Transcript: Podship Earth Episode 57: HEMP

JARED BLUMENFELD: Welcome to Podship Earth. This is your host, Jared Blumenfeld. This week we talk hemp. Hemp is the term used to classify varieties of cannabis that contain 0.3% or less THC, which is the chemical responsible for most of the marijuana psychological effects. Hemp is the oldest example of human industry. Archeologists found a remnant of hemp cloth in ancient Mesopotamia dating back to 8,000 BC and in 1535, Henry the 8th passed an act compelling all landowners to sow at least a quarter of an acre of hemp or be fined. Historically, hemp has had over 25,000 diverse uses ranging from paints to printing inks, varnishes, paper, government documents, bank notes, food, textiles, the original Levi jeans were made from hemp cloth, canvas building materials, and even the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Then in the 1930’s, plastic was invented, and plastic based textiles were being made into everything, including clothes. Petroleum interests teamed up with lumber and newspaper barons to put the kibosh on hemp, which was their biggest competitor. And in 1937, at the behest of the oil and paper industries, the U.S. government made hemp illegal. World War Two led to a brief resurgence of hemp to help the war effort, but the ban was reinstituted soon after. With modern technical developments, the uses of hemp have increased to include composite boards, motor vehicle brakes and panels, hemp based plastic fuels, and in fact, today, anything that can be made from a fossil fuel or hydrocarbon can now be made out of hemp, a carbohydrate. Which brings us to the present. Hemp is now finally legal in the U.S. and we have senator Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky to thank.

NEWS: Senator Mitch McConnell announcing a new bill today that would legalize hemp as an industrial product. It could have huge implications on Kentucky. Tobacco could be its past, hemp may be the future. The road to pot legalization may be a lot smoother. Following Congress's vote to pass the Farm Bill, which among other things legalizes hemp. The Farm Bill opens up the door for farmers across the country to make more money and now that money can be protected. Another important feature of the Farm Bill is giving hemp farmers the ability to ensure their crops. In this greenhouse alone, you have 800 hemp plants. We're talking hundreds and thousands of dollars-worth of investments to insure. The Farm Bill also gives farmers access to banks and expands the market of who they can sell to nationwide. Right now, products can vary from clothes to oils and more. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: To find out what California is doing to take advantage of this new era of hemp, I meet up with Republican state Senator Scott Wilk, who represents a large area of northeastern Los Angeles county, including the Antelope Valley. Senator Wilk was the sponsor of the legislation that brought the reality of hemp farming back to the golden state. I began by asking senator Wilk how he became a champion for hemp. 

SENATOR SCOTT WILK: I didn't know actually anything about hemp at all. And my local farmers up in the Antelope Valley had just finished 16 years of litigating on water rights and they were the big losers, and the community is getting their water allocation cut by 50% over the next five years. Actually, we're in year two right now, and the primary crop is alfalfa, which is seven-acre feet of water per acre, which is, you know, pretty intense. And they realized that there was an opportunity with industrial hemp. The climate is perfect there and though it's about one third of the water usage than alfalfa, but they couldn't do it because the state was not in compliance with the Fed. 


JARED BLUMENFELD: So, it was kind of weird cause a year ago you could grow cannabis in California, but you couldn't grow hemp. 

 

SENATOR SCOTT WILK: I know. Crazy, Huh? Well you know, that's how government works. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And it also seemed like Mitch McConnell, president Trump, this wasn't the usual cast to characters that you would assume would be pushing for hemp at the federal level. But that's who was helping. 

 

SENATOR SCOTT WILK: Well, actually, Kentucky has been a leader on that because they've been transitioning out of tobacco and industrial hemp is a great crop in Kentucky. So yeah, McConnell has been a leader for quite awhile. But the last iteration of the Farm Bill, the two sponsors were McConnell and Chuck Schumer. So, that was probably the only thing that they agreed on in D.C. last year was that was the Farm Mac actually pulling industrial hemp out of a schedule one and making it an agricultural product. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: When you and I first met about it, you were like, there’s hempcrete, BMW's making brake pads out of hemp. I couldn't believe it, but it's true. 

SENATOR SCOTT WILK: Yeah. It's, it's all true. Yeah. I mean, 30 other industrialized countries are already growing and using hemp in the manufacturing of 25,000 different products. And in terms of cars, there's a lot more than brake pads. It’s actually the outside skins of the cars because the fiber is so strong and so lightweight and now, they've learned how to pelletize it so they can use it in all kinds of products. But, Mercedes, Jaguar, VW and BMW are all using lot of hemp products in there, in their vehicles that they're manufacturing in Europe. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I mean, it seems like a wonder plant. 

