Hemp grown to clean up polluted soil could be used for hempcrete construction and to produce energy, with virtually no health risks, an Italian researcher has suggested.
Vito Gallo, Professor of Chemistry at the Polytechnic of Bari, said the hemp plant’s performance in the phyto-remediation (phyto-purification) process leaves only trace amounts of any pollutants behind.
“Hemp allows a sort of dilution of metals in the biomass and this results in material that, in principle, presents very limited or even no health risks,” Gallo, who is also coordinator of BIO SP.HE.RE., a hemp-specific research initiative, told Canapa Industriale.
Gallo suggested that scientific organizations could get together to set acceptable levels of concentration of any foreign substances in downstream hemp products.
Italian stakeholders are working on significant research regarding phyto-remediation, in which specific plants are grown both to clean up pollutants such as heavy metals, and to stimulate the degradation of organic compounds to enrich the soil. Hemp has proven itself to be highly effective in both roles, as Italian scientists have set out to further document.
The question has always been what would be done with the adulterated hemp once it’s harvested from polluted fields.
Italian researchers have posited that most of the heavy metals absorbed by hemp are stored in the roots and leaves of the plant, leaving only miniscule amounts in the hemp stalk, and continue to study that process.
Hemp and soil
The research in Italy builds on studies from as far back as 2002, when researchers from the University of Wuppertal and the Faserinstitut of Bremen, Germany, showed that hemp plants sown for remediation collected most heavy metals in the leaves, while plant stalks were virtually unaffected by contamination. A later study in India in 2014 identified hemp as a promising tool for the hyperaccumulation of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, copper, chromium and nickel. Further studies since then have underpinned both analyses.
In addition to using the hemp stalks for hempcrete, hemp biomass can be burned for energy. With the ashes collected under controlled conditions, the metals can be extracted and re-used, Gallo said.
Sustainable new system
“The use of hemp for phyto-remediation would not only lead to the creation of a new system of land use linked to environmental protection, but also to the creation of jobs and sustainable resources for the community, according to the principles of the green economy and bio-economy,” said Marcello Colao, a biologist at the Italian non-profit Association of Apulian Environmental Biologists (ABAP), which is also studying phyto-remediation.
Colao is directing the GREEN project (Generate Resources And New Economies), which is studying different varieties of hemp and ranking them for their phyto-remediation capacity. That research, in partnership with the region of Puglia government, is part of a broader initiative that is researching hemp for its potential in sustainable development and carbon sequestration, and developing strategies for improved agricultural management practices.
Also supported by the Puglia government, BIO SP.HE.RE, the project under Gallo’s direction, is studying a mixture of micro-algae and hemp to see how it can enhance the phyto-purification of both water and soil. The researchers have reported that lab analysis showed the mix facilitated growth of hemp plants in polluted soil, thereby speeding up the phyto-remediation process; hemp plants were particularly effective at absorbing cadmium, nickel and zinc, the team said.
Cannabis has over recent time been a growing topic of debate. As it is discussed in various ways for its medical uses, environmental benefits and sustainable abilities, it is only natural that Hemp 3D printer filament would also come up at some point. While it is not the only alternative 3D printer filaments we covered on 3Dnatives, here is what you need to know about this 3D printing material.
One material that historically has been a big part of the world culture in over 10.000 years is: hemp. It was one of the first plants domesticated by Humans and have been used in day-to-day life for its solid fibres, nourishing seeds and natural medicinal properties. It was even commonly used as paper and the growth of the plant encouraged by Kings. However around the 1950s a decline came about when cannabis was demonized for its euphoric properties. Since then the full plant has been looked down upon in big parts of the USA and Europe and the use of the material declined drastically.
Industrial hemp material
In recent years however, the focus have turned back into a positive spin for the versatile material. More and more places are changing legislation, such as in California, and opening up for implementing the plant into everyday life. So as Hemp is an environmental-friendly material, it could be the solution to a lot of environmental problems. The plant reduces water consumption, pesticide use, and much more. The versatility of the plant can be used for a ton of things, such as biofuel and textiles. This is where 3D printing comes into play, as a lesser-known usage of this plant is for 3D printer filament. Along with hemp filament being developed it brings a new aspect to the additive manufacturing industry.
3D printing is improving the manufacturing processes in terms of reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing by reducing waste and speeding up the processes while often using less energy. Still, there are a way to go before a completely closed loop system and environmental-friendly filaments on the market. Mistakes and bad 3D prints happens from time to time. When using traditional plastics this can build up a lot of unwanted and unneeded waste. A way to counteract this is to print with biodegradable or recyclable material, such as PLA and Hemp. Because of hemps natural abilities it has no need for pesticides, it fertilises the soil it grows in and can grow more densely than other crops. Already these aspects make hemp a good material to work with as an eco-solution. PLA, which hemp is often combined with, is already biodegradable on its own. This based in PLA being sourced from materials such as sugar canes and cornstarch. Therefor combining PLA and Hemp in a hybrid material will bring new possibilities to the table.
The process of making hemp filament is fairly simple. Most commonly you will see a material like PLA as a polymer base. The hemp fibre is grounded up into fine particles and mixed into it. This process is done in the same way a lot of other hybrid filaments are made. However, it is often made without added colour to keep the positive impact all the way through and has a special texture to add to the print. With this and as hemp is good for the environment, it is no wonder that there is a demand for it.
