Southern Oregon Good Herb | Spring 2020

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INSIDE: Triminator will be back for your buds




ORGANIC BUD Certification can lift

growers above the crowd

Southern Oregon hemp farmers learn lessons from the 2019 season

Oregon says it won’t allow alcoholic drinks infused with CBD

Tetra Organics of Ashland wins ‘Top CBD’ award

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Hemp growers weigh in on 2019 harvests and lessons learned

By Rhonda Nowak


espite growing pains in 2019 that saw harvesting and production setbacks for many hemp growers, the industry in Oregon continues to soar in the number of operations registered for 2020 with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the amount of farm acreage set aside for hemp crops. Meanwhile, hemp growers in Southern Oregon say they are applying lessons they learned last year to the upcoming growing season. As of early March, ODA had already processed more than four times the number of growers who had registered by the same time in 2019. “We’ve got about 1,200 people in the queue right now waiting to be processed,” said Shannon Lane of the ODA’s Hemp Program. “There’s a huge growth spurt from last year,” Lane said. In Oregon, the number of registered hemp farmers in 2019 totaled 1,960, up from just 13 registered growers in 2015 when ODA began keeping records. The number of outdoor grow sites for hemp rose to 6,040 in 2019, with nearly 64,000 acres. Indoor space for growing hemp in 2019 exploded to 11.3 million square feet — almost 10 million more square feet of greenhouse space than the year before. More data for 2020 will be available once all applications from farmers who plan to grow commercial hemp this year are processed by ODA. The continued growth of Oregon’s hemp industry in 2020 falls in line with U.S. projections over the next several years. According to some market analysts, the total U.S. hemp market is expected to grow from $4.6 billion in 2019 to $26.6 billion by 2025 — a 34% increase over the five-year period. Oregon is one of the leading hemp producers in the U.S., along with Montana, Colorado and Kentucky.

“I did not believe that Southern Oregon is the best place to grow hemp, but I was 100 percent wrong. The Rogue Valley is the Napa Valley of hemp.” BRUCE PERLOWIN, CEO of Hemp, Inc., shown last year walking through the company’s processing facility in Medford

Since the federal Farm Bill of 2018 legalized hemp production and transport, the demand for hemp products has been growing exponentially. Hemp can be used to make a variety of protein-rich foods, and its fiber can be made into clothing, paper, bioplastics, biofuels and many other products, although most of the demand is for hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which can be made

into tinctures, capsules, sublinguals, edibles/beverages and vape oils, as well as rubbed into the skin in topical ointments, soaps, shampoos and other products. Studies have shown several health benefits of CBD oil, including pain relief, as an anti-inflammatory and for treating anxiety. An increasingly broad range of products with CBD oil is available for humans and their pets.

Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp Inc., has hemp fields and a production facility in the Rogue Valley, as well as Las Vegas, North Carolina and Florida. Perlowin’s King of Hemp pre-rolls are made from hemp flowers instead of high-THC cannabis strains, and his company also offers CBD buds. “Smoking hemp is now on a par with smoking marijuana,” Perlowin said, “and it will soon bypass it.” Last year, his growers in Southern Oregon harvested more than 100,000 pounds of hemp, after drying and trimming, which Perlowin said equates to 40 million pre-rolls. He’s not a bit worried about selling all of them. “The demand is insatiable. We have a product that people take home, burn it all up, and come back for more,” Perlowin said. Dubbed the “King of Pot” for his youthful escapades as a marijuana smuggler in South Florida and California (for which he was imprisoned for nine years), Perlowin is well known in the cannabis industry. He was featured in a CNBC documentary called “Marijuana Inc.,” and an unreleased film called “The King of Pot” tells the story of Perlowin’s life. His company, Hemp Inc., has been visible in the Rogue Valley since he began working with hemp growers here in 2018. Last year, he presented his Hemp University model at Southern Oregon University, and he hosted the New Leaf Symposium held in Jacksonville this past January. With decades of experience in cannabis business and marketing, Perlowin considers himself “a city slicker transitioning into a farmer.” He relies on the expertise of his growers, such as Paul Kodydek of Rattlesnake Hemp, to produce crops of high-quality CBD flower. Perlowin, for one, was ecstatic about the 2019 harvests from 42 acres of hemp grown in the Rogue Valley. “I compared what they did to hitting a grand slam in the World Series,” Perlowin said of his growers. “It was a combination of incredible skill and some luck.” SEE GROW, PAGE 4 PHOTO: JAMIE LUSCH |

Pete Gendron, left, president of Oregon SunGrowers Guild, checks out the hemp harvest at Happy Healing Farms in the Applegate Valley last October.

Sunday, April 19, 2020 |


“Breeders make a lot of claims about their material, but until you test it side by side in research plots, you don’t know how it’s going to perform.” Emily Gogol, owner, Infinite Tree in Grants Pass

Kevin Anderson checks out products at the Hemp Farmer’s Market in Ashland last fall.


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“The key to our success is to operate completely within our own means.” PAUL MURDOCH,

who with his family owns and operates Horn Creek Hemp Co. outside Jacksonville. Murdoch said they’ll make a couple of changes for 2020 based on last year’s lessons. He’ll try setting out hemp plants a bit later this year to prevent them from growing so much foliage. Also, he’ll apply a beneficial bacterium.

experience contributed to a successful 2019 season, but Kodydek said good fortune also played a part. Unlike He said the region is ideal for some other hemp farmers in the area, growing high-quality hemp. “I did he said, his crops weren’t significantly not believe that Southern Oregon is the best place to grow hemp, but I was affected by a hail storm and early rains in September. However, that’s 100 percent wrong,” Perlowin said. not to say there weren’t any problems “The Rogue Valley is the Napa Valley for them last year. of hemp.” Legal disputes with a part-owner of Kodydek agreed that Southern his local processing center in Medford Oregon is a mecca for hemp farmers, prevented Perlowin from using the but said new growers have to “pay their dues” by gaining experience over state-of-the-art facility for drying his hemp harvests last year. He said the time. “Over the last 20 years, I made a lot of mistakes and learned what not space would have been “wholly inadequate” to meet the 135,000 square feet to do,” he said. of drying space he needed, anyway. After growing cannabis and hemp “Rather than battling over it, we in seven states, Kodydek has develjust pivoted and went over to a couple oped tried-and-true methods, which of other people we work with,” include growing top-rated hemp including Matt Ochoa of Jefferson strains and using “the best” organic Packing House in Medford, he said. nutrients. Perlowin admits that his money and Perlowin went all out for his King status in the cannabis industry open of Hemp line of pre-rolls and buds, doors. paying $1.50 per seed to a provider in Whereas he was able to pay top Spain for an elite CBD cultivar called dollar to hire more than 300 laborers Pre-1998 OG (for Ocean Grown) to hand-harvest last year, other hemp Bubba Kush. He said the average cost growers in the area scrambled unsucfor hemp is around $1 per seed. cessfully to find workers and drying “We picked the No. 1 best-tasting cultivar there is, and went for being at facilities for their harvests. Labor and processing facility shortthe top of the marketplace,” Perlowin ages caused some hemp to be left in said. Deep pockets and extensive growing the fields last year; however, another FROM GROW, PAGE 2

problem was botrytis, or gray mold. The fungus hit many fields quickly after rains in September that were followed by warm temperatures, thus creating humid conditions for the disease to take hold and thrive. Emily Gogol, owner of Infinite Tree, a hemp nursery and consulting business in Grants Pass, estimated that only 45% of the acres planted in hemp within the region were successfully harvested last year. Increased trim costs and crop losses from disease could add up to an average of 30% loss in profits for hemp farmers, although percentages vary widely among individual farms. “Overall, farmers did not do as well as they hoped in Oregon because of the bud rot issue,” Gogol said. Paul Murdoch and his family have successfully run Horn Creek Hemp Co. just outside of Jacksonville since 2017. Murdoch estimated last year he left about 15% of his crops that had been infected with botrytis in the field. Still, he was able to harvest about 25,000 pounds of hemp from 14 acres. “The key to our success is to operate completely within our own means,” Murdoch said. His family does all of the hand-harvesting, and they have their own drying facilities so they don’t have to

depend on outside entities. Murdoch said they’ll make a couple of changes for 2020 based on last year’s lessons. He’ll try setting out hemp plants a bit later this year to prevent them from growing so much foliage, which reduces air circulation among the plants and makes them more susceptible to fungal diseases. Also, he’ll apply a beneficial bacterium called Bacillus subtilis earlier in the season, which will inoculate the soil and help ward off diseases. Murdoch believes two factors will help make Oregon hemp-derived CBD products stand out in the fast-growing national marketplace. First is an investment in building healthy soil on farms through the use of regenerative growing practices, including using organic composts and mulches, growing cover crops, and maintaining insectary plants where beneficial predators can thrive. Second is the development of high-quality Oregon CBD cultivars. Gogol agreed that planting high-quality hemp cultivars is key to producing top-rate crops. She trialed 17 different varieties in her fields in the Applegate Valley, and narrowed those down to 3-4 strains she’ll offer at her nursery for 2020. PHOTO: ANDY ATKINSON |

