We finally have hemp legislation introduced in Pennsylvania! SB50 was formally introduced last Thursday by State Senators Judy Schwank and Mike Folmer. Six other senators have signed on as co-sponsors. There are several things we all need to do to help get this legislation passed. As always, with any kind of legislation, the single most important thing to do is contact your legislators. While most are receptive to hearing from advocate groups, the single most persuasive thing for them is to hear directly from their own constituents. If your senator has already signed on as a co-sponsor, still contact them and thank them! Too often they only hear negative feedback so when they do or support something positive it is equally import there hear positive feedback. If your senator hasn’t signed on, ask them to. There will be a sister bill introduced in the house so it is equally important to educate them and ask them to be ready to co-sponsor that bill when its introduced.
But there are other equally important things we all need to do to make sure that the reintroduction of hemp to Pennsylvania is successful. We need to create an industry to support it. While most of us are not farmers and do not own businesses that could benefit from hemp, never underestimate the power of the consumer. We all need to support businesses that support hemp. Visit your local health food store and buy hemp products. Purchase beauty products made with hemp oil. Consider hemp clothing. Any time you do this you are not only supporting hemp, but also in most cases, local small businesses as well.
Do you have a home project you are considering or working on? Ask your builder or contractor if they offer or can use hemp building products. The next time you walk into a Lowes or Home Depot, find the manager and ask them, ‘Hey, where is the hemp insulation? Where is the hemp fiber board and hempcrete?” While they obviously do not currently offer it, hearing interest from their customers goes a long way and is very important.
We already have some business here in PA ready to go -ready to produce hemp seed oil, ready to produce food and other products. This part of the industry will be the easiest to capitalize on as the infrastructure is already in place. Other uses for hemp that can provide immediate benefit will be in its use as a cover crop, land remediation and recycling. Other industries will take some more time and investment to get up and running. Fiber processing, paper making, bio-fuel creation and bio-plastics will take time but have great potential for large returns on investment as well as job creation. The economic and environmental benefits could be staggering. So if you work for any company that has any potential of converting some or all of its operations to incorporate hemp, talk to them about it now. Get those wheels turning.
Use whatever angle works for your specific audience. Some will be persuaded by the ‘green’ aspect and environmental benefits alone. Others will be driven by the bottom line. But no matter which aspect is more appealing to them there are strong arguments of how utilizing hemp will benefit them.
We have such a long, rich history of utilizing this amazing plant here in Pennsylvania. We anxiously await its return. Working together we can ensure hemp will prosper and help promote the health of our land as well as create a better more prosperous Pennsylvania for all.
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The one and almost only argument we hear frequently against growing hemp is that law enforcement would not be able to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana and that hemp fields would be used to hide illegal marijuana plants. While on the surface this seemingly could be a legitimate concern, for several reasons this is really nothing more than a myth.
The reality is that hemp is grown quite differently from marijuana. It is harvested at a different time than marijuana and cross-pollination between hemp and marijuana plants would significantly reduce the potency of the marijuana plants.
Hemp grown for fiber is planted in narrow row spacing and branching is discouraged. The plants are not allowed to flower. The stems are kept small by the high density and foliage develops only on the top. Hemp plants crowd out weeds and other hemp plants not equal to the competition.
Marijuana plants, on the other hand, are spaced widely to encourage branching and the flower is the harvested product.
Where hemp seed is the harvested product, whether as reproduction seed or oilseed, purity is critical to marketability. The mixing of off-type genotypes would be diligently avoided in seed production fields.
Breeders and producers of sweet corn go to great lengths to isolate their crops from the pollen of field corn. The same applies to hemp and marijuana. People who grow strains of Cannabis for smoking try to avoid pollination of the flowers. The superior quality material is obtained from seedless plants.
In that light, hemp fields would in fact be a deterrent to marijuana growers. A strong case can be made that the best way to reduce the THC level of marijuana grown outdoors would be to grow industrial hemp near it. An experiment in Russia found that hemp pollen could travel up to 7 miles. This would mean that a hemp field would create a zone with a 7 mile radius within which no illegal marijuana grower would want to establish a crop.
The reciprocal also applies. Growers of hemp seed would not want ‘marijuana’ mixing its pollen with their flowers. The isolation of genotypes is a common procedure used by the seed industry to preserve the genetic integrity of varieties. Valued strains are created by plant breeding, at substantial expense. Marijuana pollen could destroy this value.
