Hunters Killed 20 Bears in Kentucky During Season


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — State Fish and Wildlife officials say hunters in Kentucky claimed 20 black bears during the season that ended in December.

It was the first season with a new expanded bear hunting zone and an archery and crossbow season.

Hunters can now hunt bears in 16 Kentucky counties, up from four counties in 2012.

In the recent season, hunters harvested eight male and two female bears during the firearms season. They took six males and four females during the archery and crossbow season.

Seven were killed in Letcher County, and three bears each were taken in Harlan, Leslie and Perry counties.

Modern-day bear hunting in Kentucky began in 2009.


Nearly 3,000 Indiana corn farmers claim in a lawsuit that the Swiss company Syngenta prematurely released a genetically modified seed to market, costing them millions in losses from plummeting corn prices and a Chinese import ban.

© Brent Smith

According to Keith Orebaugh, lead plaintiff who is seeking class-action status in the lawsuit, the price of corn has plummeted over the last two years since Syngenta introduced a genetically modified corn seed called Agrisure Viptera. Farmers claim the company sold the seed to US farmers and corporations without gaining approval from China, a key importer of US corn. The problems began when China banned US corn after it detected shipments containing the unapproved GMO trait, MIR 162.

Orebaugh claimed because of the ban he suffered financial losses. He said he used to be able to sell a hundred bushels of corn for up to $700 in 2013. By late 2014, the same number of bushels was fetching about half the price. He doesn’t use Syngenta seed but, like thousands of farmers around the country, he blames Syngenta for the ban.

These cases concern the Syngenta defendants’ decision to commercialize corn seeds containing a genetically modified trait, known as ‘MIR 162,’ that reportedly controls certain insects. Corn with this trait has entered U.S. corn stocks but has not been approved for import by the Chinese government, which has imposed a complete ban on US corn with this trait,” according to the complaint. Plaintiffs are identified as “corn growers and a grain exporter who suffered economic losses resulting from China’s refusal to accept MIR162 corn.”

Farmers also blame Syngenta for misleading them about when the GMO corn could be sold in China. Syngenta made the request to sell GMO corn to China in March 2010, and told farmers and grain handlers that approval was on schedule by spring 2012. Incomplete filing by the corporation delayed the approval process, and Chinese approval for the corn did not come until December 2014.

“Syngenta, however, chose not to inform growers and the grain industry of the growing danger. Instead, it crafted a plan to mislead grain handlers and growers to believe that Syngenta would have import approval from China by the time Viptera was harvested despite all indications to the contrary,” the complaint says. “The purpose of this plan was to sell more Viptera.”

Syngenta’s legal counsel has denied the allegations, arguing the price of corn had dropped before China’s ban, and that the ban was introduced when China had its own record harvest. Lawyers for the Swiss company also say the corporation shared updates about the approval process with farmers and grain holders.

In Indiana alone, losses were estimated to be in the millions of dollars, Steve Wagner of Wagner Reese LLP told The Indianapolis Star. The state is the fifth largest producer of corn in the US.

The National Grain and Feed Association said “nationwide the loss is estimated to be nearly $3 billion.”

The Indiana farmers join other lawsuits filed against Syngenta by farmers and grain exporters in Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, in both federal and state courts starting two years ago.

Indiana farmer Orebaugh is seeking a class-action status in the lawsuit as a tactic to extend the state’s statute of limitations by several months, to give farmers more time to file individual claims. The state has a two-year limit on civil cases, which expired on November 19.

The federal class-action lawsuits have been consolidated in federal court in Kansas City. Some of the claims were dismissed in September, but a federal judge allowed the rest to move forward. State lawsuits are being consolidated in a Minnesota state court, where the seed corporation has a subsidiary.

Syngenta said it was Cargill and ADM’s fault for not keeping the MIR 162 corn separate from approved strains. The company says it told Cargill in January 2013 that China’s approval for the GMO strain was not available, but Cargill “nonetheless doubled down on its gamble” by entering into contracts from February to July 2013 to ship more than 2 million metric tons of corn to China, according to Reuters.

“Cargill and ADM decided that it was in their economic interest to try to ship corn containing Viptera to China anyway” to profit from high corn prices, the lawsuit said.

