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The Hemp Manufacturing Process
Welcome to our article on the Hemp Manufacturing Process. This article is brought to you by Spring Creek Labs, a US-Based CBD Manufacturer specializing in private label and custom hemp-based CBD products.
Hemp Industries Association is one of the oldest hemp manufacturing groups in the HEMP MANUFACTURING industry.
Long before the modern American hemp revolution, the HIA had a humble beginning in Arizona.
Hemp business owners and their activist friends decided there needed to be an official face of America’s hemp manufacturing industry.
They knew they needed to pull their resources together to get out in front of the stigma that had been stapled to their product like a “kick me” sign on the back of the neighborhood dork.
The Association played a key part in re-recognizing the difference between industrial hemp and THC-heavy marijuana.
Their first lawsuit with the DEA was in 2004. Part of the reason the HIA was fighting this in court was that the DEA didn’t follow procedure when it came to listing hemp as a schedule I substance.
Even though it was already a well-known fact at the time that the THC levels of industrial hemp are nowhere near enough to cause any kind of psychoactive effects, the DEA went ahead and made the sale and use of any THC containing product federally illegal.
Everything from synthetic THC pharmaceutical companies had already spent millions creating to the hemp-infused foods sold in health stores were now the DEA’s enemy.
The Cole Memo and The Hemp Manufacturing Process
Former Attorney General James M. Cole, made a landmark decision for the American hemp manufacturing process when he issued the aptly named “Cole Memo”.
The memo made it clear that the federal government would not prosecute cannabis and hemp businesses in states with legalization.
This was huge. Legalized states had been left in limbo for years. Hemp and cannabis businesses in these states could have been raided legally at any time by federal authorities, even if they were following all their state’s regulations.
The Cole Memo made dramatic waves throughout the political spectrum because it made clear the right of individual state’s to make their own major legal decisions.
For five years the memo was the law of the land when it came to federal agencies dealing with legalized states.
When Jeff Sessions took over the reins for Loretta Lynch, he moved to dismiss the Cole memo.
You may remember hearing about his feud with President Trump over this and many other issues.
But Sessions’ view on hemp was seen by members of both parties as overzealous. Even in the face of cold hard facts, Sessions believed hemp needed to be a schedule I substance.
The 2014 Farm Bill and The Hemp Manufacturing Process
The 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills were important milestones for the hemp manufacturing process in America. The 2014 Farm Bill did allow some designated universities and farmers to grow hemp for limited purposes.
But if history has taught us anything its that hemp was already used for all kinds of industrial and medicinal uses.
So why did we need decades of more research for material as common as those overripe bananas on your counter?
Even though hemp has been used for thousands of years, lawmakers are acting as if it was just discovered yesterday.
It’s true that we need more research to understand all the applications of hemp and cannabinoids, but saying we don’t know enough to use it now is like saying we don’t know enough about air to breathe.
You don’t need to understand electricity to turn a light bulb on. Some things don’t require a thorough understanding to enjoy the benefits.
Legal Limits to the The Hemp Manufacturing Process
The 2018 Farm Bill not only legalized hemp farming and all hemp based plant production across the US, but it also gave us a definition so strict you could cut diamonds with it.
For a cannabis crop to be considered industrial hemp, it can’t contain more than 0.3% THC. This was a godsend for hemp farmers and others involved in the hemp manufacturing process.
Now that hemp is a commodity like any other crop, farmers can insure their crops against failure.
Think about your own health insurance. Driving, biking, even taking a walk around the block could flood you with healthcare debt if you’re not insured.
Farmers are running a business and without insurance, it can be tough to justify planting a crop that might fail and lose you a ton of money.
Impact of the 2014 Farm Bill on The Hemp Manufacturing Process
What was the impact of the 2014 Farm Bill on the Hemp Manufacturing Process? Part of the provision of the updated Bill is for the Department of Agriculture to conduct a study on the hemp pilot programs granted in 2014.
Researchers are taking the data from the years since the pilot programs and using it to predict the possibilities for a U.S. hemp market.
But we really don’t have to wait. We’re already living through it.
It’s not a free-for-all
You still need a license to farm hemp in the U.S. You can’t just decide to plant it like you would corn or wheat.
Both federal and state governments are given shared authority over how hemp production is policed.