 

SENATOR SCOTT WILK: Well, again, because it's the versatility, so, I mean, obviously it's going to have all kinds of incredible health benefits because the CBD, which I think we've only scratched the surface on. I really think that's going lead to a decrease in dementia and cancer in a lot of other products. I mean, my son last year was diagnosed with cancer, had surgery, so removed it, but there were infected lymph nodes outside of the surgical area. His doctors wanted him to go through chemo. I said, why don't we wait, and I put him on CBD right away. And that was in October. He is now cancer free without ever having chemo. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: That's an incredible story. 

 

SENATOR SCOTT WILK: The fact of the matter is hemp helped discover America because Christopher Columbus’s boats the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria, the sails were made of hemp. The caulking on the bottom of the boat to make waterproof was made out of hemp. And then our founding fathers, they all grew it, fed it to livestock, used it, used it for all kinds of products. So, Thomas Jefferson, when he was drafting the Declaration of Independence, it was on hemp paper. Betsy Ross, when she waved the first American flag, it was made out of hemp. So, hemp is American all the way. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, when you are pushing this bill through the Senate, are there folks that were still opposed to it? 

 

SENATOR SCOTT WILK: Yeah, there, there still are. And it's kind of silly because you know, when we look at agriculture, and not that I'm advocating this, but you know, the fact of the matter is, I know you know this. 41% of all of our water is consumed by agriculture, yet they only produce 2% of GDP. So, I think a lot of people are going to convert crops from whatever they are growing to hemp. And I mean, I don't think we have to dictate it as government policy. I think the market's going to dictate that between climate change and water is just going to get more expensive, that they're going to do the smart thing and convert. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: It's so great to hear Republican environmental voices like yours. There's not that many of them. 

 

SENATOR SCOTT WILK: We're all environmentalists. It's in our interest to be proper stewards. I mean, I've got solar on my house and I drive a hybrid plugin, recycle, you know, all smart things that make it a better world. I'd love to rip out my front lawn, but my wife won't allow it. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, how do we get back to that place? As I tell people, Richard Nixon signed all the major environmental laws, a clean air act, the clean water act. He created the Federal Environmental Protection Agency. Ronald Reagan signed into law CEQA, and Pete Wilson as a Republican governor in California created the agency that I now get to lead. And yet today, there's a large deficit on the national level when it comes to Republican leadership on the environment. 

 

SENATOR SCOTT WILK: I think for a lot of the perspective, we are defined by what happens in Washington D.C., and I would say that California Republicans in outlook and demeanor are much different than Washington D.C. But unfortunately, no one covers us. Even though I would say, if you live in California, the votes that I cast and the decisions that we make as a legislative body have a much bigger impact on your day to day living than anything that happens in D.C. So, the water you drink, the air you breathe, the roads you drive on, the education that your children and grandchildren receive, all those decisions we made in Sacramento and no one follows us. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Next I head out to the edges of the Mojave Desert to meet with farmers in Senator Wilk’s district who are planting their very first crop of industrial hemp. I start by talking with Don Collins, the president of SoCal Farms, which is California's first large scale agricultural hemp project grown specifically for CBD’s, which are the non-hallucinogen medical properties of hemp which are being used to treat everything from epilepsy seizures in children to chronic pain in adults. So, Don, where are we right now? 

 

DON COLLINS: We're in Antelope Valley. We're in the high desert. We're north of LA, about 80 miles. We are on SoCal farms. We are in the first hemp being planted in LA County. Well, I actually started several years ago understanding that the hemp would be a viable option, another commodity that we could grow on the farm. And, as farming has gotten harder and tighter, water sources, we've looked for things that make us more sustainable. And so, as we delved in and did a lot of research, we really recognize hemp. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: You've been a farmer for a long time. 

 

DON COLLINS: My family started farming in the Central Valley in 1941. And my grandfather actually grew hemp during World War II and then the government switched him to cotton after the war. So, it's like a long full cycle of the third generation. So, I am a third-generation farmer. Yes. And I actually started on the farm when I was about five years old and I'm 61 today. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Just unbelievable enthusiasm and people coming out, just so much energy behind this project. 

