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Researchers harvest first crop from industrial hemp field study

Work began Thursday to harvest the first crop from the University of Hawaii’s Industrial Hemp Research Project.

The field is located in Waimanalo and housed three varieties of industrial hemp: temperate zone hemp, tropical seed hemp, and tropical fiber hemp.

Initial findings from the project indicate that the tropical fiber hemp is flourishing and has grown over 10 feet tall during its crop cycle of 15 weeks. The tropical seed hemp is much shorter, but is heavily producing seed.

Meanwhile, the temperate zone hemp flowered and died after eight weeks.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R, Kailua, Kaneohe Bay, who helped lead the hemp farming movement in Hawaii, said it’s been a challenge to ease the state’s restrictions on hemp growing.

“Hemp is not a drug. Hemp is an agricultural crop that will keep our (agricultural) land and active production, provide a product for entrepreneurs,” she said. “We’ll be able to build our houses out of hemp, create and not import those materials.”

The project was made possible by Hawaii’s Act 56 which allowed industrial hemp to be grown as a state or university research initiative.

Unlike marijuana, hemp has a very low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, which is the active component that can make people feel “high.”

Experts say today’s U.S. market for hemp seed oil and fiber is approximately $600 million a year.

Researchers harvest first crop from industrial hemp field study

Work began Thursday to harvest the first crop from the University of Hawaii’s Industrial Hemp Research Project.

The field is located in Waimanalo and housed three varieties of industrial hemp: temperate zone hemp, tropical seed hemp, and tropical fiber hemp.

Initial findings from the project indicate that the tropical fiber hemp is flourishing and has grown over 10 feet tall during its crop cycle of 15 weeks. The tropical seed hemp is much shorter, but is heavily producing seed.

Meanwhile, the temperate zone hemp flowered and died after eight weeks.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R, Kailua, Kaneohe Bay, who helped lead the hemp farming movement in Hawaii, said it’s been a challenge to ease the state’s restrictions on hemp growing.

“Hemp is not a drug. Hemp is an agricultural crop that will keep our (agricultural) land and active production, provide a product for entrepreneurs,” she said. “We’ll be able to build our houses out of hemp, create and not import those materials.”

The project was made possible by Hawaii’s Act 56 which allowed industrial hemp to be grown as a state or university research initiative.

Unlike marijuana, hemp has a very low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, which is the active component that can make people feel “high.”

Experts say today’s U.S. market for hemp seed oil and fiber is approximately $600 million a year.

University of Kentucky research pushes industrial hemp toward

Local, state and national advocates for industrial hemp recently gathered at the University of Kentucky Research Farm to experience the crop firsthand and celebrate Hemp History Week.

In its second year of research, the Kentucky hemp movement is leading the way nationally to restored production.

Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association, served as emcee of the event and noted Kentucky’s rich history with the crop.

“Kentucky has an incredible, long history of growing hemp and was, at one time, the center of the hemp industry,” he said. “It’s certainly taking the lead now thanks to Commissioner [James] Comer from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, who was really the one who championed bringing back hemp and pushed it through the legislature against some stiff opposition.”

Adam Watson, who heads up the industrial hemp program at KDA, addressed the gathering and talked about moving hemp forward from just research production to the real thing.

“In some instances, hemp is still very much an oddity and not something everyone is familiar with. But with the work from last year continuing this year, we’re hoping to move hemp more to the realm of just another agriculture commodity because, in truth, that’s what it is,” he said.

Watson added that the industry is in an educational stage, getting the word out as to what hemp is and what it isn’t.

“But we hope to get to the point that if you want to know about hemp, talk to a hemp farmer or talk to your county ag agent,” he said. “They are the ones that can fi ll you in because for us, hemp should be considered and regarded as just an agricultural crop.”

Unfortunately, the federal government has not come to that realization yet, as hemp remains on the controlled substances list.

Watson believes the day is getting closer to when that will no longer be the case.

“I think the reality of industrial hemp is, if we can show and prove it has a spot in the modern farm economy, if we’re successful with these research pilot programs, that will be the greatest step toward having action at a federal level,” he said.

That may still take time as research continues, but proponents feel confident. Andrew Graves represents the seventh generation in his family to be involved in hemp production. He is CEO of Atelo Holdings, a holding company for three hemp businesses. An experienced tobacco grower, Graves said it is an appropriate time to have another crop.

