Hemp is legal again. Congress should make it easier to farm

Los Angeles Times

Climate change got personal for my family in 2013, when a refugee bear fleeing a nearby wildfire scaled my goat-corral fence and killed most of the herd in front of our eyes. Milk providers, yoga partners and friends Natalie Merchant, Bette Midler and Stevie Nicks were lost that day (we name our goats after singers we like). Baby Taylor Swift survived and slept inside with my human kids for a while.

Since that day, I’ve been consciously sequestering carbon — trying to reduce carbon miles by eating and buying locally, avoiding petroleum-based plastics in favor of compostable materials and furthering both of these goals by planting hemp and milking goats. It’s my day job: farming so my grandkids have a habitable planet.

And it’s not just me. America’s 21,496 hemp farmers are buying humanity some time by growing a superfood, wellness and fiber crop whose roots not incidentally help sequester a lot of carbon. I plant a small field of it — experimenting with various cultivars, providing some to other farmers and researchers, eating some — at our Funky Butte Ranch in New Mexico. On a larger scale, I’m part of a team assisting a Rosebud Sioux tribal enterprise growing 125 acres of organic hemp. More hemp acreage is better for all of us.

In 2018, Congress restored hemp, a low-THC member of the cannabis family, to full legality after 80 years of classification as a controlled substance. (THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis.) In the three years since relegalization, the commercial crop crossed the billion-dollar valuation mark.

Two reasons we ought to celebrate this milestone: A lucrative crop builds struggling farming economies. And hemp is a regenerative agriculture star.

As a cash crop or a cover crop, hemp’s substantial taproots are absolutely stunning at creating the conditions that build soil’s carbon capture qualities. And cover crops, in rotation with traditional crops, can sequester an average of 425 to 1,584 pounds of atmospheric carbon per acre per year, according to a University of South Carolina study.

Along the way, hemp cleans soils of toxins. I’m proud to report that New Mexico State University researchers are seeing success in uranium uptake from contaminated mining soil planted with a hemp variety that I’ve been developing for five seasons.

Besides your patronage, those of us who farm hemp ask one thing: Please loudly help us change the federal guideline for how much THC is allowable in commercial hemp.

The 2018 relegalization law set hemp’s limit at 0.3% THC. (Psychoactive cannabis typically contains at least 15% and usually more.) For a lot of reasons, including local soil conditions, between 20% and 30% of the hemp crop has been testing mildly “hot” — above the 0.3% level. Nearly all the tests come in somewhere south of the still very low level of 1% THC, but any hot result means the crop can be destroyed, along with the farmer’s revenue.

The 0.3% level is arbitrary as well as unworkable. Most parts of a hemp plant’s valuable architecture — the seed, fiber and roots — contain no THC at all. The flowers register THC, but upping the limit for hemp to 1% won’t make it psychoactive. No one is smoking 1% flower to get high.

From a policy perspective, hemp is about the last crop a wise society would restrict in any way. Before it got outlawed in the 1930s, it was cultivated as an essential crop all the way back to the founders. George Washington grew hemp at Mount Vernon. When George H. W. Bush had to escape his burning bomber in World War II, the cord he pulled to open the parachute was made of hemp.

Commercial hemp fiber is made into textiles, ink, paper, construction materials and biodegradable plastics. The flowers go into sleep aids and pain relievers, low in THC but high in cannabinoids such as CBD or CBG. Hemp seeds can be eaten whole or de-hulled, or they can be crushed into oil. My goats love the hemp meal byproduct of oil pressing.

I eat the seeds every day in yogurt and shakes — they’re a balanced source of all three Omega fatty acids, high in protein, packed with minerals. Early results from a study, led by Qing X. Li of the University of Hawaii, indicate that a diet rich in hemp seeds might even help inhibit the expansion of lipid cells in humans. In other words, hemp could help reverse the obesity epidemic.

Right now, we’re at about 500,000 acres licensed for hemp growing nationwide. Compare that with 89 million acres of corn, though. There’s lots of room for growth, especially if we make hemp as risk-free for farmers as other crops.

Other nations, including Switzerland, Ecuador and Thailand, have adopted the 1% “definition” of hemp. Two major farm advocacy groups, the National Farmer’s Union and the Farm Bureau, are in favor of the change in the U.S. And you can help the effort by signing the online petition at the Vote Hemp website (Vote Hemp is an advocacy group). A call to your representative and senators couldn’t hurt either.

