Michigan State crime lab accused of falsifying marijuana tests to support bogus felony charges

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Written By Emily Gray Brosious

Posted: 10/30/2015, 12:40pm

Crime lab accused of helping prosecutors unlawfully slap medical marijuana patients with felony possession charges

An attorney is accusing Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division crime labs of falsifying marijuana lab reports under a new lab policy that allows prosecutors to charge medical cannabis users with felonies they did not commit, according to a press release from the Law Firm of Michael Komorn and published by The Weed Blog.

Komorn says prosecutors told scientists to report an unknown origin for THC contained in marijuana products with no visible plant material – like concentrates, oils and waxes. The substance would then be declared synthetic THC rather than marijuana, which turns a misdemeanor marijuana charge into a felony charge, as reported by MLive.

“The crime lab is systematically biased towards falsely reporting Schedule 1 synthetic THC, a felony, instead of plant-based marijuana, a misdemeanor,” Komorn said.

Komorn’s discovery stems from a client he represents in Ottawa County, Max Lorincz, who faces two years in jail for synthetic THC charges, and whose 6-year-old son has been placed in foster care due to the charges.

Komorn says his client was initially charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. When Lorincz would not plead guilty because he’s a registered medical marijuana user, the prosecutor withdrew the original charge and recharged him with felony synthetic THC possession, relying on the state crime lab report to do so, according to FOX 17.

________________________________________________________

 

“What is unique about this case is that they [the prosecution] are relying on the lab to report these substances so that they can escalate these crimes from misdemeanors to felonies,” said Komorn.

Per MLive:

Komorn used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain numerous emails from state police crime lab workers, some raising concern about the way they had to report THC cases. Others testified in court about the new policy of denying evidence of THC coming from a marijuana plant if no material is found.

He contends that the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) and state Attorney General Bill Schuette, an opponent of medical marijuana, influenced state police policy.

“It is scandalous, scandalous. How can you trust the state lab when they are influenced by politicians?” he said.

The Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan’s President Michael Wendling told FOX 17 that the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division sets its own crime lab testing and reporting policies, and “neither PAAM nor county prosecutors make those protocols.”

A hearing in Lorincz’s case is set for Nov. 9, according to MLive.

CONTINUE READING…

Marijuana Mogul? Here’s Why Nick Lachey May Make Millions If Weed Becomes Legal in Ohio

by Bruna Nessif

Fri., Oct. 30, 2015

Nick Lachey

Nick Lachey husband, father, singer, TV host…and potential marijuana kingpin. Yep, you read that right.

The former 98 Degrees boy band member could become one of the largest pot growers in Ohio, if the state votes to legalize marijuana on Tuesday. How so, you ask? Well, according to the Washington Post, the measure indicates that if the Buckeye State becomes green-friendly, it would restrict virtually all large-scale marijuana cultivation to 10 specifically designated farms.

And whaddya know? Nick Lachey part owner of one of those farms, along with designer Nanette Lepore, NBA legend Oscar Robertson, NFL journeyman Frostee Rucker.

PHOTOS: Top 10 stoner movies

Each group reportedly contributed $4 million to the legalization campaign it will cost another $10 million each to get their pot farms set up. Once that happens and the business is a go, these 10 farms would be the only ones legally able to service around 1,100 state-sponsored pot dispensaries.

And while all those millions seem like a lot of money (because, well, it is), it’s actually nothing compared to what these 10 farms could rake in once in business. According to Fox, one study estimates the 10 farms could sell over $1 billion in marijuana every year. BILLION.

When asked about the initiative, Lachey’s rep gave E! News the following statement: "Ohio is my home, and as a resident and local business owner I am proud to be part of a movement that has the potential to create jobs, reinvigorate the local economy and improve the safety of our communities," Lachey said. "Passage of this proposal will result in much-needed economic development opportunities across Ohio, and update the state’s position on marijuana in a smart and safe way."

