Volume 2, Issue 14, October 2000 ISSN 1488-3988
Top of the Crop
I) Woody wins: goes nonwood
Woody Harrelson, celebrity hemp advocate, was arrested on June 1st, 1996 in Kentucky for planting four industrial hempseeds. This act of civil disobedience, performed in view of the sheriff of Lee County and a video camera crew, propelled Harrelson and his supporters through three courts over 4 years. On August 25th, 2000 the verdict finally came down -- not guilty.
Though Harrelson was cleared of guilt, the law was not changed. Oddly, while Harrelson was charged on a marijuana offence, law authorities never dug up or tested the crop that was planted.
Shortly after the decision, Harrelson popped up in Winnipeg. A walk through the lobby of Winnipeg's Hotel Fort Garry, surprised a scrum of journalists there to cover the national Liberal caucus and PM Jean Chretien. Harrelson leaked his involvement in Prairie Pulp and Paper Co, a proposed nonwood paper mill in Manitoba. Involved with the Harrelson project include Canadian Alliance co-president Clayton Manness (hence the walk-through?) and businessman Jeff Golfman (Dolly Ventures).
The group has reportedly spent three-quarters of a million dollars conducting a series of feasibility studies, including straw evaluations at a facility in North Carolina.
The next step to spend close to $3 million CDN hiring engineers and beginning the design process of the plant. The stated goal is a mega project requiring $ 400-700 million CDN in financing.
Sources: Louisville Courier Journal, Winnipeg Free Press
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II) Canada's magic mirror
Canadian hemp exporters and their US trading partners are stunned and disappointed by a new trade barrier that has been thrown across the border.
The irony, of course, is that it is not the usual suspects -- US Customs, Treasury, DEA -- involved, but rather the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, backed up by Health Canada.
Since July 2000, at least three American manufacturers -- Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps (CA), Merry Hempsters (OR) and Sun Dog (WI) -- have had product stopped at the Canadian border. All three are working in cosmetics and bodycare. Product has not been detained but has been shipped back at manufacturer's expense
According to Canadian authorities, testing for THC must be done on all hemp product imports, and must be performed by a "competent laboratory in the country of origin", using the official analysis protocol that is laid out in the Canadian Technical Manual of the Regulations. This stipulation includes products containing material previously tested and cleared in Canada.
American hemp manufacturers are unhappy at the extra cost incurred by batch testing. It has been suggested that supplying manifests and a copy of the original Canadian test be sufficient. David Bronner of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps has also pointed out that HC's official protocol has only been set for oil, and not for finished products, like shampoos, soaps and lip balms. Hence, his DEA-authorised testing lab has advised him that testing for these products may require their own protocols.
Health Canada has stated that they will consider a change to the review process to consider changes to the official protocols. However this review process could take a year -- or longer.
While it has been pointed out that this is not a new interpretation of the regulations, the enforcement is new, and this latest crackdown does send a confusing message.
The paradox is that hemp, tested and documented as compliant with the law in Canada, becomes non-compliant when used as an ingredient in a finished product manufactured in a foreign county.
Certainly, there is no shortage of archaic, weird and projectionist trade laws in place in Canada. Consider food: Ontario's Edible Oils Act bans the manufacture and sale of product labelled as "imitation cheese" or the mixture of any dairy or vegetable oil; Quebec, not to be outdone, has its Margarine Act, which stipulates that margarine type products can't be the same colour as butter.
Remember the first Hemp Embargo? Canada cried foul a year ago when US Customs stopped that first Kenex shipment of hemp products. Another irony: Dr. Bronner's was one of several companies left without their Canadian hemp when Kenex's trucks were stopped in 1999.
Flash forward to 2000; American buyers are grumbling, and may consider buying their hemp elsewhere. Canadian exporters are not too pleased either.
Hemp industry stakeholders hope that a solution may be found as the Hemp Office has proven to be fairly flexible in the past as long as solutions are consistent with the regulations. For their part, Health Canada wants assurances that hemp hasn't been mixed with product from countries -- say from Germany or China -- whose regulations are not as stringent as Canada's.
