The USA is Importing Hemp Seeds and Expertise from Europe in 2017!

Hana Gabrielová has been studying and working with hemp for longer than most Americans have even known of the plant. She began her Bachelor’s Thesis on Hemp Agronomy back in 1997, having been inspired as a youth by the Jack Herer classic: The Emperor Wears No Clothes. These days, she teaches the science of hemp at Universities across Europe – and this year she’s finally coming to America!

1999 is the year Hana graduated with her Bachelor degree in Sustainable agronomy, and the same year that Konopa – the first hemp-centered non-profit environmental organization in the Czech Republic, was founded. Konopa aims to spread knowledge about hemp as a crop. Incidentally, Konopa is also a play on the Czech slang-word for hemp: konopí.

In 2001, Hana moved to Prague to work more closely with Konopa. It was in Prague that she helped Konopa make the first “day seminar” for farmers about hemp, together with the Institute of Agricultural Economics and Information (IAEI). To this day, Konopa continues providing hemp training, consulting, and a large publishing library of hemp agronomy.

In 2004, Hana started to work with Greenpeace in spreading awareness of the dangers and cost of Uranium mining and nuclear waste disposal, but in 2010 returned to hemp as a solution, and established her company, Hempoint S.R.O. – Nowadays she is helping with ongoing research into using hemp to remediate the soils of strip-mining operations and garbage dump sites. So far, hemp not only grows where no other crops will, it also rejuvenates the soil and allows more demanding crops to be planted afterward.

Hana has spoken up in defense of hemp before the United Nations. In fact, in a statement to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, she reminded delegates that the original UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961 included the proviso that it “shall not apply to the cultivation of the cannabis plant exclusively for industrial purposes (fiber and seed) or horticultural purposes.” (Article 28, paragraph 2)

As she pointed out in that statement, not only is industrial hemp not illegal under any UN convention, it is also a massive boon in helping to achieve the goals of the Conference of Parties on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development:

  • Hemp crops store CO2 emissions
  • produce renewable material which can sustainably replace trees in making paper
  • can be turned into biodegradable plastic
  • hemp can be used instead of concrete for building
  • and the rich seeds of hemp represent a meaningful nutritional contribution to addressing world hunger

But that’s what Hana does in her spare time.

On any typical work day, you’ll find her flying to Greece to help establish a hemp farmer co-operative, or at Mendel University in Brno teaching biotechnology students how to grow and cultivate hemp for use in future-tech. She also regularly meets with hemp farmers in the field to help them improve their methods and practices, as well as developing market sectors that will buy the hemp crop directly from farmers. That goal has taken her as far as the slopes of Nepal, where hemp doesn’t have to be farmed since it grows wild naturally. Entrepreneurs in Nepal have been gathering the wild hemp and turning it into all manner of consumer goods: goods which Hana buys from them to sell on a global market. She has even created a company to help in this regard: Hempoint.

Hempoint is a business which grows hemp in cooperation with farmers and produces food products made from hemp seeds, fiber, and flowers. Hempoint offers hands-on consulting along with the sourcing and distribution of hemp seeds to local farmers.

That’s what is bringing Hana to the USA.

Bija Hemp, a Colorado-grown company, specializes in the cultivation of industrial hemp across the United States. As part of that vision, they have arranged to bring Hana Gabrielová to speak directly with Colorado farmers who are planting Bija Hemp seed in 2017. This will be her first trip to the USA, and it’s no coincidence that hemp is what brought her here.

Hana recently imported the US Patient Focused Certification (PFC) into Europe, and she is the PFC Director for Europe. PFC establishes quality standards in cannabis cultivation, production, distribution and laboratory analyses, as well as employee training and educational materials. PFC helps to define the processes, procedures, and materials to ensure that hemp products are of consistent quality, are free of harmful substances, and have their own unique identity, so they can be identified if necessary at the retail market.