The debate on how legal the various filaments are, depends on the individual locations. In France the law is set to the filament having less than 0,2% Tetrahyrdocannabinol or THC for short. But the general laws are currently changing in various locations around the world. One place where legislation seems to be moving fast over recent years is the US. In 2014 then president Obama signed the agricultural act of 2014. This amongst other, allowed for universities and state departments of agriculture to start cultivating industrial hemp for limited purposes, opening up for the market to develop. This year alone at least 38 of the states considered legislation related to the hemp industry, covering everything from clarifying laws to establishing new licensing requirements and programs. Out of this at least 5 states have enacted legislation to establish hemp research and industrial pilot programs along with more states.
There are already a couple of companies out with their version of the hemp 3D printer filament. One such company is 3D4MAKER. They have developed their product for the market of biodegradable plastics with the ability to recycle or compost the filament afterwards.
Another company is 3Dfuel. The company have released a series of eco-friendly composite materials. Partnering with c2renew to produce the line, they came up with 4 materials so far. They consist of Wound Up: a coffee filament, Buzzed: a beer filament, Landfillament: a trash filament and Entwined: their hemp filament. All of which is produced using waste materials and Ingeo PLA to provide functional and sustainable 3D prints. 3Dfuel even released an improved version of their hemp filament. In the v2 version they basically reduced the particle size of the hemp material. The finer particles allows for an increase in the percentage used in the filament with the visible bio-fill creating a unique texture. Showing an interest in improving the possibilities.
A newer company, doing so as well and pushing the natural material is Kanèsis. Starting out slow with a campaign that didn’t take off, they still managed to fund their HempBioPlastic or HBP®. The company persisted, launched their website and have worked to develop solutions for a sustainable world ever since. On their site they sell the HBP filament as well as a Weed filament. The main difference between the two, being the THC levels. The Italian company is sole committed to natural materials designed for the manufacturing industry, bringing down the environmental impact and providing all-around benefits.
Kanèsis’ HempBioPlastic or HBP®
How to use Hemp 3D printer filament
The general printing properties of most of the hemp 3D printer filament closely resembles PLA filament. However, it might be even easier to print with as it, depending on which producer you buy it from, can print at 10°C lower than PLA. The filament is also odorless, which helps for indoor use in smaller spaces. And it has low-warp, making a heated bed unnecessary when printing. Though if you have one an optimal heat setting seems to be around 45°C. Since hemp 3D printer filament is easy to print and works in the same manner as PLA, it can be used in a variety of ways. However, do to the ease of use, along with the biodegradable attributes it would be good for daily prototyping. Not to mention other projects of experimenting that wouldn’t have the need for colouring. Of course if you are searching for a specific look or texture to your print, it might be worth checking out as well. Although the hemp filament is a hybrid filament at this point, it seldom has the same texture as traditional PLA.
The price varies quit a lot form one hemp printer filament to the next. Kanesis sells their HBP and Weed filament for around $37 for a 500g spool. 3D4MAKERS is around the same kg price with a 750g spool for ca. $48. In the more expensive corner you can look to 3Dfuel’s entwined that sells for $45,99 for 500g. Depending on the producer the prices varies, along with the actual plant material percentage in the filaments.
3Dfuel created a short video to introduce you to the concept of hemp 3D printer filament:
So while there are bio-filaments on the market already, it is only the start. Both established and new companies will continue to develop and improve their products. What to you think of the hemp 3D printer filament? Let us know in a comment below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages! And remember to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter, to get all the latest news on progress, research and more entrepreneurs in 3D printing send straight to your inbox!
The DHO is in many ways similar to a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organisation) Except in that it places the humans that comprise it in the center. Opposed to trying to automate humans away, the DHO seeks to automate the majority of tasks to empower humans to more effectively and joyfully collaborate.
Welcoming Hypha’s Decentralized Human Organisation
It’s said that the next wave of enlightenment won’t be individuals but a group of people coming together with a deep, committed and purposeful vision.
We’re living through the modern day Renaissance, while simultaneously experiencing peaks of ecological, political, economic and social crises. Future societies will look back and say that the “Dark Ages” hadn’t quite ended yet.
The Dark Ages are almost over.
We’re at the dawn of welcoming in new systems of governance, thought and value distribution. Human awareness and consciousness is shifting from a local awareness to a global awareness.
“We’re not defending nature; we’re nature defending itself.” — Unknown
You are a part of this transition. Your awareness comes with the duty to bring your unique perspectives and gifts to this new paradigm.
It’s important not to have a revolution.
A revolution is merely a shift in power from one group of people to another within the same paradigm.
This isn’t a revolution for some. This is a Renaissance for all of humanity.
We’ll need to navigate this new terrain with impeccable integrity and dedication to this new paradigm.
Otherwise we may revert into old systems of exploitation and domination and merely walk away with a revolution.
The Decentralized Human Organisation (DHO)
The DHO is in many ways similar to a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organisation) Except in that it places the humans that comprise it in the center. Opposed to trying to automate humans away, the DHO seeks to automate the majority of tasks to empower humans to more effectively and joyfully collaborate.
The old paradigm told us to show up, punch the ticket, appease the boss and generally do what we’re told.
In the DHO there are no bosses. You are accountable to your role and the other team members. But, most of all, you’re accountable to your purpose, your passion, your personal growth and your gifts.
It’s your responsibility (your ability to respond) to identify your gifts, create a role that best empowers you to share these gifts, then contribute to the creation of a new paradigm.
No one can tell you how to do this, what your gifts are, or how you’d like to receive value for your gifts. This is up to you to decide.
