Chemotaxonomy and the Scientist Budget

A wide assortment of methods are available to assess the chemical constituents of cannabis products and thereby direct product formulation for optimal efficacy and safety as medicines.

The Analytical Chemistry of Cannabis,

In the challenge to address standards imposed on cannabis – get a load of the Regulatory ROBOT on the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission website .

Are you a small business starting out and manufacturing a product for children or other consumers? You may be wondering which federal product safety requirements, like CPSIA, apply to your product.

US CPSC website

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is a United States law signed on August 14, 2008 by President George W. Bush. The legislative bill was known as HR 4040, sponsored by Congressman Bobby Rush. On December 19, 2007, the U.S. House approved the bill 407-0.


Although it is not well known to most economists, agricultural price supports in the past several decades have been part of what are now known as “crop insurance” programs. Farmers used a specified quantity of their crop as collateral for a nonrecourse loan equal to that quantity times a price called the commodity loan rate. The loan rate serves as a support price. In most versions of the program, after the crop was harvested, farmers repaid the loans if the market price exceeded the support price; otherwise, they essentially sold the crop to the government by forfeiting the actual physical product…. but, lease rates capture much of the agricultural subsidy payments.

Joshua S. Graff Zivin and Jeffrey M. Perlof
Cherokee Citizens Conduct Innovative Hemp Research with Clemson

Cherokee Citizens Conduct Innovative Hemp Research with Clemson

Cherokee Nation citizens partner with Clemson University to research food and fiber crop grown at the historic American Indian sites at Clemson 

Native Health Matters Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, are partnering with researchers at Clemson University to grow and analyze varieties of grain/fiber industrial hemp.

 Clemson University Experimental Station is located on the site of an historic former Cherokee settlement in upstate South Carolina. Other hemp growing sites are on Cherokee tribal lands in eastern Oklahoma.

 Industrial hemp seeds imported from Italy labeled “cannabis sativa” were seized and then released by U.S. customs agents in June with assistance from a national seed trade association. Crops are now safely planted and thriving in South Carolina and Oklahoma.

Agricultural researchers will analyze the genomic strains of multiple hemp varieties, including heirloom Italian cultivars dating back to the 1600s. Research includes seeding rates, fertility rates and timing, genetic DNA mapping and insect, disease and weed pressures as well as varietal development and harvesting and storage.

Researching industrial hemp advances the agricultural potential of hemp as a locally grown commodity crop in Indian Country that can help native farmers expand food sovereignty.

Native Health Matters Foundation(NHMF), a non-profit education and agricultural foundation run by Cherokee tribal citizens is advancing scientific understanding of hemp grown for fiber and seed, introducing an ancient plant to historic Cherokee agricultural sites to help build food sovereignty in Indian Country.

Nine varieties of industrial hemp are growing this summer through a partnership with Clemson University in South Carolina on historic land that was formerly the site of Cherokee agricultural settlements in the 1600s and 1700s.

In eastern Oklahoma, on the Cherokee reservation near Stillwell, the Cherry Tree headquarters of Native Health Matters Foundation, Cherokee farmers are pioneering fiber and seed hemp agriculture in the region after 80 years and plan to continue this work in 2021 on acreage in South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

“We’re looking for ways to develop sustainable agricultural and financial sovereignty for native farmers with nutritious products grown locally,” said research farmer Tim Houseberg, vice president of Native Health Matters Foundation and a citizen of the Cherokee tribe. Native Health Matters Foundation also sponsored the start of pioneering agronomic studies of hemp with University of Arkansas’s Crop, Soil and Environmental Science Division.

But one of this year’s major projects was almost stopped in its tracks by U.S. customs agents in June.

Hemp, a non-intoxicating cannabis cousin of marijuana, was outlawed in the United States for decades until it was legalized in the 2014 and 2018 USDA Farm Bills.