In turn, she is repaying that generosity by sharing her knowledge and experience with US hemp farmers – and she’s bringing friends too! Joining her will be experts from the Ukrainian Hemp Institute (UHI) – an organization with one of the longest unbroken and documented histories of hemp cultivation and research dating back to 1931.

“I’m coming to Colorado to bring that experience from Europe, to work with both the University and the farmers to create an ongoing research project,” she told me. “I know the plant, but they know the climate and the soil.”

The University she is referring to is Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. Thanks to Dr. Beverlee McClure, President of Adams State University, and thanks also to Bija Hemp; Hana will be working directly with both the University and the local farmers to develop proper procedures for farming hemp in the region, as well as a University curriculum based around industrial hemp.

Bija Hemp have partnered with Adams State University and the Hoban Law Group to organize the United States first fully Farm Bill compliant hemp seed importation. In addition to hemp seeds, they are importing the vast libraries of knowledge from Europe, as well as the enthusiasm and experience of pioneers like Hana Gabrielová.

Meetup with her at the NoCo Hemp Expo in Loveland, Colorado from March 31st-April 1st, 2017. Or contact Bija Hemp to find out how you can attend the private presentations she will be giving throughout Colorado in the first weeks of April 2017: info@bijahemp.com

Come be a part of History in the making!

 

A New Hope for Veterans with PTSD

Two million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is estimated that 30 percent of them have returned with PTSD 1. That means the Veterans Health Administration (VA) has been overwhelmed with more than 600,000 PTSD patients, and in response, they are over-prescribing opiates. Despite treatment, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

While it is normal to experience stress after a trauma, PTSD sufferers seem caught in an endless loop of reliving the trauma and overreacting to similar, yet ordinary events in daily life. The simplest and most innocent event can trigger nightmares, violent reactions, or even a full-blown flashback. For those suffering from PTSD, it is not uncommon for them to avoid any situation that might trigger them, often withdrawing from friendships, relationships, and life in general. Suicide is an all too common outcome for these returning heroes with wounds that can’t be seen.

The current treatments include therapy and prescription opiates. For this reason, veterans get addicted to prescription drugs at a much higher rate than civilians. NIDA reports that prescriptions for opioids written by military physicians quadrupled between 2001 and 2009, with devastating effects. On average, 2,500 veterans commit suicide each year. But many are turning to Cannabis as an effective treatment for their PTSD.

Because Cannabis is still illegal at the Federal level, the VA refuses to prescribe it. On their website, the VA claims that marijuana is actually harmful to individuals with PTSD 2, and veterans found to be using Cannabis will lose their benefits 3. In fact, VA doctors are not even allowed to discuss the topic of medical marijuana with patients 4.

A New Hope

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is one of the most respected neuroscientists in Israel. In the 1960’s, he identified THC as the psychoactive compound in marijuana, and in 1971 he successfully synthesized it 5. Decades later, in the 1980’s, he demonstrated that cannabis was a safe and effective treatment for epilepsy in humans 6, then in the 1990’s, he identified endogenous cannabinoids produced within the body which regulate a wide range of psychological and physiological functions. For more than 50 years, Mechoulam has been studying the Cannabis plant and the way its compounds interact with the human body. He seems to think Cannabis would be an effective treatment for PTSD and has applied to conduct research on this topic. In 2011, Mechoulam published a study that claimed cannabinoids appear to be a “magic-bullet” in treating traumatic brain injury 7.

The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a network of cannabinoid receptors found throughout every vertebrate’s brain and body. It turns out that the ECS is integrally related to memory, specifically memory extinction. Memory extinction is the normal, healthy process of removing associations from stimuli. Some researchers, such as Dr. Robert Melamede, believe that endogenous cannabinoids found in mother’s milk help babies forget and recover from the trauma of childbirth.