In the meantime, when you buy hemp seed, fiber or flower products, please support local farmer-owned enterprises, especially organic ones. You’ll be investing in sustainable rural communities and sustainable agriculture, while helping mitigate climate change.

I’m just in from my own hemp field, my fingers dirty with carbon-sequestering soil. Pollinators were dive-bombing me as I checked on the crop. Let me tell you, in a multitasking life, dodging butterflies in a fragrant hemp field is about the most fun you can have making a living.

And there’s another payoff: With the seeds forming on the Funky Butte Ranch hemp crop, I like the feeling of knowing that no matter what happens, my human kids and my goat kids will both eat high-protein superfood this winter.

Doug Fine is the author of six books, including “American Hemp Farmer: Adventures and Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade.”

Millennium Investment & Acquisition Co. Inc. Provides Corporate Update

Currently, MILC has invested in operating companies with two areas of focus:
1) Sustainable cultivation of Cannabis in Greenhouses through Millennium Cannabis
2) Sustainable production of Activated Carbon through Millennium Carbon

Millennium Cannabis

MillCann has identified greenhouse cultivation as the sustainable method for growing cannabis in a cost-effective manner with a lower carbon footprint than indoor cultivation. Historically, cannabis in the United States has been grown indoors and this trend has continued even as various States have implemented legalization. MillCann believes that its strategy of focusing on greenhouse cultivation represents a competitive advantage. Greenhouses cost less to construct and less to operate than indoor cultivation facilities and as such, we believe MillCann can compete favorably with this approach.

The cannabis industry is experiencing rapidly growing demand amid the tailwind of increasing legalization at the State level. The inefficient availability of capital in the cannabis industry given the illegal status at the federal level presents an opportunity for MillCann as it has efficient access to capital through its strategic affiliation with Power REIT (NYSE-American ticker: PW and PW.A) which is focused on financing the real estate component of controlled environment agriculture (CEA) facilities in the form of greenhouses. As a result, MillCann is able to establish operations efficiently as it has done with its first two transactions.

To date, MillCann has commenced operations in Walsenburg, Colorado and Vinita, Oklahoma and is actively pursuing further expansion of its activities related to the sustainable cultivation of cannabis. As part of establishing these two operations, MillCann has rapidly put together an experienced team of greenhouse cannabis cultivation experts. The team is led by Jared Schrader who has significant experience consulting for financial institutions including private and public banks, hedge funds, and REITs. In this role he developed operational strategies and software, performed due diligence of asset purchases, monitored performance of portfolios and handled sales through securitizations. Within the Cannabis industry, Mr. Schrader has a solid track record growing revenue at a southern Colorado cultivation facility from $150,000 annually to over $150,000 weekly (i.e. > $8 million annually) across the span of two years.

Walsenburg, Colorado

On May 24, 2021, MILC announced that it entered into a transaction that represents a new area of focus MILC related to sustainable Cannabis cultivation in greenhouses by investing in a newly formed cannabis operator, Walsenburg Cannabis LLC (“WC”). MILC’s total capital commitment to the project is $750,000. As part of the transaction, MILC agreed to lend capital to WC for its business operations and MILC is in the process of obtaining regulatory approvals for holding cannabis licenses in Colorado. Upon receiving regulatory approval, it is contemplated that MILC will become the majority owner of WC in the form of a 77.5% preferred equity ownership stake.

Simultaneous with MILC’s investment, WC entered into a long-term lease (the “Lease”) of a 22.2 acre property (the “WC Property”) in Walsenburg, Colorado with Power REIT. The Property has substantial existing improvements including existing greenhouse and processing space. As part of the Lease, Power REIT, has agreed to fund the rehabilitation of the existing improvements and the construction of additional greenhouse space. Upon completion, which is targeted for this fall, the WC Property will have a total of approximately 102,800 square feet of greenhouse and related space.

The Walsenburg cannabis campus was a distressed acquisition of a facility that had ceased operations. MILC believes that it was acquired at an attractive basis relative to the in-place improvements which provide an attractive opportunity to immediately commercialize the facility for cannabis cultivation. MILC believes that this property has significant potential to become a large-scale, low-cost producer of high-quality cannabis to compete effectively in the Colorado market.