Agents from the Department of Homeland Security at the port authority in Dayton, Ohio, on June 10 seized a shipment of Italian heirloom hemp seed labeling the packages as “marijuana seeds.” The seeds, imported via Canada, were accompanied by the proper paperwork, including a phytosanitary certificate identifying them as “cannabis sativa.”

Luckily, advocates from the American Seed Trade Association intervened, and the hostage hemp seeds were released.

“We were glad to help, and it’s something we do quite regularly on behalf of our members,” Bethany Shively of the seed association said. The group communicates with government agencies to help explain USDA requirements for the movement of seeds in and out of the United States, Shively said.

With the project back on track, hemp seeds were planted at the Clemson Experimental Station student organic farm under the lead of Emerging Crops Program Coordinator Kelly Flynn.

“We’re looking at what varieties grow well in the southeast and what are those specific varieties good for,” Flynn said. “We’ll analyze the seed and fiber on each of the varieties we’re growing.”

Most U.S. farmers have been growing hemp for cannabidiol (CBD). Research on growing hemp for grain and fiber in the United States has a long way to go, Flynn said. Canadian farmers have been growing hemp for grain and fiber since the 1990s.

Research will include seeding rates; fertility rates and timing; genetic DNA mapping and insect, disease and weed pressures as well as varietal development and harvesting and storage.

Hemp is an ancient plant filled with potential for the future. Hemp fibers were used for centuries in textiles such as canvas and rope and for papermaking. Hemp hurd can be used in bio-based composites and resins and combined with lime in a construction material called hempcrete. The plant’s carbon sequestration and toxin absorption make it useful to clean up soils in phytoremediation efforts.

In addition, hemp seed is highly nutritious and provides all the amino acids of a complete protein source; Edestin protein in hempseed is of particular interest. Pressed seed oil can be used for cooking or even biofuels.

“We have an opportunity to bring a new sustainable product into the system that could replace some of the existing ecologically harmful processes,” Flynn said.

Clemson research will bring farmers, processors and manufacturers together to understand the supply chain and, “make sure the farmers are profiting and not being left out of conversation,” Flynn said.

The Clemson site in northwestern South Carolina is of special importance to Cherokee history, Oklahoma’s Houseberg said.

The Esseneca burial mound, a former Cherokee settlement on the Keowee River, is located on Clemson property.

In the region, farming ancestors of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians raised the “three sisters” crops: flint corn, squash and beans, along with ramps, potatoes and hickory and chestnuts, said Karen Hall, who built the Cherokee Worldview Garden on the Clemson campus’s South Carolina Botanical Garden. Their diets also consisted of spring greens and medicinal plants that had to be carefully prepared such as Solomon’s Seal, coneflowers, pokeweed, lambs quarters and Yaupon holly, or ‘black drink’ which was “a major source of caffeine, grown and traded by the Cherokees,” Hall said.

Esseneca was destroyed by colonial soldiers in 1776 and many of the natives in the area were forcibly relocated west after the 1830 Indian Removal Act in an episode known as the Trail of Tears. The property later became a plantation owned by U.S. Vice President John Calhoun, where enslaved people cultivated rice and cotton.

Bringing Cherokee hemp back to Clemson is symbolic, said Houseberg, as a way to return agricultural autonomy to native people for better nutrition and local food production. 

Meanwhile, in eastern Oklahoma and nearby Arkansas, Houseberg’s team is growing a handful of other cultivars, including several varieties of the Italian heirloom hemp rescued from U.S. Customs.

The Carmagnola seeds have a pedigree dating back to Italian hemp growers in 18th Century Turin. Italian hemp textiles were world-famous until the introduction of petroleum-based fibers in the 1950s.

“Italy has a long history in growing hemp,” said Andrea Schiavi of U.S.-based Schiavi Seeds. During the 19thCentury and early 1900s, U.S. farmers in Wisconsin and Kentucky imported landrace Italian Carmagnola, Bolognese and Napolitano hemp seeds for fiber crops to sell to the U.S. Navy for rope, sails and bags, Schiavi said.