This has profound implications for patients with PTSD, who have trouble forgetting traumatic events. Dr. Mechoulam explained experiments conducted on mice which were given an electric shock combined with a certain noise. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the mice are conditioned to react to the noise as if they have been shocked even when the noise is played by itself. After a few days of hearing just the noise without the shock, the mice eventually remove that association naturally. However, mice bred with a deficient ECS simply never forget – they continue to cringe at the noise indefinitely, whether they receive an electric shock or not 8,9.

Conversely, mice administered phytocannabinoids (from the Cannabis plant) show a much-improved ability to “decouple” the memory of the sound with the trauma of the electric shock.

Killer Painkillers

“The United States is in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis,” says Dr. Dustin Sulak.
Prescription opioid abuse and addiction is actually a much bigger problem than heroin addiction in the US. In 2014 there were 11,000 overdose deaths from heroin, however, there were 19,000 overdose deaths from prescription opiates – nearly twice as many.

What’s worse, nearly 80 percent of heroin users in the US reported that they began on prescription painkillers before progressing to heroin use, and 45 percent of heroin users are currently addicted to prescription painkillers. “So this problem is largely starting in the doctor’s office,” says Dr. Sulak.

According to a recent Army study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly half of all troops who have come home from Afghanistan and Iraq are coping with chronic pain 10. Veterans with PTSD are more likely to be prescribed more than one opioid, and to receive the highest dose 11. This only compounds the problems for veterans who suffer from both chronic pain and PTSD. They are prescribed one type of opioid for their pain and another type of opioid for their PTSD. Your body builds a tolerance to opioids, and so over time, you need to be prescribed more and more. This is the downward spiral that ensnares far too many of our veterans today.

Cannabis, Opioid Addiction, and PTSD – A Magic Bullet?

According to reports from Doctors and researchers like Dr. Sulak, Cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in and of itself. Administering Cannabis and opioids together results in a “greater-than-additive anti-pain effect” 12. As if that weren’t enough, Cannabis also prevents the body from building a tolerance to the opioids resulting in dose escalation, and it helps treat the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Simply legalizing medical marijuana is enough to reduce opioid overdose deaths dramatically. In fact, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, States that had legalized medical Cannabis showed a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths compared with states where Cannabis is still illegal 13.

Just like Dr. Mechoulam’s traumatized mice, traumatized veterans have shown significant improvements in their symptoms of PTSD after consuming Cannabis. Some veterans report that marijuana helps them manage anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares 14. Mike Whiter, a former Marine who switched from prescription drugs to medical marijuana, told CBS, “I went from being an anxious mess to numbing myself with the pills they were giving me. Cannabis helped me get out of the hole I was in. I started to talk to people and get over my social anxiety.” 15

Cannabis provides all of these benefits without any of the seeming side effects. “Cannabis? The worst it’s ever made me do is be happy,” says one veteran in the Vice series Weediquette16 There has never been a recorded death caused by Cannabis, ever. There is no known toxic dose for any cannabinoid, and therefore it is impossible to overdose on Cannabis.

“Those pills, they take your soul away,” says veteran Ryan Begin, in reference to prescription opioids. “They are murdering veterans every day by giving them those cocktails of pills. [Cannabis] is a solution to that problem. It is safe as shit! People don’t kill themselves, people don’t kill other people, people don’t kill their families. This is love in this little joint right here. Love.”

Despite mounting evidence and countless vocal examples like veteran Ryan Begin, Cannabis remains illegal Federally, and therefore unavailable to veterans through the VA. We hear politicians try to demonize this medicine in statements and press conferences, and the DEA has near free reign to write their own rules and prosecute citizens and veterans alike for saving their own lives. But there is hope on the horizon.

The First Clinical Trial

2017 saw the start of the first placebo-controlled, triple-blind, randomized crossover study on the effects of smoked marijuana on veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD 17,18. We don’t need to wait for the results of this study before we take action to help our veterans.

If you support our troops, don’t forget to support them even after they’ve finished serving. Real change will only come when everyday citizens like you and I begin to educate ourselves and speak up. Check the facts stated in this article and prove to yourself whether or not this is true. Then take action! Share this article with a friend, write a letter to Congress, or contact your local representative.

