If you’ve ever read Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes, you’ve already educated yourself on the importance of hemp. If you haven’t, I urge you to do so. Unfortunately, the powers that once were saw fit to demonize a seriously useful plant. But, the tides have swept in, and carried back out to sea the archaic indoctrinations of old. One thing worth noting in the U.S. governments choice to ostracize hemp is that they reneged on their own rules with the famous Hemp for Victory film, since they too recognized how integral the plant was, albeit for wartime reasons. So, even the U.S. Government recognizes that some rules were meant to be broken, especially when they are based on propaganda, and private, corporate interests. When World War II ended, hemp was again deemed illegal in the U.S.
In our modern society, we are once again returning to hemp, and not just to create wellness products containing cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp can be used as a source of food, fuel, or fiber for clothing and paper. It can even be used as a concrete alternative, aptly named hempcrete.
We spoke with John Cummings, CEO of Hemptown USA, an Oregon-based company that currently can boast cultivating over 1,550 acres of hemp in Oregon, Kentucky, and Colorado this growing season. Or put another way, Hemptown USA projects a harvest of over 3,000,000 pounds of hemp biomass.
How and why did you get started cultivating hemp?
Compression due to oversupply in the Oregon Cannabis market provoked us into looking at other crops that we could leverage our farm expertise but at a larger scale into a larger market. Hemp was the answer.
Where do you see hemp filling current voids in society? How do you see the Farm Bill playing a role our resurrection of hemp cultivation on a large scale?
Hemp as a core crop has the potential to revitalize farming economies. In addition to higher profits for farmers, drying and processing facilities will raise employment in these communities. Hemp also has positive effects on soil, crop rotation and potentially the environment. The farm bill paves the way for hemp to provide all of these benefits to rural communities.
Your website mentions that Oregon CBD Seeds is one the most respected breeding companies in the world? Can you comment on how Oregon CBD Seeds differs from other breeding companies? What specifically makes their seeds more capable of reaching elevated cannabinoid levels? What’s the importance of starting with this type of seed?
Genetics are the most important component to growing quality hemp biomass. It can take 3 to 5 years to properly cross-breed and develop stable genetics for commercial farming. Oregon CBD has been focused on developing its genetics far in advance of the rest of the industry, giving their genetics a distinct advantage. The educational backgrounds and experience of the Oregon CBD principals validates their success. Most breeding companies are new to hemp and are attempting to rush their genetic breeding program which usually results in poor seed performance.
What types of soil are optimal for hemp cultivation? Does it grow well on marginal land?
In Oregon we grow in seven different soil types. Feminized Hemp Genetics produce the best results in micro climates with warm summer days and cool summer nights. The plant is very sensitive to contaminants and the root system will take up any trace chemicals found in the soil. This is a huge benefit when using hemp as a remediation crop but for our purposes we insure through soil samples that the ground is “clean” before farming for commercial uses.
Which cannabinoids do you see as being the sort of up and coming cannabinoids of the near future beyond CBD and THC?
CBG will be the next in demand cannabinoid by formulators, pharmaceutical companies followed by consumers. CBN should follow CBG next season and after that it gets a little murky.
You’re currently working on developing water soluble cannabinoids. Can you comment on the desirability of creating water-soluble cannabinoids?
A true water solubility process is currently being researched by several companies. Water solubility will increase uptake and bioavailability of cannabinoids allowing formulators to develop more effective cannabinoid applications.
Why did you choose to create your own products from your harvests? What steps did you have to take to build this out to be ISO and GMP compliant? Where do you see the added advantages in having done so?
Having control of the product from seed to shelf insures that we are putting the best cannabinoid products in the market at the best value to the consumer. We believe in our company talents and resources more than any other’s. That said we are happy to formulate for other brands and producers. ISO and GMP is a complex set of machinery, facilities, processes and documentation. GMP accreditation is critical to selling our products to our customer base; it assures them that we are delivering a safe and reliable product.
What’s your vision of the future? 1, 5, 10 years from now, where do you see the hemp industry having reached?
We believe the next 2-3 years will see mass consumer adoption of cannabinoid-based products for health and wellness uses across a wide range of market sectors. More academic research will emerge as to the specific use cases and benefits of each individual cannabinoid alone, and in combination with one another. Our goal is to stay ahead of the curve, as new cannabinoids are discovered, and to be at the forefront of their production and formulation in consumer products.
The next 3 to 5 years will likely see major expansion of the hemp industry as the plant becomes one of the major rotational crops across the United States Midwest and Rust Belt. Hemp, feminized or as a tricrop, will be able to replace other rotational crops including corn, cotton, and wheat, as a source of food, fiber, and pharmaceutical material. Unlike cotton, which destroys the soil in which it grows, hemp revitalizes the soil by pulling toxins out of the ground and replacing sugars and nitrogen into the soil.
Hemp produces a stronger fiber than cotton, and has many more use cases. In the next 1-5-10 years we will see a whole new industry emerge related to hemp-based building materials, fuels and biodegradable plastics.