In a related story, both Monsanto Co. and China National Chemical Corp have shown interest in acquiring Syngenta. The state-owned ChemChina offered $42 billion for the company this month, which would have transformed the Chinese state-owned company into a direct competitor with Monsanto. The bid was rejected.

Syngenta has one of the broadest portfolios of seeds in the industry, with 6,800 varieties of its own proprietary genetics, according to Bloomberg.

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Cave City Council approves FEMA grant app for medical vehicle

Posted: Monday, November 16, 2015 11:16 pm

BY GINA KINSLOW gkinslow@glasgowdailytimes.com

CAVE CITY — Council members met in closed session Monday night with members of the Industrial Development Economic Authority of Glasgow-Barren County’s board of directors to discuss the acquisition of real estate.

After a brief meeting, council members returned to their open session and an announcement was made that no action would be taken.

Council members adopted a resolution to approve a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for the purchase of a medical vehicle for the Cave City Volunteer Fire Department.

“That’s something the fire department has been looking at forever and ever,” said Mayor Dwayne Hatcher. “There is a FEMA grant that opened today. It is open for 30 days.”

City attorney Rich Alexander read the resolution, which states the city must obtain three quotes for equipment and/or services costing under $20,000, and for any equipment and/or services exceeding more than $20,000 the city must follow the state’s model procurement code as defined in Kentucky Revised Statute 45A, which requires bids to be taken.

Another resolution was adopted by council members Monday night to approve a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant that will be used to fund the purchase of two police cars at a sum of $70,780, with the city receiving a USDA Rural Development grant in the amount of $50,000. USDA Rural Development, along with the city agrees to contribute, $20,780 toward the purchase of the police cars, Alexander said.

Council members also awarded a $3,500 bid to Scott  Gibson of Cave City for the purchase of a white Ford Crown Victoria. Gibson’s bid was one of two received for the same vehicle.

No bids were received for two other vehicles that were also being sold as surplus property. Council members agreed to give Hatcher permission to negotiate the sale of those vehicles.

Due to council members meeting on a night other than their regularly scheduled meeting date, Monday night’s meeting was a special-called meeting and therefore council members could not taken up any action that was not previously listed on the meeting agenda, according to the Kentucky Open Meetings Act, KRS 61.800 to KRS 61.850.


Kentucky Farmers Ready for Growth of Hemp Industry

By Janet Patton | November 4, 2015

Tucked away off a narrow country road in Clark County, Kentucky, in the middle of a farm, 27 acres of hemp grew all summer. Now, the plants will be harvested and processed.

Kentucky, hailed as a leader by industrial hemp advocates, has grown the hemp. Now the state is working on growing the industry.

“In two years, we’ve come a long way,” said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is now running for Congress. “We’ve proven first of all that it’s not a drug, which was very important for the opposition to realize. And we’ve proven it’s economically viable, or there wouldn’t be 22 companies that have made an investment in the state. … What we’re doing now is working with the companies that want to go to the next step to commercialize the product. “

The plants in Winchester are part of the 100 acres of hemp – high in cannabidiol and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (the high-inducing chemical in marijuana) – grown this year for GenCanna, which moved from Canada to Kentucky to be in the heart of the hemp revolution. It deliberately chose to come to Kentucky over other states, including Colorado, because of the agricultural resources and the climate, both meteorological and political.

“We have been in this industry for many years, and we are setting a new bar in Kentucky,” GenCanna CEO Matty Mangone- Miranda said. “Kentucky’s kept the focus on industrial hemp” rather than cloud the issue with other forms of cannabis cultivation, as Colorado has permitted.

Mangone-Miranda, who estimates that hemp could become a billion-dollar industry, said his group is in hemp for the long run.

“The industry is likely to have a bubble, then stabilize with a market of diversified products,” he said, citing potential uses in sports drinks, nutritional products, supplements and more.

GenCanna has invested more than $5 million in Kentucky, according to company officials, although it has yet to see any revenue. That will come once the company is able to deliver a stable source of low-THC/high-CBD hemp.