Don’t wait until another 22 veterans take their own lives tomorrow.

References:

1.
Veterans Face Dangerous Combination of Painkillers and PTSD – Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. http://drugfree.org/learn/drug-and-alcohol-news/veterans-face-dangerous-combination-of-painkillers-and-ptsd/. Published November 11, 2013. Accessed March 11, 2017.
2.
Veterans A. Marijuana Use and PTSD among Veterans – PTSD: National Center for PTSD. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/co-occurring/marijuana_use_ptsd_veterans.asp. Accessed March 10, 2017.
3.
Will My Fellow Vet Lose His Veterans Administration Benefits if He Uses Medical Marijuana to Help His PTSD? Drug Policy Alliance. http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/will-my-fellow-vet-lose-his-veterans-administration-benefits-if-he-uses-medical-marijuana-help-. Accessed March 10, 2017.
4.
Veterans Still Can’t Discuss Medical Marijuana With Their VA Doctors. The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/01/veterans-medical-marijuana_n_5244565.html. Published May 1, 2014. Accessed March 10, 2017.
5.
Ben-Zvi Z, Mechoulam R, Edery H, Porath G. 6 -hydroxy-  1 -tetrahydrocannabinol synthesis and biological activity. Science. 1971;174(4012):951-952. [PubMed]
6.
Cunha J, Carlini E, Pereira A, et al. Chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients. Pharmacology. 1980;21(3):175-185. [PubMed]
7.
Shohami E, Cohen-Yeshurun A, Magid L, Algali M, Mechoulam R. Endocannabinoids and traumatic brain injury. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011;163(7):1402-1410. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01343.x
8.
General use of cannabis for PTSD Symptoms | VMCA . Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access. http://veteransformedicalmarijuana.org/content/general-use-cannabis-ptsd-symptoms. Accessed March 11, 2017.
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Bouton ME. Context and ambiguity in the extinction of emotional learning: Implications for exposure therapy. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 1988;26(2):137-149. doi: 10.1016/0005-7967(88)90113-1 [Source]
10.
VA, NIH seek alternatives to addictive opioids . U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. https://www.research.va.gov/pubs/varqu/fall2014/fall14-3.cfm. Published 2014. Accessed March 11, 2017.
11.
Toblin RL, Quartana PJ, Riviere LA, Walper KC, Hoge CW. Chronic Pain and Opioid Use in US Soldiers After Combat Deployment. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(8):1400. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.2726
12.
Dr. Dustin Sulak on America’s Opiate Addiction Crisis and How Medical Cannabis Can Help. Project CBD. https://www.projectcbd.org/article/americas-opiate-crisis-how-medical-cannabis-can-help. Published July 25, 2016. Accessed March 11, 2017.
13.
Bachhuber MA, Saloner B, Cunningham CO, Barry CL. Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(10):1668. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.4005
14.
AP Eastern U.S. on Twitter. Twitter. https://twitter.com/APEastRegion/status/712276895258247169. Published March 22, 2016. Accessed March 11, 2017.
15.
More veterans using marijuana for PTSD. CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-veterans-using-marijuana-for-ptsd/. Published March 22, 2016. Accessed March 11, 2017.
16.
Stoned Vets – Weediquette – VICELAND. VICELAND. https://www.viceland.com/en_us/video/stoned-vets/56cdd0654e3a0a6d5eaa13c3. Published March 8, 2016. Accessed March 11, 2017.
17.
Times A. Clinical trial using marijuana to treat PTSD in veterans gets underway. Army Times. https://www.armytimes.com/articles/clinical-trial-using-marijuana-to-treat-ptsd-in-veterans-gets-underway. Published February 7, 2017. Accessed March 11, 2017.
18.
MAPS – Marijuana for Symptoms of PTSD in U.S. Veterans. MAPS. http://www.maps.org/research/mmj/marijuana-us. Accessed March 11, 2017.