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Saturday, December 23, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs December 23, 2023

Hemp can be grown for many uses and shouldn't be lumped with restrictions on medical and recreational marijuana, say its advocates. Above is Cab Baber, founder of Hawai'i Royal Hemp Farm on Hawai'i Island.
Photo from https://www.hawaiiroyalhemp.com/
HEMP MAY NOT BECOME A VIABLE CROP FOR HAWAI'I FARMERS, unless appropriate legislation is passed in the 2024 Hawai'i Legislature to treat hemp separately from medical and recreational marijuana, says Hawai'i Farmers Union United. It asks farmers and others to contact the Governor, state Attorney General, and state Senate and House members to implore them to "remove all hemp elements from the Attorney General's draft cannabis bill relating to medical and recreational cannabis that is a pathway for recreational marijuana. This AG bill will turn Hawai'i's hemp industry into an import sector, wiping out Hawai'i farmers and processors. Removing hemp from this bill will not stop the bill from creating a pathway for recreational cannabis if that's what the legislature wants."
Hemp can be grown alongside many food and herb crops.
Photo from https://www.hawaiiroyalhemp.com/
    According to Hawai'i Farmers Union United whose Kaʻū president is Andy Drayer, of Wood Valley, "The Hawai'i hemp industry has an agricultural mission that is moving Hawai'i towards greater sustainability, producing a variety of value-added products in addition to hemp cannabinoids: food, building materials (some of which are being trialed in affordable housing pilot projects), plastics pilots to replace plastic cutlery, textiles, fuel, etc. Furthermore, the Hawai'i hemp cannabinoid sector is focused on producing high quality health products, mirroring the success of noni, lion's mane, olena (turmeric), etc.
and Hawaii CBD products are tested to the highest standards in the U.S. for hemp products ensuring they are free of herbicide, pesticides, metals, mycotoxins, etc. and all hemp product manufacturers in Hawaii are expected to follow good manufacturing practices."
    The Hawai'i Farmers Union United statement points out that "Hemp is recognized as a federally legal agricultural commodity and stands distinctly separate from cannabis and should not be regulated similarly.     
    "As a versatile crop, hemp is at the forefront of innovation of sustainable products, promising significant economic and environmental benefits for our state. Grouping hemp with cannabis in this draft bill not only overlooks the vast potential hemp offers to Hawai'i agriculture, but also disregards years of extensive work by our local farmers and preexisting legislation like HB 1359 that was just passed in 2023, which has a number of pro-consumer elements. Subjecting hemp to the same regulatory framework as medical marijuana and recreational cannabis would be as misguided and disproportionate as treating coffee with the same stringent rules as alcohol."
    The Farmers Union offers a brief overview of hemp's legal status at the federal level: The US Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) significantly transformed the status of hemp by
legalizing its production and removing it from the Drug Enforcement Agency's Controlled Substances schedule. This pivotal legislation unequivocally separates hemp from cannabis/marijuana at the federal level. As a result, hemp is now treated as an agricultural commodity, qualifying for standard farming benefits such as crop insurance, banking services, technical assistance from USDA, and adherence to federal tax and business regulations. None of these services or rights are available for medical marijuana or recreational cannabis because they are not an agricultural crop. In early 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture further solidified this distinction by establishing a uniform regulatory framework for hemp production across the country. In contrast, medical and recreational cannabis remain classified as illicit substances federally."
    The statement asks that the public oppose the Attorney General's "attempt to place hemp under the same regulatory umbrella as medical or recreational cannabis. This exclusion is crucial to preserve the integrity of Hawai\i's hemp industry and to realize its full potential as a sustainable and economically viable agricultural resource."

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A cone along the Maunaiki Trail in the Kaʻū Desert where a 4.1 earthquake occurred on Saturday.
NPS Photo by A. LaValle
A MAGNITUDE 4.1 EARTHQUAKE in Footprints Trail area in Ka'ū northeast of Maunaiki at 4:27 p.m. on Saturday rocked much of Ka'ū. The epicenter was makai of Hwy 11 about 8 miles south of Volcano at a depth of 17 miles below sea level. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported that earthquake "had no apparent impact on either Mauna Loa or Kīlauea volcanoes. A smaller, magnitude-3.4, aftershock occurred in the same region and depth at 4:42 p.m."
    USGS also reported: "The earthquake is of uncertain origin, but most likely due to bending of the lithosphere beneath Kīlauea volcano. The location just to the northeast of Maunaiki is too far north to be related to Pāhala earthquakes and its depth is well below the magma plumbing system within Kīlauea in this region. These earthquakes are not related to the recent activity south and west of Kīlauea and are not expected to lead to any significant changes. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory stated that it continues to monitor Hawaiian volcanoes for any changes.

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CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS EVE LESSONS & CAROLS SERVICE will be held at First United Methodist Church in Nāʻālehu on Dec. 24. Minister Woodley White said, "Everyone is welcome to enjoy the sounds of handbells, 'ukulele, guitar and piano. Please join for a sacred experience of Christmas." It begins at 7 p.m.

A Christmas Eve service is open to all at Nāʻālehu United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. on Dec. 24.
Photo by Julia Neal