“The only way to have hemp become an agricultural commodity is to grow lots of it and see what happens,” said Steve Bean, GenCanna’s chief operating officer.

Coming to Kentucky had other benefits, too. Many farmers were eager to get into the crop, which decades ago proliferated in the Bluegrass; hundreds applied to be part of pilot projects to grow hemp. The crop still can legally be grown only in affiliation with the state Department of Agriculture and entities that sign detailed memos of understanding.

Kentucky also has resources that in the past were used for tobacco that have converted well to hemp cultivation.

In fact, GenCanna’s headquarters is now in part of a former Philip Morris office building stuffed with former labs. The place was practically abandoned as the cigarette maker began retreating from Central Kentucky.

And next door is a processing center in a former tobacco seed plant, where GenCanna built a system to turn the chopped-up hemp plants into a sort of dried powder to sell as a nutritional supplement.

The Shell Farm and Greenhouses in Lancaster is turning its fields away from tobacco, growing 157,000 hemp plants on 40 acres outdoors and 3,500 plants in a greenhouse.

“And we’ll be growing it indoors all winter,” Giles Shell said. Shell’s greenhouses once raised flowers; now he’s working on hemp genetics.

“There’s no seed crop, so we have to take cuttings to get the plants in the field. So I’m selecting genetics, for a hardier plant – bigger, fuller,” Shell said. “We’ve got a problem with variegation or chimera, so I trying to select away from it.”

Next year, Shell intends to grow even more hemp.

“We’re going to quit raising our tobacco crop, and if we do any flowers, it will be downsized,” Shell said. “Last year, we raised 120 acres of tobacco. This year, we dropped to 80. Next year, we will drop to none. There’s not a market any more for tobacco and not enough money once you factor in labor and chemical costs.”

Both the offices and the processing center are shared with Atalo Holdings, another hemp entrepreneur company, this one formed by Andy Graves and other Kentuckians working on crushing hemp seed for oil and other fiber production. Graves also grew the 27 acres of hemp for GenCanna.

Other groups, including the Stanley Brothers of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil fame, also are pursuing the hemp’s potential.

Kentucky could be on the cusp of a green revolution – a hemp boom that could go in myriad directions or spiral into a bubble of speculation.

“It could,” Comer acknowledged. But, assuming that sometime in the next two years, Congress makes it legal for anyone to grow hemp, he said Kentucky should be well-positioned, with a jump-start on the infrastructure.

“We get requests every day for companies that want to start processing hemp. I worry that some may not have the credibility of some of the others, and that’s why it’s taking longer to certify, to get more background info,” Comer said. “We’re not picking winners and losers, but those that have credibility. Our reputations are on the line here, too.”

GenCanna has more contracts with farmers than any other company at this point, Comer said. It’s the only one in the cannabidiol business with signed contracts with national chains to buy their hemp product, he said.

“GenCanna is the real deal,” he said. “And they’ve given me assurances everyone will be paid, and all the farmers are happy.”

The Shell family, which has a three-year contract with GenCanna, certainly is now.

“We were very leery – I was the most reserved in my family of starting to do this,” Giles Shell said. “But … I felt like we were the best route to help commercialize this crop. Demand is really high, and supply isn’t there. Basic economics will tell you that’s profit.

“We’ve got a year ahead of everybody else that’s going to get into the game.”


Democratic ag commissioner candidate promotes medical marijuana, GMO labeling in first ad

10/22/2015 08:14 PM

Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner Jean-Marie Lawson Spann has released her first ad of the campaign with a focus on a slightly more liberal agenda for the office.

Lawson Spann’s ad touts her support for the legalization of medical marijuana “under the strict supervision of a doctor to ease the suffering of cancer patients,” according to the ad.

The 30-spot also touts Lawson Spann’s demand that genetic modified foods be labeled.

“Like you, she wants to know what is in the food she is feeding her family,” a narrator says in the spot.

The ad, which the campaign says is being run on broadcast television stations around the state, can be viewed here.

Tres Watson, the campaign manager for Republican nominee Ryan Quarles, said the ad pandered to Lawson Spann’s liberal base.