Guess we’ll see what happens on Tuesday.

CONTINUE READING…

Michigan State crime lab accused of falsifying marijuana tests to support bogus felony charges

41128_424755311230_2510995_n

Written By Emily Gray Brosious

Posted: 10/30/2015, 12:40pm

Crime lab accused of helping prosecutors unlawfully slap medical marijuana patients with felony possession charges

An attorney is accusing Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division crime labs of falsifying marijuana lab reports under a new lab policy that allows prosecutors to charge medical cannabis users with felonies they did not commit, according to a press release from the Law Firm of Michael Komorn and published by The Weed Blog.

Komorn says prosecutors told scientists to report an unknown origin for THC contained in marijuana products with no visible plant material – like concentrates, oils and waxes. The substance would then be declared synthetic THC rather than marijuana, which turns a misdemeanor marijuana charge into a felony charge, as reported by MLive.

“The crime lab is systematically biased towards falsely reporting Schedule 1 synthetic THC, a felony, instead of plant-based marijuana, a misdemeanor,” Komorn said.

Komorn’s discovery stems from a client he represents in Ottawa County, Max Lorincz, who faces two years in jail for synthetic THC charges, and whose 6-year-old son has been placed in foster care due to the charges.

Komorn says his client was initially charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. When Lorincz would not plead guilty because he’s a registered medical marijuana user, the prosecutor withdrew the original charge and recharged him with felony synthetic THC possession, relying on the state crime lab report to do so, according to FOX 17.

________________________________________________________

 

“What is unique about this case is that they [the prosecution] are relying on the lab to report these substances so that they can escalate these crimes from misdemeanors to felonies,” said Komorn.

Per MLive:

Komorn used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain numerous emails from state police crime lab workers, some raising concern about the way they had to report THC cases. Others testified in court about the new policy of denying evidence of THC coming from a marijuana plant if no material is found.

He contends that the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) and state Attorney General Bill Schuette, an opponent of medical marijuana, influenced state police policy.

“It is scandalous, scandalous. How can you trust the state lab when they are influenced by politicians?” he said.

The Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan’s President Michael Wendling told FOX 17 that the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division sets its own crime lab testing and reporting policies, and “neither PAAM nor county prosecutors make those protocols.”

A hearing in Lorincz’s case is set for Nov. 9, according to MLive.

CONTINUE READING…

Marijuana Mogul? Here's Why Nick Lachey May Make Millions If Weed Becomes Legal in Ohio

by Bruna Nessif

Fri., Oct. 30, 2015

Nick Lachey

Nick Lachey husband, father, singer, TV host…and potential marijuana kingpin. Yep, you read that right.

The former 98 Degrees boy band member could become one of the largest pot growers in Ohio, if the state votes to legalize marijuana on Tuesday. How so, you ask? Well, according to the Washington Post, the measure indicates that if the Buckeye State becomes green-friendly, it would restrict virtually all large-scale marijuana cultivation to 10 specifically designated farms.

And whaddya know? Nick Lachey part owner of one of those farms, along with designer Nanette Lepore, NBA legend Oscar Robertson, NFL journeyman Frostee Rucker.

PHOTOS: Top 10 stoner movies

Each group reportedly contributed $4 million to the legalization campaign it will cost another $10 million each to get their pot farms set up. Once that happens and the business is a go, these 10 farms would be the only ones legally able to service around 1,100 state-sponsored pot dispensaries.

And while all those millions seem like a lot of money (because, well, it is), it’s actually nothing compared to what these 10 farms could rake in once in business. According to Fox, one study estimates the 10 farms could sell over $1 billion in marijuana every year. BILLION.

When asked about the initiative, Lachey’s rep gave E! News the following statement: "Ohio is my home, and as a resident and local business owner I am proud to be part of a movement that has the potential to create jobs, reinvigorate the local economy and improve the safety of our communities," Lachey said. "Passage of this proposal will result in much-needed economic development opportunities across Ohio, and update the state’s position on marijuana in a smart and safe way."

