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The Hemp Industry in Oklahoma: What you need to know

The Hemp Industry in Oklahoma: What you need to know

The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program is taking off. There’s some important laws and rules to know so you don’t get left behind.

Oklahoma’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program allows universities and institutes of higher education to work with Oklahoma farmers to cultivate certified hemp seed for research purposes.  The state defines industrial hemp as “the plant Cannabis Sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.”

So already, Oklahoma has some serious restrictions on who can grow industrial hemp. But because they are still within the federal law put forward by The Farm Bill, they don’t need to change it.

Industrial Hemp in Oklahoma

Industrial hemp grown pursuant to the Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Pilot Program is excluded from the definition of “marijuana” in the state’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.  The definition of marijuana also expressly excludes CBD derived from the mature stalks (including cannabidiol [CBD] derived from the fiber, oil, or cake of the mature stalks), of the cannabis plant.

At this time, it is not clear whether CBD produced from industrial hemp flower would qualify as “industrial hemp” and therefore be excluded from the state’s definition of marijuana, or whether CBD must be produced from the mature stalks of the cannabis plant (both marijuana and hemp) to be exempt from the definition of marijuana.

This mish-mash of laws is going to make it difficult for those trying to enter the legal hemp and CBD industries in the state. It seems to be a grey area regarding where CBD can be derived from, with no clear “yes or no” answer on deriving it from the actual hemp flower. People can get away with a lot of things in grey markets, you just need to be willing to take that risk.

Selling Hemp in Oklahoma

 On February 19, 2019, the Oklahoma State Department of Health issued an announcement stating that businesses that manufacture or sell food products containing CBD are required by state law to obtain a food license. The agency indicated that it would give businesses until April 26, 2019 to comply with the law before initiating further action.

Suffice to say, if you are manufacturing or selling CBD edibles or other food products and don’t have your license already, you could be in some trouble. While commercial sales are permitted in Oklahoma, a product-specific legal analysis should be undertaken to fully understand the risks of operation in the state for your product.

More information on the rules regarding hemp sales and manufacturing can be found on the Oklahoma Agriculture, Food and Forestry website. 

Be Prepared

It is important to keep in mind that Oklahoma hemp laws are different from the federal law. It doesn’t matter if you abide by federal law to the tee in Oklahoma, you can still get in trouble if you don’t go through the proper application process to join the Pilot Program.

Another aspect of cannabis industries (including hemp) is that they are mostly new. Each state establishes their own laws surrounding hemp, and those laws can change. Under those laws could be additional regulations that also change over time.

As a business owner in the hemp industry, you need to be able to adjust your business to meet these new regulations, sometimes on short, strict deadlines. However, Oklahoma is starting off on the right track. Regulations should loosen over the next year or two as more is learned about hemp’s potential, and more opportunities will be opened to the general public to enter the industry.

Ready to apply? Here’s the link to the application.

Learn more about the legal hemp industry, the laws surrounding it and the economic opportunities that are available on The Real Dirt Podcast, featuring Shawn Hauser and Andrew Livingston from Vicente Sederberg LLC. Shawn is the head of V.S.’s Hemp Division, and Andrew is the Director of Economics and Research for the firm.

Get exclusive legal advice that would costs thousands anywhere else, only on The Real Dirt.

The Real Dirt 420 Events Etiquette Guide

The Real Dirt 420 Events Etiquette Guide

With 4/20 happening on a Saturday this year, it’s bound to be a good holiday. But there’s some general rules of etiquette you should follow so you don’t ruin it for others.

4/20 is a great day. It’s one of the only days out of the year where cannabis is not only tolerated by the masses, but celebrated by the cannabis community.

With 420 events happening on a Saturday this year (compared to Friday last year when most people had to work until the evening), theres bound to be more people celebrating than last year. It also means there’s a higher likelihood of something stupid happening that could easily be avoided.

Here’s a few tips for making sure you have a safe and awesome time at your 420 events.

Pick Up After Yourself

When cannabis was first legalized in Colorado, the 420 events that happened that year were massive. However, with the new legalization came a new crowd of cannabis consumers excited to celebrate the plant throughout the city of Denver.