 

DON COLLINS: Absolutely. It's a historic moment. It can change the valley here and it can actually change the nation. This is a commodity that as family farms are decreasing due to economics, this is something that can put them back on the map. People that have worked like my family, three and four generation, five generations, and end up losing a farm. This is an option that that can literally change that dynamic. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: People also seem excited by what it's doing for the environment. 

 

DON COLLINS: Well, hemp is very water conservative, first of all. Hemp is a very sturdy, strong plant. It's going to take less environmental inputs, in other words, less sprays, less commercial inputs. We right here are an organic operation. We are raising this organic. We want to be at the top of the food chain with the best product. If you're talking about the extract side, the oil side, I don't want the 25-year-old mom with the three-year old son or daughter who has epilepsy putting a product that might have constituents in it that's not wanted. So, we're trying to take it past just commercial farming to the next level. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And you're starting today with a hundred acres. But there are plans for a lot more. 

 

DON COLLINS: Yeah. Today we have a hundred acres in the ground; 650,000 live plants. In July, we will plant 200 acres. And in 2020, we're looking at between 500 and a thousand acres here in the antelope valley. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Incredible. So, the ones that we see today that are just tipping out from the earth, how long will it take to full maturation? 

So, this is an auto flower seed. So, from seed to harvest is roughly between 75 and 85 days. So, we're literally 75 days away from harvest at this point. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Incredible. So how big will the plants be in 75 days? 

 

DON COLLINS: So, we're expecting these plants to be around 30 inches in height. That's why we have a high density planning here. The summer planning will be less density and they will get to be about 48 inches in height. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: As you grow, will it continue to be extraction for the CBD oil or will you, are you thinking about other products? 

 

DON COLLINS: Oh, we're definitely thinking about other products. The CBD oil is the monster on the block, but our interest is to take the entire plant and make a full circle with it. We are looking at the bioplastic potential behind this, with replacing the hydrocarbons and plastic, with the challenges the entire world is facing with plastic contamination. We think this is at least one of the answers for that problem. We're looking at fiber. Levi Strauss is back making a product with hemp. We will be talking to Patagonia this next month, who are making hemp products already and so, we are definitely interested in exploring every avenue. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: You're starting with a hundred acres. You're going to move to a thousand acres. Like when do you think the state's going to become a large producer of hemp? 

 

DON COLLINS: I think in the next 36 months you're going to see hemp having a solid presence in the state of California where we're really in a very unique position where we have sunlight, good dirt, labor is available, high quality labor is available, to even vertically integrate in this business. So, I think in next 36 months, you're going to see a big push. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Are you thinking about processing facilities? How's that infrastructure being thought about? 

 

DON COLLINS: Yes. We've already acquired an 80,000 square foot facility, about half cold storage, half dry storage. We are trying to bring as many jobs back here to the Antelope Valley, Ag related jobs. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Talking of jobs, I meet up with Ricardo Chavez who is thinking about how to engage and motivate the next generation of hemp farmers. 

 

RICARDO CHAVEZ: I've been working with students mainly at the community college level. I think that is important if we really want this thing to take off, we have to institutionalize the products and we also have to create a career path for people. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How long have you been into hemp? 

 

RICARDO CHAVEZ: I was formerly a medical marijuana farmer. I was an indoor grower. I was a contract farmer. I didn't do any sales or anything like that. I just grew for people. So, my uncle is Cesar Chavez and my mother is Dolores Huerta. So, they're actually the founders of the United Farm Workers’ Union. So, I grew up around agriculture. Obviously, my dad was a farm worker, and so I kind of like to think of myself as, I'm just a farm worker, but I was drawn to this plant because I know of its amazing healing properties.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Do you think there's an equity element to what's happening with hemp? 

 

RICARDO CHAVEZ: There's always been a social justice side to it because they really used the racism against African American and Mexican American people. That was their ad campaign to get it probated. Since in large part, you know, our community suffered greatly from the failed war on drugs, I feel like I want to make sure that we also have our seat at the table, and everybody gets to eat from this pie. And so, I feel really good about the way things are shaping up. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, tell us about how you see the future of hemp. 