Guess we’ll see what happens on Tuesday.

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky cancer cases may be ‘cluster’, Researcher finds excessive rates in Jefferson County

Monday, September 8, 2003

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE – A University of Louisville researcher says he’s identified an excessive number of cases of lung cancer in western and southern Jefferson County.

Looking at reported cases of cancer, ZIP code by ZIP code, epidemiologist and associate professor Timothy Aldrich attributed the large majority to tobacco smoke, but said it’s not clear on what role environmental and occupational contaminants play.

"The Jefferson County piece is our local version of a much larger picture," said Aldrich, of the university’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences. "The state has enormously high lung cancer rates."

In his draft study, done at the request of the Courier-Journal newspaper, Aldrich reported what he said were excessive rates and "evidence of clustering" for bladder and cervical cancers and leukemia in various locations around Jefferson County. The study also identified 16 ZIP codes with high breast cancer rates, but Aldrich said he found no apparent pattern to their occurrence.

Aldrich’s study is the first to address some of the health questions raised by Louisville-area air monitoring that has found numerous chemicals or compounds at levels federal, state and local environmental regulators consider unsafe. It follows one published in 1997 by the Louisville and Jefferson County Board of Health that found no clusters but identified the highest cancer death rates in western and southwestern Jefferson County, attributing them largely to lack of early diagnosis and treatment.

Aldrich said he found that it’s likely the public doesn’t have to worry about the environment as a cause of three categories of cancer sometimes associated with chemical pollutants: pediatric cancers, brain cancer and liver cancers. In all three, he said, he found no evidence of excessive rates or clustering.

But Aldrich said he cannot rule out that hazardous air pollutants might explain some of the excess lung, bladder and leukemia cancers in certain ZIP codes and may cause or contribute to other illnesses he did not study.

Other medical experts have also said smoking and poor air quality could combine to produce more lung cancers.

"The environment (as a cause of cancer) is not immaterial, but you have to keep it in perspective," Aldrich said. "I don’t want to tell people it isn’t important – it’s important."

To answer the question of how important it is, he and several other researchers at UofL have begun a two-year research project to determine what part, if any, environmental or occupational contaminants play in Louisville’s lung cancers.

Aldrich and other Louisville medical experts said lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking and alcohol consumption, along with genetics, play the dominant role in determining whether someone gets cancer, and prevention measures should continue to focus on lifestyle factors.

"All of these factors come together in very complicated ways, in addition to air quality," said Dr. Donald Miller, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville. "Clearly if you are looking at cancer prevention targets, smoking is at the head of the list."

Air pollution "is a big problem," said Dr. Wayne Tuckson, a colorectal surgeon who worked on the 1997 cancer study. "But it’s just another one of the problems."

Aldrich is scheduled to discuss his research at a meeting Thursday of the Rubbertown Community Advisory Council that will include several presentations from university experts.

The Louisville Metro Health Department is studying Aldrich’s findings, and Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson and metro government’s Air Pollution Control District have promised to take residents’ air pollution concerns seriously.

Art Williams, director of the air district, said the agency will continue its efforts to curb hazardous air pollutants.

"We will move as aggressively as we can to reduce air toxics to safe levels," Williams said.


CONTINUE READING…

 

Related:

New lung is only potential cure

The dual neuroprotective–neurotoxic profile of cannabinoid drugs

British Journal of Pharmacology – Library of Cannabis Information

 

 

October 7, 2003

United States Patent
6,630,507

Hampson ,   et al.
October 7, 2003


Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants

Abstract

Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH.sub.3, and COCH.sub.3. ##STR1##

image

CONTINUE READING…

Extensive in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that cannabinoid drugs have neuroprotective properties and suggested that the endocannabinoid system may be involved in endogenous neuroprotective mechanisms.