“What’s most important is we are doing real on-farm research that’s valuable to longterm growing of this young industry,” he said. “Farmers can now go out and touch and feel it, bring their friends in to look at it. We can talk about it freely, and you don’t have to demonize it in any way. It’s out in the open.”

Graves added that he sees a new generation getting involved in hemp production and feels they see long-term opportunities in this crop.

University of Kentucky research pushes industrial hemp toward

Local, state and national advocates for industrial hemp recently gathered at the University of Kentucky Research Farm to experience the crop firsthand and celebrate Hemp History Week.

In its second year of research, the Kentucky hemp movement is leading the way nationally to restored production.

Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association, served as emcee of the event and noted Kentucky’s rich history with the crop.

“Kentucky has an incredible, long history of growing hemp and was, at one time, the center of the hemp industry,” he said. “It’s certainly taking the lead now thanks to Commissioner [James] Comer from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, who was really the one who championed bringing back hemp and pushed it through the legislature against some stiff opposition.”

Adam Watson, who heads up the industrial hemp program at KDA, addressed the gathering and talked about moving hemp forward from just research production to the real thing.

“In some instances, hemp is still very much an oddity and not something everyone is familiar with. But with the work from last year continuing this year, we’re hoping to move hemp more to the realm of just another agriculture commodity because, in truth, that’s what it is,” he said.

Watson added that the industry is in an educational stage, getting the word out as to what hemp is and what it isn’t.

“But we hope to get to the point that if you want to know about hemp, talk to a hemp farmer or talk to your county ag agent,” he said. “They are the ones that can fi ll you in because for us, hemp should be considered and regarded as just an agricultural crop.”

Unfortunately, the federal government has not come to that realization yet, as hemp remains on the controlled substances list.

Watson believes the day is getting closer to when that will no longer be the case.

“I think the reality of industrial hemp is, if we can show and prove it has a spot in the modern farm economy, if we’re successful with these research pilot programs, that will be the greatest step toward having action at a federal level,” he said.

That may still take time as research continues, but proponents feel confident. Andrew Graves represents the seventh generation in his family to be involved in hemp production. He is CEO of Atelo Holdings, a holding company for three hemp businesses. An experienced tobacco grower, Graves said it is an appropriate time to have another crop.

“What’s most important is we are doing real on-farm research that’s valuable to longterm growing of this young industry,” he said. “Farmers can now go out and touch and feel it, bring their friends in to look at it. We can talk about it freely, and you don’t have to demonize it in any way. It’s out in the open.”

Graves added that he sees a new generation getting involved in hemp production and feels they see long-term opportunities in this crop.

Synthetic Cannabinoid–Related Illnesses and Deaths — NEJM

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My new Spiritual Naturalist Society essay: "Marijuana is my secular

The third essay that I’ve written for the Spiritual Naturalist Society is about a subject of considerable interest not only to me, but also to just about everybody in Oregon, where I live, since on July 1 of this year it became legal to grow, use, and possess marijuana.

Sacred marijuana

In “Marijuana is my secular sacrament” I argue that cannabis produces an experience of less-self, or even non-self, that is a genuine spiritual experience — using that word, spiritual, in a decidedly non-supernatural sense.

You can either read the essay over on the Spiritual Naturalist Society site, or right here. In the version below I’ve included the entire column I wrote prior to Oregon’s 2014 marijuana legalization vote. It had to be truncated on the SNS site.

I don’t embrace God. I do embrace marijuana. Big time.

In my experience, cannabis is way more spiritual than a supernatural being who almost certainly exists only in people’s imagination.

Pleasingly, on July 1 marijuana became legal to possess and use here in Oregon, though recreational sales are on hold for a few more months.

When I use my fingers to carefully pluck small bits of buds (flowers) to place in a vaporizer receptacle — no metal grinder for me; I enjoy touching the herbal essence of a marijuana plant — this has a sacramental feel.

I’m grateful to Mother Nature for bringing forth a substance that elevates the spirit.

There’s a reason we speak of getting high.

Cannabis has a way of making my usual worries and anxieties appear much smaller, as if I were standing on top of a mountain, looking at them from a distance rather than close-up.

At the same time, I don’t feel like I’ve lost touch with reality. Rather, marijuana stimulates a sensation of This is how life really is.

