Officials in west-central Italy are progressing plans to build a sustainable hemp supply chain model which would help to boost local agriculture.
The town of Roccasecca is located in the Frosinone province in the Lazio region. Officials are preparing the land to be planted with hemp ahead of the growing season. The project is a joint initiative of the city of Roccasecca and Cosilam, the University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, consultancy Agricola Happy Hill and municipalities of Ceccano and San Giovanni Incarico.
The project was announced last year as a way of processing poor soil and attracting industry to the region. The Consortium for the Industrial Development of Southern Lazio (Cosilam) conducted a pre-planting analysis and the soil will be assessed after one farming cycle this year.
As well as the production of fibre, hemp plastic, concrete and biofuels, hemp can also be used as a bioaccumulative. It can draw unwanted toxic material out of the soil helping to heal polluted areas.
Nitrogen-fixing plants such as hemp, alfalfa and peas can extract nitrogen from the air for fertilization which then results in higher amounts released into the soil. Soil can be damaged by heavy metals, toxins and pesticides used in farming.
Soil regeneration may help to make the land suitable for farming other crops. Hemp could also contribute to the carbon targets set by European countries including the UK, by capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. For every tonne of hemp produced, 1.63 tonnes of CO2 is removed from the air. Hemp can absorb 15 tonnes of CO2 per hectare.
Roccasecca is just one of many Italian cities considering hemp processing and planting.
Umbria, a neighbouring region to Lazio, has also started planting hemp with the aim of creating a hemp fibre and hurd supply chain. The city is also interested in the phytoremediation, and Phyto-purification of water in the region through hemp.
An increase in hemp farming and also an investment into infrastructure would allow Italian companies to start developing hemp-fibre-based bioplastics and biopolymers. It could also serve the textile and fashion industries where alternative fibres are in high demand.
Hemp cultivation has been legal in Italy since 2016. Until the second world war, Italy was the largest producer of hemp but the move towards synthetic fibres meant that production was scaled back.
During the pandemic, Italy proposed a law change regarding personal grows to allow medical cannabis patients to cultivate up to four plants at home. A petition on medical cannabis circulated last year gathered over 500,000 signatures which may trigger a referendum on legalisation.
Katya Kowalski, head of strategy at Volteface said: “The introduction of hemp farming across Italy is a welcome initiative. Hemp is a high value, sustainable and versatile crop. In the midst of economic and environmental turmoil, hemp is a viable crop from widespread job creation to offsetting carbon-intensive building.
Hemp is an excellent demonstration of how cannabis reform is a much broader and varied area of policy than simply recreational drug use.”
She added: “I hope that these positive changes continue to reframe the reform sector and that hemp farming is taken up further across Europe and in the UK.”
When it comes to English hemp supply chains or production, Katya notes that changes would need to be made to THC levels to allow farmers more freedom.
“In order for the UK to capitalise on this, changes need to be made to the outdated restrictions on hemp farming. As per recommendations in Volteface’s report, Pleasant Lands allowing hemp seed varieties with a THC percentage above 0.2 per cent and up to 1 per cent would improve the health of the plant and increase the yield of CBD per acre.
Alongside this, investment into the sector and moving hemp farming under DEFRA as opposed to the Home Office to streamline this industry more”
Could the UK produce more hemp?
Hemp designer Laura Bossom, founder of Cultiva commented on what it would take for the UK to increase hemp production.
“As an industry, What we are waiting for is the government to put forward farmer incentives such as making policy changes that would allow farmers to benefit from growing hemp. Last year there were conversations happening [remove: at the moment] around building facility centres in the UK for processing. As a nation, we are only growing 1600 hectares a year and we must grow more to make it viable.” she said.
“There were initial talks about importing fibre from Europe but that doesn’t seem economically viable or sustainable in terms of emissions. I’m sure the government is aware of the information coming from research and other projects being put forward by a lot of associations. We are waiting for the government to give us the go-ahead and back it completely. They are protecting the Pharmaceutical CBD markets by making it difficult for farmers to grow. They don’t actually benefit much from growing hemp as the CBD margin on their crop is not there due to a ban on processing CBD in the UK.”
She added: “We need to be building our local industries and I don’t see why the government won’t do it. I think it’s just a matter of when.”