“While Ryan Quarles is focused on the future of Agriculture in Kentucky, our opponent continues to pander to her liberal base and ignore the issues important to Kentucky’s ag community,” Watson said in a statement.

Lawson Spann and Quarles debated the issue of medical marijuana and GMO labeling in a meet the candidate forum before the Kentucky Farm Bureau in early October.

In that meeting Quarles said legalizing medical marijuana would imperil the state’s young industrial hemp industry and Kentucky’s status as a “clean atmosphere” for hemp growers.

“If you talk to hemp producers, the ones who are already investing in our state, they do not want to be co-mingled with its cousin, and in fact folks in Colorado right now who are wanting to invest in Kentucky are moving from Colorado to Kentucky because it’s a clean atmosphere and they’re not co-mingled with its cousin,” Quarles said at the forum. “So it’s important that if we do support an alternative crop, we listen to the industry needs.”

In the same forum Quarles and Lawson Spann also differed on whether food products should be labeled as contained GMOs.

Lawson Spann said she would like to see GMO products labeled on grocery shelves, but Quarles said the measure would confuse consumers.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.



will somebody please go vote on election day? (TUESDAY, November 3, 2015) The U.S. Marijuana Party of Kentucky supports Drew and Heather Curtis for Governor of Kentucky 2015. PLEASE VOTE!

Gubernatorial campaign

Drew Curtis announced his candidacy on January 23, 2015 for the upcoming election for the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.[17] With his wife Heather as his running mate, the platform revolves around a “Citizen Candidate” philosophy of common sense and data-driven decisions, no experiments, leaving people alone, having no party alignment, and taking special-interest money out of the political process. The stated hope is to build a blueprint for regular, real people in all 50 states/commonwealths to be able to create constructive disruptions in a broken system, in order to run competitively in elections.[18] He will face the Republican Party nominee, businessman Matt Bevin, and the Democratic Party nominee, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, in the November 3 general election.

Drew Heather Curtis


Fark.com founder Drew Curtis announces bid for Kentucky governor



“That was when I realized,” said independent gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis, “that if I didn’t run — and win — we’re all screwed.”

“Whichever party comes in will push forth the party platform, and the problem is this, it’s that neither party has all the right ideas, and they will make decisions on policy based on what their party tells them to do or what their donors tell them to do,” Curtis said.

He said he would sign into law a measure allowing the use of recreational marijuana in the state if the legislature approved it.




PDF of KENTUCKY VOTER registration. 


(NOTE:  Last day to register to vote for the general election.
October 5, 2015)




October 2015 Dates

Last day to register to vote for the general election.
October 5, 2015

General: Members of the Armed Forces confined to a military base on election day who learn of that confinement within 7 days or less of an election may make application to vote absentee in the county clerk’s office.
October 27, 2015

November 2015 Dates

Members of the Armed Forces confined to a military base on election day who learn of that confinement within 7 days or less of an election may make application to vote absentee in the county clerk’s office.
November 2, 2015 –

Bowling Green Mayoral Election – Current Mayor: Bruce Wilkerson – Population(58,067)
November 3, 2015

General Election Day (first Tuesday after first Monday inNovember).Polls open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., prevailing time.County boards of elections to be in session all day.Mail-in absentee ballots must be received by clerk before 6 p.m., prevailing time.
November 3, 2015

Last day to apply for mail-in absentee ballot (not later than close of business 7 days before election). Applications must be received by this day.
November 27, 2015

2016 Important Events Calendar

The U.S. Marijuana Party of Kentucky supports Drew and Heather Curtis for Governor of Kentucky 2015. PLEASE VOTE!

LISTEN: Newsweek Writer Discusses Kentucky’s ‘Great Hemp Experiment’





Originally published on October 14, 2015 6:09 am

Newsweek reporter Jessica Firger recently wrote a story in which she described the challenges for Kentucky farmers growing the plant.

On Tuesday, Firger discussed with Kentucky Public Radio how the state’s fledgling hemp industry is providing an alternative for down-and-out tobacco farmers in the state.

In “The Great Kentucky Hemp Experiment,” Firger writes that hemp is just a few genetic tweaks away from marijuana and also smells like its illicit cousin when it flowers.