It is up to the other members of the DAO to decide whether or not to receive these gifts. But, it’s not up to them to tell you how to give, how to contribute, or what your purpose is.
This is going to be awkward at first as we learn to take our first steps in this new paradigm of self-empowerment and freedom.
We’ll need to exercise our atrophied communication and relationship skills.
Skills that we had as children when we — without hesitation — spoke truthfully, expressing our thoughts, concerns, opinions and emotions.
This new paradigm will require us to fully show up, wounds and all.
What you make of this structure is up you.
Success here isn’t just making (literally) money. Success is changing money. It’s changing how and what we value as a society.
Sure, there is enormous value to be made and shared. However, true success is a thriving planet, with a purpose driven society where people are deeply and truly nourished. Welcome to the dawn of of these new systems. We’re building them now and Hypha DHO is a live experiment.
The DHO scales using nested (holonic) circles and breaks down decision making and role patterns that emerged from the practices and organisational patterns of Holacracy. We use the term organism because the DHO is a structure that allows human collaboration to behave as the cells of our bodies do. Our bodies have no rigid hierarchy, no top-down control mechanisms but are able to coordinate actives on a massive scale to create an entirely new being — a human. The same is true for the DHO. What this new being looks like us up to us.
Restaurants Serving Agricultural Hemp Foods Improve Quality of Life
The oldest known food catering establishments dated as far back as the Song Dynasty (960-1279) whose paper money economy and healthy middle class allowed them to cater to the residents who lived there as well as travelers. All other examples of eating establishments came in the form of Inns and catered to the weary traveler. Though located in busy areas, the local residents were not patrons of these establishments.
The word Restaurant comes from the French Word Restaurur meaning “a food which restores”. The first restaurants emerging in Europe, specifically France, Spain and England in the 16th and 17th centuries served food family style or as buffets bringing people together to share a common meal. Waiters did not begin carrying around platters of food as a part of service until the beginning of the 18th century around the same time patrons began choosing items from a menu.
Throughout history, restaurants and eating establishments have provided nourishing social experiences locally and abroad. Community meetings are held in these spaces as well as personal and business engagements, making restaurants the backdrop for memorable human interactions. At this point there are so many restaurants in so many places many no longer eat at home preferring the convenience of a well cooked meal without having to deal with the business of making it. Serving a meal for people is an art that spans time and centuries, but today’s market is competitive and saturated.
It must be difficult to own and operate a restaurant. Politics, society and misinterpretations of what is real and healthy shape the decision businesses have to make. Tough times means cutting costs wherever possible and restaurants often times are forced to compromise quality products used in the foods served just to keep the lights on. To make matters more gloomy, today’s degrading economy brings health articles advising people not to eat out to avoid health issues and reports of families cutting their entertainment budgets to make ends meet.
What can a restaurant do to stand out in a sea of dining choices? Old marketing models sell atmosphere and service, friendly staff and discounts for large quantities of food. These models do not fit in a World where people care about what they eat. The staff can be as nice as they want, but ultimately, if the food lacks nutrition, there is no value in what’s being offered to the community.
Agricultural Hemp provides a solution. Hemp Seeds and Oils provide all of the amino acids, Omega 3 and 6’s and numerous other necessary nutrients the body needs to function properly. One is able to get the complete recommended daily supply in less than 3 Tablespoons of seed, oil or protein powder. On a molecular level, the proteins supplied by hemp rid the body of bad cells and replace them with new functioning cells daily. All of that and it’s organic, glutton free and hyper-allergenic.
Hemp Flour, Hemp Oil, Hemp Protein Powder and Hemp Seeds are easy to use as substitutions in recipes already served on the menu or inspire something new! Restaurants are able to boast the healthiest food in the market and the community benefits all the way down to the cellular level. It’s easy to produce effective, truthful marketing copy when the food served improves the quality of life in such a personal way. Mission statements should reflect the restaurants desire to serve food allowing them to live up to the standards the French name implies when defined as “a food which restores”.
Consumers have been known to choose healthier products and services over destructive ones. They have proven the value of focusing on buyers needs and many businesses have endured the downturn of the economy because of their commitments to the good of the communities they serve. This is the year to try something new and Agricultural Hemp Foods are a perfect way to show appreciation for your customers and communities as a whole. What could be more sustainable than that?
Get Hemp!! It is not only renewable it is Healthy for you!
The hemp definition that is spreading like a virus in the United States of America of a 0.3% THC limit, is an illusion to distract many from the bigger opportunities in hemp in the U.S.A.. However, there is a legal definition which has existed long before this by the National Laboratories. Hemp is not illegal and this is reinforced by the United States of America signing with 72 other countries, agreeing to the 1969 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The 0.3% THC limit comes from the Canadians and reiterates the concern that The United States hemp opportunities are being crushed by Canadian influences, most likely because they want to prevent the U.S.A. from achieving a thriving and robust hemp industry here. Even the Canadian, Dr Ernest Small Ph.D., who is considered the architect of 0.3%, says that the number is really meaningless. Another effect is the current costs of products like CBD are also extremely inflated because of this definition. This pattern shows in some of the hemp associations, with Canadian board members. Canadian legislation restricts hemp and treats it like marijuana, which slows their industry down. Don’t let them drag our opportunities down because of their poor foreign legislation.
Dr. Small “drew an arbitrary line on the continuum of cannabis types, and decided that 0.3 percent THC in a sifted batch of cannabis flowers was the difference between hemp and marijuana.”