Unfortunately with so many people getting baked across the city, at a wide range of events in both private and public spaces, there was a huge buildup of trash. Not just trash, but also litter.

The event spaces were filled with trash once the festivities were over, with very limited crew to clean it all up. This led a lot of non-celebrators blaming “stoners” for leaving a mess around the city. Suffice to say, it didn’t make the community look good.

With that said, the community has stepped it up, starting 420 events cleanup initiatives to clean up event spaces. But you can still do your part. Don’t leave your roaches all around town, throw them in a trash can.

Recycle that water bottle that you just finished. Yes, it’s annoying getting all the little handouts from businesses at these events, but you can easily so no thanks, or just throw it out instead of onto the ground.

Pace Yourself

You might be thinking that 420 is basically the holiday of smoking as much weed as possible in one day. At least, that’s what I did in college. But as it becomes more accepted in broader society, it isn’t necessary to be so excessive for the sake of celebration at this year’s 420 events.

If you’re in a legal state like Colorado, there’s a ton of events going on across Denver. If you burn through a half ounce at 10 AM, it might make it more difficult to go out later in the day. But if you’re smart and plan it out, you’ll be fine.

Stay away from anything hybrid or indica before lunch. Stick with a straight sativa if you can (even though those labels are really just a myth), until you go out. Once you’re at the Mile High Festival or wherever you decide to go, you can transition to a hybrid. You can relax and enjoy the music without feeling too bogged down at your 420 events.

You should stick with hybrids or sativas as long as you want to be active during the day, and only switch to an indica when you’re winding down for the evening. Most of all, pace yourself.

Don’t pop a bunch of edibles then chase it down with a gram joint. Treat it like alcohol, and just be responsible.

The Smoke Circle

The smoke circle is a delicate ecosystem with unspoken laws especially at 420 events with potential strangers. As long as you know the rules, you have nothing to worry about. Even if you don’t, you don’t really have anything to worry about except for the glares you might get when you put half the joint in your mouth to hit it. Which brings us to the first rule.

Don’t slobber all over whatever you’re smoking, whether it’s a pipe, joint or blunt. A good technique to try with a joint or blunt if you just happen to be a slobbery individual is to hold the joint or blunt between your middle and ring finger and cup both hands to your mouth and pull, and you can hit it without even touching it with your lips.

This can take some practice if your new, but make sure you don’t crush the joint between your fingers when you cup your hands.

Second, and probably the most well-known (and enforced) is the “puff-puff-pass” rule. This rule has been interpreted through the times to mean one of two things. When your passed the joint or blunt, you can either puff-inhale, puff-inhale, or puff-puff-inhale. In close circles, you can get away with two puff-puff-inhales, but in most cases it’s one or the other.

Though to this day, it’s still up for debate among scholars.

The main purpose of the puff-puff-pass rule is to avoid breaking the last rule in the smoke circle, which is commonly referred to as “Bogarting”. Given this unique name from a man named Humphrey Bogart, it refers to holding onto the blunt or joint longer than your turn. Whether you puff-puff-puff-pass on accident or you hold it too long while you tell a rambling story, bogarting has many forms, all of which should be avoided.

Just Have Fun

Let’s get real now. 420 is just a simple holiday to celebrate how far we have come as a cannabis community, how much we have grown. Just look at how the industry is thriving; the boom of legal hemp and CBD, the expanding recreational and medical industries across the US with over half the country now legal in some form.

When I was a freshman in college (6 years ago) I remember saying that cannabis would be federally legal in 5 years. I’ve learned that progress is slow, and the only way to keep this industry thriving and growing is to keep the same enthusiasm we had when we were pushing for state legalization.

But more importantly, we need to appreciate how far we’ve come.

In that spirit, this weekend’s 420 events are about celebrating cannabis however you want. The connection is different for everybody, that’s what makes cannabis, and 420, so incredible. 

Oklahoma Hemp Bust (Update)

Oklahoma Hemp Bust (Update)

Four men were arrest during an Oklahoma hemp bust back in January. Now two men are finally free, with the other two with unsure futures.