“Breeders make a lot of claims about their material, but until you test it side by side in research plots, you don’t know how it’s going to perform,” Gogol said. She noted there is a lot of room for improvement in breeding cultivars with stable genetics. “I worked with reputable companies in Oregon last year who had terrible germination rates and a high number of hermaphrodites,” Gogol said. “I think this speaks to how new the hemp industry is, and how people are not quality controlling their seed lots.” Although Gogol believes timing and spacing of plantings are important, she emphasized the need to gather site-based data in order to make informed decisions. For example, she hasn’t found claims of short-, middle- and long-season varieties to be reproducible across different clients. In addition, research in her test fields has not revealed any differences in the quality of hemp plants that were grown by staggering plantings. Gogol said, “We tracked vigor, mold issues, yield and overall quality of bud structure. On our farm, with the varieties we tested, we did not see a dramatic difference between the material from the early planting in

Sunday, April 19, 2020 |

Not only did more successful farmers use high-quality cultivars; they had an effective site layout and they prepared the site properly, amended the soil before planting, checked consistently to make sure the irrigation system worked appropriately (and had a backup if it didn’t), and transplanted their starts earlier rather than later. These initial practices helped offset late-season losses, Gogol said. However, even successful hemp farmers can’t afford to rest on their laurels in 2020. Oregon farmers are not the only ones growing hemp, and Gogol said other states are putting more effort into university research and building partnerships with government agencies. “We need to continue to push best practices so we can capitalize on a Pacific Northwest boutique brand,” Gogol said. “We also need to have something like the Oregon Wine Board with stronger promotion of the Oregon hemp industry as a high-quality, cutting-edge product.”

Oregon farmer Steve Fry inspects hemp in the drying barn on his family farm. Lack of drying space slowed the pace of harvest for growers in Oregon last year.

mid-June and the material from the Gogol saw that farmers who were late planting during the first week in more successful last year projected July.” some losses, but they had a continShe’ll repeat the assessment this gency plan if things went off track. Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, teacher and writer. Email year to see whether the results are “There’s not a lot farmers can do to her at For consistent. In the meantime, she mitigate pests and diseases later in suggests using auto-flowering culthe season … but if they start off with more about gardening, visit her blog tivars that will help make maturity 10%-20% within the at The Black Bird has transplant been a losses Rogue Valley tradition for over 50 theliterarygardener rates among staggered plantings more first few months, they’re never going years - sinceto 1965! owned PHOTO: STATELINE.ORG consistent. gain thatLocally back at harvest,” she and said. operated, we remain

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| Sunday, April 19, 2020 |



By Rick Cipes


here’s a classic moment in the movie “Animal House” I’ll never forget. It features Kevin Bacon as an ROTC dickwad trying to keep the lid on the chaotic parade run amok at the end of the film. In it, KB repeatedly screams: “Remain calm! All is well!” By the end of the sequence Kevin is pancaked into an alley by the marching band. Alarmingly, in 2020, KB’s cry has become our worldwide mantra. A few weeks before the shit hit the fan, I decided it was high-time to renew an old Xanax prescription. (I rarely use it, but I figured it would be good to have around in case of emergency.) While at the pharmacy, I asked the pharm tech how people are reacting to the current scare. “Not well,” she said, “and they’re making me so anxious.” I asked how she was coping, and she said, “I smoke a lot of weed.” But is smoking a lot of weed really the answer to our own parade run amok? Confession: I stopped cannabis a few weeks ago. It directly coincided with a panic attack, and the

aforementioned trip to the pharmacy. I felt the weed was only tamping down my anxiety and not alleviating it. Now, facing what we are facing, I feel deep relief that I quit. Sure, the vivid dreams of my the first few nights nearly drove me batshit crazy, but now I feel I’m way more equipped to confront the reality staring us down: utter f*cking chaos. Realistically, this is all part of a new normal that appears here to stay — even when we’re past the current coronavirus. Come on, can you imagine our president gracefully stepping down if he RICK CIPES gets beat by Biden? That’s just one example. But let’s forgo the crazy new norm for a moment and focus on what we can control: Our own emotions. Which, at a time like this, are vitally important. 1) Remove the majority of news from your diet. Yes, it is important to stay informed. It is NOT important to be glued to the panic 24/7 via our news feeds, Facebook, etc. This creates an entirely negative brain loop. 2) Take up meditation. This is NOT hard. Search online for breathing exercises and start with just a few minutes a day. I promise you, it gets easier, and rapidly much more calming to the soul.

I felt the weed was only tamping down my anxiety and not alleviating it. Now,facing what we are facing, I feel deep relief that I quit.

On a similar tack: I was watching one of my favorite Netflix shows, “Babylon Berlin,” last night when it became just too intense to handle. I got smart and broke out my old “Get Smart” DVDs. “Sorry about that, Chief.” 3) Be kind. While it may seem like the zombie apocalypse is here, we will get by this, and it is important not to allow any crisis to flush out your inner “Walking Dead” character. 4) It’s OK to use cannabis for a little escape, but more important to allow some of these primal fears we all have to surface so we can explore them — maybe through journaling — and become better, stronger, more effective humans in the long run. We’re definitely going to be practicing better hygiene! As for myself, I’m trying hard not to be Kevin Bacon. Truthfully, I want to be Belushi in the end, riding off in the convertible with the girl — the one I was sexting with for two months while waiting for this horror to pass. Freelance columnist Rick Cipes fronts the indie band the Agreeables ( To watch a video of him singing his COVID-19 song, see ILLUSTRATION: MARIO TERESO  |  Sunday, April 19, 2020 | 7


Cannabis Chicken Caesar Salad TIP: For a bit more buzz, sauté homemade croutons


in a tablespoon or two of cannabis-infused oil.


Ingredients 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed 1 anchovy (optional; see NOTE A) 6 tablespoons olive oil 4 teaspoons canna-olive oil 1/4 cup Parmesan, plus more for garnish Salt, to taste Pepper, to taste 2 romaine hearts, chopped 1 cup cooked chicken, in chunks or shredded 2 cups homemade or store-bought croutons (see NOTE B)

Directions In bowl of a food processor, puree the mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire, garlic and anchovy, if using. With machine running, drizzle the oils into processor bowl. Transfer dressing to a jar and stir in the 1/4 cup cheese, along with the salt and pepper to taste. Toss dressing with the romaine and top with the chicken, croutons and more cheese. Feel free to add or substitute shrimp, tofu, etc., for chicken. Makes 4 servings. NOTE A: If you like the taste of anchovies, add a couple to the food processor while starting dressing. Eating an anchovy from the jar or tin may be a bit much, but the flavor it adds to foods is pretty fabulous. Not too much; a little goes a long way. This dressing also is great on all kinds of sandwiches. NOTE B: For a bit more buzz, sauté homemade croutons in a tablespoon or two of cannabis-infused oil. People can add their own to personalize salads for cannabis needs and preferences. Recipe from Laurie Wolf, founder of Laurie + MaryJane. PHOTO: BRUCE WOLF

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A Winning Combination Left: Victory Banner Farms in Talent produces cherries and almonds in addition to its award-winning cannabis products. Right: Hawaiian Haze was a top award winner in the Golden Grow Awards for its jar appeal, terpenes and smokeability. Below: A cover crop of grasses grows in preparation for this year’s hemp planting.

Award-winning hemp farmer Alex Bizeau talks about what goes into growing the flower By John Darling


lex Bizeau might have the perfect personality and work ethic for a hemp farmer. He strolls the fields of his smartly named Victory Banner Farm in Talent, looking over the cover crop of winter — vetch, rye, clover — talking about how he’s in the first generation of farmers of a newly legalized crop, and all the growers are basically laying down the rules and strategies for doing it right and making it pay. They’re still getting the bugs out of the system, literally. Cucumber beetles, russet mites and (the worst)

aphids. They didn’t come the first couple years but, “If you plant it, they will come.” His operation is all organic, so he fights bugs with bugs. “Aphids do a lot of damage and then they just sit there and eat your plant,” says Alex. So, from a shop called Ladybug Indoor Gardens in Phoenix, he gets lacewings

flower, “Hawaiian Haze.” It also won third in the categories of Judges’ Favorite and microscopic nematodes, which love to feast on aphids. and Top Terpenes, which involved blind lab testing by A sensitive hempster, Bizeau shakes his head, noting Green Leaf Labs. What the judges look for, it’s a brutal spectacle, watchhe notes, is “jar appeal,” that ing bad bugs die, but “it’s is, the bud structure, which nature.” should be thick and tight, not Bizeau’s dedication is paying off. He won first place “larfy,” which means air can flow through it readily. That’s in the 2020 Golden Grow bad. competition for his CBD

Secondly, you open the jar and smell the 30 different terpenes in Hawaiian Haze and that should set you on your heels with rich nose bouquet. Last, judges smoke it. Does it burn the throat or is it smooth, with a small body buzz lasting 10 minutes and bringing some anti-anxiety effects? Hawaiian Haze scored a victory banner, Bizeau says, on all these. PHOTOS: DENISE BARATTA  |  Sunday, April 19, 2020 | H9