Larsen continues. “Small clearly noted that among the hundreds of strains he experimented with, ‘plants cultivated for fibre [sic], oil and birdseed frequently had moderate or high amounts of THC’… thus the worldwide 0.3 percent THC standard divider between marijuana and hemp is not based on which strains have the most agricultural benefit, nor is it based on an analysis of the THC level required for psychoactivity. It’s based on an arbitrary decision of a Canadian scientist growing cannabis in Ottawa.”
-Dana Larsen, author of The Illustrated History of Cannabis in Canada.
When looked at from a different perspective, a scientific view, another picture appears. Taking the view through the definition of hemp and over laying it with the data set of so called “certified” seed cultivars versus the data set of all hemp defined by the National Labs above. There are products such as Satvex from GW Pharmaceuticals which have Cannabinoids and are in a ratio of 1:1 to 1:20 (THC:CBD). This is exactly within the National Laboratories definition.
The graphic shows that the natural tendency of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant is to be 1:2 THC to CBD well bellow the National Laboratory definition of hemp. There is a fear that if we grow hemp the THC will increase, it will actually decrease in natural settings.
Looking at the line that represents the so called 0.3% THC definition, the yellow area, show that the faux definition actually violates the National Laboratory definition, on the left in the orange area. In addition, the graph show the aggregate of the so called “certified” seed cultivars have a tendency to naturally increase in THC, which creates the need for consistent breeding and “certification.” This is a manipulated approach to the cultivation of hemp and a takes advantage of the lack of information shared with the public.
This is also affecting farmers ability to thrive because the DEA claims they can control hemp, they can’t. In 2004 a 9th Circuit case, HIA v. DEA determined that the DEA has no jurisdiction over hemp. The strange thing is that HIA did NOT publicize this ruling back then, now it is clear as to why they kept it quiet, they do NOT represent the United State’s interests at all.
The DEA’s Final Rules purport to regulate foodstuffs containing “natural and synthetic THC.” And so they can: in keeping with the definitions of drugs controlled under Schedule I of the CSA, the Final Rules can regulate foodstuffs containing natural THC if it is contained within marijuana, and can regulate synthetic THC of any kind. But they cannot regulate naturally-occurring THC not contained within or derived from marijuana-i.e., non-psychoactive hemp products-because non-psychoactive hemp is not included in Schedule I. The DEA has no authority to regulate drugs that are not scheduled, and it has not followed procedures required to schedule a substance.
The DEA’s definition of “THC” contravenes the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress in the CSA and cannot be upheld. DEA-205F and DEA-206F are thus scheduling actions that would place non-psychoactive hemp in Schedule I for the first time. In promulgating the Final Rules, the DEA did not follow the procedures in §§ 811(a) and 812(b) of the CSA required for scheduling. The amendments to 21 C.F.R. § 1308.11(d)(27) that make THC applicable to all parts of the Cannabis plant are therefore void. We grant Appellants’ petition and permanently enjoin enforcement of the Final Rules with respect to non-psychoactive hemp or products containing it.
“the DEA makes no showing that extracts from parts of hemp seeds or stalks other than resin are used or could be used for psychoactive purposes.”
Legislation has been manipulated at the hands of lobbyists in many states across the country and you will find the word “certified” as a requirement in some of the language, we do not encourage limiting a brand new growth industry right out of the gates. BEWARE the Farm Bills as they are trying to force the 0.3% THC illusion upon us. The new farm bill HR 3530 is DANGEROUS TO OUR FARMERS AND PEOPLE. This is an absolute travesty for the average farmer. Hemp is supposed to be for all.
In reference to a study for the treatment of epilepsy patients: GW Pharma can’t Compete with the Cannabis Plant nor can they make it better in a lab… A study’s findings “support efficacy of artisanal CBD preparations in seizure reduction with few significant side effects. While highly purified CBD awaits Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, artisanal formulations of CBD are readily available and are seeing increased use in our patient population. In summary, these findings support efficacy of artisanal CBD preparations in seizure reduction with few significant side effects.” -Cannabis News Journal
Considering the complexity of legislation, media, subjective and objective opinions, science and other factors, we must stay vigilant and pay close attention to every word pushed into legal language. This is critical at this time while GW Pharmaceuticals is attempting to take CBD and push it into pharmaceuticals. Remember, the DEA has NO CONTROL, we do, unless it is given to these corporations and other countries. Fight for Industrial Hemp in the United States of America.
“We shouldn’t be discussing CBD in terms of being non-psychoactive, that’s a vague and nebulous term with no consensus as to meaning, and just plays into the hands of Prohibitionists. Better that we discuss it in terms of what’s really important: non-intoxicating. Many things are psychoactive, including yoga, sex, meditation, jogging, exercising, deep breathing, cola, tea, coffee, medicines, praying, kissing, and cuddling, among others. But none are intoxicating, the only real metric that matters when discussing driving or dangerous jobs and the like. Non-intoxicating, not non-psychoactive.” -Richard Rose
Resources: Search string: Ernest AND Small AND “0.3” AND THC AND hemp
The basics: Hemp can provide two types of fuel. 1. Hemp biodiesel – made from the oil of the (pressed) hemp seed. 2. Hemp ethanol/methanol – made from the fermented stalk.
To clarify further, ethanol is made from such things as grains, sugars, starches, waste paper and forest products, and methanol is made from woody/pulp matter. Using processes such as gasification, acid hydrolysis and enzymes, hemp can be used to make both ethanol and methanol.