RICARDO CHAVEZ: Well, I think we just got to get down to the nuts and bolts out the gate. It's work and the end of the day it's work. You know, there's dreams and then there's just work. All of our student groups have been doing a petition, which is basically, would you like to see the school incorporate more sustainable products? And so, if you think about it, say you have a roll of toilet paper that's made out of virgin wood pull from the Amazon rain forest, you know what I mean? And we're basically wiping ourselves with the Amazon? Hemp creates, you know, two to four times the amount of biomass, bio fiber per acre over old growth forests. And it only takes four months to grow. Where in the case of old growth forests, that's generations, and in many cases cannot be replenished. So, I think it's a no brainer. And in a lot of these regions in California, we'll be able to grow year-round, you know, two and three harvests a year. And if our students are demanding that we have hemp toilet paper, hemp terry towels, hemp uniforms, and we get away from nylons and hydrocarbons and we get more into the carbohydrates, then I think we're going to be that change that we want to see. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What is hempcrete?

 

RICARDO CHAVEZ: So, basically hempcrete is the same concept as rammed earth or adobe. It has great insulatory products, but it's different in the sense that your aggregate is lime and your insulatory product is the hemp. And so, what you do is you create this amazing product. It's pretty much fireproof. It's antimicrobial, it's a pest resistant against mice and all that because any kind of insects, because the line is so toxic to them. However, you know, for us, it's the healthiest thing. It's breathable. There's no need for any kind of a poisonous materials like, you know, dry wall or fiberglass or any of that stuff. I mean, basically the homes we live in these days are poison. They're poisonous to us. We've developed a poisonous society. And so, this is taking a step back and basically, it's just water, lime and hempcrete. You still have a regular stick frame, but you do a form wall system. It's like pouring concrete. You make a house. After 28 days, it dries. And once that process is done, it begins the process of petrification, which takes thousands and thousands of years, but that process is literally the hempcrete pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and turning itself into rock. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, Ricardo, what, what do you see five or ten years from now in California as a result of what we saw today? 

RICARDO CHAVEZ: I see colleges, public works projects, prevailing wage jobs in those sectors. I see manufacturing, I see a whole new bipartisan or you know, tri-partisan, if you think about who we don't know that the economy is changing, everything is changing so fast. But one thing we do know is that I believe that hemp is the vehicle that's going to take us into that next phase. And a lot of the sustainable practices that farming is adopting now were brought to prominence by the marijuana industry. We need to follow along in those footsteps and keep this industry at the highest level possible when it comes to sustainability, when it comes to basically giving back and protecting our mother earth. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: One of the students has been mentored by Ricardo and is definitely called the hemp bug is Alicia Rivera, who's a student at the local community college. So, tell us about the club you started at Antelope College. 

ALICIA RIVERA: It is called the Industrial Hemp Student Alliance. I am the president, and our goal is to educate on all the good things about hemp because it's quite unknown and there's kind of a lot of ignorance towards it. I just like to educate and bring awareness to all the good things that it can do. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And so, what did it feel like to be part of history here today? 

ALICIA RIVERA: It feels exciting. It's so exciting. I have been dreaming about this for a couple of years now. I started working in the marijuana business and I know how to cultivate it. And I guess when you're in that business, you learn about hemp because it's the same thing. And so that's, I learned about it at the right perfect time. And then I became passionate about it and I've gone to a school where they were starting a hemp farm and I'm like, oh my God, like the universe is doing this for me and I'm just so grateful and so excited. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What do you think it will mean for the economic development of this community? 

ALICIA RIVERA: I think that it will bring a balance between Mother Earth and business. I believe that, you know, it's all about making money and taking stuff from the earth to produce things and I think it'll just rebalance everything and just take care of the earth and bring sustainable products and sustainability, you know, back into our hands. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Cool. And what will you do when you graduate? 

ALICIA RIVERA: When I graduate, I think I will be an activist. An advocate for hemp. Hopefully I will have my own hemp companies going as well. I'm studying to be a nurse practitioner and I'm advocating for holistic health, just overall sustainability, sustainable living. So, you'll see me as a nurse practitioner advocating for a sustainable health and a sustainable life. And yeah, hopefully I'll be the queen of hemp.

JARED BLUMENFELD: Back at the hemp farm in Antelope Valley, I get in the cab of Brandon Callandri’s tractor. I start by asking Brandon, who is the vice president of farming operations for SoCal Farms, what kind of tractor he's driving. 

 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: Well, you're sitting inside of the 6190 John Deere that has about 200 horsepower of pure running power. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Nice. Can I start this thing up? 

 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: Yeah. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: It’s pretty quiet. 

 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: Very, very, very quiet. Hold on one second.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I don't think we have enough turning radius. 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: Oh, these things turn on a dime. 


JARED BLUMENFELD: Amazing. So how long have you been farming Brandon? 