“I’m happiest when I’m out in the field ... I talk to the plants — or rather they talk to me. You know where stress is coming from if you listen. They tell you where to go. You walk over and there it is.” ALEX BIZEU, hemp grower (right), Victory Banner farm in Talent He sells only CBD flower, and only on the internet, where his brand got 300 orders the first year, he says. If you don’t deliver quality and stand behind your product, he says, there are communities on Reddit and other sites that will get the word out pronto. He’s shipped to every state where it’s legal. Some buyers repackage it with their own brand, many cook it down to oil in a crock pot, which may seem not fair but is legal, he notes. He uses genes bred by Oregon CBD (in Portland). Bizeau speaks at length about the in’s and outs of the allowed percentage of THC, shifting USDA rules, the need for growers to stand up to some new federal rules, and the impact of the hemp rush, which brought in many new farmers who have had to learn the do’s and dont’s of hemp farming, forcing many of them out of business quickly. “It’s a new industry, so no one knows how exactly to behave or how much to pay for what we need,” he says. “Sometimes you have to throw money at things and see if it works.” How did Alex get into this complex and competitive, but rewarding business? It was a fluke, back in 2016. He sustained a hairline arm fracture. It swelled up. He was urged to apply CBD salve. “You feel the effects in three minutes or so, if you have the right product. There’s a lot of it out there with nothing in it,” he adds. Today, his arm is good as new. The Rogue Valley hemp growers are pioneers, like the early pear and timber growers, he notes, and it’s going through a sorting process. “The market is struggling now. It’s flooded with flower, biomass … and driving prices down. A lot of farms are for sale. They can’t sell their product. They didn’t budget. A lot of people are still in the red or are going broke. You just have to keep at it.” Bizeau lives in a trailer next to his hemp fields during the growing season, and goes through the ups and downs his plants experience, such as the summer night when it rained hard through the night. His worst fears were realized: all plants bent to the ground. He spent days putting in bamboo stakes and tying the struggling plants to them with wire ties. The life of a hemp farmer “is chaotic,” he says. “It’s up and down each season, but I’m happiest when I’m out in the field and I think how people love and use our medicine. I talk to the plants — or rather they talk to me. You know where stress is

coming from if you listen. They tell you where to go. You walk over and there it is, an insect problem. You give them more defense, like maybe peppermint oil.” At the end of the season, you get Hawaiian Haze winning a prize with its “citrusy smell that hits you in the face when you open the bag.” Bizeau

demonstrates. For a moment, he seems lifted into another dimension. “If you grow it right and treat it right, that’s what you get.” John Darling is an Ashland writer. Reach him at PHOTO: DENISE BARATTA

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GOLDEN GROW AWARD Tetra Organics won the award for Top CBD entry in the 2020 Golden Grow competition for its Lifter strain.



Organic hemp flower grown by the brothers at Tetra Organics outside Ashland.

Two brothers grow award-winning hemp ‘organically and with love’ at Tetra Organics By John Darling


etra Organics, a two-acre, organic, family hemp farm across the freeway from Ashland, won first place for Top CBD entry in the 2020 Golden Grow competition in January for its Lifter strain. Winning that honor in the contest

— put on by Hemp Inc. and Hemp University’s New Leaf Symposium — will help Tetra gain consumer credibility, as will the “organically grown in Oregon” cachet, say Spencer and Morgan Pierce, a duo of late-20s brothers who grew up on the scenic family farm where they started some years ago by growing hops, using two vertical wind generators.

“It’s 17.5% CBD. I would say Lifter’s flower is dense buds that have hints of purple surrounded by an array of dark and light greens. The nose on it has a sweet-and-sour aroma that at times can have a spicy/cheesy earth undertone with a trichome content that sparkles with just a hint of light.” SPENCER PIERCE of Tetra Organics, describing the Golden Grow Award winning strain PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SPENCER PIERCE  |  Sunday, April 19, 2020 | 11

The brothers were still in grade school when their dad retired from his Navy career and purchased the property. Dad sometimes helps and mom cooks for workers.

Morgan and Spencer Pierce, owners of Tetra Organics, walk their farm outside Ashland.

Spencer describes their winning hemp like this: “It’s 17.5% CBD. I would say Lifter’s flower is dense buds that have hints of purple surrounded by an array of dark and light greens. The nose on it has a sweet-and-sour aroma that at times can have a spicy/cheesy earth undertone with a trichome content that sparkles with just a hint of light.” The brothers, who hopped on the hemp boom in 2017, call their modest operation a boutique farm. “It means it’s done organically and with love,” Spencer says. It’s a lot of work, walking the land every day to remove fertilized plants, most caused by less considerate growers who, they say, don’t cull male plants very well. The brothers process smokable flower and get the main crop processed locally by Frosty’s

Extracts. They use heavy-grade, permeable mulch that lasts about seven seasons and rolls up after harvest. They hire half a dozen hard-working Woofers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) for the hops and take on local workers for the hemp. The demand for CBD is well-established globally now, and consumers are eagerly awaiting research and development, Spencer says, into CBG, CBN and other cannabinoids that promise new health benefits, as well as enhanced activation of familiar ones. Who buys their product? “It mainly goes to anxieties, effects of cancer treatment, anti-inflammatory, neurological disorders, lots of other things,” says Morgan. “I use it myself when I get sore muscles. Works great.” A lot of people have learned that CBD pre-rolls are great for

kicking cigarettes, as well as addictive drugs, as they satisfy that social hand-to-mouth habit. However, adds Spencer, “some people still demonize any form of it and need to learn the difference between cannabis and hemp.” They see little point in the low 0.3 percent THC limit permitted in hemp products and note that percentages can differ considerably from one testing to another and one testing agent to another. The brothers were still in grade school when their dad retired from his Navy career and purchased the property. Dad sometimes helps and mom cooks for workers. The brothers have a combined four toddlers. They’re connected with many family farms in the region and keep meeting young owners they went to school with in Ashland, graduating around the turn of the century.

Standing out with their dogs earlier this year in their aboutto-be-planted fields, taking in stunning views of Grizzly Peak and Mount Ashland, Spencer says, “We love farming in this beautiful place, working on the land, being environmentally friendly, with the kids playing in the vegetable garden and eating lots of veggies. What more do you want?” The Golden Grow Awards is a regional branding initiative of the Southern Oregon Hemp Co-op. Sophia Blanton, who helped organized the January event at New Leaf Symposium, says the competition was the state’s first hemp-dedicated flower contest. Third-party testing of entries was done by Green Leaf Labs. The People’s Choice winner was Victory Banner Farm’s “Hawaiian Haze.” The awards for Top Terpene and Judges’ Favorite went to Singh Research Farm’s “Lifter.” PHOTOS: JAMIE LUSCH

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HOW GREEN IS YOUR BUD? Organic certification can set hemp and cannabis farmers apart from the crowd

By Maureen Flanagan Battistella


rganic certification can differentiate an agricultural commodity, bringing higher market prices and increased margins to the producer. When the 2018 Farm Bill designated hemp as a federally regulated commodity crop, savvy Oregon growers jumped at the opportunity to certify organic. The label means a lot in today’s consumer-driven, health-conscious market. Organic certification is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture and cannot be applied to an agricultural product without registration and a lengthy, standards-based inspection. In fact, the word “organic” cannot be used with reference to an agricultural product without USDA organic certification. In Oregon, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon Tilth are authorized to grant organic certification. Oregon Tilth reports an upsurge in organic certification of hemp since the 2018 Farm Bill. According to Sally Lammers, deputy director of certification at Oregon Tilth, three hemp operations were certified as organic in 2018, and as of August 2019, Oregon Tilth had certified 41 hemp grows and another 14 hemp processors as organic. Of the 55 hemp operations, 22 were farms new to organic certification through Oregon Tilth. “A lot of the hemp is going into CBD-based body care products and supplements, so there’s a genuine interest in having a very clean product to work with,” Lammers explained. “My guess is now that hemp is a legal crop, organic certification is also a way of differentiating a product in the marketplace. The Oregon Department of Agriculture reports that organic products now represent more than $351 million in annual sales and nearly 194,000 acres in production statewide.

Everything at 54 Green Acres farm outside Cave Junction, including apples, apple cider, 14 beehives, gardens, flowers, chickens, rabbits and cannabis, is certified organic by an organization called Certified Kind.

PHOTOS: ANDY ATKINSON  |  Sunday, April 19, 2020 | 13

“Certified Kind is the toughest, the gold standard of certification. We knew what we were getting into, but there’s a long-term value for us, because when cannabis does become federally legal, organic growing practices will be a long-term differentiator.” VINCENT DESCHAMPS, owner, 54 Green Acres in Cave Junction

Caleb Padgett and Jonathan Ruspil, above, get ready for harvest season last fall at 54 Green Acres farm outside Cave Junction.