The campus is subdivided into five parcels which allows for a significant availability of plant count based on how the Colorado Marijuana licensing works. We currently anticipate an 11,500 plant count per cultivation and we are targeting four crop cycles in Walsenburg. We intends to seek to increase the allowable plant count as Colorado licensing permits. It is possible that we will be able to increase the plant count during 2022.

Vinita, OK

On June 11, 2021, MILC announced that it has agreed to invest in a newly formed cannabis operator – VinCann LLC (“VC”). As part of the transaction, MILC agreed to invest $750,000 in the form of a controlling preferred equity interest whereby MILC receives a full return of its invested capital plus a preferred return of 12.5% after which MILC has a 77.5% ownership stake. The remaining subordinated ownership is held by the management team of VC.

Simultaneous with MILC’s investment, VC entered into a 20-year lease for a 9.35 acre property in Vinita, Oklahoma with approximately 40,000 square feet of greenhouse, 3,000 square feet of office space, and 100,000 square feet of fully fenced outdoor growing area with 20,000+ square feet of hoop structures that have been purchased by Power REIT.

The Vinita facility was a distressed acquisition purchased from an undercapitalized operator. Strong in-place infrastructure and the operational status upon acquisition allows for rapid speed to revenue. MILC believes that it was acquired at an attractive basis relative to the in-place improvements which provide an attractive opportunity to immediately commercialize the facility for cannabis cultivation. MILC believes that this property has significant potential to become a large-scale, low-cost producer of high-quality cannabis to compete effectively in the Oklahoma market. The targeted total plant count cultivation in 2022 for the greenhouse and outdoor, respectively, are 26,000 and 50,000 per year.

David Lesser, MILC’s Chairman and CEO, commented, “We are excited to provide an update regarding our new area of focus – sustainable cannabis cultivation in greenhouses. We are also proud of the rapid progress we are making at each site as well as the teams we are building. We are very focused on building teams that draw from the broader business community and people with a focus on greenhouse cultivation rather than just drawing from the cannabis industry. We are on track to report initial revenue from these activities in the fourth quarter of 2021. We expect to ramp up significantly in 2020 as we seek to generate significant operating income from these operations.”

Jared Schrader, Millennium Cannabis’ President, commented, “The cannabis industry is growing at an incredible rate and our approach which is focused on low-cost and sustainable cultivation in greenhouses is paramount to a long-term and viable business model. Both of our current projects in Colorado and Oklahoma benefit from the potential for rapid speed to revenue. We are focused on bringing best in class, large-scale mainstream agricultural cultivation techniques to the cannabis industry. We are thankful to have best in class industry experts at Millennium Cannabis and are looking forward to growing the team as we take on more projects in more states.”

Millennium Carbon


In May, 2015, MILC acquired an activated carbon plant (the “MHC Plant”) out of bankruptcy at a steep discount to the original investment.

The MHC plant is intended to process a waste stream of macadamia nut shells into a special form of premium-grade activated carbon, which, due to its large surface area and complex network of pores, provides benefits in a variety of chemical processes including filtration, purification and energy storage. In particular, the activated carbon expected to be produced by the Plant was targeted for manufacturing electrical double-layer capacitors, which are commonly referred to as Ultracapacitors or Supercapacitors, an advanced energy storage alternative to traditional batteries. Ultracapacitors are found in a diverse array of electronic equipment from daily usage engine starting, hybrid and electric vehicles to windmills.

MHC successfully restored all production equipment and necessary support systems to operation and completed 31 trial run campaigns that produced over 60 tons of activated carbon. The process was iterative where MHC operated the plant for a couple of days to produce Activated Carbon and then performs laboratory testing. MHC produced some very high-grade material that would be attractive to ultracapacitor manufacturers. Unfortunately, MHC has also experienced significant variations in the quality of the material produced.

During the first half of 2019, MHC concluded that the existing carbonization reactor intended to remove volatile material and produce char was the culprit causing the inconsistent results. In evaluating alternatives, MHC concluded that it had identified a novel and potentially better approach to producing Activated Carbon. Based on this, MILC has made efforts to minimize overhead and cash drain at MHC while it evaluates alternatives for the project which may include repurposing the plant for other uses or a potential sale.