 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: I am the grandson of an Italian immigrant that came over from Italy and started growing in the San Fernando Valley back in the 20’s. Late twenties and found their way with sugar beets, cantaloupes, all sorts of different crops, true to form with a first generation immigrant family, but really had trouble making it in the states. But my grandfather eventually moved up here to the Antelope Valley. He said the reason he settled here in the Antelope Valley was he ran out of money on his way to Bakersfield. In the late 1960’s, there was a worldwide shortage of onions that led to one of the most profitable years in the onion history. My grandfather was the largest onion grower in the nation for a long time. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, why are you planting your first crop of industrial hemp?  

 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: With President Trump’s de-scheduling hemp from the Schedule One list of the cannabis products, this enabled us to take on this new project. I couldn't get into the marijuana industry because of the business that I'm in. And there was a lot of different reasons that stopped me from getting into the marijuana industry. But when Trump de-scheduled, it enabled us to have the banking backing that we needed. It enabled a lot of doors to be open. Over our 10 years of family with growing different crops, we've grown from Mexicali, Mexico, all the way to Quincy, Washington, throughout many different districts in the California area and have a pretty good knowledge of the challenges that are faced in those areas, whether it be regulatory issues, labor issues, just a variety of different things. You can really see a positive impact that the hemp may be able to have in the future. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, this is your first crop of hemp? How's it been going? 

 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: Well, thankfully hemp is a similar crop to a lot of different commodities that we've grown over the years, such as a bell peppers, tomatoes, a lot of different melon crops. They have a lot of the same issues in hemp that you have with tomatoes and bell pepper crops. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How do you work out what seeds? Like whether it's onions or bell peppers or melons or now hemp, like how did you pick the seeds? 

 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: The seed goes through a vetting process just like you would see with most any other crops. We actually spent well over a year looking at the different varietals, traveling to different areas, looking at the mother plants that produce the seeds. If you know where your seeds coming from, then you know where your seeds going. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, as a farmer, how are you going to make a decision as to go from a hundred acres to a thousand? Like how do you make those decisions? 

 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: Well, it's an economical decision at the end of the day. And so when you look at the economics of it, you have to sit there and look at the cost analysis of growing the crop, expanding the crop, make sure that your profit margins are in line for you to continue to be successful in your increased production. So, if it makes sense and you have an end use clientele, you'll be able to expand further in the business. 20 years ago, everybody said that the almond market was completely saturated. Well, the almond market has continued to grow. It’s continued to flourish, it’s continued to thrive, and it has been probably one of the most successful agricultural products that we've seen in the state of California in a generation, or at least until hemp came on board. And we'll see a type of production and the issues that we face with the hemp crops coming up in the near future. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, you think hemp has the possibility to overtake almonds? 
 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: Yes, I do. I think hemp has a possibility to set the bar for new agricultural crops.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: In regards to profitability, are you just selling the hemp or are you also involved in the processing? 

 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: We are going to get involved with the processing of hemp. Our plans are to expand into the future of processing and developing an end use product for the materials that we're growing. That way, ultimately, for the consumer and the consumer safety aspect of it, that they understand that they have top tier growers that are well vetted in the industry, that have complete understanding of all the compliance issues that you need to have, for an operations such as this, seed to shelf operation with food safety standards, with every standard that's set forth by the state of California. People oftentimes talk about the regulatory aspects of the state of California. Well, the regulatory aspects of the state of California ultimately keep everybody safe. And the reasons that these regulations are here is because something bad happened and California was able to respond. So, I'm proud to be a California farmer because at the end of the day we're keeping our citizens safe. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Do you see yourself as an environmentalist and a farmer? 

 

BRANDON CALLANDRI: I see myself as somebody that is making a conscious effort every day to protect the resources that we hold so vital in our family’s legacies that we truthfully and honestly are always cognizant of protecting the environment and the natural resources that we depend on for our way of life. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: As Brandon mentioned, the hemp seed vetting process took him more than a year. He ended up with a specialty CBD hemp company called H g h seed based out of Longmont, Colorado. I talk with Alexandra Rodriguez who is HGH seeds director of growth. Alexandra, how did you get into hemp? 