Thanks to the Farm Bill, hemp producers and processors are eligible for a USDA subsidy toward organic certification costs. The National Organic Certification Cost Share Program offers reimbursement for 75% of eligible certification fees, up to a maximum of $750 per annual certification scope. Marijuana, both medical and recreational, is not eligible for organic certification because the product is not federally recognized. While the words “natural” and “sustainable” are commonly found on package labeling and signage, there are no USDA or federally recognized standards or regulations that govern when and how these can be applied. While the state of Oregon requires many food safety and seed-to-sale standards and tests for 59 active pesticide residues, con-

sumers are largely in the dark as to the actual farming and processing practices used to produce a product that is directly inhaled and ingested. For consumers who know their farmer, certification may not be important, but for those who aren’t shopping locally, or for retailers and manufacturers using products grown elsewhere, certification can be important. Private, third-party inspection programs have emerged to green-up the cannabis industry, filling a need that state testing requirements and federal organic certification programs are unable to provide. Andrew Black, founder of Certified Kind, got his start years ago with Oregon Tilth. His company has designed an evaluation system based on USDA certified organic standards that

meets federal organic standards and exceeds state standards for marijuana production, testing and processing. “When we onboard new clients, we take leaf tissue samples and test these for 250 pesticide residues,” Black noted. “We look at fertilizers, cover crops, cloning, integrated pest management and beneficial insects. We have social justice components in the standards and energy auditing requirements for indoor growers. It’s the farmer’s or food processor’s duty to create a body of evidence to show they’re using sustainable practices according to the standards.” Organic certification and certification through private, third-party agencies is not easy. Record-keeping requirements are rigorous, inspections are detailed and it can take up to three years to become certified. “Certified Kind is the toughest, the gold standard of certification,” said Vincent Deschamps, owner of 54 Green Acres in rural Josephine County. “We knew what we were getting into, but there’s a long-term value for us, because when cannabis does become federally legal, organic growing practices will be a long-term differentiator.” “Our whole farm is Certified Kind: apples and apple cider, 14 beehives, gardens and flowers, chickens and rabbits and cannabis; it’s a fully functioning sustainable farm,” added Caleb Padgett, 54 Green Acres’ director of operations. An experienced and conscientious grower, Padgett planted his first marijuana seed in Josephine County dirt 20 years ago and is committed to soil health, organic amendments and an in-ground, outdoor growing environment. “Everything we do focuses on the quality of the product we produce,” said Deschamps. “For cannabis, the terpenes, the flavor and aromas are enhanced because of our growing practices.” According to Certified Kind’s Andrew Black, growers report that it’s easier to get their certified product into dispensaries and to negotiate price premiums that usually exceed the cost of certification. But more importantly, there’s an intrinsic value in sustainable farming practices. “We all live downstream; we all breathe the same air,” said Black. “How we farm has a huge impact on human health and ecosystem health. Reach Ashland writer Maureen Flanagan Battistella at PHOTOS: ANDY ATKINSON

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own unique endocannabinoid system, as well as other factors within our own bodies that may contribute to experiencing the effects of plant ou’ve done your research, you’ve talked medicine differently than someone else.” to budtenders at local dispensaries and Zoe Sigman, program director at Project CBD, you’ve read multiple stories online, because a California-based nonprofit dedicated to proyou’re careful about what you consume. moting and publicizing research into the medical Everybody seems to agree that CBD is nonuses of CBD and other components of the psychoactive because it doesn’t get you high. cannabis plant, says, “[CBD] is considered psyBut is that really true? choactive. It is an anti-anxiety compound and The quick answer is no. interacts with many different neuroreceptors. If How we talk about cannabis — and knowla compound has an impact on your neuro-chemedge about the impact its various cannabinoids istry or mental condition, it is considered have on our bodies — is key to helping people psychoactive, because it affects your mind. As a understand how the plant may affect them, say compound with anti-anxiety properties, CBD is people in the local cannabis industry. psychoactive, though not intoxicating. Brie Malarkey, owner of Sun Breeze “People think ‘psychoactive’ and hear Inc., Sun God Medicinals, Sunna Ra ‘psychedelic,’ which they associate with Acres farm and Breeze Botanicals dissmoking weed. CBD is not psychedelic, pensaries in Ashland and Gold Hill, says. it’s not intoxicating, and won’t give you “THC binds mostly with the CB1 recephallucinations. It can, however, provide tors in our nervous system, and that is a great deal of benefit to people dealing why many people feel ‘high.’ with all sorts of health issues.” “Interestingly CBD can help modulate Katie Stem, co-founder of Peak the effects of THC, as it acts as an antagExtracts, which sells edibles and topicals onist on the receptor. CBD binds mostly through a variety of retailers in Southern with the CB2 receptors of our endocanOregon, says, “The broadest definition nabinoid system, which is found in our of psychoactive is a substance that has immune system. Researchers are focusing an effect on the brain, although some on the anti-inflammatory and anti-spasreduce it down to something that has a modic effects many people report when discernible effect on mood, perception or using CBD-dominant products.” behavior. There are many substances that Stacy Page, owner of Market Street have an undeniable impact on brain chemWellness in Medford, says, “People get CBD doesn’t get people high, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t istry, but little to no intoxicating effect. confused. Psychoactive means it alters the psychoactive, because many of its reported health benefits Caffeine, antidepressant medications and mind, so CBD is psychoactive. People who occur because of its effect on the brain. nicotine are often described in this way. have anxiety take CBD and get less anxious, “The semantics of the THC/CBD but the wording they are referring to is descriptors are particularly thorny, ‘euphoric’ or ‘intoxicating.’ CBD and THC leaving accuracy aside, are those terms helpful because the word ‘psychoactive’ is often are both psychoactive, but only THC is euphoric. to people? I don’t think that using the terms thrown about as a synonym for intoxicating. Everybody thinks psychoactive is the term for Because CBD does not produce significant high, but it’s not the term. It’s really just euphoric, psychoactive or nonpsychoactive is the most helpful in educating consumers or industry.” perceptive, behavioral or intoxicating effects, and they don’t understand the difference. Tina Janke, brand manager at Sun Breeze, some people label it ‘nonpsychoactive.’ How“One thing I say to people is that CBD is just says, “The more accurate term for this would ever, because of its demonstrable, significant the next cannabinoid, but there are over 113 be that CBD is nonintoxicating. There are many impact on brain chemistry, this is an arguably cannabinoids in the plant. So there are going to things that are psychoactive and not necesnegligent assertion. There is strong evidence be other products. Other cannabinoids affect sarily intoxicating, such as caffeine and even to support its categorization as an analgesic, the body — that’s why it’s important to have lavender, as these things can change mood and anticonvulsant and an anxiolytic, all of which a full spectrum (product). They all work in cognition in gentle ways. CBD can, as well, just require psychotropic/psychoactive activity. A unison. It’s important for people to not think not in the profound and inhibiting ways that more appropriate way to describe CBD would there’s a cure all, end all. There will be more other cannabinoids or drugs may. be nonintoxicating or noneuphoric.” products that will become more specialized as “When marketing any cannabinoid products they do more research.” to consumers, it is important to emphasize that You can follow Liz Gold on Twitter/Instagram @ “It’s a language thing,” says Amy Parscal, every person’s body is different, and there can lizstacygold or read her blog at www.14karatlivco-founder and director of operations and soil be no possible guarantees. We each have our science at Ebb and Flow Farm near Ashland. By Liz Gold


“The way people use the words are a little bit off from what’s actually true. ... It’s problematic, but I’m not as offended by it. It’s a simple way to communicate what it is. It has to distinguish itself from THC, and CBD is not THC, it doesn’t affect your brain in the ways THC does.” Anna Symonds, education and partnership manager at East Fork Cultivars, a CBD-focused farm in Talikma, says, “You want people to be using the language that is the most accurate and precise regarding this, yet there is this big educational gap and you have to meet people where they are. People are going to feel effects and interpret that internally how they experience it. So there is a degree of subjectivity to it. But


Sunday, April 19, 2020 |




magine the following scenario: You walk into your favorite dispensary, and you’re immediately bowled over by the sights and mingled smells of cannabis grown throughout Oregon. It all looks tantalizing, but you’re on a mission for a specific kind of locally grown cannabis so you tell the budtender: “I’m looking for something organically sungrown from the Applegate Valley that has lower THC and dominant limonene terpenes with floral notes.” Rather than looking at you strangely, the friendly staff person responds enthusiastically, “We’ve got just what you’re looking for!” She takes you to a cannabis selection that is labeled as certifiably grown in the Applegate Valley’s distinctive landscape, soil and growing conditions. This scenario takes cannabis consumption to the level of locovore-connoisseur. In fact, as the supply of and demand for locally crafted cannabis increases, recreational consumers are developing ever more sophisticated tastes. In the near future, choosing

which buds to buy could become a lot like choosing local estate wines, craft beers and ciders. Like wine, locally grown cannabis tastings could become a part of the Southern Oregon experience.

Cannabis appellations Such a scenario is already playing out in Northern California’s “Emerald Triangle,” where the Mendocino Appellations Project has drafted a map of 11 distinct growing zones, or appellations, within the county. Mendocino County is known as the “Napa of cannabis,” and craft cannaculturists in the area want to distinguish themselves and their products from other growers, particularly Big Ag growers who have been buying up land for large indoor operations. SEE CHEMISTRY, PAGE 18

Geology professor John Bershaw and his graduate students from Portland State University are examining whether the unique chemistry of Southern Oregon soils has a significant effect on the chemistry of cannabis plants grown here. The study included five different types of soil in Southern Oregon. Soil in beds from left to right: A Mollisol (McNull Series) from the Bear Creek Valley area; A Alfisol (Ruch Series) from Applegate Valley; A Mollisol (Takilma Series) from the Illinois Valley; and A Ultisol (Pollard Series) from the Grants Pass area. Not pictured is the bed with soil type A Mollisol (Camas Series) from the Grants Pass area. PHOTO: COURTESY OF JOHN BERSHAW

18  | Sunday, April 19, 2020  |

Cannabis plants in the study were almost ready for harvesting in September 2019. Each bed has six plants, three clones of two different strains grown at Alter Farms — Firerunner and Purple Hindu Kush.




