 and was expected to quadruple by 2026.

Within months, the agency plans to decide how legal cannabis should be regulated and whether these standards will require new agency rules or new legislation from Congress, agency officials told the Journal.

“I don’t think that we can have the perfect be the enemy of the good when we’re looking at such a vast market that is so available and utilized,” Norman Birenbaum, a senior adviser in the agency working on the issue, told the Journal. “You’ve got a widely unregulated market.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, cannabinoid research is in its early stages. The studies are looking to see how CBD works on the body and its potential ability to relieves pain, but some evidence suggests that it can be harmful to some people.

Some companies are waiting until the agency gives formal direction on the regulation of CBD before they bring products to market.

“We still have members that want to get into this space, but they want to do it legally,” Roberta Wagner, vice president of regulatory and technical affairs at the Consumer Brands Association, told the Journal.

The chemical known as delta-8, and other new cannabinoids, have complicated the agency’s efforts, as these products meet the definition of legal cannabis but are intoxicating and have led to concerns for the agency, according to Birenbaum. Delta-8 is one of over 100 cannabinoids produced in the cannabis sativa L. plant but is not found naturally in significant amounts.

“Over the last year and a half, we have seen a whole host and cadre of intoxicating hemp derived cannabinoids come up,” said Birenbaum told the Journal. “There are very, very different regulatory considerations for products that are going to intoxicate you.”

In May, the FDA issued warning letters to five companies for selling products labeled as containing delta-8 in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. This is the first time FDA has issued warning letters for products containing delta-8 THC.

“Delta-8 THC has psychoactive and intoxicating effects and may be dangerous to consumers. The FDA has received reports of adverse events experienced by patients who have consumed these products,” wrote FDA in the release.

FDA officials say it is focusing its enforcement on products that are an immediate threat to public health, such as CBD gummies that could be accidentally eaten by kids. Birenbaum said the agency wants to educate consumers about potential health consequences of cannabis and the products’ varying quality.

“The safety profiles around these products are not what they are generally accustomed to and not the same as what they get from other products when they walk into a wellness store or grocery store or even a gas station,” he told the Journal.

Visit the NACS CBD and Cannabis topics page for news and legal information on the sale of CBD and CBD-related products. The NACS Sales of CBD and Related Products resource is designed to help retailers navigate the gray areas around the sale of these products.

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USDA Publishes 2021 National Hemp Report

USDAThe USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) published the 2021 National Hemp Report compiled from survey data collected from hemp growers. The report estimates that in 2021, the value of hemp production in the open and under protection for the United States totaled $824 million.

NASS reports that there were 54,152 acres of hemp planted and 33,480 acres harvested in 2021. Area harvested for floral hemp was estimated at 16.0 thousand acres, acres harvested for fiber was estimated at 12,700, acres harvested for grain was estimated at 8,255 and acres harvested for seed was estimated at 3,255 acres.

United States floral hemp production for 2021 was estimated at 19.7 million pounds. U.S. production of hemp grown for grain in 2021 totaled 4.37 million pounds. U.S. production of hemp grown in the open for fiber was estimated at 33.2 million pounds.

“The National Hemp Report clearly documents the promising economic value of the 2021 hemp crop” stated Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp. “The market has begun to stabilize and mature as markets for hemp grain and fiber begin to take hold.”

The full report can be found here.

Hemp growers take one step back

Hemp acres 1.jpg

A combine harvests hemp at South Bend Industrial Hemp’s Field in Stafford County last year.

Last year, Kansas farmers planted 4,000 acres of hemp but harvested only 700 acres, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture, and now fewer farmers are concerned about aspects of the crop’s viability.

“Things are headed in the wrong direction,” said Sarah Stephens Selmon, noting that there are 85 licensed growers in Kansas this year, down from 250 in 2019 and 2020.

Stephens, as owner of Tallgrass Hemp & Cannabis in Wichita, was one of the first to harvest industrial hemp in 2019. She grew about 100 plants that year.

Another hemp grower, Melissa Nelson Baldwin in Great Bend, Kansas was actually able to harvest all of her planted crop last year.

“Yes, we had challenges but it wasn’t any more uncommon challenges than you face in any of the other crops we harvest,” said Nelson Baldwin.

She grows industrial hemp with her husband Aaron Baldwin and brother-in-law Richard Baldwin, who co-own South Bend Industrial Hemp. Nelson Baldwin said the planting date was critical for success and getting the crop in early is important for weed control and canopy cover.

“I think people didn’t realize how much work there is for the return they get, and I think a lot of farmers didn’t have a plan for harvest either,” she said.

Her team put their hemp under a pivot. They ran into a few challenges with drying because of high humidity in Kansas, she said.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has few statistics concerning the large differences between planted and harvested acreages. It may have had to do with weather, management constraints or “hot” crops with higher than allowed THC levels, said Braden Hoch, the state’s industrial hemp supervisor. Of the planted acres in 2020, 34 acres tested hot , whereas the remainder of planted acres were non-yielding or failed to produce a crop, he said.

Some of the hemp crop at Always Sunny Bee & Hemp Farm near Hutchinson, Kansas was destroyed last spring because it was over the allowed amount of THC by 0.08, according to owner PJ Sneed.

He has grown hemp since the inception of the program in Kansas 2018-2019, and he sees several key challenges so far, partly caused by red tape and bureaucracy, he said, and partly due to wild hemp varieties.

“The native feral hemp in at least Reno County will prohibit outdoor CBD grows,” he said.

Kelly Rippel can appreciate Sneed’s frustration. Rippel is founding president of Planted Association of Kansas, and founder of Kansans for Hemp and a member of the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Hemp Advisory Board. He’s been a strong advocate for decades for full allowance of both cultivation and research into feral varieties.