Meaning, my supposedly “normal” perception of having to make my way through a world filled with obstacles, problems, barriers, irritations, and what-not is supplanted by a flowing feeling where stuff happens, but not really to me.

Both modern neuroscience and ancient forms of spirituality such as Buddhism agree that this cannabis-caused diminishing of self is closer to how things truly are than everyday waking consciousness.

Inside the mind/brain, there is no sign of any independent, unchanging, non-physical entity corresponding to our sense of “I” or “Me.”

Yet we feel like there is.

To escape from this fantasy I don’t need to laboriously meditate under the critical gaze of a Zen master. I just fire up my vaporizer, take a few puffs of THC-infused warm air, and, voila!, enlightenment. Thank you, caring compassionate cannabis.

Now, spiritual traditionalists look upon marijuana as an illicit short-cut. They argue that changing one’s consciousness to be more in tune with the reality of no-self must be done naturally, not artificially.

I agree. We just differ as to what is natural, and what is artificial.

Cannabis is a flowering plant indigenous to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Humans have used it for thousands of years, as have other animal species, impelled by what psychopharmacologist Ronald Siegel calls the fourth drive in his book “Intoxication: the Universal Drive for Mind-Altering Substances.”

We need intoxicants — not in the sense that an addict needs a fix, but because the need is as much a part of the human condition as sex, hunger, and thirst. The need — the fourth drive — is natural, yes, even healthy. 

…Over the centuries, people have sought — and drugs have offered — a wide variety of effects, including pleasure, relief from pain, mystical revelations, stimulation, relaxation, joy, ecstasy, self-understanding, escape, altered states of consciousness, or just a different feeling.

As noted above, I don’t see this as a drive to escape reality.

Rather, marijuana and other psychedelic drugs propel human consciousness into a less ego-centered state that more accurately reflects neuroscientific understanding of the brain’s inherent selflessness.

For a marvelous hip-hop dance mirroring of this truth, I heartily recommend watching Alex Wong’s and Twitch’s “Get Out of Your Mind” routine.

Jump off your self-absorbed psychoanalytic couch and go freaking crazy! This might well be the sanest thing you’ll ever do.

Oh, but what about the dangers of marijuana? It’s well known that there is no lethal dose of cannabis. Don’t people get psychologically addicted, though?

Sure, in much the same way Gallup tells us that almost half of American smartphone users agree with the statement “I can’t imagine my life without my smartphone.”

Are they addicted? Yes. Do they care? No. Because 70% of smartphone users say their device has made their life better.

Which is how I feel about cannabis.

After using marijuana heavily in college back in the 1960’s, I took a long break during thirty-five years of searching for my True Self through being a vegetarian, hours of daily meditation, and abstention from alcohol/drugs.

Back then I thought my essence was immaterial: a soul-consciousness detachable from the crude physical body.

Now I look upon myself as an integral part of nature. Like everything else, I’m made of energy and matter which eventually will return to its basic constituents when I die, leaving me nowhere to be found.

So I live for today here on Earth, not for an imagined tomorrow in some heavenly realm. Ingesting an herb which alters my brain chemistry is not only morally acceptable, it is “spiritual” in the way I now view that word, as realizing that I don’t have a soul, or self. (The Onion humorously reports on another guy’s similar discovery in “Search for Self Called Off After 38 Years.”)

Sam Harris speaks of this realization in his book, “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.”

My goal in this chapter and the next is to convince you that the conventional sense of self is an illusion — and that spirituality largely consists in realizing this, moment to moment.

…Most of us feel that our experience of the world refers back to a self — not to our bodies precisely but to a center of consciousness that exists somehow interior to the body behind the eyes, inside the head.

The feeling that we call “I” seems to define our point of view in every moment, and it also provides an anchor for popular beliefs about souls and freedom of will.

And yet this feeling, however imperturbable it may appear at present, can be altered, interrupted, or entirely abolished.

…Subjectively speaking, the only thing that actually exists is consciousness and its contents.

Far out, man.

Inspired by Harris’ arguments, I used his ideas in a pre-election Strange Up Salem column I wrote for my city’s alternative paper, Salem Weekly: “A strange reason to legalize marijuana.”

Here’s a news flash from the front page of modern neuroscience: “You don’t exist.” At least, not in the way most people believe they do.