Californians passed Senate Bill 94 in 2017, which recognizes cannabis as an official commercial crop of the state, and protects the intellectual property rights of cannabis farmers who can demonstrate their strains have unique place-based characteristics. The bill paved the way for growers in Mendocino County and other regions in California to organize, gather data, and establish appellations of origin (AO) similar to designated wine appellations in Oregon, such as the Applegate and Rogue Valley American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). The California State Department of Food and Agriculture is charged with overseeing a process and criteria for establishing cannabis appellations by 2022, as well as a certification program for licensed cannabis farmers who want to market their products as having additional value because they were grown in a particular appellation. To qualify for AO status in California, the cannabis must be grown outdoors in full sun and planted in native soil. According to the Cannabis Horticultural Association, “Cannabis appellations might be the single-most important proactive action that small, artisanal, craft cannabis

growers can take to carve out a niche in the fast-growing market.” In Oregon, cannabis appellations were proposed in 2015 by cannabis farmers who wanted to protect their outdoor crops from contamination by neighboring hemp farms. (Male hemp plants can fertilize female marijuana plants, causing the marijuana flower to produce seeds.) Designated cannabis appellations would support regulation of crop boundaries, crop types and production methods. So far, no legislative measure to create Oregon cannabis appellations, like California’s SB94, has been proposed. However, the Oregon Sungrowers Guild has been focusing efforts on certifying farms that use sustainable, natural growing methods for cannabis. And Oregon’s Craft Cannabis Alliance lobbied successfully last year for the passage of Senate Bill 582, which allows the interstate transport of Oregon-grown cannabis once the federal government stops prosecuting interstate cannabis trade. These activities indicate that Oregon, especially Southern Oregon where much of Oregon’s cannabis is produced, is poised for a cannabis appellation program. We now have a growing cadre of environmentally conscious farmers whose sungrown cannabis reflects the distinctive

climate of Southern Oregon’s “banana belt.” And we have a progressive law that supports marketing Oregon-grown cannabis beyond our state borders.

Cannabis terroir If Oregon follows California’s lead, cannabis appellations would be defined as specific areas that produce strains possessing consistent characteristics associated with features of that region. The signature strains grown in a particular appellation would have a reputation for quality and would be recognized as maintaining their distinctive identity over time. An important component of cannabis appellations of origin is the unique character of the strains created by a region’s terroir (pronounced ter-wahr), a French word that translates to “land” or “territory.” Terroir has long been a key factor in wine-making and marketing, especially since the mid-20th century, when French viticulturalists began emphasizing terroir to set their vintages apart from the growing number of wines imported from California. The concept of terroir has also been important for marketing cheese, coffee, tea, apples and syrup. (Think Wisconsin cheese, Kona coffee, Darjeeling tea, Washington apples and Vermont maple syrup.) PHOTO: COURTESY OF JOHN BERSHAW  |  Sunday, April 19, 2020 | 19

Terroir includes several distinctive features of a place, including its climate over time (high and low temperatures, sunlight, precipitation, winds, air pressure, humidity), topography (landforms, elevation, slope, exposure) and soil (composition, drainage, microbial activity). Research has shown that for wine grapes terroir significantly impacts the concentration of terpenes, or aromatic oils. Wine grapes are a perennial vine crop and cannabis is an annual herb; however, mother cannabis plants are cloned and their offspring share the same genetic traits. Therefore, terroir is thought to influence the appearance, aroma, flavor and texture of “estate flower” — cannabis varieties that have been grown outdoors in native soil and have adapted to local environmental conditions over time. Irrigation, fertilizing, harvesting and curing/processing methods are thought to emphasize or decrease elements of terroir in the final product. Craft cannabis farmers who are interested in terroir use onsite or local resources, such as soil, compost and natural fertilizers, rather than importing them from outside the region.

Craft cannabis farmers who are interested in terroir use onsite or local resources, such as soil, compost and natural fertilizers, rather than importing them from outside the region. Cannabis terroir research Up until now, evidence of the effects of terroir on cannabis has been only anecdotal. However, designating cannabis appellations based on terroir depends on scientific studies that show local terroir significantly affects cannabis characteristics. The legalization of cannabis in Oregon and several other states has spurred such research efforts. One study on cannabis terroir is underway by Portland State University geology professor John Bershaw and his graduate students. They’re examining whether the unique chemistry of Southern Oregon soils has a significant effect on the chemistry of cannabis plants grown here. Bershaw’s study will inform a research effort to better understand cannabis terroir in Southern Oregon. Bershaw worked with the staff at Alter Farms in Grants Pass to collect soil samples from five cannabis farms, which represented the diversity of native Southern Oregon soils. Each soil was analyzed for its elemental

compositions of organic matter and inorganic minerals. Two of Alter Farms’ clones, Fire Runner and Purple Hindu Kush, were selected for the study, and three plants of each strain were planted in outdoor raised beds, each bed filled with a different soil type. “Alter Farms is really into the science, and they’re very detail-oriented when it comes to the study methods, which is helpful,” Bershaw said. In order to comply with federal restrictions, Bershaw and his students were not permitted to handle the cannabis themselves, or bring the cannabis on PSU’s campus. Alter Farms staff made sure growing methods, watering regimens, and the production process stayed consistent across all of the plants in the study, and they took observational notes on physical characteristics of the plants throughout last year’s growing season. Cured flower samples from the six study plants were sent to Aurora Innovations lab in Eugene for a

complex analysis of cannabinoid and terpene concentrations, as well as measurements of major elements (such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus) and trace elements (such as iron, manganese, boron, copper, iodine and zinc). Analysis of the study findings is underway, and results will be available in June, Bershaw said. “There are so many things you could ask regarding cannabis terroir, but we’re only looking at whether or not there is a correlation between the chemistry of plants and the soil they are grown in,” Bershaw said. The uniqueness of soils in different parts of Southern Oregon may be an important factor for establishing cannabis appellations, along with other environmental influences. In addition, local crop varieties, agricultural practices and quality standards set for specific growing regions could play a role in defining cannabis appellations. Time will tell how cannabis appellations in Oregon will be mapped and marketed. In the meantime, discussion about Southern Oregon’s unique terroir, and how it distinguishes locally grown cannabis from others, provides opportunities for consumers to become more informed about where their weed comes from, who grew it and how.

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OM Extracts, Triminator joined forces to dry and trim cannabis for growers By John Darling


rying cannabis can be tricky. Dampness can trigger mold. Too much heat can wipe out terpenes. It needs good air circulation. It’s a relatively new science, and lots of new farmers are trying to master it — or find where to farm the job out. Showing off her new drying room last fall, Mitra Sticklen, chief operating officer at OM Extracts in White City, reports they’ve developed software that allows them (and the farmer using their drying room) to set the drying temp and humidity, then an app flags the team (OM workers and the farmers) on their phone or computer if it starts getting out of that range, giving them the opportunity to adjust and keep it on track. “We try to preserve the terpenes, the aromatics, so we use lots of fans and lower the temperature, which takes longer but preserves the terpenes,” says Sticklen. Farmer Anthony White, who grows in Eagle Point, Central Point and Medford, says the drying room monitor sends alerts via the app. “We set our parameters to 90 degrees, and as soon as it gets to 89,

Mitra Sticklen of OM Extracts looks at the hemp drying in her facility in White City. At left, freshly harvested hemp is moved into a drying facility in White City.

the vacuum system sucks it all out (and returns it to the desired temp). It’s an amazing thing. I put four to six acres of hemp in there and have not had mold issues. It still comes out super-terpy, smelly and tasty and looks like good stuff and is still able to be sold as flower.” White in 2018 used a “bad system,” propane and a conveyor belt, which ran it several times, overheated it and “the overall loss was pretty intense. It lost a lot of cannabinoids and terpenes. It suffered a drastic loss of 5 to 10 percent in CBD quality.” Many farmers had similar experiences and could sell it only as biomass at a lower price, he says. This system, he adds, is “fill up, let A team of workers from Vesica Ventures moves freshly harvested hemp into a drying facility in White City.