“Carmagnola is a fantastic variety for fiber production, but also for CBD yield. In ideal conditions the crop can grow up to 14 feet tall and generate six tons of fiber per acre,” Schiavi said.

As part of a multi-national University Hemp study to analyze specific cultivar performance by crop regions, Cherokee citizens and partner regional growers will be producing fibers, grain and seeds from the European and Canadian cultivars.  They are currently marketing seed to farmers through a certified seed company subsidiary, Cherokee Genetics Co. They also plan to bring the crop harvest products and byproducts back into Indian Country to begin research and development in how to best utilize these in ways both traditional and innovative.

Tribal communities have a special relationship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s hemp program, allowing tribes to create their own hemp production plans which may be more flexible than plans determined by state departments of agriculture.

Because U.S. hemp production is so new, the Native Health Matters team hopes to build opportunities for native farmers to gain a competitive advantage and boost food sovereignty.

“Having access to the right genetics is critical to the success of farmers who are interested in hemp. Having purchased nonperforming seeds and clones in the past few seasons, this relationship is very important to help insure American Indian farmers have access to planting seeds that are proven to be both compliant and return high yields,” Houseberg said.

“Our partnerships and experience allow us to tailor programs to the crops our customers grow, which helps them build sustainable agriculture,” said Andrew Oberhoulser, a Native Health Matters board member.

With hemp, everything old is new again, and Native Health Matters Foundation wants to make sure native farmers have the best tools and research to succeed growing hemp for grain and fiber, said Houseberg.

“The goal is to help native farmers produce culturally appropriate foods through ecologically sustainable methods for nutrition and health of local communities,” he said.

About Native Health Matters: Native Health Matters, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Cherry Tree near Stilwell, Okla., is a community development incubator for sustainable health, wellness, education, agricultural and financial sovereignty for Native American communities, minorities, and people of all ages.

About Clemson Experimental Station: The Clemson Student Organic Farm provides opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students participating in projects and farm research in sustainable agriculture.

Cannabis and your lungs – can COVID be avoided?

Antiviral claims are unsubstantiated that correlate medical cannabis consumption with human health measures.

If you could take a dropper of cannabis tincture daily, or even have a cannabis oil infused pill and avoid viral infections – would you prefer that over a vaccine shot?

If you could avoid viral based illnesses by measurable doses of cannabis, would the trial time including growing the plants be acceptable terms?

Here is a link to a Chicago Tribune article on this topic – Researchers say CBD could provide vital treatment for coronavirus –

A Cannabis Grower’s Deep Dive Into a Hemp Row Crop Plan

The math looked awesome but the reality was a little bit different when approaching the idea of planting 10000 clones on 4 acres. Especially when leasing the land. 

Dig a well? Build a hoop house? Improve the barn? All these questions and more had to be answered, and the answers revealed many moderate to high costs. 

Growing from clones or seed? That was another big one to tackle and then the idea of cauliflower strains came up – mind blown!

Without too much more thought, the timing wasn’t right and the deal fell through. Maybe next year!

A Corn Grower’s View of Hemp Viability

The numbers are in to forecast the coming year’s plans for planting corn and soybeans. Hemp, however, is almost a complete mystery. We have numbers for licensed growers in states who have closed down licensing, but some states just opened their licensing procedures so there is a lot still up in the air for this, America’s first country-wide legal and diverse hemp crop. This Forbes article sums it up very well. (Regarding the complexity of corn and soybeans in American agriculture)

I went over the multi faceted approaches to cultivation (here) so let’s get in the dirt with this one by looking through the critical lens of a third generation Iowa corn farmer . He knows the ropes farming corn and soybeans, but more importantly, he is willing to learn more about our beloved hemp ropes that Carson Nation and many others have been weaving between hemp farmers and the important markets so we can sell our beloved and valuable hemp wares

It’s logical to break this crop into constituent parts of the mature plant that has been pollinated so that the modern farmer can have a three fold harvest of seed grain, loosened flower material, and fiber stalk. This model will also leave the stubble in the soil to help maintain some.nutrients, serve as erosion prevention and support microbial life. We have access to a plethora of soil science and organic agricultural principles if interested (here). But let’s fix our gaze on the seed grain for starters.