ALEXANDRA RODRIGUEZ: I came to hemp from the textile industry actually. I worked to create a yarn out of hemp, regenerative cotton, which we source from California and Alpaca, which we source from Oregon. And I started researching hemp more and more and more, and I started to realize all of the environmental benefits: the much less water that it requires to grow, the resiliency of the plant, the microbial properties of it that keeps it resistant from a lot of pesticides out there that a lot of crops like cotton do not have. That's why it takes a lot of sprays and you need pesticides to keep bugs from raiding cotton fields. So that was really exciting to me. I'm a regular user of CBD. I put it in my coffee every morning. I use hemp milk and I have hemp protein. So, I've been amazed at how many uses there are for this plant. It's incredible. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, you're like a poster child for the hemp industry. Your company, does it do just seeds, or other things too? 

ALEXANDRA RODRIGUEZ: So, Bohdi Urban is our founder and he founded the first CBD feminized hemp seed strain. One of the first, and it's called Cherry Wine. And we have a bunch of other strains also. They're named after different wine varieties and they're just constantly producing strains. It's amazing. They're producing really resilient hybrids for different microclimates. We're opening up a 30 some acre greenhouse operation in Ventura, California, and we're going to have separate greenhouses dedicated to separate strains. It allows us to say, hey, we can grow it in this micro-climate, we can grow it in that, and also to just produce more and more. So, phenotyping and looking for different strains out there is really what HGH is going after. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How are you seeing the industry mature in the next two or three years? 

ALEXANDRA RODRIGUEZ: We're really focused on the industrial strains, so developing industrial strains to use for bioplastics, for textiles, for paper and all of those industrial uses that can improve our daily lives with more renewable and biodegradable sources. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And do you think there's going to be a major push back from like big oil and the people that are making plastics against hemp? 

ALEXANDRA RODRIGUEZ: You know, it happened in the 30’s and 40’s, and I don't want to see it happen again. I think it's going to take the strength of all the people that are in this industry that believe in it, and it's going to take a lot of forward thinking of our government, 

JARED BLUMENFELD: In your normal week, what are the phone calls you are getting? Is it from growers? Is it from just the media? Who's interested in hemp right now? 

ALEXANDRA RODRIGUEZ: We just had a two hour drive down from Santa Barbara and we were discussing just the influx of seed sales that we are getting state by state. It's a huge focus with regenerative agriculture is storing carbon in the soil, taking it out of the atmosphere and putting it back into the ground through via the plant by planting different crops and ensuring that there are no pesticides being used. So that is a huge focus there. It's really, really exciting to see this, and I'm really happy to see more women getting involved. My mom grew up in on a farm in Ohio and she was in 4H and the FFA, and so, I'm just happy I can kind of carry that over too. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: A huge thank you to Senator Scott Wilk, Don Collins, Ricardo Chavez, Alicia Rivera, Brandon Callandri, and Alexandra Rodriguez for giving us such an in-depth view of why folks on every side of the aisle are jumping up and down in praise of hemp. This mighty plant cannot only save a great deal of water compared to other crops, but it can be turned into every product that was once made out of plastic. Levi’s and Patagonia are aligning up to get their hemp products out the door while BMW and Jaguar are already sporting hemp components. Meanwhile, the promise of Don and Brandon's crop is to bring the healing properties of hemp-based CBD’s onto the market in a big way. As I was driving back through Arvin, California this week, I stopped to admire a huge field of hemp, which was ready to be harvested. It was like a scene out of the latest season of Narcos: Mexico, except there was no fence, no guards, just hemp blowing in the wind. And just when you thought life couldn't get any more like a Mel Brooks movie, this news just in on Steve Bannon's latest plan. 

NEWS: So, hemp has been legal for two months now and some of the country’s most outspoken conservatives have already brainstormed an unusual new use for this plant. Congress has so far shut down every single one of President Trump's attempts to get his infamous border wall built, so a team of his supporters just came up with an alternative idea, crowd funding a border wall made out of hemp. The new plan is a spearheaded by former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Steve Bannon aside, hemp has the power to bring us together. I've never seen Republicans excited about any environmental issue as the benefits derived from hemp. I couldn't imagine ever saying this, but Mitch McConnell might actually help end our addiction to plastic by promoting hemp-based alternatives. In the next episode of the Podship Earth, I talk with Dr. Daniel Taylor, the world's leading authority on the Yeti, the abominable snowman, Sasquatch and Bigfoot. Daniel's search of the Yeti led him to amazing discoveries, including the need for protecting the areas around Everest. Daniel is the founder of a global grassroots organization called Future Generations and Future Generations University. Thanks so much for being part of the Podship Earth journey. From the entire Podship Earth crew, sound engineer Rob Speight, executive producer David Khan, and from me, Jared Blumenfeld, add some hemp seeds to your next meal and see how good they make you feel.