We feel as if we look out upon the world as a detached ethereal consciousness floating behind our eyes, inside our head. We feel as if we’re a weightless self or soul inhabiting a body.

These feelings are wrong. The sense of self is an illusion. You, me, and everyone else are billions of neurons woven together via trillions of electrochemical connections.

Marvelously, the brain tells itself stories about how it is other than it is.

As biologist Edward O. Wilson puts it in his new book, “The self, despite the illusion of its independence created in the scenarios, is part of the anatomy and physiology of the body.”

Mind-blowing, right?

Scientifically obvious, yet shocking to our intuitive sense of ourselves as immaterial self or soul. I am brain-meat that has evolved the capacity to consider itself, if not divine, largely aloof from physicality.

Which is my philosophical neuroscientific reason for voting “Yes” on Measure 91, Oregon’s marijuana legalization initiative.

Apparently an underlying assumption of legal pot opponents is that human consciousness is some sort of pristine, pure pool of unsullied awareness which shouldn’t be contaminated by chemical substances like THC, the major psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Here’s another science news flash: the brain produces conscious awareness, and it is filled with over 100 chemical neurotransmitters.

They make us happy, horny, hungry, and so much more. Including, high.

I’m writing these words buzzed on a chemical my brain adores: caffeine. Is this wrong? Should caffeine be illegal because it alters my consciousness, increasing alertness and improving my mood?

Of course not. It’s beautiful, really, how humans can bring parts of the world into their brains, then those substances enable them to view the world differently.

We are the world. The world is us. There is no immaterial self standing apart from materiality.

So it isn’t a big deal to add marijuana to the long list of ways human brains are legally altered chemically in Oregon. Marijuana is safer than alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs. Informed adults should be able to choose their preferred consciousness-changing substance.

After all, there’s no such thing as a normal state of consciousness.

No one knows how anyone else experiences reality. If somehow this were possible, likely we would be surprised by how differently another person subjectively perceives the same objective world.

Further, whatever you or I experience in the privacy of our own awareness, it is extremely doubtful that the socially accepted definition of psychological normality is the best we humans are capable of.

Artists, visionaries, mystics, poets, meditators, and, yes, users of psychoactive drugs, along with other explorers of altered states of consciousness, tell tales of how they opened doors of perception that made them feel more in touch with reality, not less.

Vote for Measure 91. This is a wonderful way to strange up Salem, and Oregon.

Strange Up Salem seeks to lift our city’s Blah Curse. Give us a Facebook like. Brian Hines blogs at hinesblog.com

My new Spiritual Naturalist Society essay: "Marijuana is my secular

The third essay that I’ve written for the Spiritual Naturalist Society is about a subject of considerable interest not only to me, but also to just about everybody in Oregon, where I live, since on July 1 of this year it became legal to grow, use, and possess marijuana.

Sacred marijuana

In “Marijuana is my secular sacrament” I argue that cannabis produces an experience of less-self, or even non-self, that is a genuine spiritual experience — using that word, spiritual, in a decidedly non-supernatural sense.

You can either read the essay over on the Spiritual Naturalist Society site, or right here. In the version below I’ve included the entire column I wrote prior to Oregon’s 2014 marijuana legalization vote. It had to be truncated on the SNS site.

I don’t embrace God. I do embrace marijuana. Big time.

In my experience, cannabis is way more spiritual than a supernatural being who almost certainly exists only in people’s imagination.

Pleasingly, on July 1 marijuana became legal to possess and use here in Oregon, though recreational sales are on hold for a few more months.

When I use my fingers to carefully pluck small bits of buds (flowers) to place in a vaporizer receptacle — no metal grinder for me; I enjoy touching the herbal essence of a marijuana plant — this has a sacramental feel.

I’m grateful to Mother Nature for bringing forth a substance that elevates the spirit.

There’s a reason we speak of getting high.

Cannabis has a way of making my usual worries and anxieties appear much smaller, as if I were standing on top of a mountain, looking at them from a distance rather than close-up.

At the same time, I don’t feel like I’ve lost touch with reality. Rather, marijuana stimulates a sensation of This is how life really is.

Meaning, my supposedly “normal” perception of having to make my way through a world filled with obstacles, problems, barriers, irritations, and what-not is supplanted by a flowing feeling where stuff happens, but not really to me.

