The panel of experts discussing the resurgence of hemp from the left were Blake Butler, executive director of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association; Nathan Taylor of Lux Botanics in Black Mountain; Franny Tacy of Franny’s Farmacy; and hemp farmer Brad Todd. / Mark-Ellis Bennett photo

The Asheville Museum of Science brought together a panel of experts that included Nathan Taylor, Franny Tacy, Brad Todd, and Blake Butler as moderator, to discuss the return of hemp to North Carolina farms.

Butler, executive director of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association, said AMOS had brought together a diversity of talent and experience to discuss the science behind hemp, the soil it grows in, what ingested hemp and CBD does to our bodies, and what science and technology can do to innovate with this rediscovered agricultural commodity.

“If we’re not innovating, then we’re not leading,” Butler said.

Butler said much of the hemp innovation he has seen has come from Asheville.

“It’s pretty much a beacon across the south,” he said. About five years ago he got a call from an energy drink distributor who said there’s a rogue sheriff out west that had taken his drink off the shelves because there was hemp oil in it. The image of a five fingered leaf printed on the can was that of a hemp leaf, not a marijuana leaf.

“That launched my journey of using my experience in politics and public relations to figure out the most absurd mixed messaging campaign the American farmer and the American people have gone through in the last 50 years. Since the Farm Bill passed in December, we have seen so much progress for this opportunity, and I’m very pleased to tell you that North Carolina is on the right track,” Butler said.

Taylor, of Lux Botanics in Black Mountain, manufactures craft hemp concentrate products. They extract oil out of hemp flowers and compound it into a variety of medicinal products and bakery goods. Tacy, of Franny’s Farmacy, said she always loved science, and knew she wanted to be a farmer. “I’m horrible at following directions, but I’m really good at figuring things out if you just give me my time and space,” she said.

Tacy has a degree in forestry, and spent 12 years in pharmaceuticals, blending science, physiology, and anatomy as they relate to the human body.

Tacy said she is the first female farmer to grow hemp in western North Carolina. “We are vertically integrated with the Franny’s Farmacy dispensary which we buy from our distribution that does manufacturing working in strategic partnerships to process the hemp we grow on our farm,” she said.

Todd, a hemp farmer from the North Carolina Piedmont, identified himself as being from a large network of farmers in the region. He said he sees hemp as a means to revitalize family farms. “There’s a good opportunity for small family farms’ entrepreneurship to take place in agriculture. We go from the field with a primary extraction method using a liquid CO2 technique. We’re very fortunate to have partners in this like Blake, and Nate, and Franny to fill out a viable supply chain from the farmer all the way to the consumer,” Todd said.

Distillate concentrates are made through a refinement process that separates undesirable compounds from the original plant. Full spectrum hemp oil is extracted from industrial hemp and contains many trace cannabinoids and terpenes. Full spectrum hemp oil has been on the rise as one of the most popular health supplements known for its remarkable ability to help with such things like chronic pain, inflammation, muscle fatigue, sleep, anxiety and much more.

There are at least 113 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, exhibiting varied effects. Butler said that he has found the effects of all the cannabinoids together are more powerful than the sum of its parts. “There is more benefit from some of these together than having each one in isolation. The isolates we make are typically over 99 percent pure CBD. The distillate we work with is 80 percent CBD and will have a small percent of THC.” Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis that is responsible for changes in the senses, that is to say “getting high.”

Henry Ford’s Model T was built to run on hemp gasoline, and the car itself was constructed from hemp with hemp plastic panels with an impact strength ten times stronger than steel. He is said to have ran 40,000 vehicles on hemp fuel from only 10,000 acres.

Up until 1937, if a farmer didn’t grow hemp he was considered unpatriotic, but when the relationship between hemp and marijuana was exaggerated it resulted in the Marihuana Tax Act, effectively killing the hemp industry. An article by Brian Dunning titled “Hemp, Hearst, and Prohibition” outlines an urban legend about how, why, and who was responsible.

“Four conspirators identified as newspaperman William Randolph Hearst, whom legend describes as being heavily invested in the timber industry to support his papers; the DuPont family, whose chemical company had just invented nylon and was allegedly afraid of competition from hemp fiber; Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury and the nation’s richest man, who had significant investments in DuPont; and Harry Anslinger, commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who drafted the legislation. To protect their industrial interests, these parties are said to have conspired to make hemp illegal,” Dunning wrote.

CBD oil is a natural product created from the industrial hemp plant. CBD hemp oil is not the same as CBD oils made from marijuana, which may contain THC. There are eight States where the cannabis plant, including both marijuana and hemp, are completely legal for recreational and medicinal use. These states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Hemp oil and hemp related products that contain no THC are legal in all 50 states. Although recreational cannabis has been legalized in just 10 states and Washington, DC, patients can use marijuana medicinally in 33 states and Washington, DC, and that number is only expected to rise.

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