Richard Rose, founder of hemp nut, introduced me to the idea of hemp grain being a minor disruption to soybean crops. His hemp nut© brand was a witty market response to soy based products like tofu. Richard has a vast amount of info available on his newest web pages The Richard Rose Report

Hemp seed grain is similar to soy. it’s most valuable part may be the cold pressed oil, but this process also gives us a product very similar to flour after some more processing. The science is astounding regarding the nutritional value of hemp seed grain (Link)

Chris Weydert is an Iowa corn farmer who doesn’t see scaling up to a huge hemp seed production model as viable just yet. But Chris can easily see the value in diversifying his crop rotation capabilities and the possibility of being vertically integrated with hemp. That’s an ace we will keep to ourselves for now, but let’s just say there are many possibilities for farmers to grab their share of this developing hemp market dynamic.

I don’t want to misrepresent Chris’ attitude toward hemp; he simply seemed concerned with the regulations around it at the state level, the question of, “can it make money for his farm operation, ” and also “is the CBD extraction side of production hemp really as lucrative per acre as people are saying?”

Those answers aren’t simple to come up with, and he has a big farm operation to run. That may be a big part of why his home state of Iowa is putting a 40 acres cap on hemp planting this year. There are other reasons for this common sense approach too – other states are years into hemp crop research. Farmers should sensibly examine the possibilities for hemp if the plan involves putting it into rotation.

Now, does hemp have the ability to revolutionize agricultural philosophy?? That’s a resounding “YES!!” That’s coming in from all over the world. One simple metaphor to examine is the three sisters – corn, beans, and squash. Some questions exist about companion planting methodology, and how it was received in theory by the Europeans. Aesthetics played a large role in agricultural practices in Europe, so row cropping won the day at scale. But with hemp coming on board, let’s not make light of the damages row crop agricultural practices have done to the environment in a massive scale after fuel powered machinery started to be employed by the farmer. Maybe, with hemp coming on line, it’s time to take a look at our base philosophy of agriculture and make some adjustments. Let’s start with a little thought experiment about companion planting versus row crops.

Let’s put forth a challenge – it can be done. We are going through a process of rethinking and retooling our farms across the country. Diversity is a huge factor for farmers to make enough money to thrive at their soulful knowledge and many layered skill sets. We have young engineers who would love to contribute their skills to rethinking the landscape and tools. We even have plant genetics professionals who can generally customize cannabis by breeding in better seed production, more fiber/ Hurd in the stalks, and even cannabinoid profiles in the flower material. Combining all of the cannabis plant potential is an amazing agricultural breakthrough. The ability of the farmer to companion plant goes back hundreds of years – so combining A thriving cannabis plant with the agricultural model of companion planting only seems natural.

A collaboration between farmers and engineers is an exciting plan going forward. Let the model philosophy drive the innovations here. Our collective ingenuity will win the day. Especially if we clearly define our shared principles of organic practices, ecology and economy. We want to be thoughtful moving forward and restore the possibility that small farms can be productive; not just surviving, but also thriving, profitable and influential. We want the small farm to measure it’s success in diversity – not just in dollars alone.

With modern machinery and engineering, we can design our implements with companion planting in mind. If we find that hemp and soybeans go well together, along with some clover or alfalfa for weed control, then we will design out equipment to fit our needs and plan our fields accordingly. These are good practices – and we don’t have limitations to convention that come with a monoculure, row crop field any more.

We will work with the limitations of the available equipment, but forward thinking is a hemp industry standard. Investments moving forward will go toward what works well, and what pays well too.