To give you an idea of how fast hemp acreage is increasing in the U.S. we can look towards the pro-hemp group Vote Hemp.
Since there aren’t any officially estimates, Vote Hemp has gone about collecting the information themselves.
And what they found is astounding…
From a modest 9,800 acres in 2016 to 78,000 acres and growing as of 2018.
That’s over 795% growth in just three years.
With an estimated number of uses in the tens of thousands, only a few hemp byproducts account for the bulk of hemp’s riches.
Those categories are:
And coming in at 23%, guess what cannabinoid has the biggest market share?
That’s right. Interest in Hemp-Based CBD is bigger than all other hemp products and growing. You’ve seen it in everything from smoothies to moisturizer.
While it’s true some are a little over-enthusiastic about Hemp-Based CBD’s potential, there is positive information on the subject dating back decades.
Hemp in American History
Why has American hemp manufacturing been the bad guy for so much of recent history? President Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. If you were an American with farmland during the colonial era, you were expected to grow hemp in order to feed the demand from the growing colonies.
There was a time when it was unAmerican to not grow hemp if you could.
When it all changed for American Hemp Manufacturing and the hemp industry at large was in 1937.
Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act. The once-profitable hemp industry saw it’s coffered dry up as the man behind the act, Harry Anslinger, promoted his anti-hemp stance around the world.
Hemp During WWII
The war caused an unexpected shortage of imported hemp, sparking a government campaign to encourage farmers to grow over a million acres worth of hemp.
But the industry died off with the war. Even though the U.S. wasn’t actively pursuing the hemp industry anymore, they still recognized industrial hemp as a separate plant from THC laden marijuana.
This changed in 1970 with the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp, an affordable resilient plant with more uses than a Swiss army knife, was now a schedule I substance.
This was the beginning of an important change in what would later become the commercial the hemp manufacturing process in America.
The 2018 Farm Bill and The Hemp Manufacturing Process
The law remained the same all the way up to 2018. The 2018 Farm Bill would finally recognize what we’d known for decades, but bureaucracy stood in the way of us knowing the truth.
Industrial hemp has no psychoactive properties. It’d be like listing reinforced concrete as a schedule I substance, alongside heroin. It plain just doesn’t make sense.
States Start Taking Control
Even with the prohibition on cannabis, individual states started relaxing around the rules. It all started with decriminalization.
But what really is decriminalization? How does it differ from legalization?
Even though it would be several decades before legalization, decriminalization was a huge step forward in stepping away from prohibition.
While the manufacturing and sale of cannabis, both hemp, and marijuana, remained illegal, those caught using either for personal use would only face civil fines, no jail time.
While the hemp manufacturing process was still not a part of the international economy, this was a step in the right direction.
The War on Drugs And The Hemp Manufacturing Process
Before the Controlled Substances Act, there was a major propaganda campaign led by none other than former President Nixon.
Elected into office in 1968, Nixon won off the back of a campaign promise to restore the law and order that had been lost over the previous decade.
Marijuana and other drugs were commonplace on college campuses. To counteract this president Nixon formed a group of journalists and media executives hungrier for a big story than a starving lion in the middle of the desert.
Nixon even reached out to Elvis hoping an A-list celebrity would give his campaign the cool and fun vibe not usually associated with anti-drug policies. (Elvis turned down the opportunity but a photo of the two shaking hands is still the most requested item from the national archives.)
Cannabis Controversy in the Nixon Era
And in an ironic plot twist, Nixon’s campaign actually introduced the idea of drug themed prime-time television. Before his campaign, production studios avoided any kind of drug-theme for their shows.
Cannabis is front and center in a battle of facts and politics. Marking cannabis as a schedule I substance was the idea of the assistant secretary of health. The campaign was waiting on the results of a study by a commission formed around marijuana and drug abuse. But the results weren’t music to Nixon’s ears…
The report went in the face of everything the War on Drugs stood for. Not only did it recommend discontinuing efforts of criminalizing marijuana.
But it also found the buckets of money poured into anti-drug education might as well have been going straight into the toilet. There is clear cut audio from the White House where you can hear Nixon pressuring the man behind the commission to reject the findings. Nixon wouldn’t even be caught dead being handed the findings in any kind of public setting.