During her reporting at a hemp farm near Lexington, farmers turned to hemp after struggling to grow and sell tobacco and ornamental flowers, Firger said.

“A lot of farmers in the state and lawmakers are really hopeful that growing hemp is really going to change things,” she told Kentucky Public Radio.

Kentucky is one of several states that has enacted a hemp pilot program that allows a limited number of acres to be cultivated for industrial hemp.

Bringing hemp to Kentucky has been a pet project of Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who has gotten support from U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, among others.



The Great Kentucky Hemp Experiment

By Jessica Firger 10/11/15 at 10:05 AM


Above:  Western Kentucky University senior Corinn Sprigler helps harvest hemp plants at the WKU Farm in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in September 2014. Hemp potentially could be much more lucrative than tobacco if universities and farmers taking part in the Industrial Hemp Research Program, established by James Comer, Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture, continue to hone their skills cultivating the crop. Bac To Trong/Daily News/AP

Filed Under: U.S., Hemp, farming, Agriculture, Kentucky

The Shell Farms & Greenhouses is an expansive 1,000-acre property in Garrard County, 37 miles south of Lexington, Kentucky. The five-generation family farm is operated by 31-year-old Giles Shell and his 60-year-old father, Gary. The two are whizzes at making ornamental flowers flourish, and like most farmers in the area, the family has grown tobacco for years.

In late June, the younger Shell stood outside one of six greenhouses on the farm and held up a yellowed tobacco plant with limp rootstock. The Shells know how to save sickly tobacco plants like this one, but they don’t want to anymore. “I’m hoping it’s our last crop,” Shell said.

Along the winding back roads of Central Kentucky’s bluegrass country, horses and cows graze on lush plains. For decades, tobacco helped farmers here keep their families clothed and fed. But that’s changing. Tobacco production facilities have slowly migrated to North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee due to consolidation within the industry, which has resulted in an ever-shrinking demand for the crop in Kentucky. There’s a replacement crop starting to come in, though: The Shell greenhouses that once nurtured thousands of tobacco plants are now home to 3,200 industrial hemp plants.

Try Newsweek for only $1.25 per week


Hemp Rescues Kentucky’s Flailing Agriculture Industry

As demand for tobacco diminishes, the state’s farmers are turning to growing cannabis—but not the kind you smoke. slideshow

It’s been close to 70 years since anyone in Kentucky—or anywhere in the U.S.—attempted to legally cultivate industrial hemp in massive quantities. But today, the Shells and other skilled farmers are taking up the cash crop yet again, under the auspices of the five-year pilot Industrial Hemp Research Program, established by James Comer, Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture, which vets and licenses farmers in the state.

Shifting gears so dramatically hasn’t been easy. The biggest problem is the learning curve: Hemp isn’t tobacco, which means it’s unlike the crop farmers in the area are most familiar with. A major component of the pilot project has involved figuring out the optimal way to make the plant flourish in a much rainier environment than California or Colorado, where most cannabis is currently grown. Farmers have experimented with a number of techniques: covering the beds to prevent over-watering (as you would, for example, with tomatoes) and growing cuttings in flower pots (as they do with ornamental flowers).

And there’s another undeniable challenge: Industrial hemp is really just a few genetic tweaks away from marijuana and outsiders often don’t know one from the other. “When the stuff really starts to flower it has the same look and smell as marijuana. That’s why we have security” to contend with potential plant thieves, says Shell.

The difference between the two cannabis sativa plants is the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical compound in the plant that’s responsible for causing the high. In order for cannabis to be considered industrial hemp, it must contain THC levels less than 0.3 percent; any more and the plant has officially crossed over into weed territory.

Currently all cannabis sativa—whether grown to ease chronic pain, get stoned or make rope—is a schedule I controlled substance, a result of the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970, though state marijuana laws have changed some of the classifications at local levels. This is viewed as unfortunate by marijuana activists, but also by many in the agriculture industry, including Comer. He hopes to single-handedly turn industrial hemp into Kentucky’s No. 1 cash crop—and in the process, breathe new life into family farms that have lost millions of dollars with the fall of the tobacco industry.