As described above, in evaluating operational issues at MHC, MILC identified a novel approach to producing Activated Carbon and determined to construct a pilot-plant as a proof of concept. This project is located in Kentucky and the initial feedstock is a waste stream that is available in large quantities from bourbon distilleries which is a large industry in Kentucky and which represents a significant waste problem that is impacting the industry. To build the pilot plant, MILC, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Millennium Carbon LLC (“MC”) purchased several used pieces of equipment at a fraction of the cost of new equipment in order to construct a plant capable of establishing the viability of the process beyond a “lab-scale” demonstration. To date, MC has operated this pilot plant and believes that the concept is valid and can be scaled to a commercial operation. MC is currently formulating a plan for a commercial scale Activated Carbon plant based on the experience with the pilot plant.

David Lesser, MILC’s Chairman and CEO, commented, “While we are disappointed with the status of the Hawaii endeavor, we believe that the experience has led to what could be an extremely exciting opportunity to develop a sustainable approach to the production of activated carbon from waste materials. Typical production of activated carbon has a very high carbon footprint whereas we believe our model should have a negative carbon footprint. We look forward to continuing to develop this novel concept which should have applications beyond our initial waste stream feedstock.”

SMC Global

As previously announced, MILC has now completed the liquidation of its investment in SMC Global which represented its sole investment in securities.

Updated Investor Deck

MILC has posted an updated investor deck which is available on our website: http://www.millinvestment.com/

Deregistration as a 1940 Act Company

On October 14, 2020, shareholders approved a proposal to change the nature of the Company’s business from a registered investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”) and to a holding company that focuses primarily on owning and operating businesses that produce activated carbon and acquiring other private businesses (collectively, the “Deregistration Proposal”). The Company is in the process of implementing the Deregistration Proposal so that it is no longer an “investment company” under the 1940 Act and has applied to the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) for an order under the 1940 Act declaring that the Company has ceased to be an investment company (the “Deregistration Order”).

While the Company is committed to fully implementing the Deregistration Proposal, it is still contingent upon regulatory approval and the ability to reconfigure the Company’s portfolio to deregister as an investment company. The time required to reconfigure the Company’s portfolio could be impacted by, among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic and related market volatility, determinations to preserve capital, the Company’s ability to identify and execute on desirable acquisition opportunities, and applicable regulatory, lender and governance requirements. The conversion process could take up to 24 months; and there can be no assurance that the Deregistration Proposal, even if fully implemented, will improve the Company’s performance. Further, the SEC may determine not to grant the Company’s request for the Deregistration Order, which would materially change the Company’s plans for its business.

As previously announced, MILC has now completed the liquidation of its sole investment in securities – its investment in SMC and plans to invest the proceeds in operating businesses.


Millennium Investment and Acquisition Co. Inc. (ticker: MILC) is an internally managed, non-diversified, closed-end investment company. During 2020, MILC announced that it was seeking to de-register as an Investment Company that is regulated under Investment Company Act of 1940. MILC is currently seeking an Order from the SEC declaring that it has ceased to be an Investment Company as it no longer meets the definition of holding itself out as investing in securities but rather has pivoted to focus on direct investments in operating businesses.

MILC is currently focusing on opportunities in sustainable cannabis cultivation and sustainable production of activated carbon.

Additional information about MILC can be found on its website: www.millinvestment.com


Power REIT is a specialized real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns sustainable real estate related to infrastructure assets including properties for Controlled Environment Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation. Power REIT is actively seeking to expand its real estate portfolio related to Controlled Environment Agriculture for the cultivation of food and cannabis.

Power REIT is focuses on the “Triple Bottom Line” with a commitment to Profit, Planet and People.

Additional information about Power REIT can be found on its website: www.pwreit.com


This document includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. securities laws. Forward-looking statements are those that predict or describe future events or trends and that do not relate solely to historical matters. You can generally identify forward-looking statements as statements containing the words “believe,” “expect,” “will,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “estimate,” “project,” “plan,” “assume”, “seek” or other similar expressions, or negatives of those expressions, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. All statements contained in this document regarding our future strategy, future operations, future prospects, the future of our industries and results that might be obtained by pursuing management’s current or future plans and objectives are forward-looking statements. You should not place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements because the matters they describe are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other unpredictable factors, many of which are beyond our control. Our forward-looking statements are based on the information currently available to us and speak only as of the date of the filing of this document. Over time, our actual results, performance, financial condition or achievements may differ from the anticipated results, performance, financial condition or achievements that are expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements, and such differences may be significant and materially adverse to our security holders.