George Soros and the Open Society Foundations’ Take on the EU’s Refugee Crisis

http://nonprofitquarterly.org/files/2015/10/Refugees-reach-land.jpg

October 19, 2015; Open Society Foundations

Billionaire George Soros was once a refugee, a Hungarian Jew who survived the Nazi occupation of his homeland

It should be no surprise that the Open Society Foundations that he founded and capitalized has made the issue of refugees a central component of its programs on rights and justice, with particularly significant work on migration and asylum issues. For Americans whose exposure to the refugee crisis in Europe is limited to the short takes on network or cable TV news shows, there are brief explanations on the Open Society Foundations website of the issues involved in the current migration controversies in Europe, notably a piece on the Open Society Initiative for Europe that outlines some OSF initiatives.

Affected personally by the symbolism of the refugee crisis, especially perhaps the virulent anti-refugee policies promulgated by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Soros’s home country of Hungary, Soros himself has taken to speaking out on the issue of refugee policy. At the end of September, Soros wrote a clear statement of what he thinks the European Union has to do to address this crisis. He decried the behavior of the member states of the EU as “selfishly focused on [their] own interests” with the result of a “panic among asylum seekers, the general public, and the authorities responsible for law and order.”

Seeing asylum seekers as victimized by the political crisis in Europe, Soros outlined six elements of a comprehensive policy response for the EU, not just for refugees from Syria, but for refugees and asylum seekers overall coming to Europe:

  1. Accepting at least one million asylum seekers annually.
  2. Leading a global effort to help Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan get adequate funding for the four million refugees in those countries. (Soros calculates the cost as at least €5,000 per refugee.)
  3. Establishing a single EU Asylum and Migration Agency, leading eventually to a single EU border guard (replacing the 28 separate systems that current function in an inadequate patchwork manner).
  4. Creating safe channels for getting asylum seekers to Europe and from Greece and Italy to their destination countries,
  5. Using these necessary EU operational and financial arrangements as the basis for establishing “global standards for the treatment of asylum-seekers and migrants,”
  6. “[Mobilizing] the private sector—NGOs, church groups, and businesses—to act as sponsors” for refugees and asylum seekers,

The disappointment, perhaps disgust, with the EU and international response to the refugee crisis is almost palpable in Soros’s statement. “The exodus from war-torn Syria should never have become a crisis,” he concludes. “It was long in the making, easy to foresee, and eminently manageable by Europe and the international community.”

It should come as no surprise that Soros’s proposed program has been attacked by the Hungarian government, whose Prime Minister Orbán has proposed his own six-point agenda taking a much more restrictive approach to the problem. The Hungarian response became quite personal earlier in October when Minister János Lázár condemned the Soros plan and added that Soros’s business dealings over the years had contributed to sovereign default in several countries. Hungary has constructed a fence along parts of its border with Serbia in order to deter refugees, and Orbán has made statements to the effect that Hungarians do not want the multicultural society that he fears from admitting refugees.

The U.S. gets to insulate itself from these issues by virtue of an ocean and a solipsistic view of the world. In the latest Republican and Democratic presidential debates, the debate moderators from CNBC and CNN asked nary a question about refugees or asylum policies. Only Hillary Clinton referred to Syrian refugees when she said something about creating “safe zones” for people to stay in Syria rather than “flooding out,” and only candidate Jim Webb used the word “refugee,” though basically to describe his Vietnamese-born wife.

We can only guess that the reticence of some of the candidates (as opposed to President Obama who has proposed specific policies for the admission of refugees to the U.S.) may be their fear of right-wing attacks like those in a recent issue of The American Thinker, which described “refugee resettlement” as a euphemism for “Muslim invaders…arriving in cities and towns across America, with many more to come…[leading to the] systematic destruction of our communities, and indeed our country.” The right-wing responses in the U.S. like this one to immigration, refugees, and asylum-seekers could easily be voiced by Viktor Orbán himself with much head-nodding were he to share the dais of some of the presidential debates.