Harvesting equipment is already being designed for hemp crops that can separate the seed and flower as well as cut the stalk and wind row it. Seed Genetics are already in play as well that are designed for multipurpose harvesting. Perhaps we can modify that design a bit to work with companion planting too. The potential is only limited by our creativity and commitment to agricultural diversity. We want to foster the small farm business model that allows for feedback between farmers, engineers and the market metrics. We don’t want to continue to force feed people tofu because it’s easy to cultivate when the market responds by saying it tastes horrible.

Processing corn and soybeans has largely been mastered and scaled in the U.S. by global giant Archer Daniels Midland. It is all centered around grain. Cannabis and hemp processing in contrast has yet to fall into the hands of a global giant. There is a huge potential here for intellectual property and patented technology. There is plenty of room for hemp seed grain, hemp fiber/ Hurd and cannabinoids derived largely from unpollinated flower. The breakdown of hemp products is viewable in this flow chart

As we addressed the issue of Pollen – one of the biggest contentions about cannabis in agriculture – Dr Anna Schwabe offered a great story as an analogy. “If you own a female Persian cat, and you don’t want it to be impregnated by an alley cat, then it is your responsibility to keep your cat inside. The same goes with hemp pollinating your outdoor grow”

I also spoke with recent Purdue university graduate Andrei Sokolchik about his paper on the economics of hemp. He was using studies from Oregon and Kentucky in his analsys as well as referencing world wide data, including stats from Europe and Asia. Hemp fiber and grain are time tested uses for this crop.

Production Hemp farming in an attempt to massively harvest unpollinated flower tops is not something that’s done anywhere else in the world. It’s been done now here in the US in the last couple of years, and will scale up this year.

Large cannabis grows happen in other countries and here in the U.S., but it has not really happened out in the open because it has been highly illegal. Illegal cannabis grows are coalescing with legal hemp growing practices creating a lot of tension in a hall where there there should be celebration. The tribal lines are drawn around the issue of open pollinating. We can’t have hemp seed grain without pollination.
Some of the major innovations are in genetics and plant breeding. There are also big strides being made worldwide in machinery design for both the field and the post harvest facilities. Methods of testing are also seeing innovations as scientists address the legalities of the multi-use plant. When the whole plant is used in so many different ways, the issues quickly become complicated.

From seed breeding, to planting and cultivation, to harvesting and processing – the hemp and cannabis industry is buzzing with excitement at the end of prohibition.

Stay tuned as this season unfolds. We encourage you to try hemp seed oil in a recipe. Get a feel for hemp based clothing. Try out one of the many CBD products on the market. Engage with the issue of medical cannabis because people are getting relief from plant based approach to health and well being. And most importantly – HAPPY 4/20 💚 Here’s to a hemp filled future!

Hemp Genetics Survived Prohibition But Can Farmers Overcome Their Fears?

Hemp is federally legal. Tennessee has licensed over 2000 growers.(link) Many other states are springboarding off of successful pilot programs and others are lagging behind. Illinois currently has only one licensed hemp farmer. No matter what state you are in, there are many ways to encourage and support the developing hemp and cannabis industry. Farmers and hobby growers are showing interests while existing and emerging corporations scramble for emerging market share. The “green rush” is interesting to watch for sure. Industry insiders, investors and even casual observers on social media make up the millions who are watching as cannabis and hemp develops into an industry and this cultural phenomenon sends smoke signals out around the world.

The way in which the hemp and cannabis industry is actually developing is quite interesting. Hemp is cannabis, but defined by the amount of THC present in the plant matter, but the differences are more pronounced at the genetic level. It is therefore forever tied to marijuana in a dance that botanists have hashed out over a long period of time. Many people are divided in the approach to cannabis as marijuana and hemp, and I am sure that debate will rage on. New scientific discoveries are bound to change perceptions as findings are published month after month. Colorado State University at Pueblo has an institute for cannabis research that may become the leader in the US moving forward because of that state’s progressive approach to the science of cannabis. Kentucky State University has an excellent program too! There are other places doing research, like The Rodale Institute , who are worthy of note as well.