Dr. Robert Dupont
Dr. Robert Dupont was brought into the Reagan administration to be the expert on drug policy. In fact, Dupont remembers the very first time Reagan brought up marijuana:
“You’re the drug expert, not me, on every issue but one,” Reagan says as he becomes very serious, “and that’s the decriminalization of marijuana. If you make any hint of supporting decriminalization, you are history.”
Dr. Dupont understood right away the administration’s stance was unwavering and constant even in the face of contrary evidence.
And as the presidency went harder and harder on anti-drug policies and propaganda efforts, they still garnered mocking laughter from much of the public.
The now infamous Reefer Madness, a 1936 anti-marijuana film, was passed around as a joke among cannabis advocates.
The first lady even got on the front lines of the war on drugs. Nancy Reagan unleashed one of the most touted catchphrases of the time, “just say no.”
Any limelight the first lady got went to spreading the “just say no” mantra of the war on drugs era.
From 1998-2004 Congress gave $1.2 billion for the cause of teaching kids not to do drugs.
That’s approximately $547,945.21 per day on anti-drug propaganda. And last two years the campaign pivoted to focus almost exclusively on cannabis.
You probably remember seeing some of these ads. The dog shaming the stoner for his habits.
The deflated teenager lacking her once perky demeanor to a life of cannabis abuse.
Research into the efficacy of these anti-drug advertisements and programs was bleak. If anything, researchers found that anti-drug material both piqued kids’ interest in the subject and normalized drug use.
During the last couple years of the 90s, President Clinton’s drug czar spent $25 million. The money went to prime time TV shows to air anti-drug episodes.
Even President Clinton himself warned against cannabis abuse and admitting to trying it once.
Anti-cannabis propaganda sunk its teeth so deep into the American public even those who had tried it and didn’t have a negative experience were afraid of it.
What was Bill so afraid of? That another teen right around the age he was when he tried cannabis will try it and become president?
Ancient History and the Hemp Manufacturing Process
There are traces of both cannabis and hemp throughout history. From the sprawling estates of upper-class Romans to Scanadanavian Vikings conquering new worlds.
Historians believe the first clothes people ever wore were made of hemp. 10,000-year-old pottery found in the meandering caves of Mesopotamia, better known today as the land covered by Iran and Iraq, were bound together with hemp rope.
Asian cultures have the longest continuous use of cannabis and hemp throughout history.
This isn’t surprising given many modern strains of cannabis originate from the Eurasian continent. Somewhere around 150 B.C. China earned the honor of becoming the birthplace of the first paper the world had ever seen.
It was made entirely of hemp.
But Europeans might as well have been on a different planet given ancient means of transportation. That’s why we don’t see traces of hemp throughtout the history of Europe until around 1200 B.C.
But the Romans weren’t known for their use of cannabis as a medicine or food source. One of the main uses for hemp at the time was to craft canvas sails for their ships.
The word canvas comes from the French word canevas, meaning “made from cannabis”.
Hemp was stronger than cotton sails and could withstand the corrosive sea salts of the ocean.
In 1535, King Henry VIII made it mandatory for all land-owning citizens to grow no less than a quarter-acre of hemp. Up until the 1920s, almost all clothing in the U.K. was made from hemp.
Hemp in Ancient Egypt
Pharaoh Ramesses II ruled over Egypt from 1279 – 1213 B.C. After Ramesses spearheaded a peace treaty with the Hittites, a culture living out of the land we know today as Turkey, he earned a new nickname.
His new name translates to “keeper of peace and harmony”. Like all other great pharaohs, Ramesses was buried with his most valuable possessions.
When his grave was uncovered in 1881, archaeologists couldn’t believe what they found…
Cannabis pollen was found right on the mummy itself!
Many also believe the symbol often appearing above the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, Seshat, is a cannabis leaf.
Religious ceremonies celebrating deities, like Seshat, often involved smoking cannabis. Just like taking a sip of wine in church on Sunday, cannabis was a way for ancient Egyptians to feel closer to their gods.
Hemp throughout history may have even helped build the pyramids. To break down large boulders into more manageable-sized rocks. Workers would pound dry cannabis stalks into the cracks of large rocks.