dry, pull out, done. If anything goes off, everyone on the team gets an alert, and someone can change all of that by the phone.” Sticklen shoots for “craft flower drying,” which uses lower temps than flash dryers. OM built racks that expand the surface area of the room, so each run is 20,000 to 25,000 pounds wet and 5,000 pounds dry, which takes three days. OM charges growers $6.50 per dried pound. In the adjacent room of their long, light-industrial home, they buck for $5 per finished pound and trim in their Triminator machines for $15 a finished pound. OM Extracts is collaborating with Triminator as an education/sales center for the new bucking, trimming and rosin press technologies. Dana Mosman, founder of Triminator, says, “We get questions all the time about how to properly dry hemp, when and how to buck it, best practices for trimming, and how to make rosin.” At OM, farmers can get free tours and get questions answered. Justa Phillips, OM facilities manager, says, “Post-harvest handling is what can make or break a crop. Bucking, trimming, training farmers to use the new machines. … This is by far the

biggest growing year for hemp in the valley. It’s the professionalism — it’s more and more necessary to have that to stay in business.” Sticklen fancies her wheelhouse as “craft hemp,” in the sense small winemakers would use the term. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in environmental farm-based education and her master’s from University of Chicago in anthropology of farming systems, then migrated to the Rogue Valley because she wanted to work in food-medicine and because of our perfect cannabis terroir and the fact that we pioneered a ban on GMO. Her mother was a geneticist at MSU for 40 years, and Sticklen knows that any contamination of cannabis crop in this valley by altered genes would be devastating. “We in Jackson-Josephine counties have become the epicenter of ganja country. The best cannabis in the world grows in this bioregion. Our region’s appellation will be known around the world as we keep producing the best. We’re famous for our attention to detail and the quality of what we produce. ... We’re not reinventing the wheel, just perfecting it.” PHOTOS: ANDY ATKINSON |

Sunday, April 19, 2020 |



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New bud-trimming process could end up trimming jobs By John Darling

Top: Justa Phillips runs an XL Dry trimmer, which removes excess leaves from a hemp flower.

hose long chatty hours of well-paying bud-trimming work may be slipping away, thanks to (surprise!) machines. On the upside, these machines seem to do wonders for growers, with a device called the Buckmaster Pro able buck and trim many pounds an hour. At a big launch party demonstration in November at their White City shop, OM Extracts showed off their Oregon Education Center for automated bucking and trimming, promoting the Triminator XL Dry Bud Trimmer, which they call the fastest in the world. Triminator, which has been manufacturing the machines in Grass Valley, California, starting a decade ago, says the automated trimmer can do 60 pounds an hour, according to Dozens of growers crowded around the machines, seemingly impressed, as a plastic, perforated screen rotated inside an edged steel drum, bouncing the cannabis around, gradually separating off the sheared trim for later use. “It alleviates the need for trimmers,” said David Goodman, chief marketing officer of Triminator, “and we help any farmer without them

Left: Brett Byrd collects freshly extracted cannabis rosin from his machine, which uses no solvents in the processing.


Bottom: The product after a flower has been dried and trimmed in the Triminator XL Dry.

having to buy and try. We’re in the top three in the world in hemp and cannabis post-harvest handling.” Rogue Valley farmer Anthony White of Vesica Ventures uses one of the machines and says, “It shaves bud the best, in quality and quantity. I can bust out 1,000 pounds a day with minimal touch-up. Now, after eight weeks with no day off, we get to go on vacation and see family. The good thing is, you get out the door faster.” They demonstrated another big time-saving machine, the Triminator Rosin Press, which, using up to 25 tons of force, extracts cannabinoids and terpenes from flower with the lowest possible temperature to maintain maximum terpenes. It was a bit awesome to see cannabis oil pools dripping from between the aluminum plates of this desktop press, on its way to becoming edibles, tinctures, gummies, cartridges, etc. Noting cannabis farming’s massive scale in the Rogue Valley, Mitra Sticklen of OM Extracts said, “the educational level has not caught up yet, but it will. Using machines like these definitely will make it cheaper, especially in the first season. It’s a brand new phase of the revolution. “The industry as a whole is still fairly new, but there hasn’t been enough educational resources, and everyone is learning how to best participate. As an educational center, we are here to try and answer many questions producers have. Grower Reed Preston of Grants Pass PHOTOS: DENISE BARATTA

and Rogue River, says, “I’ve used the Triminator for four months, and I’m stoked on them. You cut out a lot of cost as it’s able to process a lot, hundreds of pounds of smokable hemp.

In the old days, you’d get a couple pounds. “It’s changing the whole process. Instead of 10 people sitting around trimming, you are doing 10 pounds at a time, so you can do 50 pounds an hour. To be honest, I simply couldn’t afford to pay hand-trimmers $100 a pound.” The machines can be seen operating on YouTube, with prices at



$84 MF-00125397


22  | Sunday, April 19, 2020  |


Ethical Issues

What will happen as the values of hempsters collide with the realities of capitalism? By John Darling


thics are a big part of what hempsters talk about when they get together. Ethics of using plastic sheeting in hemp fields. Ethics of GMOs and synthetic chemicals. Ethics in business dealings. And many of those discussions were front and center in Ashland last September when 300 hemp growers, business people and others attended the third-annual Hemp University at Southern Oregon University’s Stevenson Union. There’s a lot of work to be done and money to be made in cannabis and hemp, but Misty Burris of the Grange and Oregon Institute for a Better Way emphasized that we mustn’t forget to stand on the foundations of community and cooperative farming on which this state — and country — were built. The Grange is 150 years old, and as we build this new agricultural empire, we should think of our great-grandchildren 150 years in the future, Burris told a Hemp U audience. “For instance, instead of thinking about the high cost of labor, think about launching labor and lifting them to viable opportunity, sustainable for the next generation, she said. “It’s not just seed, soil and produce but solid industrial organization on all levels.” The hemp industry is unique in that it was illegal for so long — and then people from agriculture and the medical world “came together to share,” setting a platform in place for service, and service never fails.” As a Granger, Burris is encouraging the industry to institute consumer advocacy, to connect with the community and make sure they’re “opening their ears and are willing to listen, because consumer concerns that are based on incorrect facts are easily remedied by truth and transparency.” And right now, in the infancy of the hemp industry, says Burris, “the truth is we don’t know what we’re doing yet. Real farmers have the humility to say you can’t totally control nature, and that humility will be refreshing.” The industry can only go up, she says, and “we’re on an enormous pillar of potential.” But when it comes to covering the land with acres of plastic, she says, “we’ll be evaluated by our ethics. We have to get it off the land. It’s not going to work. The karma is right in our face.”

Chris Hardy checks on amaranth growing among his hemp plants outside Ashland. He’s using squash, cucumbers, melons, beans, grains, summer greens and other kinds of veggies — and researching and breeding plants from Central America, seeing which ones like our climate. Ashland farmer David Pierce was at Hemp U marketing “biodegradable field mulch” made in Quebec using organic thistle. “The use of plastic in agriculture has the potential to create long-term damaging effects on soil biology as it breaks down into micro-plastics and elemental petroleum residue that can never be recovered out of soil,” Pierce says. The thistle grows on a big stalk and has lots of cellulose, which is combined with potatoes and vegetable oils — all grown without GMOs. His website,, shows rolls of it — it comes in black or white — and after six months, it appears to be melting into the soil. The film increases soil temperature, allows rapid root growth, and biodegrades when soil is above 50 degrees, the website says. Longtime Ashland farmer and plant researcher Chris Hardy is giving farm tours of his strategy, which he calls “interplanting polyculture.” It eliminates any manmade ground cover and lets nature do the job by mixing vegetables, especially vining crops, with hemp, producing a canopy that grows

over surrounding bare soil and keeps it from becoming a monocrop. He’s using squash, cucumbers, melons, beans, grains, summer greens and other veggies — and researching and breeding plants from Central America, seeing which ones like our climate. In his 15 years of farming here, Hardy says, he hasn’t found one manmade mulch that biodegrades, adding, “They sit in the soil and don’t break down and are obnoxious to look at, just not appropriate for the Southern Oregon agricultural system, plus they’re made with GMO corn and soybeans.” Longtime cannabis author and lecturer Paul von Hartman of Ebb & Flow Farm outside Ashland calls plastic mulch “geocidal (Earth-killing), expensive and toxic to the planet, so you’re better off using vegetative mulch and rotating crops to deal with weeds.” There’s potential to make herbicides from nettle, he adds, and we should be busy looking for alternatives that are healing for the Earth. If we’re not healing the Earth, then nothing we’re doing will make any difference.” PHOTO: ANDY ATKINSON  |  Sunday, April 19, 2020 | 23

Future of hemp

“(The) former hippie outlaws of Southern Oregon are going to have to turn this into a branding thing, as we bring in capital for people who grow it and have all this experience. ... It will shake out in a couple years. It has to.”