In this day of oil wars, peak oil (and the accompanying soaring prices), climate change and oil spills such as the one in the gulf by BP, it’s more important than ever to promote sustainable alternatives such as hemp ethanol. Hemp turns out to be the most cost-efficient and valuable of all the fuel crops we could grow on a scale that could fuel the world.
And as it turns out, the whole reason for hemp prohibition – and alcohol prohibition – may have been a fuel the realization that OIL production is threatened by any competing fuel source, especially one that requires no modifications to your car!
What is Hemp Biodiesel? Hemp biodiesel is the name for a variety of ester based oxygenated fuels made from hemp oil. The concept of using vegetable oil as an engine fuel dates back to 1895 when Dr. Rudolf Diesel developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. Diesel demonstrated his engine at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 using peanut oil as fuel. Hemp biodiesel come from the pressing of the hemp seeds to extract the oil. Through a process explained here , hemp biodiesel can be made.
Hemp biodiesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as hemp. With over 30 million successful U.S. road miles hemp biodiesel could be the answer to our cry for renewable fuel sources. Learning more about renewable fuels does not mean we should not cut back on consumption but does help address the environmental affects of our choices. There is more to hemp as a renewable fuel source than you know
Why Hemp Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel that runs in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine.
It can be stored anywhere that petroleum diesel fuel is stored. Biodiesel is safe to handle and transport because it is as biodegradable as sugar, 10 times less toxic than table salt, and has a high flashpoint of about 300 F compared to petroleum diesel fuel, which has a flash point of 125 F.
Biodiesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as hemp.
Biodiesel is a proven fuel with over 30 million successful US road miles, and over 20 years of use in Europe.
When burned in a diesel engine, biodiesel replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with the pleasant smell of hemp, popcorn or french fries.
Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel in the US to complete EPA Tier I Health Effects Testing under section 211(b) of the Clean Air Act, which provide the most thorough inventory of environmental and human health effects attributes that current technology will allow.
Biodiesel is 11% oxygen by weight and contains no sulfur.
The use of biodiesel can extend the life of diesel engines because it is more lubricating than petroleum diesel fuel, while fuel consumption, auto ignition, power output, and engine torque are relatively unaffected by biodiesel.
The Congressional Budget Office, Department of Defense, US Department of Agriculture, and others have determined that biodiesel is the low cost alternative fuel option for fleets to meet requirements of the Energy Policy Act.
On June 1st & 2nd 2016 EIHA (European Industrial Hemp Association) held its 13th Annual Conference. It is the leading event of the sector worldwide with hundreds of participants and contributors. With EIHA & Nova Institut spearheading its organisation, the event has established itself as the central locus of both networking and technical dissemination within the Hemp Sector. It was an opportunity for the Hemplab Institute to cement various contacts made during previous projects as well as expand into new and exciting possibilities.
Standardisation, GMP / GAP & Hemp Market Projections
The repetitive theme of this year’s event, echoed by concerns from participants and contributors alike, was that of Standardisation of practices particularly GMPs & GAPs. This marks an evolution from earlier market concerns centred primarily on agricultural legislation, financial viability and agricultural techniques & equipment. It is testimony to the maturing process the industry is undergoing, with an ever growing list of products and hemp applications. The next step of this process is producing ‘mainstream’ products – particularly in the food & pharmaceutical markets – which invariably implies highest consumer standards, validation and analytical precision.
EIHA 2016 Conference – HEMPLAB Institute
Another marker of maturity evident during this year’s event was the presentation and discussion of much more comprehensive and authoritative market data and projections of the industry – with aptly demarcated analyses of particular sub-categories of products such as ‘self-care CBD’ products or food supplements. Key market risks relate to the lack of uniform legislation (on a European level) – a concern which was identified by our 2015 report.
Hemp: A market for Analytical Laboratories
With the concept of ‘Standardisation’ on everyone’s mind, the discussion naturally progressed towards the existence of institutions and companies capable of carrying out such programmes and their analytical methodologies. Analytical equipment manufacturer Waters was present with a dedicated stand and the presence of North American laboratories (e.g. ProVerde) to share technical know-how, with which we had the chance to discuss in depth our mutual experiences. With analytical standards and methodologies still absent for cannabinoids across the world, it provides a major opportunity on commercial grounds, as well as scientific and policy requirements.
We look forward to the 14th edition of this informative event!
In the concluding remarks of Part A, we noted that the very setting of the dichotomy along with the stereotypical connotations associated with each term restricts and hides important aspects of the debate. But how and why, did this way of framing the debate come about?
The distinction became increasingly popular in the mouths of policy makers and people alike following a very simple conscious and subconscious observation: Cannabis policy needs reform. The latter was arrived at after years of failed repressive policies, failing on two main domains: 1) Public Health 2) Criminological considerations and prison population. It is within this context that novel approaches and policies, as well as public perception of the issue, have increasingly been centred on the ‘Medical v Recreational’ distinction.
Public Health & Harms Reduction
A notable recent example of policy-analysis that resists the ‘Medical v Recreational’ temptation is a report originating from France (April 2016). Following a public debate in cooperation with La Direction Génerale de la Santé, the report tackles the issue for all ‘substances that can potentially lead to addictive behaviours’. It argues for a decriminalisation of all such substances (including Cannabis) regardless of nature of use, focusing instead on a ‘Risks & Harms Reduction Principle’ (RdRD).
The strengths of such approaches are best appreciated form a Public Health perspective. However they fail to address another large-scale socio-economic aspect, leaving aside the issue of re-articulating the existing demand and providing adequate models of distribution*. On the other hand, they offer the best short-term approach on how to begin tackling the existing situation with its determinate and known parameters. It is interesting to examine some assumptions of the ‘Medical v Recreational’ distinction and their impacts in terms of distribution and economic activity.