They would then pour water over the hemp, causing the fibers to expand. The pressure of the hydrated fiber would break the rock off at the crack like a mellow set of dynamite.
Hemp in Ancient Siberia
The Scythians were a nomadic tribe most often attributed to South Siberia. Their travels brought them far and wide across the continent, and at one point a sizable number of Scythians lived in what is now modern-day Crimea.
Greek philosopher Herodotus once encountered the Scythians and learned of the unique way they honored their dead.
The body would be burned on top of a large bonfire, where attendees would toss cannabis onto the flames. They’d inhale the huge clouds of smoke billowing from the flames, shouting and laughing in celebration of the deceased’s life.
Hemp in Ancient India
The Atharvaveda is a collection of rituals and practices for enhancing your life. The nomadic Aryan tribe brought the Atharvaveda when occupying what is now present-day India.
Within the pages of the Atharvaveda, cannabis is listed as a sacred grass with many uses. It includes a recipe for bhang, a milky tea made from cannabis flowers.
Cannabis is also considered holy by practitioners of Hindu. Hindu god Vishnu is said to live within the leaves of the cannabis plant.
Hemp in North America
Early American settlers from Europe remarked in their notes about the prevalence of wild hemp that grew just as well as any farm in the old world.
President George Washington grew acres upon acres of the stuff. Just North of the American colonies the French regime in Canada made hemp the first crop to subsidized in the new world.
French Canadians hoped hemp would be their savior when it came to ending their dependence on Britain.
They believed if they could grow enough hemp to reverse the tides with Britain they could pull out the rug of power beneath the queen.
So what broke off North America’s love affair with hemp?
Other than politics, the cotton gin was a huge thorn in the side of the hemp industry. Hemp and cotton were both labor-intensive crops when it came to harvesting.
But the cotton gin made cotton lightyears faster and much cheaper to produce. For entrepreneurs of the time, this made the choice easy. Cotton was in and hemp was out.
American inventor George Schlichten introduced a machine in 1917 that could process hemp as fast as the cotton gin did for cotton.
But old George was no good at finding investors for his groundbreaking invention. He died just a few years after getting his patent approved.
Hemp and the Robber Barons
Not long after George’s passing the industry robber barons of the time saw hemp as one of the biggest threats to their industries.
In an unexpected turn of events, oil barons were now the key suppliers of textiles with most synthetic fibers being made of petroleum byproduct.
Lumber and Media magnates that depended on wood-based paper began investing in anti-hemp propaganda.
A 1937 issue of Popular Mechanics Magazine announced hemp as a potential source for the next economic boom. People were excited about hemp just as they’re excited now.
But unlike hemp entrepreneurs of the past, we’re on the exiting side of legal prohibition. Back then they were just walking into it.
What started out as an attempt to tax the hemp industry out of business by synthetic fiber lobbyists hired by big oil companies ended up in an outright ban on all hemp production in the U.S.
With the U.S. being front and center on the world stage Canada was quick to follow suit. Within a year Canada’s hemp laws mirrored what was happening in the U.S.
Environmentalism and the Hemp Manufacturing Process
Unlike Tesla draining South American swamps for their natural resources, growing industrial hemp is actually good for the environment.
How? The majority of our carbon footprint comes from the construction industry. In order to get a 1 ton (~2,204 lbs) of steel, we have to release about 1.46 tonnes of carbon dioxide (C02) into the atmosphere.
It’s like pouring water into your hands. More leaks out then what you actually get to drink.
So should we stop all new construction in hopes of stopping C02 pollution? The good news is we don’t have to throw a wrench in our economy in order to reduce our emissions.
Together with limestone, hemp can cut construction emissions down to a fifth of what traditional materials, like steel and concrete, use.
And America’s hemp industry soaks up about a 0.67 ton/h/year. To put that in perspective that’s about how much all U.S. urban trees combined to produce.
The hemp industry’s ability to soak up C02 is very close to that of a naturally regenerated forest. How do we know something that specific?
Through something called a life-cycle assessment. A life-cycle assessment is like an invoice for all the resources used during the production of a material.
From pulling it out of the ground until it’s in the walls of the end product, life-cycle assessments calculate the whole cost.
Hemp as a Building Material
You could build an entire house purely out of hemp-based materials. There’s even hemp concrete or hempcrete as it’s known in the construction industry.