Stable seed genetics are a key part of this developing hemp and cannabis industry. Some areas of the country are approaching hemp cultivation like horticultureists and clandestine marijuana growers by planting female clones and feminized seedlings. These folks are trying to harvest the unpollenated flowers and are using them in a variety of ways. I really enjoyed discussing this approach to hemp farming with Carson Nation. He’s a Kentucky hemp farmer who’s knowledge and enthusiasm is infectious, and he has built a huge network of knowledgeable and experienced farmers that are helping to build a hemp rope bridge to connect farmers to existing and emerging markets for the cannabis crops.

Other areas of the country are taking the agricultural approach and using modern, sometimes modified, farming equipment to plant, irrigate and harvest hemp crops for fiber, seed grain or both depending on the variety planted. Ken Anderson has Legacy Hemp and is leading the way forward in farming hemp for grain and fiber. Ari Sherman has a unique approach with his company evo hemp , which is worth noting for its partnership with the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Part of the dilemma at present is seed availability and who owns those seed genetics. The USDA does not currently provide plant protections for hemp (link ). The AOSCA most definitely will certify hemp seed cultivars. The divide is further complicated at planting – an organic field for hemp that is intended for human consumption has stringent rules that apply to planting organic crops which include the absence of chemical use for 3-5 years.(link) Many cannabis cultivars available for this year’s plantings are not tested extensively for the region. This brings with it huge risks.

Not only is seed availability a problem, but there also exists a huge gap in the basic approach to cultivating hemp because of what it’s intended harvest might be – that can range from fiber and hurd in the stalks for industrial uses – to the seed grain for a food source – to unpollinated flowers or whole plant biomass for the cannabinoid CBD (which may have medical significance, but there is no substantial evidence to prove those claims) (link) . Some are proponents of a full spectrum distillate from the mature unpollenated female flowers and plant biomass. Harold L. Jarboe at TN Homegrown is great at educating folks about this. Some are also proposing cannabinoid isolates. The important thing to remember, for consumers and farmers, is that the approach to hemp as medicine spills over from the medical marijuana camps. Growing hemp for fiber and/or its seed grain is a completely different approach to cultivating a hemp crop. This divide is being addressed differently in different states. It will be important for everyone who has interests and concerns to speak up at the state level as these issues are addressed in the coming months.

This is where the farmer meets the clandestine marijuana grower – whether that farmer was previously farming tobacco or some sort of grain (soybeans, corn or wheat), there is still the stigma of complete cannabis prohibition spilling over into the approaches to cultivating hemp on an “industrial” scale. Western states all have different approaches to cannabis regulations and Eastern states are completely divided about the issue. Cannabis, hemp and Marijuana – as divisive talking points – are currently filling in slots of the 24 hour news cycle.

At issue also in the transition to a viable hemp future is the 0.3%THC threshold – basically once this threshold is surpassed, hemp magically becomes marijuana by definition. No one is outright saying it – but the threat exists that the farmer may be labelled, branded, his/her crop destroyed, and worse, threatened with losing the farm. Kentucky has published hemp restrictions. That state has had a hemp program in place for a few years. While states who are relatively new to the crop, Kansas has over 50 approved varieties of hemp. Since some untested cultivars could grow to have more than 0.3% THC, the risk is a serious consideration. Each state is approaching this differently, and the USDA has stated that it will not publish official regulations, nor will it approve state hemp programs for the 2019 growing season. (link) the USDA has published an official Hemp production program page which includes a link to the marketing program and an email address to send in questions. (link). The Hemp Industry Daily has a great report outlining updates from different states HERE.

I need to give my thanks to cannabis industry insiders from all over the world for helping me understand these issues better. If you click on their names below, it will link directly to their Facebook page or business :

Richard Rose

J T Bedard

Veronica Carpio

Crystala Musatto-Allen

Anna Schwabe

Thanks everone !! The motto here is GROW PAST OUTDATED SCIENCE!