Cannabis Legislation Models: Use, Distribution & Demand
It is often taken for granted that the ‘Medical v Recreational’ dichotomy maps exactly onto the ‘Regulated v Unregulated (Market)’ distinction. It is true that ‘Medical Cannabis’ (in our western understanding of the word ‘medical’) implies a highly regulated market and distribution mechanism. However it doesn’t follow that ‘Recreational Cannabis’ implies necessarily an unregulated market free of a ‘Risks & Harms Reduction Principle’. A parallel illuminating example is the tobacco industry – taxes, limited marketing, restrictions on points of sale, age etc.
From a somewhat sceptical standpoint one could argue for a legalisation and regulation of Cannabis exclusively for medical purposes. Arguing on the basis of a fully regulated market along the lines of the existing Healthcare & Pharmaceutical models, stressing that such an approach is supposed to only benefit people that could potentially gain actual medical improvements on their existing conditions, thus implicitly taking the ‘Risks & Harms Reduction Principle’ to its maximum application. However there are drawback to such restrictive policies.
The main concern of the above model is that it doesn’t address the so-called recreational demand for cannabis that exists in our (European) societies. Paralleling western Healthcare Models, ‘Medical Cannabis’ would most likely be available to ‘eligible’ patients on prescription, based on a set of criteria. The very high proportion of users who would not fit those criteria would still drive the ‘underground’ demand, thus maintaining the black market and its criminal organisations in place. Furthermore, it still criminalises a high proportion of users, thus failing to solve another societal issue (criminalisation of cannabis users is often linked to marginalisation which leads to violent behaviours).
Restrictive Medical Cannabis models also run the risk of excluding patients that could potentially benefit from cannabinoid consumption but do not fit the official criteria for prescription. It would be a mistake to try and fit a versatile plant like cannabis to our traditional Healthcare Distribution Models. There is also an argument to be made on human right’s grounds in the sense of the right to self-determination and self-care – allowing people to treat themselves the way they see fit. Furthermore, cannabinoid consumption is liable to bring overall improvements on quality of life which are not necessarily perceived from a purely bio-medical standpoint. Rigorous and well-funded scientific research is necessary to further our understanding of the plant and its beneficial applications. However, the implementation of those scientific findings into prescriptive, normative policies is a very different issue.
A Hybrid Model is therefore necessary to provide value for society as a whole, addressing public health concerns as well as criminological and socio-economic considerations and at the same time integrating cannabis into established medical and scientific practices. There are several questions that need answering though, pertaining with the distribution and Harms-Reduction principle of use that falls outside explicitly medical bounds. Distribution in that case can take several forms. Which is actually adopted in particular instances is highly dependent on cultural factors as well as goal-oriented considerations such as economic activity, employment, human rights, use reduction, public health etc. Approaches can vary from favouring small individual cultivation models to extremely liberal Colorado-Dispenser systems depending on local culture and perceived objectives of the policies (of course, in the majority of countries cannabis is still outright illegal).
A liberal proponent of cannabis legalisation might take, however, a different approach. Favouring the legalisation of cannabis simpliciter, the argument makes the point that in such scenario cannabis would effectively be available for any use (including medical), avoiding any discrimination based on usage and/or outcome. The merits of this view are to be found in its simplicity as well as its inherent non-discriminatory commitment – traits which ought to be transposed to actual policies. It nonetheless skips over some potential pitfalls.
Assuming that there is legitimate medical use for cannabis there need to be social-security mechanisms for reimbursement of treatment. This issue is notoriously problematic and a ‘simple legalisation’ policy does not guarantee the production of cannabis products and treatment procedures that are liable to be recognised by insurance bodies (both public and private) as reimbursable. This would lead to a major social injustice which is precisely what the above argument was purporting to dispense with. Furthermore, proper medical accompaniment, expertise and research should be available to those explicitly medical users that wish to access it. Again, there is no guarantee that such tangible and intangible social goods will emerge out of minimalist policies.
Medical v Recreational: What to make of it?
As we have previously argued, the ‘Medical v Recreational’ distinction cannot be effected by the plant in isolation, barring any contextualisation with actual usage and individual biological interaction. Even when usage is defined, the relationship is not straightforward considering that medical use can have recreational effects and vice versa. However the distinction is somewhat illuminating on a policy level – not in a descriptive / ontological sense, but rather as decent model to represent actual use-patterns. It helps bring into focus some issues of social justice, human rights and criminological considerations as argued above. There is one direct way of effecting this distinction, namely in the event whereby a person is explicitly treating a serious a recognised disease / condition with cannabis. In that case it can unambiguously be labelled as ‘Medical’ and enjoy the same status as other medical treatments.
In Part C. of this series of articles, a brief overview of some actual European examples will be presented.
*This is not aimed to be a severe criticism. The report is very thorough within its intended scope and provides detailed arguments for its conclusions, particularly in terms of Justice, Public Health & Safety, Employment, Social Life and Education.
A lot of air is being vented around the dichotomy of ‘Medical’ v ‘Recreational’ Cannabis. On the policy and public opinion level, this distinction is highly operative as countless legislative plans around the world are centered on it. However is there a sound scientific or medical basis that can support it?
