Introduction to NHA: Interview With Erika and Anna from the National Hemp Association

NHA goal to support the growth and development of all aspects of the industrial hemp industry. Read our interview with Erika Stark, Executive Director and Anna Chanthavongseng, Assistant Executive Director of the National Hemp Association
Marike de Jager
Written by Marike de Jager, CBD Journalist
Last Updated
NHA - National Hemp Association

Leafreport – Marika:

Yeah, I just introduce myself. My name is Marika and I’m one of the writers So I do a lot of reviews for CBD, have been using CBD for years and years starting with my chronic pain, so to manage that and just really have an interest in it. It’s lovely to speak to both of you and thank you so much for doing this happy holidays, by the way.

Thank you. Yeah, just a few questions. If there’s anything that you wanted to add at some point, please jump in and let’s keep it casual just to get as much info for our listeners, readers and so on as we can. Yeah, so I think, let’s just start, I know, if both of you are going to talk at the same time or going to handoff to each other, but if you can just introduce yourself and what your position is in the company in the National Hemp Association.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Okay, my name is Erika Stark and I am the Executive Director of National Hemp Association.

Anna C.:

I’m Anna Chanthavongseng and I’m the Assistant Executive Director of the National Hemp Association.

Leafreport – Marika:

Wonderful. Thank you very much. Can you tell us a little bit about the organization, what are your beliefs, values, goals? What do you aim to do and how to aim to change the landscape for CBD?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

We’ve been around for about six years now. Our primary focus up until last year when we had the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill was in getting federal legislation passed. Since that’s happened over this past year, we’ve been focused on trying to work with USDA and FDA to get the most reasonable regulations possible.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

The USDA did just come out with their interim final rule on October 31st, which is going to have some pretty significant impacts on the overall cultivation of hemp, but it will primarily impact the CBD industry because of how tight they made the regulations in the THC levels. A lot of the CBD varietals out there that are very high in CBD content tend to skirt that line of legality and in the USDA interim final rule we do have some significant concerns. Not that it’s going to discourage or really ruin the CBD industry, but farmers are likely going to have to plant varietals that are a little bit lower in CBD content in order to make sure that they can stay compliant on the THC side, and then that will also mean processors are going to be needing to pump through a little bit more volume to get the same quantity of CBD that they’re used to getting from some of the richer varietals.

Leafreport – Marika:

All right. So, and this is more for my own information, you guys obviously focus on hemp or industrial hemp, so is it all the uses for hemp obviously that you kind of focus on and try to boost in America, is it you additionally then also focus on CBD? What is your main focus at this point?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

We do focus on all aspects of the industry but obviously CBD is where the vast majority of interest and infrastructure and money is right now. So it is a top priority for us because it is the part of the industry that has the largest head start. I will say that ultimately I do believe that fiber hemp is going to exceed CBD hemp in terms of money and sheer number, acres that are going to need to be cultivated, but the to do that is not there just yet, but we do anticipate over the next three to five years that that is going to happen because you can still extract CBD from fiber varietals, it just doesn’t have the same levels that pure specific CBD varietals have.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So as an example, if you have a CBD varietal that has 12-13% CBD content, you can get a lot of CBD out of a relatively small amount of acreage, but fiber varietals may only have to 2-3% CBD, but if you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of acres then certainly that’s still a good value add for that crop to be able to extract the CBD from that leftover plant materials.