It might be worthwhile to ask how many NPQ readers or their closest friends are in the U.S. because their parents or grandparents or great-grandparents were refugees fleeing from violence in other countries. It might also be good for nonprofits to add to their questions for putative candidates for public office where they stand on America’s role in accepting and accommodating refugees and asylum-seekers and what they are willing to do to help the nonprofit sector and other private sector actors sponsor, help, and sustain refugees and asylum-seekers.—Rick Cohen

About Rick Cohen

Rick Cohen

Rick joined NPQ in 2006, after almost eight years as the executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Before that he played various roles as a community worker and advisor to others doing community work. He has also worked in government. Cohen pursues investigative and analytical articles, advocates for increased philanthropic giving and access for disenfranchised constituencies, and promotes increased philanthropic and nonprofit accountability.

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky cancer cases may be 'cluster', Researcher finds excessive rates in Jefferson County

Monday, September 8, 2003

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE – A University of Louisville researcher says he’s identified an excessive number of cases of lung cancer in western and southern Jefferson County.

Looking at reported cases of cancer, ZIP code by ZIP code, epidemiologist and associate professor Timothy Aldrich attributed the large majority to tobacco smoke, but said it’s not clear on what role environmental and occupational contaminants play.

"The Jefferson County piece is our local version of a much larger picture," said Aldrich, of the university’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences. "The state has enormously high lung cancer rates."

In his draft study, done at the request of the Courier-Journal newspaper, Aldrich reported what he said were excessive rates and "evidence of clustering" for bladder and cervical cancers and leukemia in various locations around Jefferson County. The study also identified 16 ZIP codes with high breast cancer rates, but Aldrich said he found no apparent pattern to their occurrence.

Aldrich’s study is the first to address some of the health questions raised by Louisville-area air monitoring that has found numerous chemicals or compounds at levels federal, state and local environmental regulators consider unsafe. It follows one published in 1997 by the Louisville and Jefferson County Board of Health that found no clusters but identified the highest cancer death rates in western and southwestern Jefferson County, attributing them largely to lack of early diagnosis and treatment.

Aldrich said he found that it’s likely the public doesn’t have to worry about the environment as a cause of three categories of cancer sometimes associated with chemical pollutants: pediatric cancers, brain cancer and liver cancers. In all three, he said, he found no evidence of excessive rates or clustering.

But Aldrich said he cannot rule out that hazardous air pollutants might explain some of the excess lung, bladder and leukemia cancers in certain ZIP codes and may cause or contribute to other illnesses he did not study.

Other medical experts have also said smoking and poor air quality could combine to produce more lung cancers.

"The environment (as a cause of cancer) is not immaterial, but you have to keep it in perspective," Aldrich said. "I don’t want to tell people it isn’t important – it’s important."

To answer the question of how important it is, he and several other researchers at UofL have begun a two-year research project to determine what part, if any, environmental or occupational contaminants play in Louisville’s lung cancers.

Aldrich and other Louisville medical experts said lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking and alcohol consumption, along with genetics, play the dominant role in determining whether someone gets cancer, and prevention measures should continue to focus on lifestyle factors.

"All of these factors come together in very complicated ways, in addition to air quality," said Dr. Donald Miller, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville. "Clearly if you are looking at cancer prevention targets, smoking is at the head of the list."

Air pollution "is a big problem," said Dr. Wayne Tuckson, a colorectal surgeon who worked on the 1997 cancer study. "But it’s just another one of the problems."

Aldrich is scheduled to discuss his research at a meeting Thursday of the Rubbertown Community Advisory Council that will include several presentations from university experts.

The Louisville Metro Health Department is studying Aldrich’s findings, and Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson and metro government’s Air Pollution Control District have promised to take residents’ air pollution concerns seriously.

Art Williams, director of the air district, said the agency will continue its efforts to curb hazardous air pollutants.