The Plant & The Body: A Complex Interaction
In order to start the analysis of this question it is necessary to understand the plant & the human body holistically as a system of interaction. To the best of our current knowledge the Cannabis components active on the human body are Cannabinoids. These can, but do not necessarily carry with them psychotropic effects. Cannabinoids are particularly susceptible to interact in profound ways with the human body given a particularity of the latter. Humans have what has come to be known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and across various parts of the nervous system – it plays an important regulatory role in pain, appetite, mood and others*. In short, the human body is naturally calibrated to recognize and utilize the chemical compounds produced in Cannabis. Even though true, this statement is in danger of producing the naïve conclusion that any/all cannabinoids in any form of intake are beneficial and free of negative side-effects – a conclusion that needs to be resisted. What is undeniable on the other hand is that cannabinoids have a strong effect on the human regulatory system (of which ECS is a major component).
Cannabis Sativa L. (Cannabis / Hemp) has been used by humans for thousands of years. With that in mind it is virtually impossible to give a comprehensive list of methods of consumption, let alone the psycho-social and / or medical and self-care motivations that underlie it. However interesting pointers can be given in order to commence an analysis relevant to the 21st century.
A salient operative distinction is the presence (or absence) of a particular condition for which Cannabis is used. In the former case, from a usage point of view, it is appropriate to apply the label ‘medical use of cannabis’. Things, however, are never as simple as they seem initially – important considerations are needed to supplement this simplistic distinction.
Firstly, it needs to be separated from the question of the Efficacy of the Treatment. The latter needs to be independently and objectively determined through appropriate scientific and quantitative standards. However the degree of efficacy doesn’t alter the motivation or use as medical from a subjective point of view. Furthermore, a distinction needs to be made between curative & condition management approaches. Cures are not the only relevant medical category. Secondly, the presence of a clearly defined condition is sufficient for the ‘medical’ label but not necessary inasmuch as one’s subjective experience of an ailment might not be represented in medical orthodoxy. More importantly, in line with the mood, sleep and appetite regulatory virtues of cannabinoids, maintaining an overall quality of life through their consumption has strong arguments for the ‘medical’ label. Illuminating examples are stress/anxiety management and insomnia suppression – both liable to have a huge impact in a person’s quality of life and overall health.
Another important parameter to consider is which cannabinoids, or combination thereof, achieves the desired effects in an individual user, whether or not directly related to a specified treatment. There exists a general combinatory classification of cannabinoids and particular effects (see Table). However self-reported effects and outcomes are relevant given the uniqueness of each individual ECS. Furthermore, there is a strong a case to be made for ‘holistic’ effects of the plant as a combination of dozens of cannabinoids, terpenes and other micro-elements.
A major dichotomy within the cannabinoids is effected between the psychotropic and non-psychotropic elements. The best representatives of each group respectively are THC and CBD. However it is wrong to presume that psychoactive cannabinoids are automatically associated with recreational or non-medical uses. Research shows that both these cannabinoids have major medical applications that range from mental conditions to cancer and multiple sclerosis. THC rich cannabis can therefore have medical applications in all its forms and methods of consumption. In conclusion it is misguided to naively conclude that the psychotropic effects of Cannabis are devoid of medical virtues.
Quality, Transparency and Ethical Responsibility
Transparency and accountability are the marks of any and all ethically sourced products. It is undoubtedly true that products marketed as ‘medical’ share a much heavier degree of responsibility however the principle is valid for all products destined to human consumption. In that respect there exist quality standards which can effect the Medical v Recreational distinction. Complete product characterization and ‘free of harmful exogenous substances’ are necessary conditions for the achievement of the desired medical effects as well as the protection of the user from potential harms (that could be caused from exogenous substances). If therefore a ‘Medical Cannabis’ legislation is adopted, it is necessary that the products available to consumers be of the accepted consumer, ethical and safety standards. As such, standardization and testing is necessary for a wide application of such a program, e.g. on a national level.
In conclusion it is important to say a few words on the semantics of the ‘Medical’ v ‘Recreational’ distinction. The very setting of the debate implies the mutual exclusion of each term involved. However this is, at the very least, a hasty assumption. The term ‘recreational’ has been further hi-jacked by the political debate and necessarily associated with pejorative connotations – with negative implications and stereotypes flourishing liberally. The point is not to defend one or the other use (or any use), rather illuminate the assumptions and premises of the argument and its modes of presentation.
Cannabinoids are chemically relevant to the human body in ways which our scientific culture has come to label medical or medicinal. This is the base-fact of the plant as a relation to the human body, regardless of particular uses and regional legislation. From there on, particular uses of the plant can be for explicitly medical or non-medical purposes – however the modality through which cannabinoids interact with the body can always be viewed from the medical point of view. It is therefore a logical conclusion that appropriate use of cannabinoids, in light of the right evidence and research, can have medically positive outcomes.
This concludes the end of Part A. of this presentation. In the second part (Part B.), policy implications will be explored and related with actual examples and developments on the European level in Part C.
The following is meant as a short overview of current state of affairs with regards to Cannabis and / or Drug Policies in three European countries. It is intended as a short supplement to Part A. and Part B.
Portugal’s case is generally accepted, including by the French report discussed, as a relative success with promising aspects to implement more generally. Given that it is not cannabis specific, it is difficult to assess its impact, particularly in terms of Harms Reduction. Although a bold and commendable policy decision, it fails to address distribution side of things, particularly in the case of large-scale organised crime. The existence of such organisations can divert significant police resources and have spill-over effects into unrelated criminal activities, with drug distribution often being a major source of income. This also makes a case for the notion that no matter the amount of prevention, drug usage as whole is not an issue that can be tackled in isolation. It is extremely unlikely that demand for cannabis will evaporate instantaneously. It is therefore necessary to address the issue and distribution resulting from that demand.
