Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – November 3, 2017

There is talk about converting 400-500 acres in the Smith River region into growing hemp. Who owns this land? Does it make economic sense?  How much water will it take? Could this be more profitable than growing Easter lily bulbs for example? Will the Westbrooks, the Crocketts and other lily growers be digging up their Easter lily bulb fields? Will it take less or more water usage, less or more pesticide, or create an odor that some may  enjoy while driving through while others may hate.

Last November, voters passed Proposition 64 which legalized recreational marijuana.  But, there was a little-noticed provision in one part of the proposition  — a provision allowing for the production of industrial hemp.

Is there a market for hemp?

Currently the market is considered relatively small  – $600 million nationally.  One of the larger suppliers of hemp fiber products in  located in Long Beach. Some of you may even remember rope made out of hemp. There are other products using hemp;  clothing, cars, (yes, a Canadian company has even built a car out of hemp), papers, lotions, medicines to even construction materials such as strengtheners for concrete and the automotive industry in things like door panels.

But one of the biggest markets suggested by Jesse Davis during one of the 6 am Town Hall Meetings held at Fisherman’s Restaurant is for CBD, short for cannabidiol-based derivatives. CBD has been used as a treatment for juvenile epilepsy.  Predictions are that this will become a multi-billion industry within the next 3 years.

Why did hemp production stop?

During Colonial times until World War II, hemp was an important crop.  Then, in 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act was passed  by the Federal government and some think this is what crippled the industry.  But that’s not totally accurate.  The thing that crippled the hemp industry was the availability of cheap synthetic fibers.

But let’s backtrack because politics certainly had it’s hand in ruining the hemp industry.  First, look at Andrew Mellon who became President Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury and Dupont’s primary investor. He appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger, to head the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

That’s called NEPOTISM; something even Del Norter’s can associate with.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s, a campaign was started to sway public opinion against “marihuana” which lumped HEMP in with the drug, and thus created the public’s perception that hemp should be banned by Congress because it was said to be a violent and dangerous drug.  This was false information, just in case you were wondering.

Now, who produced cheap, synthetic fibers?  DUPONT.  Wasn’t it Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) that said, “love makes the world go ’round?”  I beg to differ.  Money (or love of money) and politics makes the world go ’round.

Another big reason hemp was banned was because it was a serious threat to many of the big industries out there.  At the time it was mainly plastics, oil and paper.

What are the benefits of growing hemp and should Del Norte County get into the hemp production business? 

If we compare growing hemp to growing cotton, there are several advantages to going with hemp.  It takes less land and 50% less water. When it comes to processing, cotton uses four times as much water than hemp.  But, Del Norte County is not known for growing cotton.  It has about 600 acres of perennial Easter lily bulbs under production and the cost analysis by those growers comparing the benefits or draw backs of switching to hemp would make the most sense.  But for me, the real kicker that puts it over the goal post is this: while most crops require the use of pesticides in order to survive and thrive, hemp, or Cannabis sativa, is considered rare because it doesn’t. That means that the Smith River could once again become pristine because currently, every year, Easter lily growers apply 300,000 pounds of highly toxic pesticides to their crops which contaminates the Smith River.

Some thought that the subject of hemp production would be discussed at the October 30th meeting held at the Flynn Center concerning cannabis.  Didn’t happen. The medical/recreational usage of marijuana was the main topic of discussion. The hemp discussion was deferred for now.



8 thoughts on “Will we see HEMP cultivation begin in 2018?”
  1. P.S. I did some more reading and learned; hemp will likely not be regulated by the county other than registration with the ag dept. As soon as registration is available, you can grow CA certified hemp on any scale. Some counties have banned hemp due to pollination concerns with legal drug crops. I see no reason to limit hemp production here because the places suitable for hemp are far enough away from the timberland that will support seed free cannabis production. Here is a link to CA hemp law in PDF.

