California: Can hemp take off in the Valley? These nuns think so

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California – Clothing, construction materials, paper, biofuel, and body care items – just some of the things that can be made from hemp.

Hemp is simply the non-psychoactive variety of cannabis, meaning you can’t get high from it.

“What we’re bringing in is under 1 percent THC – it’s hemp.” said Sister Kate with Merced County hemp business Sisters of The Valley.

The Sister says hemp has long been a staple for both industrial and consumer use; only in recent years did it become so hot-button.

“It is a sign of our culture that people are using a topical sav to get off their pills,” Kate said.

Back in 2015, the Sister made her first sale on Etsy in what would later grow to become Sisters of The Valley – which, despite its name, is not affiliated with any particular religion.

“We outgrew our ability to grow enough of our own plant six months into launching this business,” Kate said.

This year, Sisters of The Valley is on track to exceed $1 million in annual revenue for the first time – with a five-year goal of $50 million.

But according to Sister Kate, local legislation has just not kept up.

“We’re California; we are the center of the agricultural hub of America, and we have to import it. Because why? Because our lawmakers won’t let the locals sell to us.”

Most hemp in the United States is imported from outside the country from nations such as Canada or China, but as California sets up shop, there are many who think that if Sisters of The Valley is any sign of things to come, agricultural and industrial hemp’s growth potential could be massive.

“We’re in a $600 million range and are expecting it to be $1 billion within a year or two.” said Lawrence Serbin, owner of Hemp Traders and a member of the California Hemp Advisory Board.

He says those national revenue numbers will largely be seeing such a spike partly because of measures like Proposition 64.

Serbin said, “What that did – most people know that provision as legalizing marijuana, but there was a little provision in it that fully legalized industrial hemp including for any fiber use and any part of the plant including CBD as long as it’s not marijuana.”

CBD is the oil of the bud of a hemp plant that can be used for treating medical ailments, and it can be grown, processed and distributed all here in California. That is, if you get a permit.

“My concern as a department is that we’re the ones that have to permit it; we’re the ones that have to regulate it.” said Les Wright, the Fresno County Agriculture Commissioner.

Wright says regulations should be implemented statewide by the beginning of 2018. But without a single pesticide registered for cannabis in the nation, and the potential of cross-pollination between higher THC marijuana plants and low THC hemp plants, the department may have its hands full.

“It’s going to be very difficult; not that it won’t be a good crop, but adult use and industrial use cannabis and hemp cannabis are not compatible,” Wright said. “The pollen from these plants can travel miles in a breeze and cross-pollinate, and the hemp will have higher than three-tenths of a percent.”

Any hemp grove that’s tested by the department registering a THC value that is too high will need to be removed – a potential headache and deterrent for interested growers hoping to turn a profit.

But Serbin says he feels that marijuana and hemp growers in many way will self regulate in order to protect their crops from any contamination.

“The people that are growing marijuana the majority of them are growing them indoors. They don’t want any pollination of the marijuana whatsoever, because they want to produce non-pollinated female flowers, verses the industrial hemp that’s mostly going to be grown outdoors.”

Regardless of regulations and potential hurdles, it’s clear that the plant and products produced by hemp are gaining in popularity, and for businesses like Sisters of The Valley, an opportunity to grow along with it.

Kate said, “The No. 1 testimonial we get from our products is that they replace all their pills, and that is most of our sales.”

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Source: 420 Intel – United States

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