For more information, keep an eye peeled on www.hempembargo.com
III) Hemp Clothing Seized in France
A shipment of 100% hemp clothing from Crucial USA worth $5,000 has been seized by French customs in May. The clothes were ordered by La Maison du Chanvre in Lyon, a nonprofit organisation which publishes the French hemp journal, Les Echos du Chanvre.
As of October 2000, the shipment was still in possession by customs.
Although Crucial had already shipped clothes to France many times before, and without any trouble, this time a zealous custom officer at Roissy airport in Paris "felt obliged" to report to the district attorney that he saw the pot leaf on the clothes. The reason: article L630 of the French law.
In France, freedom of expression is restricted by article L630 of the Public Health Code (part of the law dated Dec. 31, 1970, the cornerstone of the government's policy on drugs) which condemns the "presentation in a favorable manner of narcotics." This means that anything seen as instigating drug use is banned -- such as the cannabis hemp leaf. And according to the context, government officers decide whether the presentation is incitement or not.
This is not the first time that hemp products face this law. Two years ago the British company The Body Shop had some trouble because of its new range of hemp cosmetics, featuring the hemp leaf on the packaging. But today, The Body Shop continues to display and sell these products.
Says Les Echos "The law in France is a nonsense when one knows that France is the major hemp producer in Europe. And there are many hemp museums and companies using the cannabis hemp leaf as a symbol."
For more information contact Pascal Lagouge at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out www.echosduchanvre.com
Plasticana TM- a thermoplastics material combining hemp fiber with industrial manufacturing process (injection) -- will be commercially available soon, in the form of the traditional french beach sandal. This is an exceptional limited offer for 2,000 pairs. Delay for reservation/purchase will run as long as there is supply, and no later than Nov. 15, 2000. Shipping from France beginning of February 2001. For enquiry: www.echosduchanvre.com/plasticana.htm
ANALYSIS & INSIGHT
Taking the Go Out of Embargo
Canada and world hemptrade
By Dr. Sumach
With the squeeze on hempseed imports to the US choking market confidence, domestic and international vendors are left like fish at the bottom of a drained pond. Who will grow legs and walk away, who will sprout wings and fly and who will burrow into the muck and pray for rain? Hemp has always been with us, but not so the modern industry that brings it to the mall.
It will be a race for world hemp players to keep up with new opportunities after the US embargo is either breached or bargained down.
Players who have invested considerable energy time and capitol into hemp food processing operations in both North America and Europe, are shaking the green tambourine waiting for hemp to all naturally blow itself into the big time. The cool market is ready for hemp and eager for more and better hemp products and will pay the price to choose hemp when they vote with their dollars.
Since the arrival of the most unfortunate "Just Say Zero" US human use hempseed embargo -- now in its second year, formally enthusiastic hemp food vendors are considering some tough choices -- scaling back like Kenex in Ontario, jumping off the bridge like CGP in Manitoba or going for broke like Hempnut Inc. in California. Though Canadian products have clearance to cross the line, nothing is in writing, and doing business into the US is a high risk.
** Enter the Dragon ***
China, the worlds largest producer of hemp, is well aware how valuable hemp materials are considered in the West and is gearing up production and acquiring export savvy to be ready to seize any yummy hemp market opportunities that might come up.
Recent trade deals between China and the USA will open access doors for farm products -- that might mean hemp.
If the western world market can't manage their own fads and the price is right, China is in a favourable position to out-market the West at their own game, undercut high hemp prices and seize the entire world hemp market in one swoop. And keep it.
The entire western hemp market is small enough for China to swallow in one gulp. If hemp demand still shines with growth potential, China is better prepared than the newbie league western players to innovate and eventually dominate future world hemp markets
China could easily swamp the West in a very few years with hempseed and fibre products, finished foods and garments, specialty paper, knick knacks and all if there is a market. They can afford to wait being masters of hemp for forty centuries.
****Who Doesn't Love Dehulled Hempseed?*****
Market demand for hemp foods remains steady but processors fear culinary seed might be in very tight supply next year if farmers sow fewer hectares and concentrate of selling off inventory.