"We will move as aggressively as we can to reduce air toxics to safe levels," Williams said.


CONTINUE READING…

 

Related:

New lung is only potential cure

The dual neuroprotective–neurotoxic profile of cannabinoid drugs

British Journal of Pharmacology – Library of Cannabis Information

 

 

October 7, 2003

United States Patent
6,630,507

Hampson ,   et al.
October 7, 2003


Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants

Abstract

Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH.sub.3, and COCH.sub.3. ##STR1##

image

CONTINUE READING…

Extensive in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that cannabinoid drugs have neuroprotective properties and suggested that the endocannabinoid system
may be involved in endogenous neuroprotective mechanisms.

Hemp taking over Kentucky's tobacco resources; 22 companies investing so far

Image result for farm, 27 acres of hemp grew all summer

By Janet Patton

[email protected]

October 25, 2015

WINCHESTER — Tucked away off a narrow country road in Clark County, in the middle of a farm, 27 acres of hemp grew all summer. Now, the plants will be harvested and processed.

Kentucky, hailed as a leader by industrial hemp advocates, has grown the hemp. Now the state is working on growing the industry.

"In two years, we’ve come a long way," said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is now running for Congress. "We’ve proven first of all that it’s not a drug, which was very important for the opposition to realize. And we’ve proven it’s economically viable, or there wouldn’t be 22 companies that have made an investment in the state. … What we’re doing now is working with the companies that want to go to the next step to commercialize the product. "

The plants in Winchester are part of the 100 acres of hemp — high in cannabidiol and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (the high-inducing chemical in marijuana) — grown this year for GenCanna, which moved from Canada to Kentucky to be in the heart of the hemp revolution. It deliberately chose to come to Kentucky over other states, including Colorado, because of the agricultural resources and the climate, both meteorological and political.

"We have been in this industry for many years, and we are setting a new bar in Kentucky," GenCanna CEO Matty Mangone- Miranda said. "Kentucky’s kept the focus on industrial hemp" rather than cloud the issue with other forms of cannabis cultivation, as Colorado has permitted.

Mangone-Miranda, who estimates that hemp could become a billion-dollar industry, said his group is in hemp for the long run.

"The industry is likely to have a bubble, then stabilize with a market of diversified products," he said, citing potential uses in sports drinks, nutritional products, supplements and more.

GenCanna has invested more than $5 million in Kentucky, according to company officials, although it has yet to see any revenue. That will come once the company is able to deliver a stable source of low-THC/high-CBD hemp.

"The only way to have hemp become an agricultural commodity is to grow lots of it and see what happens," said Steve Bean, GenCanna’s chief operating officer.

Coming to Kentucky had other benefits, too. Many farmers were eager to get into the crop, which decades ago proliferated in the Bluegrass; hundreds applied to be part of pilot projects to grow hemp. The crop still can legally be grown only in affiliation with the state Department of Agriculture and entities that sign detailed memos of understanding.

Kentucky also has resources that in the past were used for tobacco that have converted well to hemp cultivation.

In fact, GenCanna’s headquarters is now in part of a former Philip Morris office building stuffed with former labs. The place was practically abandoned as the cigarette maker began retreating from Central Kentucky.

And next door is a processing center in a former tobacco seed plant, where GenCanna built a system to turn the chopped-up hemp plants into a sort of dried powder to sell as a nutritional supplement.

The Shell Farm and Greenhouses in Lancaster is turning its fields away from tobacco, growing 157,000 hemp plants on 40 acres outdoors and 3,500 plants in a greenhouse.

"And we’ll be growing it indoors all winter," Giles Shell said. Shell’s greenhouses once raised flowers; now he’s working on hemp genetics.

"There’s no seed crop, so we have to take cuttings to get the plants in the field. So I’m selecting genetics, for a hardier plant — bigger, fuller," Shell said. "We’ve got a problem with variegation or chimera, so I trying to select away from it."

Next year, Shell intends to grow even more hemp.