Both modern neuroscience and ancient forms of spirituality such as Buddhism agree that this cannabis-caused diminishing of self is closer to how things truly are than everyday waking consciousness.

Inside the mind/brain, there is no sign of any independent, unchanging, non-physical entity corresponding to our sense of “I” or “Me.”

Yet we feel like there is.

To escape from this fantasy I don’t need to laboriously meditate under the critical gaze of a Zen master. I just fire up my vaporizer, take a few puffs of THC-infused warm air, and, voila!, enlightenment. Thank you, caring compassionate cannabis.

Now, spiritual traditionalists look upon marijuana as an illicit short-cut. They argue that changing one’s consciousness to be more in tune with the reality of no-self must be done naturally, not artificially.

I agree. We just differ as to what is natural, and what is artificial.

Cannabis is a flowering plant indigenous to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Humans have used it for thousands of years, as have other animal species, impelled by what psychopharmacologist Ronald Siegel calls the fourth drive in his book “Intoxication: the Universal Drive for Mind-Altering Substances.”

We need intoxicants — not in the sense that an addict needs a fix, but because the need is as much a part of the human condition as sex, hunger, and thirst. The need — the fourth drive — is natural, yes, even healthy. 

…Over the centuries, people have sought — and drugs have offered — a wide variety of effects, including pleasure, relief from pain, mystical revelations, stimulation, relaxation, joy, ecstasy, self-understanding, escape, altered states of consciousness, or just a different feeling.

As noted above, I don’t see this as a drive to escape reality.

Rather, marijuana and other psychedelic drugs propel human consciousness into a less ego-centered state that more accurately reflects neuroscientific understanding of the brain’s inherent selflessness.

For a marvelous hip-hop dance mirroring of this truth, I heartily recommend watching Alex Wong’s and Twitch’s “Get Out of Your Mind” routine.

Jump off your self-absorbed psychoanalytic couch and go freaking crazy! This might well be the sanest thing you’ll ever do.

Oh, but what about the dangers of marijuana? It’s well known that there is no lethal dose of cannabis. Don’t people get psychologically addicted, though?

Sure, in much the same way Gallup tells us that almost half of American smartphone users agree with the statement “I can’t imagine my life without my smartphone.”

Are they addicted? Yes. Do they care? No. Because 70% of smartphone users say their device has made their life better.

Which is how I feel about cannabis.

After using marijuana heavily in college back in the 1960’s, I took a long break during thirty-five years of searching for my True Self through being a vegetarian, hours of daily meditation, and abstention from alcohol/drugs.

Back then I thought my essence was immaterial: a soul-consciousness detachable from the crude physical body.

Now I look upon myself as an integral part of nature. Like everything else, I’m made of energy and matter which eventually will return to its basic constituents when I die, leaving me nowhere to be found.

So I live for today here on Earth, not for an imagined tomorrow in some heavenly realm. Ingesting an herb which alters my brain chemistry is not only morally acceptable, it is “spiritual” in the way I now view that word, as realizing that I don’t have a soul, or self. (The Onion humorously reports on another guy’s similar discovery in “Search for Self Called Off After 38 Years.”)

Sam Harris speaks of this realization in his book, “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.”

My goal in this chapter and the next is to convince you that the conventional sense of self is an illusion — and that spirituality largely consists in realizing this, moment to moment.

…Most of us feel that our experience of the world refers back to a self — not to our bodies precisely but to a center of consciousness that exists somehow interior to the body behind the eyes, inside the head.

The feeling that we call “I” seems to define our point of view in every moment, and it also provides an anchor for popular beliefs about souls and freedom of will.

And yet this feeling, however imperturbable it may appear at present, can be altered, interrupted, or entirely abolished.

…Subjectively speaking, the only thing that actually exists is consciousness and its contents.

Far out, man.

Inspired by Harris’ arguments, I used his ideas in a pre-election Strange Up Salem column I wrote for my city’s alternative paper, Salem Weekly: “A strange reason to legalize marijuana.”

Here’s a news flash from the front page of modern neuroscience: “You don’t exist.” At least, not in the way most people believe they do.

We feel as if we look out upon the world as a detached ethereal consciousness floating behind our eyes, inside our head. We feel as if we’re a weightless self or soul inhabiting a body.