This is good for the hemp farmer but not great for hemp food manufacturers or the end use shopper who pays a premium price for hard won hemp products they can finally access at the mall and haul home to enjoy with their families. The post millennium public will not march for hemp as an abstract anymore; they want it.
If processors end up paying higher prices, they will either purchase less stock from hemp producers or modify their food formulas to use less hemp. Better prices for culinary seed would induce then draw in new farmers to grow again and as inventories rebuild, prices would have to fall to get rid of it all. This is what the processors would like -- big supply at a low price so they will buy more hempseed and expand operations.
How long will a green lean sales approach influence hemp marketing? The "healthfoodies" style is notoriously short on implying the fun factor, which moves popular culture products around the world with such vigour.
Not everyone wants time to stop for hemp and a new generation is looking ahead with refreshing vengeance to take the gift of hemp farther still, on their own terms now.
Fashion editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine, Byrony Toogood adds a few licks at the cone recently stating that the Cosmo crowd thinks "Hemp is so bloody hippy dippy and boring. Political correctness is not a consumer proposition, so any attempts to make hemp beautiful have got to be welcome."
Canadian hemp fibre and seed prices are higher than US clients are happy to pay, but the industry is only three years old and has yet to show what it can do. Grow in Canada, sell from America might be the best game plan for the North American hemp industry right now. This might be the only option the DEA will go for. Great Uncle Barry holds up the game until after the US elections. Don't expect him to cut the hemp industry any slack or have a turn of heart after a few wacky stunts. He isn't listening. Like the angry young man said, make hemp beautiful.
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Hemp Beer Part II
By Dr Sumach
Last issues story on hempseed as a brewing ingredient so successful for the industry and fun for the beer drinker to enjoy spawned a lot of feedback -- Some across the county and some from down south.
1) Hemp Beer, though special, is not a premium priced beverage in Canada, and is sold at the similar price as regular beer. But it is sometimes a little hard to find. Not every retail beer outlet stocks hemp beer yet -- in Ontario the Beer Store charges a listing fee to get product on the shelves -- and not every licensed premise has hemp beer on tap, although they probably would offer hemp beer if asked nicely.
2) A most interesting urban legend circulating in the Lone Star State lounge rooms of wisdom claim that drinking hemp beer will not produce a hangover. We find this difficult to believe but checked it out anyway. The story was traced to a group of social drinker/social activists in Texas who had acquired out-of-state hemp beer and threw a party to taste test it in an immoderate setting.
Participants the day after noted a remarkable total absence of hangover, which they had fully expected after an evening of unrestrained consumption -- baffled at this zero morning after effect, they contacted us at the Hemp Report offices for more information.
Their comments were forwarded to Hogtown brewmaster Matthew Letki (See HCFR #13) who notes that his hemp beer is brewed to the proper alcohol level, filtered and bottled. Big label brewers customarily over ferment for economy and thin it out with water afterwards to legal alcohol limits.
Over fermentation of beer tends to over-develop levels of undesirable methyl (wood) alcohols and acetone (solvent) in the brew that is created by the yeast community along with the familiar ethyl (beverage) alcohol and carbon dioxide (knock out gas) bubbles. Even diluted with water (H20), these other alcohols are not exactly healthy chemicals to be taking inside ones personal biological system. It is the view of brewery insiders that these undesirable products of over fermentation contribute more than their share to the toxic hangover effect
Hemp does not seem to be the source of any suitable anti hangover molecules of itself; microbrewery beer strives to produce a noticeably different concoction than big label brands
The hemp beer non-hangover phenomena was not successfully replicated in recent NGO Canadian studies. True North hemp beer test pilots who agreed to go suds immoderate for science reported normal hangover scores on next day surveys.
More domestic studies will be required to settle the controversy once and for all as to whether drinking hemp beer does or does not produce a hangover. Viewers with special experience in this subject are invited to contact the editorial offices of the Hemp Report with their comments.
Associate Editor Dr. Sumach is an avowed teetotaller, who wound up on the beer beat because of his objectivity. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more to say about hemp beer. Do you want to know more? Go to: www.realbeer.com and search for hemp.
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