There is another reason that marijuana growers would be unlikely to plant their crop in a hemp field. We would be operating under a permit system whereby the farmer must let the local police know which fields hemp is being planted in. The farmer certainly wouldn’t want to jeopardize their crop or their license. Would a marijuana grower decide to plant their crop in an area high on the police radar screen and subject to monitoring without notice? I seriously doubt it, and if they would be that dumb, oh well, they deserve to get caught. Fear of that unlikely scenario certainly doesn’t justify preventing the introduction of a new crop that holds so much promise for farmers and for Pennsylvania as a whole.
Governor Wolf said during his campaign, “We need to be bold, we need to work together and we need to get started.” Industrial hemp provides the perfect opportunity to put this statement into action. It provides a perfect opportunity to be both bold and responsible. We hear an awful lot of talk about the need for job creation, the need for alternative fuels and the need for sustainability. Hemp provides a clear path to all of those ends. It’s time to stop talking about it and start doing. Time to prove that Pennsylvania is indeed the Keystone state.
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Last year we had the distinct honor of meeting a wonderful woman named Rita. She has helped and inspired us in so many ways. Her story is an amazing and dramatic example of how cannabis therapy can heal and transform lives. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, I tend to agree. The images below speak volumes of how cannabis took her from this:
Back in 1990 Rita was doing patient care when she had to have surgery to repair three discs in her back. She spent almost 3 years in a wheelchair doing rehabilitation. They shot steroids into her spine, but her spine was shallow and a steroid settled on the base of her brain and gave her a headache for a month until they could do a blood patch by taking a couple chemicals and her blood, combining them and reinserting them into her spine to seal the leak. The steroids caused her to blow up from 98 pounds to a hundred and forty pounds within 4 days.
They had to give her Lasix to counteract all of the swelling because her lungs were filling up. She has had lung problems ever since which include COPD, emphysema with chronic bronchitis, asthma and a sensitivity to mold and chemicals. The pain medications she was placed on, like Soma and Tylenol with codeine and the like, are very addictive and she was not liking where it was headed. She also has persistent cysts in her colon and suffers from IBS.
Around 2003 she was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea with nocturnal seizures. The sleep specialist immediately sent her to a neurologist. The neurologist sent her for testing which came back positive for brain plaque on both sides of the brain. Diagnosis multiple sclerosis. She started having more frequent daytime seizures in mid 2000. One day while working on her deck she had a seizure and fell 13 feet and crushed her left arm dominant radial distal. Her fingers were at her elbow. She reinjured her back and neck in the fall as well as received a concussion. Her arm was surgically repaired but her fingers would stay clutched into a fist. She had to learn to use her non dominant hand.
In 2011 hurricane Lee caused incredible damage to her home and property. Her electricity was destroyed, furnace was cracked and full of mud, the floors were warped, insulation was soaked , her new water pump and pipes were all destroyed and the roof was half torn off. She was living off a couple hundred dollars and spousal support and her garden which had been destroyed. She found herself with no livable options but to stay in her Jeep with an extension cord hooked to a farmer’s house. In return for their kindness she collected every fruit and vegetable that was available in their remote flooded area to feed the community that had gathered at this very same home.
During the day she tore out carpets, ripped up the floors and tried to restore her utilities. She remember trying to pull the well pump out of the well and feeling very dizzy. She chalked it up to all of the fumes and gases that had settled in the area since the flood. She went inside and the next thing she knew she was in a dark place with some kind of screens with writing on them and whirling sounds with her feet hooked to the ceiling and hanging almost upside down. Someone was telling her to swallow because they were trying to incubate her. She did not know what was happening because it was so dark and so noisy. It turned out she was in a helicopter on her way to the hospital. She was in respiratory arrest. When she got home from the hospital she was not able to 100% care for herself so she relocated.
Having heard a lot about the healing properties and potential of cannabis therapy, she wanted to try it. Unfortunately, her husband, still being in the medical profession, worried about his reputation and did not want her to use that type of treatment at their home in Kingston. Mostly because of the false testimony given by addicts when they come in for treatment. She was given a choice – this new medication or to find another place to live. So she did. She moved to their secluded summer home.
After she relocated and after years of suffering, she took her first dose of cannabis oil. It made her sleepy and she went to bed. She slept so soundly that for the first time she actually felt rested in the morning. Her sleep monitor shows that she normally slept three point three hours a night with hundreds of interruptions. She slept for 7.5 hours which is unheard of for her. She spoke to some people she had spoken to the night before she had taken the first dose of this medication. They did not even recognize her. They thought someone was playing a joke. They had not talked to her in a long time without her voice being gravelly and breathless.