Congress Is Working To Protect All Legal Cannabis States


States With Legal Cannabis Are Finding Protection From Congressional Legislators
A revised measure has now surfaced to protect all states and tribal programs from federal penalties. This new bill has 15 cosponsors following its bipartisan advocates spreading a letter to develop support this week Yet a Republican who stands in opposition to cannabis reform, is pushing a dueling proposal. This push is to rid a more modest, longstanding rider that’s implemented defense for medical cannabis states alone.

The pro-reform amendment which may get a vote on the House floor next week is being managed by several political figures. These politicians are Earl Blumenauer, Tom McClintock, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Barbara Lee. The goal is to connect the proposal to 2022 fiscal year spending legislation for the Commerce. As well as the Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS).

Furthermore, Rep. Doug LaMalfa is taking the unprecedented move of filing a competing measure. This particular bill would stop federal protections for states with medical cannabis legalization. This also includes his own—that have been in place and renewed yearly on a bipartisan basis since 2014.

Now with the Democratic party in control of Congress and the increasingly cross-party nature of support for marijuana reform things may work out overall. With this many, advocates aren’t significantly concerned about LaMalfa’s amendment.

However, the GOP congressman has gained a reputation as a staunch reform opponent. This has gone to the extent of recently knocked down illegal cannabis cultivation sites in California alongside local police. His plan to stop protections for the state’s decades-old medical marijuana program has caused some concern.

What Is Next For Cannabis Reform In The United States
On a different end of the spectrum, legislators who support cannabis reform gave insight in a Dear Colleague letter that was released recently. They went on to say that the appropriations revision they’re proposing would add “language preventing the Department of Justice from using any funds appropriated by Congress to enforce federal laws regarding activities that are legal under state, territorial, or tribal law with regard to marijuana, regardless of whether the marijuana laws are recreational or medicinal.”

This language has been introduced in past sessions as well, passing the House back in 2020 and the year before that. However, it was not added to the final provisions of the bill that was sent to the president’s desk. Now that Democrats have a small bulk in the chamber, supporters are confident that it could finally be passed.

In addition to the four main sponsors of the bill, it’s now been cosponsored by many other political figures. For instances such as Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries and Reps. Carolyn Maloney, David Joyce, Diana DeGette, Dina Titus. In addition to Donald Beyer, Jan Schakowsky, Mike Thompson, Pramila Jayapal, Ed Perlmutter, and Don Young.

As of right now, the spending bill rider that LaMalfa is working to offer protection only to states with medical cannabis programs. This new more comprehensive revision from reform advocates would expand that protection. This would be happening at a time when more and more states are trying to legalize marijuana for adult use. So far in 2021 four states have gone on to legalize the adult use of cannabis. These states are Connecticut, New Mexico, New York, and Virginia who have legalized cannabis for recreational purposes this year alone.

The Language Of The Suggested Amendment
1 SEC _. None of the funds made available by this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the United States Virgin Islands, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.

1 SEC __. None of the funds made available by this Act to the Department of Justice may be used to prevent any Indian tribe (as such term is defined in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5304)) from enacting or implementing tribal laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.

Will Congress Be Able To Pass Federal Cannabis Reform In 2021
LaMalfa also filed a second amendment to the CJS bill that’s aimed at “including marijuana grow sites in the eligible category for [Drug Enforcement Administration] reimbursement of state, units of local government, or tribal governments for expenses incurred to clean-up and safely dispose of substances which may present a danger to public health or the environment found at illegal marijuana grow sites.”

An added LaMalfa revision to a separate funding bill for the State Department is meant to “express the intent to direct the Department of State to issue a report on the connections between international criminal organizations and illegal marijuana grows within the United States.”

On the CJS bill, Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-CA) also filed an amendment intended to “support efforts to eliminate illegal marijuana grows in South Eastern California.”

Final Thoughts On Congress Passing Federal Cannabis Reform
The budgeting process this session has seen many drug policy reform provisions. This involved a bill text and associated reports including protecting banks that work with marijuana businesses. As well as supporting government agencies to rethink policies that terminate workers for cannabis use. Also being able to investigate research into the medical use of psychedelics and preventing immigrants from being deported for cannabis, alongside other matters.

Independently, the full House of Representatives could vote next week on revisions to large-scale minibus appropriations legislation. Which would make it so marijuana possession or consumption could not be used as the foundation or main reason for refusing people access to public housing.