      Office of the County Counsel
      981 “H” Street, Suite 220
      Crescent City, CA 95531
      Phone (707) 464-7208 Fax (707) 465-0324
      Page 1 of 2
      Legal Opinion
      Date: October 31, 2017
      To: Del Norte County Cannabis Working Group
      From: Joel Campbell-Blair, Deputy County Counsel
      Re: Industrial Hemp
      Is Industrial Hemp Subject to Local Regulation Under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act?
      Industrial hemp is not governed by the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). It is governed instead by the Industrial Hemp Act, which the County does not oversee or enforce. Therefore those statutes that give counties local control and permitting authority do not apply to hemp. Hemp should be treated as an entirely different product from cannabis and should be considered beyond the scope of the working group.
      The Industrial Hemp Act was passed in 2013 by S.B. 566. The Act as it stands today is substantially the same as the Act when passed in 2013, except the original act was not made operative. Food and Agriculture Code §81010 provided that “[t]his division shall not become operative unless authorized under federal law.” Proposition 64 revised Section 81010, which now reads “This division, and section 221, shall become operative on January 1, 2017.”
      Most of the regulatory framework for commercial cannabis can be found in Business and Professions Code Division 10 (commencing with Section 26000). This is the regulatory regime created by Proposition 64 and amended by S.B. 94, which is now called the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). Section 26001(f) contains the definition of cannabis, but says “[f]or the purpose of this division, ‘cannabis’ does not mean ‘industrial hemp’ as
      Office of the County Counsel
      981 “H” Street, Suite 220
      Crescent City, CA 95531
      Phone (707) 464-7208 Fax (707) 465-0324
      Page 2 of 2
      defined by Section 11018.5 of the Health and Safety Code.” Section 11018.5 of the Health and Safety Code defines Industrial Hemp as a “fiber or oilseed crop, or both, that is limited to types of the plant Cannabis sativa L. having no more than three-tenths of 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the dried flowering tops…” Section 11018.5 goes on to say “Industrial hemp shall not be subject to the provisions of this division or of Division 10 (commending with Section 26000) of the Business and Professions Code, but instead shall be regulated by the Department of Food and Agriculture in accordance with the provisions of Division 24 (commencing with Section 81000) of the Food and Agriculture Code, inclusive.”
      Division 24 of the Food and Agriculture Code (the Industrial Hemp Act) is a regulatory framework for industrial hemp overseen by the Secretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture and an Industrial Hemp Advisory Board. There is no provision for local control in the Act. There is only a requirement that a grower or seed breeder register with the agricultural commissioner of the county in which he intends to engage industrial hemp cultivation. Some counties, such as San Joaquin and Yolo counties, have passed ordinances to ban industrial hemp. Though there might be an argument to be made that counties are preempted from doing so by a comprehensive state statute, that is an issue beyond the scope of this opinion.

    2. Jesse, thank you for your contributions on cannabis. You are the type of grower that would be desirable for counties. For areas such as Smith River where I’m sure there is interest, we need to be mindful that we share watersheds and odor/pollution concerns. There is already suspicions that lilybulb growers are not following the letter of the law.

      Rather than gamble on crops that will reach a saturation point, I would prefer to draw more tourism/retirees up to this county. That will bring more tax money into our coffers, create many high-paying jobs in related industries, give us a stable source of revenue.

      I would look at rural counties such as Siskiyou, Modoc, Humboldt that do not have what Del Norte has to offer- beautiful beaches, redwoods, lower population. I see drawing tourists and retirees up here as a no-brainer. We don’t need cannabis or hemp to rescue us.

      1. Are you saying that places like Siskiyou, Modoc, and Humboldt do a better job of drawing tourism? Not trying to challenge you, because I agree that Del Norte doesn’t really draw the tourism in. Mostly just pass-through RV’ers. I’m curious what you think those counties are doing better, and how it might be implemented here.

        1. No Gene, I am saying that we draw more tourists now, and potentially we can draw even more if we clean this place up. We could also draw more retirees here, they have steady incomes and we could have more higher paying jobs in medical and related fields.

          We need to clean this place up, first. Let’s try to get to where Brookings is now- more retail, higher real estate demand, clean environment. If they instituted a sales tax, they would not need the cannabis shops up there, we would not need them either. Let them buy their pot in Yreka or Eureka, and spend their money in shops and restaurants here.

          1. I say WTf should work the part time, seasonal, minimum wage front desk job, raise taxes, and spend money in our shops (Walmart) and the rest of us can bring back the idea of making something of value that we can market to the rest of the state which is not currently experiencing the volume of poverty that we are here. Then those shops can have a population that can afford to shop there and pay more taxes. We can no longer afford to be a community put on for visitors and geriatric transplants.

            1. Corny, imagine me as a Wal-Mart greeter and all the “ears” I could bend. Maybe you’re right- the only way to survive in this State is to light up the doobie, sit on the recliner, and watch Leave It To Beaver reruns. That’s the ticket, baby.

  2. Thank you Donna for the history lesson on how cannabis prohibition came to be. It’s one of the biggest mistakes our country has made. We did in fact discuss hemp production at the October 30th cannabis working group meeting, which is open to the public. Hemp will not be the first focus for our working group because there is no existing hemp industry here. We must first find a way bring our existing medical production into the regulated system. Due to time constraints we will be building our ordinance with a limited number of components and adding as we learn. If we try to embrace all aspects of the industry all at once then we won’t get anywhere.

    Specialty hemp production could work here. The sheer scale of it creates more direct impact considerations than ultra small medical farms. Not only can hemp be produced without toxic chemicals, it is also the most powerful bio-accumulator and soil remediation crop known. I don’t think that it’s time to replace any bulb production until hemp is proven here. There is probably enough land in rotation for a good hemp experiment.

    I am very pleased to have a public member from the lily industry on our committee who is interested in hemp production. This county is full of brilliant, creative and resourceful people who will take advantage of the times to better our community! Please attend the working group meetings, the next one will be at the end of November, time TBA.

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