These feelings are wrong. The sense of self is an illusion. You, me, and everyone else are billions of neurons woven together via trillions of electrochemical connections.

Marvelously, the brain tells itself stories about how it is other than it is.

As biologist Edward O. Wilson puts it in his new book, “The self, despite the illusion of its independence created in the scenarios, is part of the anatomy and physiology of the body.”

Mind-blowing, right?

Scientifically obvious, yet shocking to our intuitive sense of ourselves as immaterial self or soul. I am brain-meat that has evolved the capacity to consider itself, if not divine, largely aloof from physicality.

Which is my philosophical neuroscientific reason for voting “Yes” on Measure 91, Oregon’s marijuana legalization initiative.

Apparently an underlying assumption of legal pot opponents is that human consciousness is some sort of pristine, pure pool of unsullied awareness which shouldn’t be contaminated by chemical substances like THC, the major psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Here’s another science news flash: the brain produces conscious awareness, and it is filled with over 100 chemical neurotransmitters.

They make us happy, horny, hungry, and so much more. Including, high.

I’m writing these words buzzed on a chemical my brain adores: caffeine. Is this wrong? Should caffeine be illegal because it alters my consciousness, increasing alertness and improving my mood?

Of course not. It’s beautiful, really, how humans can bring parts of the world into their brains, then those substances enable them to view the world differently.

We are the world. The world is us. There is no immaterial self standing apart from materiality.

So it isn’t a big deal to add marijuana to the long list of ways human brains are legally altered chemically in Oregon. Marijuana is safer than alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs. Informed adults should be able to choose their preferred consciousness-changing substance.

After all, there’s no such thing as a normal state of consciousness.

No one knows how anyone else experiences reality. If somehow this were possible, likely we would be surprised by how differently another person subjectively perceives the same objective world.

Further, whatever you or I experience in the privacy of our own awareness, it is extremely doubtful that the socially accepted definition of psychological normality is the best we humans are capable of.

Artists, visionaries, mystics, poets, meditators, and, yes, users of psychoactive drugs, along with other explorers of altered states of consciousness, tell tales of how they opened doors of perception that made them feel more in touch with reality, not less.

Vote for Measure 91. This is a wonderful way to strange up Salem, and Oregon.

Strange Up Salem seeks to lift our city’s Blah Curse. Give us a Facebook like. Brian Hines blogs at hinesblog.com

Pa. House group meeting daily on new medical marijuana bill

HARRISBURG, Pa. — After sitting untouched in an unsupportive House committee, state lawmakers are hoping a bill which would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania can gain new life thanks to a bipartisan group of representatives.

SB 3, which passed through the Senate in May by a vote of 40-7, hit a wall once it reached the House in the form of the health committee chaired by Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga). Baker refused to take up the bill based on his belief there is not enough evidence to support medical marijuana’s safety and effectiveness. However, once he agreed to remove it from his committee, it landed in the hands of House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana), who formed a bipartisan group to create a new bill with the ultimate goal of landing on Governor Tom Wolf’s desk.

Governor Wolf (D) has been vocally supportive of signing legislation which would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Rep. Reed tasked Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre) to lead the “Medical Cannabis Work Group,” which has been meeting weekly, if not multiple times during the week, to start the formation of a new bill. The group is using two current bills — SB 3 and HB 1432, a separate medical marijuana bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) — as the base for its legislation.

“This is new territory for Pennsylvania. People want to do it right,” Benninghoff told FOX43. “Leader Reed wants to know by having this bipartisan work group put together, there is a significant effort to put together workable legislation.”

There is currently no timetable for getting new legislation into a committee. Marsico told FOX43 while the general consensus is to ultimately get medical marijuana legalized in the state, there are many issues the group is working through, including the number dispensaries in the state, the number of processors, and the number of cannabis growers.

Another addition to this medical marijuana bill could come in the form of what Benninghoff calls a “Sunset Clause”; where if years down the line the drug is proven to not be safe or effective, as per Rep. Baker’s fears, the state can repeal the law.

“I think we’re trying to take a conservative and smart approach to not just open up the gates,” he said.

Marsico added he hopes to push a new bill into a committee no later than September.

 

Which States Will Be the Next to Legalize Marijuana? | High Times

Marijuana is now legal for medicinal and recreational purposes in over half the United States, with a solid majority of the population supporting efforts to end prohibition nationwide.