For the CJS appropriations bill where the new marijuana state protection language could be attached. From this amendments were due to be submitted by Friday afternoon. The House Rules Committee is set to make a choice this upcoming week. This would come after the bill and any revisions that are considered and will head to the floor for votes.

The Hemp Farming Act Of 2018: Explained In Plain English

Black Sports Online
By Robert Littal –

A proposed statute that lawmakers eventually folded into the 2018 United States farm bill, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 cleared the way for hemp cultivation across the nation. Prior to the law’s passing, cannabis — and by extension, hemp — had been illegal for decades. Here’s everything you need to know about the bill that made Cannaflower’s hemp buds legal throughout the country.

Broadly Speaking, What Is the Hemp Farming Act of 2018?

Laws passed between 1937 and 1950 snuffed out industrial hemp production in the United States. In the 1990s, pro-hemp lawmakers started submitting several bills and motions recommending the crop as versatile and valuable enough to be stockpiled.

The campaign steadily grew, and in 2018, legislators folded the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 into law. Specifically, the act removed cannabis products containing less than 0.3 THC — the psychoactive chemical endemic to cannabis plants that cause a “high” — from the Schedule I controlled substances list. It also made the Cannabis sativa plant a regular crop commodity, like wheat or corn.

The legislative shift created a lucrative new agricultural opportunity, and prospective hemp farmers were able to seek legitimate financial assistance and government subsidies to plant cannabis crops for the first time in decades.

What Are the Main Outcomes of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018?

To be clear, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 didn’t make “let’s-get-high” cannabis legal in the United States. It’s a particular statute with limited allowances.

These are the six main points to understand. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018:

  1. Limits THC crop levels to 0.3 percent
  2. Requires hemp flower farmers to obtain USDA approval to grow the crop
  3. Establishes a set of strict regulations around hemp farming
  4. Demands that growers secure approval by state officials, federal officials, and law enforcement agencies before starting the cultivation process
  5. Clears a path for hemp and CBD research
  6. Reserves water rights and access to federal agricultural grants for hemp growers

Due to the act’s parameters, hemp cultivators were finally able to approach banks regarding loans — something they previously couldn’t do since the plant was a controlled, criminal substance. Moreover, thanks to the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, farmers in the niche could finally get crop insurance for cannabis fields.

What Is Hemp’s Future In the United States?

Hemp — and cannabis-product sales in general — are a booming new American industry. Since 2012, the country’s entire west coast — including Alaska and Hawaii — has legalized recreational marijuana, as have Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and a trio of New England states. Plus, all but five states — Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Kansas — have legalized medical marijuana in some form. And note that even in states where medical marijuana consumption is still outlawed, hemp farming is allowed in some capacity.

In addition to dispensaries, an offshoot industry sprouted up around marijuana legalization: CBD and hemp products, neither of which make you “high” but derive from the same Cannabis sativa plant.

States that legalized cannabis have enjoyed windfall tax revenues. As other jurisdictions start to see the industry as a surefire moneymaker, legalization is likely to sweep the nation — because, at the end of the (expensive) day, every state wants to fill its coffers.

Moreover, as the prevalence of medical marijuana expands, scientists are conducting more research, and exciting discoveries are being made that signal a bright future for palliative cannabis products — both on a prescription level and over-the-counter CBD solutions.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018

So that’s the long and short of it: the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 essentially legalized hemp growing in the United States. But it’s not a free-for-all; you can’t buy acreage and just start growing. Hemp cultivation and manufacturing are strictly regulated — and violation punishments are harsh.

State regulators start “Cannabis Regulators Association”

by Louisiana Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry –

BATON ROUGE, La. (LDAF) – In an effort to better share institutional knowledge and regulatory practices, Louisiana is one of 19 states now part of the newly formed non-partisan organization called the Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA).

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) which regulates medical marijuana in Louisiana will be represented by Medical Marijuana Program Director Tabitha Irvin, Esq. CANNRA is being established to assist federal, state, and local jurisdictions that have approved or are considering the legalization of medical and/or recreational cannabis.

“CANNRA is restricted to cannabis regulators to develop best practices and policies and also to support consistent regulatory actions,” said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.

Irvin added, “It is an honor to be a founding member of an organization that will develop standards in the industry and provides regulatory guidance to state and federal elected officials. We are also proud to collaborate and welcome the expertise of other states as we regulate products so they are safe for consumers.”