"We’re going to quit raising our tobacco crop, and if we do any flowers, it will be downsized," Shell said. "Last year, we raised 120 acres of tobacco. This year, we dropped to 80. Next year, we will drop to none. There’s not a market any more for tobacco and not enough money once you factor in labor and chemical costs."

Both the offices and the processing center are shared with Atalo Holdings, another hemp entrepreneur company, this one formed by Andy Graves and other Kentuckians working on crushing hemp seed for oil and other fiber production. Graves also grew the 27 acres of hemp for GenCanna.

Other groups, including the Stanley Brothers of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil fame, also are pursuing the hemp’s potential.

Kentucky could be on the cusp of a green revolution — a hemp boom that could go in myriad directions or spiral into a bubble of speculation.

"It could," Comer acknowledged. But, assuming that sometime in the next two years, Congress makes it legal for anyone to grow hemp, he said Kentucky should be well-positioned, with a jump-start on the infrastructure.

"We get requests every day for companies that want to start processing hemp. I worry that some may not have the credibility of some of the others, and that’s why its taking longer to certify, to get more background info," Comer said. "We’re not picking winners and losers, but those that have credibility. Our reputations are on the line here, too."

GenCanna has more contracts with farmers than any other company at this point, Comer said. It’s the only one in the cannabidiol business with signed contracts with national chains to buy their hemp product, he said.

"GenCanna is the real deal," he said. "And they’ve given me assurances everyone will be paid, and all the farmers are happy."

The Shell family, which has a three-year contract with GenCanna, certainly is now.

"We were very leery — I was the most reserved in my family of starting to do this," Giles Shell said. "But … I felt like we were the best route to help commercialize this crop. Demand is really high, and supply isn’t there. Basic economics will tell you that’s profit.

"We’ve got a year ahead of everybody else that’s going to get into the game."

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter; @janetpattonhl.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/10/25/4104501/hemp-taking-over-kentuckys-tobacco.html#storylink=cpy

Democratic ag commissioner candidate promotes medical marijuana, GMO labeling in first ad

10/22/2015 08:14 PM

Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner Jean-Marie Lawson Spann has released her first ad of the campaign with a focus on a slightly more liberal agenda for the office.

Lawson Spann’s ad touts her support for the legalization of medical marijuana “under the strict supervision of a doctor to ease the suffering of cancer patients,” according to the ad.

The 30-spot also touts Lawson Spann’s demand that genetic modified foods be labeled.

“Like you, she wants to know what is in the food she is feeding her family,” a narrator says in the spot.

The ad, which the campaign says is being run on broadcast television stations around the state, can be viewed here.

Tres Watson, the campaign manager for Republican nominee Ryan Quarles, said the ad pandered to Lawson Spann’s liberal base.

“While Ryan Quarles is focused on the future of Agriculture in Kentucky, our opponent continues to pander to her liberal base and ignore the issues important to Kentucky’s ag community,” Watson said in a statement.

Lawson Spann and Quarles debated the issue of medical marijuana and GMO labeling in a meet the candidate forum before the Kentucky Farm Bureau in early October.

In that meeting Quarles said legalizing medical marijuana would imperil the state’s young industrial hemp industry and Kentucky’s status as a “clean atmosphere” for hemp growers.

“If you talk to hemp producers, the ones who are already investing in our state, they do not want to be co-mingled with its cousin, and in fact folks in Colorado right now who are wanting to invest in Kentucky are moving from Colorado to Kentucky because it’s a clean atmosphere and they’re not co-mingled with its cousin,” Quarles said at the forum. “So it’s important that if we do support an alternative crop, we listen to the industry needs.”

In the same forum Quarles and Lawson Spann also differed on whether food products should be labeled as contained GMOs.

Lawson Spann said she would like to see GMO products labeled on grocery shelves, but Quarles said the measure would confuse consumers.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or [email protected].

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CONTINUE READING…