Most industrial hemp is grown in China. With the right processing methods, the highly versatile plant can provide several notable revenue streams. Cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound in the plant, can be extracted from the leaves, blossoms and stems for medicinal and nutraceutical purposes. Cannabis oil derived from cold-pressing seeds is a healthful alternative to the oils sitting on most kitchen shelves, and it is already used in a number of cosmetic and beauty products. Other genetic variants of the plant are cultivated to produce fiber that can substitute for cotton, wood and plastic—a more sustainable way to make everyday products ranging from T-shirts to particleboard and even car dashboards.

And then there’s the potential for food. Hemp seed—high in fiber, antioxidants, omega-3s and protein—has a mild, nutty taste akin to flax. With the right marketing it could become the industry’s next superfood. It would also make for nutrient-packed animal feed.

Kentucky has a long, but mostly forgotten, history of hemp farming. The Speed family, intimately close friends of Abraham Lincoln, were hemp farmers in the state, as was Henry Clay, the 19th century statesman. Kentucky led the U.S. industrial hemp business until the end of the Civil War, when production of the crop declined and was generally replaced by tobacco. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 put the kibosh on all production and sales of cannabis, including industrial hemp, but the crop saw a rapid resurgence during World War II. Hemp fiber became essential to produce military necessities such as uniforms and parachutes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture launched its national “Hemp for Victory” program, which provided seeds and draft deferments to farmers. In 1942, farmers planted 36,000 acres of hemp seed. A USDA-funded informational film from that year noted that “hemp grows so luxuriantly in Kentucky that harvesting is sometimes difficult.”

With backing from Senator Rand Paul, Comer’s proposed legislation—Senate Bill 50—passed in 2013. It created a regulatory framework for farmers to legally grow hemp in the state. In addition, Paul and Comer were able to get a provision added to the federal Farm Bill that legalized hemp production in states like Kentucky that had programs set up to grow the crop. The bill was signed by President Obama in 2014.

10_16_Hemp_02 Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has backed the efforts of Comer to return hemp to its historical position as one of the Bluegrass State’s cash crops. Its history in Kentucky includes even Abraham Lincoln, whose in-laws grew hemp, as well as Henry Clay, the 19th century statesman. Kentucky led the U.S. industrial hemp business until the end of the Civil War, when production of the crop declined and was replaced by tobacco. Carlos Barria/Reuters

Though state and federal lawmakers support the efforts, Comer says it hasn’t been easy for Kentucky’s agriculture department or any of the farmers in the pilot program. Last year was the first for Kentucky’s pilot program, but it yielded only 33.4 acres of industrial hemp in the state. The farmers were capable of growing much more, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has made it challenging, says Comer. The DEA’s cannabis eradication program provides funding to local law enforcement to form a SWAT team of “cowboys flying around in helicopters.” They have been known to sweep through private farms to confiscate the plants, and have even been known to mistake okra for marijuana.

Despite all this, the project has nearly doubled its hemp production this year, and at least 500 people in the state are now employed at it as a result. Comer says he hopes farmers will soon be able to grow at least 10,000 acres. “We want to be the Silicon Valley for industrial hemp,” he says. The state’s backcountry has already become fertile ground for startups like GenCanna Global, which has partnered with six local farms to grow hemp for CBD.

Matty Mangone-Miranda, GenCanna’s president and chief executive officer, and Chris Stubbs, its chief scientific officer, conducted early work to cultivate low-THC, high-CBD cannabis plants formerly called “hippie’s disappointment”—since it doesn’t cause a high—and now known as Charlotte’s Web. It’s produced by the Realm of Caring Foundation as a dietary supplement under federal law and as medical cannabis for sale in states that allow for its use. The story of Charlotte’s Web first came to public light in 2013, when CNN aired Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary Weed, featuring Charlotte Figi, a 5-year-old with a rare refractory epilepsy disorder known as Dravet syndrome that caused her to have up to 300 seizures per week. The Figis were preparing to sign “do not resuscitate” forms for their daughter when a friend connected them with the founders of the company, and the girl gained nearly complete seizure control once she started ingesting the CBD oil.