For years, cannabis regulators across the country have relied on each other to share regulatory experiences, institutional expertise, and to provide assistance navigating the numerous evolving policy and regulatory issues associated with legalizing and regulating cannabis. Often the first step for state and local jurisdictions weighing legalization is to engage with regulators from established markets and programs. However, there has never been an organization to facilitate these interactions or help stakeholders find objective data and evidence-based approaches to policymaking and implementation.

CANNRA’s other founding members include the principal cannabis regulators from: Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington.

For more information about the Cannabis Regulators Association visit www.Cann-RA.org or email info@Cann-RA.org.

Cannabis Cultivation for the Space Age: Automated Crop Logistic and Robotics

canabis tech
by Jessica McKeil

Cannabis cultivation is permeated with technological innovations for a future that is closer than people think

The future of agriculture isn’t as far off as some may imagine, robots in greenhouses are not just an idea pulled from science fiction novels. Robotic farmers and total greenhouse automation have already been working their way through the rows of crops across North America for some time now, and they are just about to break into the cannabis industry in a big way.

A robotic takeover of the marijuana industry shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the technological advances the industry has made in only a few short years. Many forget that only a decade ago, recreational cannabis was a taboo subject, with farmers focusing on secrecy instead of tech upgrades. Today, marijuana is a multi-billion dollar industry in North America alone. It’s already setting records as a cash crop, with profits helping to fund technological innovations which push boundaries of conventional cultivation.

Automation is Already Working its Way Into the Greenhouse
Automation in cannabis may come as less of a shock than full-on robotics. Many medium to large size commercial operations already rely on some level of automation to manage the logistics of growing. Companies like Priva are working with businesses to take manual management out of the cultivation process. Priva designs systems for greenhouses which eliminate the need for constant human monitoring for vital systems like irrigation, lighting, CO2, to temperature.

Most systems, such as Priva’s line of automation designs, give the grower real-time control over the crop. Routine climate adjustments are automatically managed through pre-determined algorithms and comprehensive sensory systems. Priva allows growers to take a step back from micromanaging a crop with zone-by-zone data collection, and analysis. Priva design systems where a farmer can “view, manipulate, modify and make decisions in real time on factors influencing their greenhouse climate, irrigation and heat management operations.”

Priva is by no means one of the only companies injecting automation into indoor cannabis operations. Braingrid, Urban Grow, and others are making names for themselves in automated greenhouse climate control and data-driven grows. These systems are paving the way for full-blown robotics entering into the field and into the grow room.

Introducing Robots into the Grow Room
Where do robots fit into the modern cannabis operation? If you envision an army of helpful robots weeding and hoeing as they move through the grow, you wouldn’t be that far off. Naio Technologies already has a team of four robots in their small army, working their way through the rows of crops, quickly weeding and turning soil so that employees can focus on more crucial and complicated tasks. They currently have four models (Oz, Bob, Ted, and Dino), two of which are specifically targeted to the wine industry. In one hour, a small machine like their Oz model can weed 1000 meters of a crop, perhaps more efficiently and proficiently than a workforce of unskilled labor.

It makes sense that companies like Niao, with robots already adapted to a vineyard, will eventually turn their attention to cannabis. Both indoor and outdoor cannabis operations could expect both financial and productivity gains from a team of robots taking over the many mundane, repetitive tasks in marijuana cultivation.

Even if robot weeders don’t fit into your vision for the future of cannabis farming, there are other systems focused on indoor grow room logistics which may seem more realistic today. Stackable, space-saving designs are increasingly used in the industry to maximize the productivity of the grow room, but what about if integrated robotics and automation made each plant accessible and more productive?

Hove has a long history designing custom solutions for the greenhouse industry, solutions which have naturally gravitated to the cannabis industry. They have developed a system of rolling cannabis trays, called the Cannabench System, which maximizes space, improves operational efficiencies, reduce labor costs, and raise profits.

Importantly, they have adapted to the systems already used in cannabis. Their specialty space saving rolling trays integrate seamlessly with ebb and flow trays, trellis systems, as well as with adjustable heights so that workers are always working at an optimal height.

With robots already making their way through the rows of other greenhouse crops, they will surely be moving into the cannabis industry soon. Automation will also likely take over commercial spaces, becoming the norm, rather than the exception. With the level of investment flooding the industry, and open access spreading globally, cannabis cultivation is filled with technological innovations straight out of the future.