When it comes to private investment, Covid has caused disruption in the market and the hardiness of hemp could mean sturdier equipment is needed. However, government backing could secure private investors who may feel nervous about the sector.
Laura said: “The other issue we have is that it is quite a long process. When you look at other natural fibres, they are not as strong as hemp, so they are quicker and easier to process. Hemp is so hardy that it requires decortication with quaternized action and a lot of refining processes.
We need a facility centre that will cost a lot of money but will be profitable in the long term. It’s a big investment! A lot of investors during Covid have been wary of putting their money into a high-risk project when they aren’t seeing the government backing it or farming policy encouraging growth.”
California must bin cannabis cultivation tax to compete with black market
A new study has concluded that the State’s cannabis tax must be eliminated to move consumers away from illicit products.
California could increase legal cannabis sales and bring in 123 per cent more in total monthly cannabis-related tax revenue by 2024 by eliminating its cultivation tax.
California’s high cannabis taxes are high – as much as USE$90 per ounce, or $1,441 per pound. These taxes are hurting farmers and businesses while the illicit market captures two-thirds of cannabis sales, according to a new study carried out by Reason Foundation, Good Farmers Great Neighbors, and Precision Advocacy.
These taxes mean that California’s legal cannabis market has failed to meet expectations and is just one-third the size expected based on its population and adult usage rates. Additionally, the study estimates that nearly two-thirds of cannabis sales in California are still taking place on the illicit market.
Cannabis taxes average $340 per pound in Oregon and $526 a pound in Colorado, and, due to these lower taxes and greater access to legal products, the report shows that residents in Oregon spend 378 per cent more per capita on legal cannabis. Residents of Colorado spend 335 per cent more per capita on legal cannabis than Californians spend.
Director of drug policy at Reason Foundation, Geoffrey Lawrence, commented: “High taxes are undermining California’s legal cannabis market. California could double monthly cannabis tax revenues by 2024 by eliminating the cultivation tax.
“Without the cultivation tax, our data show lower cannabis prices would increase sales of legal products, increasing the state government’s general sales tax revenue and more than replacing losses from the eliminated cultivation tax.”
President of Precision Advocacy and legislative advocate of the California Cannabis Industry Association, Amy O’Gorman Jenkins, commented: “We are experiencing first-hand a serious price compression in the California supply-chain in part as a result of the illegal market, high taxes and fees and a patchwork of inconsistent local taxes driving legal operators to the brink of a financial cliff.
“We cannot allow the largest cannabis market in the world to fail. This study provides a roadmap of tax policy solutions for the governor and state legislative leaders to consider immediately.”
The study also recommends reducing retail excise taxes and encourages policies that could incentivise California’s local governments to stop banning the sale of legal cannabis products. It also found that Oregon has one legal cannabis retailer for every 6,145 residents and Colorado has one legal retailer for every 13,838 residents while California has just one legal cannabis retailer for every 29,292 residents.
Policy director of Good Farmers Great Neighbors, Sam Rodriguez, stated: “California’s cannabis farmers are experiencing the biggest challenges of their time. Many farmers are considering going fallow this year.
“Busy Bee Organics, one of the first woman-owned, sun-grown farmers in Santa Barbara, has already declared she’s not planting this year.
”California’s cultivation tax is regressive and has only contributed to uncertainty about the future of the state’s cannabis farmland economy and whether it can survive. The immediate elimination of the cultivation tax would be a first step in addressing critical issues impacting the state’s legal cannabis market from seed to sale.”
The problem with “copycat” cannabis edibles
With the rise in popularity of cannabis edibles, the problem with “copycat” products that look like popular snacks should be a major concern for the industry.
A recent study has shown that high-THC copycat cannabis edibles that look like well-known snacks increase the risk of ingestion by children.
Edibles are an increasingly popular segment of the cannabis market in the US, with up to 56 per cent of cannabis consumers buying them. Many of these products often use branding and imagery very similar to popular foods, which is raising public health concerns in the country – with nearly 2,000 cases of young children ages 0 to 9 consuming edibles from 2017 to 2019.
The study, carried out by the NYU School of Global Public Health, and published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, collected hundreds of photos of cannabis products and analysed packaging, finding that out of 267 edibles, 8 per cent closely resembled 13 different snack products.