The Real Dirt reported on a story back in January that involved a company transporting hemp through Oklahoma. The hemp was poorly stored, resulting in odor that could be smelled 2 miles down the road, by police.

What happened next cause quite some controversy in the new legal Oklahoma hemp industry.

The Original Oklahoma Hemp Bust

In early January Andrew Ross from Aurora, CO was providing security for the transport of several thousand pounds of what he claimed to be industrial hemp from Oklahoma to Colorado. Ross and the semi-truck he was assisting was pulled over in Pawhuska, Oklahoma after running a red light. 

The officer smelled what he claimed to be cannabis as he approached Ross’ van, at which point Ross told him that they were the security for the semi-truck transporting hemp. Ross was then instructed to open the semi-truck, revealing over 9,000 pounds of hemp or cannabis.

After conducting a field test, which tests for any amount of THC, the officer believed the plants to be cannabis and not hemp. However, legal hemp can have up to .3% THC. This led to a lengthy delay in the case as the local police had to send the plants to be lab-tested, which was additionally delayed by the government shutdown in January.

During this time, two of the four who were arrested — Ross, one other in the van and another two in the semi-truck were arrested in total — have remained in prison since they couldn’t afford bail. They most likely won’t be released until the conclusive results of the tests come back.

The Update

While four men were arrested back in January, only the two truck drivers who couldn’t afford bail have remained in prison, until about a month ago. In late March, all charges were dropped against the truck drivers Tadesse Deneke and Farah Warsame.

But for Andrew Ross and his partner that provided security for the transport, the legal battle is not over. While a local man from Tulsa actually offered to pay the bond for Deneke and Warsame to get them out of jail, setting them free, The DA is still pursuing charges aginst the security company.

Of the seized material that was tested, eight of the eleven tests conducted came back “hot”. In other words, the THC levels of the samples tested above the legal amount of .3%, with the hot samples testing between .38% and .5% THC. That is no longer considered legal hemp under federal law.

According the DA’s ongoing investigation, the security drivers for the truck may have had more knowledge about what they were transporting compared to the truck drivers. Implicating that they could have know they were transporting illegal hemp, and let the drivers, who had no experience with hemp, transport it anyway.

What Comes Next?

While the security guards are not being held in jail since they posted bail, their charges have still not been dropped. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison for transportation of illegal cannabis.

And this is case is still far from over. The next court appearance for the security guards is not until August 8th, 2019. The evidence is starting to point toward foul play. If the security guards knew they were transporting illegal material, they will be held responsible, along with the company that grew the hemp to begin with.

If it really is true that almost none of the hemp on the truck was .3%, then this is a case of someone trying to skirt the law, but not getting close enough to do it. This is a weeding out process, and people will try to take advantage of a new, infantile industry with little regulation or state oversight currently.

The Real Dirt will continue coverage of this case as it develops.

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Everything You Need to Know About Growing Hemp in Alabama (Pt. 2)

Everything You Need to Know About Growing Hemp in Alabama (Pt. 2)

At this point you’ve already decided whether or not you’re growing hemp from seed or clones. Now it’s time to get it planted.

Over 150 farms have already been approved to start growing hemp in Alabama. A lot of them are going to fail.

Why?

Because they’re going to treat hemp like any other row crop.

Planting and Caring for Hemp

In Alabama you should plant at the end of May through the first week ofJune with 2000 to 4000 plants per acre. It is best to sew directly into the ground, however many people find success by using automated plug planters. These planters allow you to plant clones and seeds in a root plug.

Bigger is not better. It’s best to grow plants that are under 5 feet tall and spaced appropriately where they still touch. Your hemp fields should look more like a corn or wheat field than your traditional ganja plant.

To put it simply: It’s all math.

Smaller plants are easier to harvest, easier grow, and don’t require staking. Larger plants require staking, more water, and more nutrition. If you have the land, it’s much better to plant more acres out than less plants. If you choose to grow large plants you will absolutely eat up all your profits and harvesting.