In this burgeoning age of hemp, is it possible for everyone to get along and be the caring, cooperating community we’ve been for decades, or will it go the way of almost all corporate capitalistic ventures and drown us all in green greed? After almost a century of prohibition, hemp is legal and there’s loads of lucre. Can we keep our souls? Hemp and cannabis are changing the world, and Southern Oregon is a great place to grow it — and the region is crammed with capable, can-do cannabis entrepreneurs. One is Mark Taylor of Jacksonville, a former general contractor and creator of Southern Oregon Hemp Cooperative, whose mission is to “promote farmers in the new hierarchy as we try to make us business people in the retail market.” Until 2018, hemp was generally thought of as an industrial crop used to make rope, paper, cloth, insulation and seed oil. Then came the discovery that CBD and other cannabinoids in hemp made a lot of aches, pains, allergies, autoimmune disorders, insomnia, on and on, go away. So much for rope and paper. Taylor’s ideal is that, with all the talk of a health panacea, the farmers of this region “keep on being friendly and helpful to each other, not dog-eat-dog, like in the construction biz.” Farmers are agreeable and friendly, notes Taylor, so “why not get them into an old-fashioned Grange-like co-op, where they can share the best growing techniques, with an endgame to bring product to market collectively and offset the big corporate influences.” BILL KELLY, Instead of each farmer going it alone, he says, there’s a lot to gain by joining together on irrigation, Cannabusiness Development tractors, seed, fertilizer, real estate, insurance, everything. of Portland The alternative, he says, is that big corporate buyers could pick farmers off one at a time and control the price. Longtime In the fertile, cannabis-friendly Rogue Valley, Ashland farmer Taylor notes, “there are lots of husband-wife teams over age 60 who are trying to enhance their retireand plant researcher ment, and now they see hemp as the pathway. An acre Chris Hardy gives averages 2,000 pounds. A thousand pounds at $250 farm tours of his is $250,000, and if you’re 65 and living on $3,000 a hemp-growing month, that’s attractive.” strategy, which he He says, “there’s a huge supply, but at this point, we don’t have enough solid, substantial buyers. Buyers calls “interplanting are trying to hurt the market. It’s expensive to culpolyculture.” He tivate — and storage is not cheap either. Buyers are mixes vegetables, stalling until the price comes down.” especially vining Co-op members can join and block that, he says. crops, with hemp, In the organization, members cooperate on tractors, seed, fertilizer, real estate, insurance and more, he producing a canopy notes. that grows over Or will it go the other way? bare soil and keeps For a peek at how the more corporate types look at his hemp from Southern Oregon cannabis country, Hemp U heard becoming a from “supply chain consultant” Bill Kelly of Cannabusiness Development in Portland. He said this region monocrop. has a long tradition of “a handshake and let’s go,” but a lot of money, much of it corporate, is coming into the state now, and while they respect the experience of the cannabis culture here, they want “verified viability” with detailed and signed deals of everyone in the supply chain. “These days, there are 20 fictional deals for every real one,” said Kelly, “and that’s where you see a lot of people saying they have a lot of money, which they do to tease out the information on who is buying, and a lot of people end up disappointed and losing their reputations.” Kelly says the hemp world is “very wild west” right now, because it’s legal, in high demand and can be marketed all over the world, whereas the THC market is tiny because it’s psychoactive, with limited legality. “We’re on a learning curve and in transition now,” Kelly says. “A lot of people here have known each other for years and years, and they’ve gone through many stages together and it forms a great basis of knowledge and experience, and the community is real and the trust is real.” However, says Kelly, this is “the world capital” of hemp and cannabis, and we’ve got the components to capitalize and grow into a major industry, especially in CBD. But to grow ... “we need capital, and that means outside capital, men in suits coming in, and what many call ‘working for the man.’” So, he says, the “former hippie outlaws of Southern Oregon are going to have to turn this into a branding thing, as we bring in capital for people who grow it and have all this experience. ... It will shake out in a couple years. It has to.” Kelly says many noted corporations are watching Oregon hemp closely, and in four years or so someone like Coke will be offering CBD pop, but “not until the industry becomes reliMARK TAYLOR, able, consistent and you can get exactly what you order, when you want it.” Southern Oregon Hemp Cooperative

Farmers are agreeable and friendly, so “why not get them into an old-fashioned Grangelike co-op, where they can share the best growing techniques, with an endgame to bring product to market collectively and offset the big corporate influences.”


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Get what you pay for

Tips for making sure CBD products deliver what they promise By John Darling

The “biggest fraud” today, says Dan Lohr of EcoTest in Medford, is they put hemp oil in two-ounce bottles with marijuana leaf pictures on it, and charge $55, but you can get a liter of just plain hemp oil, with no CBD hype, for $27.

products, conducted by Leafly, the world’s biggest cannabis website — strains-products/cbd-oil-test-results?mc_ ou only have to look at the vast hemp cid=e554544705&mc_eid=b0b9d8ffc5. Amazingly, fields of the rural Rogue Valley to know six of the products they tested had zero CBD, 11 had that America has a love affair with CBD and its more than the advertised amount, and about half health-enhancing properties — but all relationcame within 20 percent. ships soon run into trust issues, right? Dan Lohr of EcoTest in Medford, which analyzes With CBD, it’s knowing you can trust the amount CBD content, says many products are made with promised on the label. After all, it’s a new indushemp seed oil, which contains no CBD. try, medical research is sparse, and there are few “There’s lots of fraud in this business,” says Lohr. regulators enforcing labeling laws. So CBD users “People are just not educated on the difference are forced to try many brands and judge by results not going to get penalized because no one knows.” between hemp oil and CBD. Anything hemp online — learning what works for them. Tammy Sona, owner of SONA CBD in Talent, can’t be trusted. ... If you’re buying CBD, it must “The industry is unregulated, and that’s why the is a watchdog on ingredients, noting that, as a say derived from flower and have a lab analysis to FDA is starting to step in,” says Alex Bizeau of Vic- rule, customers should shop local, not online. The show the percentage. If it doesn’t mention CBD tory Banner Farms in Talent. “They’ve issued a lot Rogue Valley is one of the cannabis hotspots of the by name, and says only hemp, you can assume it’s of warnings. Some producers are guilty and some world, offering excellent soil, near perfect growing derived from hemp oil.” are not. It may not have been intentional, but when conditions, knowledgeable growers and the most The “biggest fraud” today, Lohr says, is they put it says 250 mg and it has no CBD, it’s intentional.” educated budtenders, so “look for a trusted prohemp oil in two-ounce bottles with marijuana leaf Customers need to become more knowledgeducer in your area that sources oil directly from pictures on it, and charge $55, but you can get a liter able and ask for a COA (certificate of analysis), he their farm,” she says. “They will be more intimate of just plain hemp oil, with no CBD hype, for $27. says. “Look for a proven track record that’s open with farming practices, extraction methods and To be extra sure of what you’re buying, Sona to public review. The problem is it’s far cheaper to testing standards.” advises asking for evidence of the final potency, as fill a bottle with olive oil and very little CBD. You’re Sona points to a valuable lab test of 47 CBD packaged, not after harvest or extraction, and backed up by batch and lot numbers. The batch and lot numbers for all her products are posted on her website, she says, and she stands ready to educate customers on how to explore and use the data. A further caveat from Sona: Don’t purchase CBD that is hyped with health claims, she notes, as these are banned by the FDA. Educate yourself at the nonprofit, so you know what questions to ask and how to protect yourself. Another wrinkle in the story is that people are so fixated on CBD, they seek the “isolate,” that is, the highest purity, leaving behind all the cannabinoids, fatty acids, amino acids, terpenes, which provide a “full spectrum” of essential plant properties, Sona says. “There are over 100 different molecules in it, and they all work together to give maximum benefit. We need full spectrum,” she adds. “To get the good stuff,” says Lohr, “talk to someone who has been selling for a while. We have the best stores in the world here, and you can trust the word of the budtenders. Ask them which items get the best feedback and repeat business over time. You might have to try different strains because of the various terpenes in it. And, absolutely, CBD is more Pierce Prozy, at Flora Research Laboratories in Grants Pass, in this July 19, 2019, file photo, examines a Yolo! brand vape oil effective with THC. You have to experiment cartridge marketed as a CBD product. Synthetic marijuana was secretly added to Yolo! vapes, prosecutors said, sickening dozens. and find your dose.”


PHOTO: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS  |  Sunday, April 19, 2020 | 25



inding the right dose of a new medication can be tricky. Too little, and you won’t get the relief you’re looking for. Too much, and you can experience undesirable side effects that outweigh the advantages of taking the medication in the first place. The same is true of medical cannabis, which, like any medication, requires careful, slow advancement to find the right amount for each patient. Marijuana’s health benefits can be significant but, as a patient, you’ll have a better experience if you start with a low dose, and know what to expect. What side effects should I expect when using medical marijuana? Any time you begin a new medication, you are likely to experience one or more side effects. Fortunately, most associated with cannabis are rather benign, and they tend to be short-lived. While some medications can cause near-constant discomfort, including loss of appetite, loss of libido, sleeplessness, irritability or other issues, the side effects of medical cannabis typically fade when the medication begins to wear off. Nonetheless, you will want to keep any negative side effects to a minimum, which starting with a low dose (micro-dosing) will help to ensure. After you have smoked, ingested, vaporized or otherwise administered medical marijuana, it is normal to experience these side effects:  Your mouth may become dry, which can be alleviated by simply drinking water.  You may have a temporary sore throat (if you smoke your medication).  You may experience an increase in appetite, even if you have recently eaten.  You may feel sleepy or drowsy, even if you are well rested. (Do not drive or use heavy machinery while using cannabis.)  You may have difficulty concentrating or paying attention, which is another reason you shouldn’t drive or attempt hazardous tasks. In addition, there is some evidence that cannabis can worsen some forms of heart disease and intracranial hemorrhage. A more common negative outcome is to experience feelings of anxiety and paranoia while using cannabis, which can be very distressing if not physically dangerous. Beginning with a low dose will reduce the chance that you will have a negative emotional experience, while simultaneously reducing the intensity of the mental and physical side effects.