After the CNN documentary ran, Realm of Caring couldn’t keep up with the resulting high demand, says Mangone-Miranda. They still have thousands of families on their waiting list. “The lack of supply of oil was a huge problem,” he explains. “For me, the logical solution was that we needed a massive, sustainable and reliable supply.” To solve the problem, GenCanna has invested in Kentucky’s farms with the goal of planting 200,000 plants that are genetically similar to Charlotte’s Web in 2015.

Now, GenCanna has an increasing list of companies looking to purchase CBD oil to develop novel products that have absolutely nothing to do with treating rare seizure disorders or making healthy granola. The company has received proposals for CBD-infused sports drinks, wine, beer, Listerine-type fresh breath strips and transdermal patches.

Over the summer, GenCanna, along with Atalo Holdings—another hemp cooperative—purchased a 147-acre former tobacco seed development and breeding facility in Winchester, Kentucky. Along with storage, processing, formulating and shipping buildings, their new Hemp Research Campus includes an over-8,000-square-foot laboratory with breeding rooms. The two companies hope the Hemp Campus will serve as an incubator for the industry, says Steve Bevan, GenCanna’s chief operating officer. “With the Hemp Campus we think we can bring more and smarter people here,” he says. GenCanna and other companies hope to plant their flags before imminent changes in federal and state cannabis regulations allow Big Pharma to enter the picture. “They’re going to throw money in a big way, so we want to understand as much as possible because we have a belief that this stuff is food.”

There is currently a bill in U.S. Congress that would reclassify hemp from a narcotic to an agricultural crop. If the law were to pass, it would minimize the red tape for established hemp farming programs. For example, says Comer, “we won’t have to send staff to a field to do GPS coordinates and then get that information to the state police and all this bureaucracy.”

Despite the regulations and red tape, industrial hemp has already been a saving grace for some of the farmers in the pilot program. The Halverson family, for example, was preparing to shutter their operation, which primarily grew ornamental plants, until GenCanna approached them. The company offered to pay the rent for their property, cover all expenses upfront—including a refurbishing of the greenhouse—and provide salaries to the family and a staff of more than 20. One condition: They would turn all their energies to cultivating hemp and work with GenCanna to learn how to grow this complicated plant and find a way to breed the best version of the plant that is stronger and more aggressive.

hemp_8 Tobacco farmers only earn the equivalent of about 4 cents per pack of cigarettes. It’s still uncertain how much revenue hemp will bring into Kentucky’s agriculture business but the farming community is hopeful. Jessica Firger for Newsweek

In the beginning, the Halversons were skeptical. The family are Sabbath-keeping Christians, and it was hard to know what their neighbors would think. But by that time the family had run out of money and options other than to close the farm. So they went for it.

At first, they were the subject of the weekly gossip at church. “You get to finishing some choral music, and then the conversation after is ‘Are you guys really growing that stuff?’” says Mikkel Halverson. “We feel that growing hemp is more than just work—it is a way we can help those in need. It is part of a healing ministry.” Now, the Halversons’ 36,000-square-foot greenhouse overflows with thousands of hemp plants.

Halverson knows he could probably make a lot more money if he grew the type of cannabis that gets people high, but his family has decided they will not grow a version of hemp that could potentially be smoked, no matter how skilled they become at farming the crop. “I think God made all of the plants,” he says. ”But we’re going to stick with CBD hemp.”


Open casting call for movie shot in Cave City

Cave City 9.28.13 114

Kirby Adams, @kirbylouisville 1:47 p.m. EDT September 29, 2015

Do you think you have what it takes to make it in the movies or become a movie star?

Rossetti Productions, which has produced 15 feature films, is gearing up to start production on their next movie right here in Kentucky.

“The Christmas Reunion” will be shot entirely in Cave City this winter and Rossetti Productions will be holding an open casting call in Cave City to possibly fill some of the remaining roles in the movie.

The open casting call will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2 at the Cave City Convention Center, 502 Mammoth Cave St., Cave City, Ky.

Production on “The Christmas Reunion” is slated to begin in early December, with release of the movie planned for the 2016 Christmas season.

More information about the rolls being cast and audition information at www.facebook.com/thechristmasreunionmovie.

Find Kirby Adams at kadams@courier-journal.com