It’s easy to calculate the weight of a field. A foot-tall plant at a density of 2000 plants per acre will yield 2,000 to 4,000 pounds in acre. If you plant with a greater density of 4,000 plants per acre, you will be able to use mechanical harvesting techniques for easier collection. Bean pickers are already being used to harvest hemp throughout the country. You just need more plants per acre for it to be worth your while.

Best Hemp Practices

On a very small scale of 1 to 10 acres, it’s easy enough to plant your seeds or clones by hand. Anything bigger than that and you’ll either need a lot more hands or a mechanical planter.

Hemp clones and seeds require water to grow. They grow best in irrigated fields, however I have been to dozens of hemp fields throughout the country that don’t have irrigation and just rely on God‘s grace and the the rain.

Cross your fingers and it could work out great for you.

For guaranteed success, supplemental irrigation is essential. With any irrigation technique, hemp plants will suck up the water you give them. It is important for them to be in well-draining fields so they don’t get overwatered. You’ll also need to fertilize your fields.

That’s right Hemp requires fertilization. Smart farmers test the soil prior to planting and apply the appropriate supplements. Hemp mostly needs added nitrogen and calcium. You can apply this with all the traditional means from chickenshit to gypsum, ammonium nitrate to calcium nitrate.

Harvesting Your Hemp

growing hemp and harvesting hemp in Alabama

Harvest can be a confusing component of hemp cultivation.

You can begin harvesting your hemp for extraction as soon as your plants’ CBD levels have started to reach their peak. This occurs approximately 35 days after your initial flower set.

This translates to a harvest in mid September to late October. Since we are mostly harvesting hemp for its CBD component and not its THC component, we have a wider latitude for harvesting.

Lastly, it is smart to invest in at least one or two chemical analyses of the CBD. The best time for testing is between three and six weeks into flower. This will give you a gauge of your harvest times and periods for next year as well.

While it might seem relatively simple, nobody has ever grown hemp on the scale that the US is about to begin growing. There will be a lot of problems that farmers across the country will have to combat. In different states with different climates, different problems will arise for the growers there. But now that it is a legal industry with unlimited potential, and with the help from social media platforms and podcasts like The Real Dirt, the answers to these problems will be much easier to find than they are now.

Learn more about hemp in Alabama specifically on The Real Dirt Podcast. And join our Real Dirt Alabama Facebook Group for news exclusive to Alabama, grow tips and more.

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Everything You Need to Know About Growing Alabama Hemp (Pt. 1)

Everything You Need to Know About Growing Alabama Hemp (Pt. 1)

Wow. Finally by the grace of God, hemp is finally legal. In Alabama, this is an exciting time and opportunity for many people.

With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is now considered a legitimate farm crop in the US. The problem is that hardly anyone knows how to grow hemp, and the people that have been growing hemp have only grown limited amounts, in limited environments.

Now Alabama and a number of other southern states have “legalized it.” But what does that mean?

What is hemp?

Hemp is considered any cannabis plant that has less than .3% THC. This is the only thing that defines what makes hemp legal in the US. With the new Farm Bill of 2018 comes the ability for farmers and states that have regulated the production of hemp to legally farm it.

Even though it’s called industrial hemp, there is very little industrial use of hemp today.

Out of hemp you can make everything from paper to plastics, cement to chipboard. We are on the cutting edge of this technology and we have yet to see industry spring up around it. In the future we will see the above and more utilized for industrial hemp. But until then farmers will have to settle on growing hemp for CBD extraction and potentially seed for food.

Growing hemp for grain can be lucrative. The seeds are inexpensive, however you have to be mechanically geared for the scale of this type of production. Think hundreds or thousands of acres.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the most lucrative side of industrial hemp today. It is a medicinal component of the cannabis plant that doesn’t share any psychoactive affects with its relative, THC. CBD is used in everything from skin creams to anti-seizure medications. It truly is a wondrous natural supplement.

As of today, CBD is the only way that you’ll be able to be cash positive from any hemp farming activity. If you’re lucky enough to have applied and received an Alabama Hemp License to grow hemp, then it’s time to get started.

The Plant

CBD hemp has many growth patterns and harvest times. It can be planted from June to August in most of the US. Alabama hemp is no different.