She stopped waking up hypoxic. Which reduces her risk of cancer immensely. Her hand started to come out of the Titan. She was finally able to start working with it. Her congestion was lessening and she was able to expectorate without getting sick to her stomach or having her hernia popping out. Her color was coming back and her skin was showing signs of hydration. Her headaches lessened and her thoughts became clear. She was suddenly able to do paperwork that she was unable to do for 6 months. All of it done within 3 hours. She started to feel less sluggish and gained an appetite and some weight. She was now up to a hundred and five pounds.
It was around this time we met Rita. She was thrilled to find kindred spirits who knew cannabis is medicine and were fighting hard to legalize it. Her husband, unable to deny the amazing transformation began to rethink his position. He realized he was wrong and has starting helping educate others in the health care profession about the miracles this plant can produce.
Many of her friends and family can also attest to the transformation. Megan said, “The difference I have seen in you. Years ago, you were dying in my arms. Barely breathing, and unable to really function. The improvements that I see now, are a complete 180. Not only do you look younger, but you’re able to move as though you got your years back… I’m so thankful that you found this CURE. Now I know that I have many more years with you.”
“Without the pictures, I am able to see improvement. But there is proof within the pictures. You’re more vibrant now than you were when I met you on your death bed. I can’t tell you enough, how impressed I am with your improvements, and all because of THE CURE (and not the band). I would love to see what the future holds, and also, what more the cure can do for you. For us. For everyone in need.”
Carol said, “I remember you as being one of the most upbeat and vibrant people that I’ve ever known. Who else would wake me up at 3 in the morning to make cinnamon bread and have all the laundry done by 6 am? You had more energy than I could ever muster. You always worked too hard and never learned to relax. You were always the “one” that people ran to and depended on when they feel on hard times. And you were always there for them. You were the care giver. I don’t recall you eating junk food. You always made good nutritious dinners. I think you wore yourself out. It saddened me to see you so sickly, but you never give up and always find a way to see joy in life. I’m so glad you are feeling better. Can’t wait to see you again.”
Natalie said, “Every time I see you, you look younger and younger. I also love hearing your stories of how well you are doing from the condition that you were in. I think what you are doing for your self is the best thing that you could do, so many of us have seen the improvements and you can feel them. I’m always here for you if you ever need thing. Just a phone call away, lord knows I’d be lost with out you.
Clarance said, “When I met you I couldn’t even tell how old you were. if I were to guess it would have been 70+ and in bad shape. Now I feel like you’re defying your real age. On your good days you look like you’re in your 40’s now. I know the vap was one major improvement. and big time with the oil. A lot of the times when I come over now you’re not looking the best but once you sit down and do a drop and smoke the life comes right back to you and that light comes back in your eyes.”
But even this triumph has been tinged with tragedy. Her medicine is illegal. One of her very own family members attempted to use this fact to blackmail her. She has to make the daily choice of risking her freedom to hold on to her health. No one should have to make this choice. EVER. This is why we continuously do all we can to educate people and persuade our legislators to do the right thing. The compassionate thing.
This is Rita today. A beautiful, vibrant woman we have come to love as part of our extended family. We are thankful that cannabis has given her a new lease on life as she has done so much for us and so many others. She is a point of light in a sometimes dark world. Sure, there will be those scientists and doctors that will want to say that this is only anecdotal evidence. that more research needs to be done to see if this is ‘safe and effective’ medicine. The science is there, the only research that needs to be done is to perfect dosage and strains to treat specific ailments. It’s time for these people to stop hiding in ignorance. If this were their loved one, I guarantee this type of ‘anecdotal evidence would be more than enough. It certainly is for us. It’s time to get PA out of the dark ages, to give our loved ones the best medical treatment possible. It’s time to get SB3 – The Compassionate Use Act passed. Please contact your legislators today and implore them to vote yes. Lives are at stake.
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TodaySB50, The Industrial Hemp Act was officially introduced into the PA State Senate and referred to the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee! We were very pleases with the language of the bill and will do everything in our power to get this passed as quickly as possible.
Hemp has so much potential to bring health and vitality to our economy and environment. If will be a beautiful day when the hemp is one again flourishing in Pennsylvania.
Check out some great articles by PennLive and ABC27
Please contact your legislators and ask them to support SB50!
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