“Cross pollination is an issue we will continue to work on, especially with the looming introduction of medicinal cannabis,” Rippel said.

Meanwhile, up to 90% of the hemp in Kansas has been grown for CBD – cannabidiol – and flower production.

“While weather created a lot of challenges the first year, the rain delayed a lot of planting” Rippel said. “Planting didn’t get in on time (and) there are always pests. Kansas has naturally occurring hemp that cross-pollinates with anything grown.”

The term “hemp” is cannabis containing 0.3% or less THC content by dry weight. Marijuana refers to THC content of greater than 0.3%.

Distribution of future hemp production will depend on end use for the hemp. Certain areas may not be suitable for growing, said Hoch , the hemp supervisor for the state.

Since Feb. 1, the Kansas Department of Agriculture began licensing growers to grow hemp commercially under the 2018 farm bill. The last two years, growing hemp in Kansas was limited to research projects, including one at Kansas State University.

This month, the Kansas Department of Agriculture submitted three potential changes to its hemp rules. They would extend the harvest window of from 15 to 30 days from sampling to better allow for producers to cope with unexpected weather events and other agricultural constraints. They would also create a way to work with crops that tested hot. A producer could remediate the crop by mixing and blending until it does not exceed 0.3% THC rather than destroy it. The changes would also increase the negligent violation threshold from 0.5% to 1% THC.

If approved, the revised regulations could be in place by this harvest season.

The state is also considering matching up with the federal rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That would raise the negligence level of THC up to 1% and still have an approved crop.

“In other words, if a farmer has done everything they can to ensure they’ve grown a legal crop, they wouldn’t be held liable for their crop going hot,” Rippel said. “New provisions will allow them to remediate it before they’d have to destroy it.” Regulations are part of the puzzle. Rippel has been working from all angles.

“There has been a learning curve with machinery and genetics. Also, there hasn’t been a robust effort to get a supply chain built at the state level,” Rippel said. “I’ve been talking with a seed company who is awaiting FDA approval, and we also need processors for fiber, specifically.”

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Celebrating the Life of Steve Levine

Steve Levine arrested at DEA headquartersWe were saddened to learn that our friend and colleague Steve Levine passed away on January 1, 2022. Steve was a Vote Hemp board member who worked for more than 20 years to grow the hemp industry and legalize hemp.

In October of 2009, Steve was part of a group of farmers and hemp industry leaders that were arrested for planting hemp on the DEA headquarters lawn to protest the ban on hemp farming. Steve was very passionate about bringing back hemp farming and spoke eloquently about the need to change the law in a video of the protest.

Farmers Will Allen and Wayne Hauge plant hemp at DEA HeadquartersSteve founded the Santa Barbara Hemp Company in the mid 1990’s and sold a wide variety of hemp products via his retail store and at events including the Santa Barbara Hemp Festival which he founded. Steve joined the Hemp Industries Association and was elected to the board of directors in the early 2000’s. Steve became HIA President in 2005 and served in that role for more than 10 years.

From 2005 to 2013, Steve worked tirelessly to pass hemp farming legislation in California. Joined by his colleagues, Steve walked the halls of the State Capitol endlessly educating legislators on hemp and spoke persuasively numerous times before committees hearing the bills. His doggedness helped to finally pass the bill on the fourth attempt.

Steve Levine and DylanSteve was also a diehard Dodgers fan and even once met the famed Vin Scully in the top deck bathroom. Out of respect for Vinny’s space, he left Vinny alone to catch his breath between innings. That was typical of Steve, he always respected others’ need for a break. For decades he attended games with David Lander who played Squiggy on the popular sitcom Laverne and Shirley in the 70s. Steve helped David around the stadium after he developed Multiple Sclerosis. Such compassion symbolizes Steve’s huge heart.

Steve Levine with David Bronner, Patrick Goggin, Denny Finneran and Sue Kastensen

Steve also worked for many years as the Trade Show Director for Dr. Bronner’s and exhibited at many shows and events including Expo West, Green Festival, BioFach and Patients Out of Time.

Steve always had a huge smile and was known widely throughout the industry for his positivity and dedication to his favorite plant.

Steve lived in Carpenteria California and is survived by his wife Kathi.

Steve Levine and friends

Steve Levine owner of Santa Barbara Hemp Company

Steve Levine at Santa Barbara Hemp Company

Landmark Hemp Bill AB 45 Signed By Gov. Newsom!

California Hemp CouncilOn Wednesday October 6, 2021, AB 45 was Signed into law by Governor Newsom. The official announcement can be found here. While the signing was done with little fanfare, this is none the less a major accomplishment following 3 years of work by the California Hemp Council and other hemp advocates. AB 45 (Aguiar-Curry), is a vital measure to ensure the continued success of the hemp industry in California, as it affirmatively authorizes the use of hemp in foods, beverages, cosmetics and even pet products in the state. With a legislative structure to regulate hemp derived products now in place, AB 45 sets the stage for the logical next steps, which includes authorization of smokable hemp products and integration of hemp into the cannabis supply chain.

Gov. Newsom signs hemp bill AB 45The California Hemp Council has lead the effort along with Vote Hemp and other hemp and cannabis advocacy groups to pass legislation that would create a legal path to market for hemp extracts in foods and supplements. The enactment of AB 45 is the result of a 3 year effort to address the misguided California Department of Public Health (CDPH) policy and open up California, the largest U.S. market for hemp derived cannabinoids. We would like to especially thank Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry for championing this effort and committing to continue the fight to open all markets to hemp.

Sales of hemp products have been growing each year for more than a decade and sales of CBD products in California grew to $730 million in 2019. AB 45 will open this market for thousands of retailers who can now legally sell hemp products that were banned under the CDPH policy.