BABY STEPS Why patients should always start by micro-dosing

Some patients find that experiences involving paranoia and anxiety are onetime events that occurred because they were in a stressful or upsetting environment. However, if anxiety becomes a recurring or persistent issue for you, and cannot be quelled by placing yourself in a tranquil environment, it may be an indicator that your dose is too large and should be reduced. Always be completely honest with your doctor about what you took and how you felt, without deemphasizing or underplaying any of your reactions. Talking openly is critical in order to find the optimal dose. Don’t feel guilty if it takes some trial and error — that’s what your doctor is there to help you with. Regardless of a patient’s age or medical background, the best approach is to start with a small dose, which can be increased if and when necessary. Taking a gradual approach minimizes risk of experiencing unpleasant side effects by giving them time to learn how their body and mind respond to small amounts of cannabis. Low-dose, gentle use yields the best medical response and overall benefit. This idea can be summed up in two words — baby steps. Can you develop tolerance to cannabis? When a patient uses cannabis (and many other medications), he or she may gradually develop what’s known as tolerance. When you develop tolerance to a substance, it means you need more and more of that substance to achieve the same benefits. Tolerance leads to few notable problems. First, the side effects of cannabis can be more pronounced with higher doses. Second, withdrawal symptoms, should you skip or stop your medicine, will be more intense and possibly last longer. Third, increased use will increase your cost. In this situation, it is perfectly safe to take a break. However, many patients use cannabis to manage or alleviate symptoms that are quite severe. Pausing your treatment may cause you more harm and/or discomfort than continuing, and you should always talk to your doctor before changing any aspect of your medical plan (e.g. dose, frequency of use, method of use). With your doctor’s supervision, you may well be able to slowly reduce your dose to achieve relief. The best plan, however, is to find a low, stable dose from the start so you never get into an overuse situation. Jordan Tishler, M.D., is president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists, and CEO of InhaleMD — a private institute of cannabis medicine. Story distributed by Tribune Content Agency. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES


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Oregon says it will follow federal guidelines, crack down on CBD-infused alcoholic beverages

OLCC further explained that according to the FDA, “many CBD products are untested and might actually pose a risk to human health.” While the ban will be limited to manufactured products, OLCC said it intends to also develop new regulations that would stop local bars and restaurants from mixing CBD into alcoholic drinks for on-premises consumption. So whether you are an Oregon manufacturer or a bar/restaurant owner, you should steer clear of infusing your alcoholic concoctions with CBD, because it is now an even more risky business.

By Nathalie Bougenies


bout a year ago, the law firm of Harris Bricken reported on the legality of CBD-infused alcoholic beverages, and many alcohol beverage companies were surprised that the law firm concluded that blending CBD into their products was a risky business, even in hemp-friendly states like Oregon. In December, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission issued new guidelines that said: “[b]ased on federal law and regulations, alcohol manufacturers are prohibited by law from manufacturing alcoholic beverages which contain CBD.” In addition, OLCC announced it would begin cracking down on the sale of CBD-infused alcoholic beverages manufactured in the state starting in February. Alcoholic beverages are regulated under federal and state law. Most states, including Oregon, mandate that manufacturers provide proof to their liquor control board that their product formula has received approval from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco and Trade Bureau. Although the TTB oversees the regulation on alcoholic beverages, the agency works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in determining whether the ingredients added to those beverages are safe for consumption and whether their use is lawful under the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. Any substance that is intentionally added to food, including drinks, is subject to FDA pre-market review and approval, unless the substance is “generally recognized as safe (GRAS).” Because the FDA has approved CBD as a drug ingredient in the treatment of epilepsy (Epidiolex), the cannabis compound cannot also be used in and marketed as a food. As such, CBD has not been

Because the FDA has approved CBD as a drug ingredient in the treatment of epilepsy (Epidiolex), the cannabis compound cannot also be used in and marketed as a food. As such, CBD has not been recognized as GRAS — except for three hempseed ingredients that contain trace amounts of CBD. Therefore, the FDA treats CBD-infused alcoholic beverages as unsafe and unlawful under the FDCA. recognized as GRAS — except for three hemp-seed ingredients that contain trace amounts of CBD. Therefore, the FDA treats CBD-infused alcoholic beverages as unsafe and unlawful under the FDCA. Given its deference to FDA guidelines, it is no surprise that the TTB has refused to approve formulas of alcoholic beverages infused with CBD until the FDA designs a legal pathway for the sale and marketing of these products. Therefore, no Oregon CBD-infused alcohol manufacturer could possibly show proof of TTB approval to the OLCC, which means none of the products manufactured and sold in Oregon are lawful. This brings us back to the OLCC guidelines and letters issued to licensees. According to various media sources, the agency declared PHOTO: LOUIS HANSEL VIA UNSPLASH

it was acting in response to health uncertainties as well as to bring its enforcement in line with state and federal laws.

Compiled by The Fresh Toast and distributed by Tribune Content Agency. Nathalie Bougenies is a lawyer at Harris Bricken, and this article was originally published on the Canna Law Blog.

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Winning Combinations By Laura Lagano


s a nutritionist and the co-founder of the Holistic Cannabis Academy, I get asked a lot of questions about food and cannabis. As a society, we have become intrigued with food and everything that pertains to it, including cooking and, of course, my favorite topic — nutrition. Cannabis is a great conversation starter for so many reasons. For one, it’s not federally legal, yet it’s legalized by individual states for medical or adult recreational use in more than half the country. The plant has literally come out of the closet, so cannaphobia is lessening and it has become acceptable to talk about the plant. Combine talking about food and cannabis, and you have a winning combination. In that spirit, here are five winning combinations for food and cannabis.

Chocolate contains compounds that intensify the effects of phytocannabinoids in cannabis, including THC and CBD.

Avocado is a nice match with cannabis oil because it is an emulsifier.

Avocado Though thought of as a vegetable and often categorized as a fat, avocado is actually a large berry with a single seed. That means that avocado is a fruit, according to botanists. And, an amazing and versatile fruit it is. There’s the ubiquitous avocado toast found in hipster neighborhoods beyond Portland. Guacamole was the first introduction to avocado for many Americans. Though many add banana to smoothies, mostly to add sweetness, avocado is my No. 1 smoothie go-to because it’s an emulsifier. That means that it helps to blend the other ingredients together, creating a smooth smoothie. And, unlike banana, the avocado does not dominate the flavor of the smoothie. It’s a great match with cannabis oil because of its fat content and flavor profile.

Black pepper reportedly can ease the effects of too much THC.

great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc. Sprinkle on basically anything from avocado (see above) to salads to smoothies or have alone.

Hemp seed


Combining two cannabis plant ingredients together is a no brainer. Hemp seeds contain little to no THC. Hemp foods include oil, protein powder, milk, hearts, flour, butter (which can also be used for skin), and pressed juice. Hemp oil is completely different than hemp-derived CBD oil, which is processed from the green parts of the plant. Hemp seeds, sometimes marketed as hemp hearts, are an excellent source of protein, a vegan food, a wonderful source of essential fatty acids, and a

Cacao is the plant from which cocoa and chocolate are derived. Higher percentages on chocolate bars typically mean less sugar. Raw cacao boasts 300 different compounds, including antioxidants. Anandamide, the “bliss” molecule that our bodies produce, is one of the compounds found in small quantities in cacao. More significantly, cacao features two others chemical that inhibit the breakdown of anandamide, and phytocannabinoids in cannabis, including

THC and CBD, potentially intensify their effects. On top of this is theobromine, which also amplifies the effects of anandamide.

Black pepper Black pepper features a terpenoid called beta-caryophyllene, which is also a component of some strains of cannabis. It is known as a dietary cannabinoid because it binds directly to CB2 receptors found in the peripheral endocannabinoid system, as opposed to THC, which binds to CB1 receptors in the brain. Beta-caryophyllene does not contribute to euphoria. In fact, this terpene does the opposite, modulating the effect of the cannabis “high.” Black pepper is one of the solutions offered for mitigating overconsumption of THC. Chewing a few peppercorns

or simply sniffing ground black pepper can provide relief from THC-induced anxiety and paranoia. This is a good thing. To top it off, both black pepper and cannabis have anti-inflammatory properties. Clearly, the second most popular condiment after salt, pepper is a natural accompaniment for cannabis.

Mango On the opposite end of the spectrum from black pepper is mango. Both feature terpenes that react with THC in cannabis. While the terpene called beta-caryophyllene in black pepper mitigates the impact of THC, the terpene myrcene in mango elevates the effects of THC. It does this by changing the blood-brain barrier to allow cannabinoids to enter the brain more quickly and efficiently. The ultimate impact is to prolong and increase the intoxicating effects of THC. This can be clinically advantageous for patients who require more immediate pain relief or mood modulation, for example. Cannabis and mango only do this together. As with all food, the impact of mango on the cannabis “high” depends on the individual’s metabolism. That’s called bioindividuality. So, it’s a good idea to know your sweet spot. Be mindful about the optimal amounts of mango and THC for your personalized portion. Compiled by The Fresh Toast and distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



| Sunday, April 19, 2020 |

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