Unlike its cousin (i.e. ganja, marijuana, herb), Alabama hemp is grown on a considerably larger scale, with very different techniques.

The first thing you need decide before starting in Alabama hemp, is whether you want to grow from clones or seeds. High-CBD hemp seeds are available for approximately one dollar a seed on the current marketplace. These are feminized seeds that only produce female plants (or at least 90% or female plants).

That’s right. You still can have some percent of males show up, but that’s a little more complex science than we want to get into now. Basically, if you buy 10,000 feminized seeds you’re mostly going to get female plants. Don’t worry if you get a little seed in your hemp either.

You can just as easily purchase traditional seeds that will randomly be male and females. On a small scale of 5 to 10 acres this could be an excellent choice. It is easy enough to cut down all the males as they show their sex, leaving only the females in your field.

However if you do this you have to plant at twice the density in order to compensate for losing half of your plants.

Clones are by far the best way to have consistent yields and performance.

In part 2 of this guide, we’ll go over tips for planting properly, keeping your Alabama hemp plants healthy and maintaining your fields.

You can also hear from somebody who’s breaking into the Alabama hemp industry right now, Brett Terry, on The Real Dirt Podcast.

Financing Your Cannabis Business

Financing Your Cannabis Business

Whether it is seed money or a full blown financial injection, getting financing for a cannabis business has never been more possible. 

With the legality surrounding cannabis slowly changing throughout the country, investors with big money are starting to feel more comfortable investing in the growing industry. But compared to other industries, these investors are much more hesitant to invest in just any cannabis business.

Starting a cannabis business in a new legal industry is exciting, and a lot of people are trying to get involved. But seeking the right amount of money, from the right people, isn’t easy for most.

Financing a Cannabis Business

When it comes to finding financing for a cannabis business, you need to know where to look. While there are a few investment groups that focus solely on cannabis businesses like The Arcview Group and others, most are traditional investment firms coming from other industries, looking to invest in a cannabis business.

Obviously the former group of investors is your best bet. This is because the outside firms will most likely be more financially focused (as in, more focused on your finances than the actual business), as opposed to a cannabis investment group that already knows about the industry, and most likely the product you are selling. Outside groups might need more explanation, or get lost in the jargon of the industry.

This is why it is so important to know your audience.

Get Your Pitch Together

Other than your financial records and other essentials, your pitch is probably the most important aspect of getting financing for your cannabis business. If you come out flat in your first meeting with investors, your chances aren’t great, unless your numbers speak for themselves.

Take the time to really study your audience; who the investors are, what they are experienced in, and how you can relate that to your business model or idea. Make your idea relatable and easily palatable, while still being exciting and fresh. Remember that these firms most likely hear hundreds of ideas a day, so you need to make yours stand out as much as possible.

Doesn’t sound super easy? It isn’t.

Get Ready For Competition

While there have never been more investors in the cannabis space than now, that doesn’t really say much. The industry is still relatively small, and only viable in a few states. Unless you are planning on starting a business in Canada where it is completely legal, you’ll be facing some heavy competition.

You’re not the only one who sees the potential of this industry and how fast it is growing. A lot of people are noticing, and hopping onto the cannabis industry boat that can only hold so many.

A lot of people are going to sink from the weight, while only a few will be picked up by the rescue helicopter that is financial investors. Whether you sink with the majority, or get picked up and make it in the industry all depends on your idea, your business model, your experience, and how you present it.

Inside Tips from The Arcview Group

The Arcview Group is one of a select few strictly cannabis-focused investment firms. Arcview has a large membership base of high net worth investors, looking for new cannabis businesses to invest in.

Louis Han is the Director of Deal Flow for Arcview. His job is to analyze every potential cannabis business that reaches out to Arcview, and to decide which businesses get a meeting with potential investors. And he was just on The Real Dirt Podcast.

In his interview with Chip Baker, Louis goes into the daily workings of a cannabis investment firm, how he decides which businesses get to sit down with Arcview investors, and his predictions for the future of cannabis investing. Listen to Louis right now on The Real Dirt Podcast!

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