How do you turn a leafy plant into concrete? Sounds impossible, but hemp is always full of surprises.
What makes hemp so unique among natural fibers when it comes to construction is its high levels of silica.
This silica bonds very well to powdered limestone. When combined, you get a super lightweight and durable concrete alternative, hempcrete.
But how are we able to get so many other construction materials from hemp? The construction industry uses three main parts of the plant:
- The inner core, known as hurds, for structural materials like hempcrete
- The outer skin, for secondary items, like insulation
- Hemp seed oil for polishes and staining wood
Hempcrete isn’t just a cheap alternative either. Some insurers actually give a discount for homes built with hempcrete because of the increased durability.
The minerals that go into concrete have to be mined. This lets off a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
In fact, concrete is the third leading cause of manmade carbon dioxide emissions.
Most building materials haven’t changed in decades and, like concrete, are sustainable in the long run.
Hemp has the opposite effect of concrete and the production of other building materials have on carbon dioxide levels.
Since it’s a plant, hemp sucks up carbon dioxide throughout its entire lifespan.
Other uses for hemp hurds
The outer skin is actually what gets used for hemp textiles, rope, and other materials that require long strands of durable material.
Hemp for Phytoremediation
Phytoremediation is a fancy word to describe using plants to clean up areas where an environmental disaster took place.
Hemp is the perfect plant for this process for several reasons:
- Hemp’s taproot can reach up to eight feet below the ground’s surface to soak up contaminates
- Cheap to grow relative to other phytoremediation crops
- Grows fast
- The plant is still usable afterward
You’re wondering why would anyone want to use industrial hemp that’s been growing in a polluted environment, like Chernobyl.
While some plants do bioaccumulate, meaning the toxins they absorb are there to stay, hemp is able to break down these pollutants.
Sunflowers, mustard plants, and willow trees are some other species that can also break down pollutants. Together with hemp, these crops were sewn in and around the infamous Chernobyl radioactive disaster site to clean contaminated soil and water.
Hemp for Solving World Problems
You often hear about the benefits a plant-based diet can have for both your body and the environment. But is it all vegan propaganda?
Not at all. By weaning off animal products the way scientists recommend reducing our reliance on fossil fuels we can add up to 50% more to the global food supply without sacrificing any more land.
Because hemp is a complete protein, just like meat, it will be at the forefront of the plant-based trend
Hemp as Clean Fuel
Hemp can provide us with two different types of fuels:
- Hemp biodiesel comes from pressing oil directly from hemp seeds
- Hemp ethanol/methanol is made by fermenting the stalks of the hemp plant
Dr. Rudolph Diesel was the first to realize the potential for plant oils as fuel. More excited than a kid on Christmas with a sugar high, Dr. Diesel showed off an engine funning off peanut oil in Paris circa 1900.
Henry Ford’s first car models ran off biodiesel as well. But can hemp biodiesel really solve our renewable energy crisis?
It can. Hemp biodiesel can run in any traditional diesel engine without having to make modifications.
And we all the devastating effects an oil spill can have on the environment. Just recently Chevron was responsible for close to 1 million gallons of crude oil and water dumping into Kern Valley.
Chevron is downplaying the harm by saying wildlife hasn’t been significantly harmed. But the effects of an oil spill are long-lasting.
One of the most common side effects of animals exposed to oil spills is laying eggs with thinner shells.
This makes them more vulnerable to even slight movements in their own nest, let alone predators.
And don’t think we get off scot-free because we live in houses not directly exposed to the oil spill like animals.
Unlike plants that can break down bioaccumulated toxins, animals don’t have this ability. A fish that swam through an oil spill in the gulf one year and gets caught in fishing next the next will pass those contaminates onto whomever it’s them.
The Modern Hemp Manufacturing Process and Industry
Just like alcohol, clothing, and just about every other consumer product category, the money is in private labeling.
Why does the label make a difference? Why do you buy Levi’s for $50 when Costco’s Kirkland brand sells the same style and cut for $10?
For all we know Kirkland brand jeans could very well be Levi’s with a different tag sewn into the waist.
Just like we have preferences when it comes to purchases, like jeans, customers are already aligning themselves with Hemp-Based CBD brands.