For a detailed overview of all European countries’ drug policies and harm-reduction initiatives visit EMCDDA.
German Health Minister Hermann Gröhe has recently announced the country’s plans to make Medical Cannabis available to seriously ill patients by 2017. The law is rather an amendment on previously existing Medical Cannabis policies, relaxing conditions giving patients access to the plant. Due to Germany’s federal makeup, there are various degrees of tolerance of cannabis not explicitly destined to medical use, with notable examples like Bremen and Berlin which are spearheading progressive policies.
With regards to medical cannabis and the 2017 amendment, there have been several critical voices, particularly when it comes to reimbursement and social security. Incorporated within the proposal is the clause that makes reimbursement available only to those patients that agree to participate in research programs. What those ‘research programs’ entail is not yet defined, however that requirement creates issues of social justice even in principle. Adding the mobility restriction of many patients this stands to be a very controversial issue.
Another issue of concern is production. With distribution ensured through the existing network of traditional pharmacies, Germany also intends meet its internal demand with domestic production. However initial estimates are skeptical of the country’s ability to develop appropriate facilities in time. In that case, Germany will be depended on imports. One can speculate as to the possible source of the product but it is hard to overlook Bedrocan form the Netherlands. Concerns from the Dutch experience pertaining to an over-centralisation of production are an interesting case-study for German politicians and decision-makers.
With an estimated 800.000 potential patients making use of the coming law, it is not an inconsequential change. It is very interesting to see how the implementation will be carried out, what measures are taken towards training the medical professionals to prescribe, monitor and get the better out of the plant, as well as the production and quality measures.
Combined with some relatively tolerant cannabis policies, this amendment to medical cannabis improves significantly the aggregated effect of the legislations, giving access to the plant to those that need it most while resisting the outright criminalisation of non-medical users. According to recent polls, the vast majority of Germans support the legalisation of medical cannabis, with a significant chunk of them favouring outright legalisation. It is therefore not unwarranted to expect further changes, whether regional or national, on cannabis legislation in Germany.
The Netherlands are known worldwide for very a tolerant cannabis policy. With regards to medical cannabis, patients with prescriptions can buy purpose-grown cannabis from pharmacies since the spring of 2000. The product originates from Bedrocan, the grower designated by the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis (part of the Ministry of Health) in order to ensure the necessary quality of the final product. Further Quality Control procedures and check-ups are performed along its production and distribution life-cycle.
However the Dutch notoriety for tolerant policies obfuscates various grey zones of the Dutch system. In particular, personal growing and cannabis growing in general is illegal (and attacked) in the Netherlands, which means that effectively coffee shops are breaking the law on a daily basis. This has created a monopoly – a monopoly which is significant on commercial terms, but even more so on ideological terms. The latter refers to the resulting conception of the plant as determined exclusively within the constraints of the coffee shop system (quality, use, method of delivery, personal and societal consequences etc.). This confusion, sustained by commercial interests, has created a chasm between perceived and actual cannabis and has fostered short-termism in plant manipulation and potency increase as opposed to sustainable scientific research & development.
Focusing on the explicitly medical side of things, a number of criticisms have been voiced by patients and patient organisations as well as NGO’s such as ENCOD (For a 2015 ENCOD-sponsored report click here). Criticisms tend to converge on the following points:
Lack of strains and medical cannabis derivatives (edibles, oils, pills etc.)
Overall quality of final product
Lack of dedicated training for health professionals resulting in a reluctance towards prescribing cannabis
A highly centralised system, modeled on some aspects of the existing pharmaceutical industry, has created a very monolithic environment for medical cannabis users. With limits placed on the strains and products that can be labelled ‘medicinal’, the patient’s ability to find the right care for themselves is severely restricted. Furthermore, stringent decontamination methodology with gamma-ray irradiation over the final product, has a created a quality-compromised product. The main reason being, according to literature, the fact that gamma-rays destroy the terpenes of the plant, responsible for cannabis’ distinctive taste and smell. It is also believed, although scientific confirmation is still lacking, that terpenes can have a modulatory effect on the main cannabinoids – the entourage effect (Gamma-ray irradiation is an FDA approved technique for decontamination of food products, particularly ones destined for import / export).
With a relatively restrictive list of ‘recognised conditions’, one could easily argue this as a negative of the system on both medical and social justice / human rights grounds. Coupled with a reported reluctant health establishment to prescribe cannabis, serious concerns have been voiced over the ability to access the medicine. The latter is further aggravated by a repressive policy on personal growth. A February 2016 court ruling, in a highly publicised case, gave permission to a patient to grow his own cannabis for treating his HIV. This is however an individual result that applies only to that person which further points out the need for access to medicine.
Overall the Dutch system has the merits of not criminalising a whole section of its population who choose to use cannabis for whatever reason. However, reluctance to update and evolve the system, namely by integrating production into mainstream economic activity, the underground market hasn’t evaporated. This can partly be explained away by what is known as the ‘neighbour effect’ – meaning that neighbouring countries with repressive cannabis legislations drive that demand. However, there are important reasons to doubt that argument when the origins of coffee shop cannabis is considered. Furthermore, the Netherlands has a relatively sophisticated, albeit extremely rigid, medical cannabis infrastructure. However the aggregate of both policies stands to greatly benefit from a progressive amendment.
This concludes our short introductory articles on Medical v Recreational Cannabis. You can find Part A. and Part B. on their respective links.
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