These findings highlight the risk that these copycat products could be attractive to children.
Lead author, Danielle Ompad, associate professor of epidemiology at NYU School of Global Public Health, said: “At first glance, most of the packages look almost exactly like familiar snacks.
“If these copycat cannabis products are not stored safely, there is the potential for accidental ingestion by children or adults.”
Twelve of the products were candies or sweet snacks and one was a salty snack. Eight of the 13 packages used the exact brand or product name of the original product; the remaining five used names that were similar, for example “Stoner Patch Dummies” instead of “Sour Patch Kids”. Seven of the packages used the same cartoon or brand character as the original product.
“While each package is likely intended to include multiple doses, few packages indicate the serving size or number of servings,” said Ompad. “Moreover, if we’re considering 10 mg a standard dose, these products could contain an alarming 30 to 60 doses per package.
“Policies to prevent cannabis packaging from appealing to children haven’t stopped copycat products from entering the market — nor have food brands taken legal action against cannabis companies for copyright infringement.
“People who purchase edibles that look like snack foods should store them separately from regular snacks and out of reach of children.”
New platform aims to transform US cannabis supply chain
The platform aims to provide information sharing, reduce costs, and increase transparency and trust.
Lucid Green has announced it has raised $10m (~£7.88m) for its UPC platform in a series B funding round. The company is aiming to transform the cannabis supply chain through its LucidIDs, the industry’s first intelligent QR code.
The cannabis supply chain in the US is riddled with challenges for businesses. There are problems with inaccurate product information, inefficient cycle counting, sporadic Certificate of Analysis (COA) compliance and secondary stickering.
Manual inventory management is also time consuming, expensive and prone to errors. Brands experience increased costs and lower profit margins as a result of compliance and supply chain inefficiencies, and lack the mechanisms to communicate directly with consumers and dispensaries. Distributors face reducing retailer order fulfilment time and turnaround – resulting in higher working capital requirements for their customers.
Lucid Green is aiming to solve these problems with its intelligent UPC through its $10m, funding round led by Gron Ventures, with participation by Gotham Green Partners.
Co-founder and CEO of Lucid Green, Larry Levy, commented: “It’s clear that the cannabis supply chain’s status quo is holding the industry back, and Lucid Green is proud to have pioneered the first solutions to benefit all stakeholders.
“We are laser-focused on developing the leading solutions to strengthen our industry. Lucid Green benefits brands, distributors and retailers while delivering a much needed educational experience for consumers that helps to further normalise the industry.”
The new funding will support the recruitment of top tier talent, raise awareness of its technology, and accelerate adoption of its solution.
LucidIDs utilise QR codes to allowing for true truck-to-shelf inventory intake, reducing manual labor and human errors, and virtually eliminating data cleanliness issues.
The QR codes permit dynamic information flow which empowers stakeholders to continue adding information about a product through its lifecycle, unlike the status quo of secondary stickering. The IDs have already been used for more than 17 million products.
The IDs offer brands, retailers and distributors a solution to reduce costs, increase transparency, and drive more sales, delivering data insights and COA management.
Wilder Ramsey, managing partner of Gron Ventures, commented: “Inefficiencies and outdated methods in the supply chain are holding the cannabis industry back from reaching its full potential.
“We are proud to have invested in Lucid Green because the power and promise of their technology and solutions can save all stakeholders time and money, while increasing education and trust among consumers.”
“Our core ethos is quality, consistency and value, and part of our mission is to provide retailers and consumers with the best cannabis products at the best price,” added Skip Motsenbocker, CEO at Pacific Stone.
“Lucid Green is a critical partner for us, and with their LucidIDs, we’re able to directly communicate with budtenders and consumers, increasing education, loyalty and trust. Lucid Green is creating higher profit margins for us thanks to more efficient truck-to-shelf processing, and we think the whole industry would benefit from their solutions.”
- New agreement to fund Phase II trials for cannabis glaucoma treatment
- Discover Europe’s first registered cannabis seedbank
- What can Uruguay teach the UK about cannabis policy?
- Flora Growth steps up international growth strategy with opening of offices in London
- Roundup of Q1 2022 financial results in the UK medical cannabis space