With reports, like this one, about mislabeled Hemp-Based CBD products you can see why customers would want to pick a brand they trust and stick with it.
That Penn State study found over 70% of the CBD products they tested were either over or under labeled.
So how can you work on establishing your brand so you don’t end up misleading your customers?
The best way to make sure you’re giving your customers an honest product is to partner with a U.S. based Hemp-Based CBD manufacturer.
Why should they be domestic? China is one of the biggest exporters of hemp in the world. Why not take advantage of it?
Hemp and hemp products are on the list of Chinese imports that incur a 25% tax upon entering the U.S.
Not only will that eat into your margins, but you also have no way of knowing the quality of your product.
This is why so many CBD and hemp products are mislabeled. When suppliers scrape hemp from any farmer with supply, they end up not knowing the real contents of their product.
You could end up with a batch of a product just over the legal limit of 0.3% THC. If your product tests over the limit, chances are you won’t be able to send it back to your Chinese supplier for a refund.
An established American CBD manufacturer like Spring Creek Labs, provides a unique advantage over new start up manufacturer. A new manufacturer may partner with a hemp farmer in China and have no idea what they have been sold for product.
Having established relationships with US-based farms for years means you know whats in your product. Ownership of the entire manufacturing process means no outside vendors or distributors touch the finished product before your customers.
Hemp-Based Retail Stores
Deciding where to sell your Hemp-Based CBD brand can be a challenge. Some of the biggest ad platforms, Facebook and Google, have strict policies in place against companies selling CBD products.
Facebook has started to loosen its restrictions by allowing topically applied CBD products, like lotions.
But that doesn’t help if you’re selling Hemp-Based CBD softgels. So how are Hemp-Based CBD companies getting new customers to experience their products?
One way is to stock your products at a traditional storefront. Most CBD products with a brick and mortar presence target health food stores and marijuana dispensaries.
But there’s a new trend in cannabis retail: CBD only stores. You heard that right. An entire store devoted to CBD.
Green Growth Brands operates CBD product stores in hundreds of malls across the country.
They’re on track to have 280 stores open by the end of 2019 alone. What is their secret to immense success in the CBD industry?
They have a bulletproof business model. They stock their stores with a smattering of in house brands they’ve built from the ground up as well as outside brands.
By private labeling, they’re able to reap huge profits while building a loyal customer base.
Products of the Hemp Manufacturing Process
Sephora and Abercrombie & Fitch, both American mall mainstays, are both making deals to sell CBD products in their stores.
And both are great examples of how CBD companies are using classic marketing principles, like product positioning, to enhance their brand image.
Sephora has already started selling pricey CBD lotion brand, Lord Jones. At over $30/oz, Lord Jones makes one of the most expensive CBD products on the market.
Assuming they’re using a reputable Hemp-Based CBD manufacturer, is the high price worth it?
To customers, perceived value is everything. Harvard business professor Gerald Zaltman says there is one thing that remains the same when any new product is introduced, regardless of the industry.
“No matter how radical a new product is,” states Zaltman, “it will always be perceived initially in terms of some frame of reference.”
What is old professor Zaltman talking about? He means that even a product, like CBD, that many consumers aren’t familiar with will incite the need to make it familiar.
For example, a soccer mom passing by a Green Growth Brands store in the mall thinks to herself, “this is just like The Body Shop.”
So how can you create a feeling of familiarity for customers who have yet to experience your Hemp-Based CBD brand?
Brands, like Green Growth, present the image of enjoying their products in nature.
CBD retailer Kush Queen loads their Instagram feed up with soothing pictures of foamy bubble baths and fresh salad recipes dredged in CBD salad dressing.
These brands know CBD customers aren’t just looking for easy ways to incorporate cannabinoids into their beauty regimens.
Women make up the majority when it comes to CBD customers. Consumer research shows women tend towards non-intoxicating substances, like Hemp-Based CBD, and that they’re also more interested in overall well-being on average over men.
Don’t forget about one of the biggest markets when launching your CBD brand: pets.
Pet owners who use CBD products regularly are looking for their dogs and cats. A dog’s life is all about belly rubs and treats. What better treat than the biggest trend right now for a pet lover to give.
Forecasters of the hemp industry say up to 10% of hemp products could be in the pet department soon.