However, cleverly persuading the federal government to end to the war on weed—at least at this point in the game—appears to be a long shot by even the most modest predictions. Instead, Uncle Sam appears more interested in giving states the right to legalize the leaf as they see fit, an inch-of-rope that pot proponents believe will lead to as many as six new states passing legalization initiatives in 2016.

Some of the latest public opinion polls, according to a report compiled by The Washington Post, reveal an outpouring of support for pot legalization in states with some of the strictest policies over its possession.

In Texas—where Governor Greg Abbott has said the state will not so much as decriminalize while he is in office—an impressive 58 percent of the residents are prepared to get behind efforts to establish a statewide cannabis industry. While Louisiana, a state infamous for putting non-violent pot offenders in prison, has the legalization support of 53 percent of the population. 

As many as 11 initiatives aimed at legalizing marijuana are expected to go before voters in the November 2016 election. In Ohio, citizens will likely get to decide on this issue later in the year. Yet, the latest surveys reveal true majority support for only six proposals: Arizona, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Michigan and Ohio. These states have the best shot at establishing the next taxed and regulated cannabis markets.

In line with the polls, drug policy experts have made similar projections in terms of which states will be next to legalize. Before the turn of the new year, Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said that at least five states were expected to vote on legal weed in 2016, including  “Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada—and one could potentially appear on the ballot in Missouri.”

For now, at least in relation to the current polling situation, citizens of Missouri and Maine remain uncertain whether they support legalization or not—both states are missing the support of the majority.

Despite Kampia’s recent suggestion that Ohio runs the risk of failing to pass a cartel-like ballot initiative in 2015, you have to give credit to the state for being home to the only organization, so far, to submit enough signatures to earn a spot on the ballot—a major detail that none of the advocacy groups in the other five states have yet managed to accomplish.

In the July issue of Reason Magazine, Kampia said his predictions for the legalization win, as of now, are “California, Nevada, and maybe Maine, less so in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Arizona.”

Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.

(Photo Courtesy of the Washington Post

University of Kentucky research pushes industrial hemp toward

Local, state and national advocates for industrial hemp recently gathered at the University of Kentucky Research Farm to experience the crop firsthand and celebrate Hemp History Week.

In its second year of research, the Kentucky hemp movement is leading the way nationally to restored production.

Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association, served as emcee of the event and noted Kentucky’s rich history with the crop.

“Kentucky has an incredible, long history of growing hemp and was, at one time, the center of the hemp industry,” he said. “It’s certainly taking the lead now thanks to Commissioner [James] Comer from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, who was really the one who championed bringing back hemp and pushed it through the legislature against some stiff opposition.”

Adam Watson, who heads up the industrial hemp program at KDA, addressed the gathering and talked about moving hemp forward from just research production to the real thing.

“In some instances, hemp is still very much an oddity and not something everyone is familiar with. But with the work from last year continuing this year, we’re hoping to move hemp more to the realm of just another agriculture commodity because, in truth, that’s what it is,” he said.

Watson added that the industry is in an educational stage, getting the word out as to what hemp is and what it isn’t.

“But we hope to get to the point that if you want to know about hemp, talk to a hemp farmer or talk to your county ag agent,” he said. “They are the ones that can fi ll you in because for us, hemp should be considered and regarded as just an agricultural crop.”

Unfortunately, the federal government has not come to that realization yet, as hemp remains on the controlled substances list.

Watson believes the day is getting closer to when that will no longer be the case.

“I think the reality of industrial hemp is, if we can show and prove it has a spot in the modern farm economy, if we’re successful with these research pilot programs, that will be the greatest step toward having action at a federal level,” he said.

That may still take time as research continues, but proponents feel confident. Andrew Graves represents the seventh generation in his family to be involved in hemp production. He is CEO of Atelo Holdings, a holding company for three hemp businesses. An experienced tobacco grower, Graves said it is an appropriate time to have another crop.

“What’s most important is we are doing real on-farm research that’s valuable to longterm growing of this young industry,” he said. “Farmers can now go out and touch and feel it, bring their friends in to look at it. We can talk about it freely, and you don’t have to demonize it in any way. It’s out in the open.”

Graves added that he sees a new generation getting involved in hemp production and feels they see long-term opportunities in this crop.