Leafreport – Marika:

Fantastic, okay, good. I also wanted to know, obviously we focus a lot on smaller farmers and huge corporations have kind of owned the markets in terms of pharmaceuticals and all kinds of things, and especially the CBD since I’ve been reviewing, I saw that the smaller brands really kind of own the market because they can go to market with a product that’s not necessarily FDA approved and people will keep on buying it, whereas I found larger brands from larger corporations need to get FDA approval before they push those products through and market them. So in terms of that, how do you guys support the smaller growers, not the big corporations, but the small guy, these sort of tribal groups underrepresented growers and so on? Is there any kind of initiative to help them to make something of this industry and this amazing opportunity?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Well, those producers have had sort of natural advantage thus far as you said, because they have a little bit more flexibility in their ability to take products to market that aren’t FDA approved, but how that’s going to evolve and change once the Coca-Colas of the world start to want to put CBD in their products, it’s going to make it more difficult for smaller producers to keep up.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So really the best thing we can do right now is to try to make sure that the regulations are enacted in such a way that it maintains a level playing field for those smaller producers. I do believe that even once we get into truly mass productive of CBD, whether that be for extracting it from fiber crops of whether it continues to be the market that it is right now, that there will always be a place for smaller producers because they’re going to be able to deliver the type of quality that big producers will never be able to maintain.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

As I’m sure you’re aware, that CBD cultivation is quite labor intensive when you do it right and also with the popularity with flour as a delivery method for CBD as well, that is just something that’s not going to be produce on a large scale to the type of quality that consumers are wanting and expecting. So we’re hoping that the combination of reasonable regulations and also market demand will be able to enable those smaller producers to remain competitive and have this be a viable opportunity for smaller producers, minority producers and other underserved farmers.

Leafreport – Marika:

Okay, wow, fantastic. Something you mentioned that’s quite interesting to me, you mentioned CBD is quite labor intensive. Is it more so than THC or…

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

No, not more so than THC, but I guess just to lay the groundwork, when you talk large producers, you’re talking about a farm that will typically grow literally tens of thousands of acres on one farm. That’s a large farmer, some to the tune of hundreds of thousands of acres, traditional row crops the way corn and soy are produced.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So while CBD is not more labor intensive than THC or other cannabis plants like that, even that’s not being done on that type of scale. So I think with a little bit of definitions of what you mean by large producer and labor intensive, certainly when you’re talking CBD production that the less you handle the plant the better as far as maintaining the trichomes and the terpenes and all that kinds of good stuff. The more you process it with mechanical equipment the more you’re going to lose.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Also, I think hopefully we’ll maintain seeing a lot of CBD being produced using organic practices and I think consumers will help drive that as well in sort of demanding that CBD be produced in organic environments.

Leafreport – Marika:

Wow. Are there regulations at this point, the USDA, do they give any guidance and guidelines for growing CBD at this point? I was writing an article earlier this year and it still very much up in the air, they’re still making regulations and coming up with them. I’m assuming we’re not really closer to anything substantial at this point or…

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

No, what USDA came up with was basically the regulatory groundwork as far as licensing is concerned, the acceptable levels of THC, they don’t go into the nitty gritty of any kind of cultivation best practices or anything like that or any kind of mandates for organic, but I will say that the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency did just approve 10 pesticides and herbicides for use on hemp, which is sort of a blessing. Certainly for CBD production we want to see as minimal amount of chemicals as possible, preferably none, but again, when you do look to large scale production it’s kind of a necessary evil. So in that regards there is some movement in approving things for hemp, but there has not been any kind of guidance issued by USDA as to what best practices are.

Leafreport – Marika:

Yeah, and are there regulations at this point, the USDA, do they give any guidance and guidelines for growing CBD at this point. I was writing an article earlier this year and it still very much up in the air, they’re still making regulations and coming up with them. I’m assuming we’re not really closer to anything substantial at this point or…

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

We’ve already exceeded, like at the heyday of hemp industry in say from colonial times up through what happened during World War II. I think we grew about 250,000 acres last year and in perspective Canada who’s been growing hemp for 25 years averages about 100,000 acres a year. So we’ve already exceeded what the size of the hemp industry was, but again, back in World War II and in colonial times all of that production was the fiber and that’s why I say once… So we’ve already exceeded those sort of acreage levels with just CBD production as primarily what’s happening now.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So when we do get to full manufacturing and we’re able to start making car parts and construction materials and textiles and high tech applications, we’re going to blow all the previous numbers away, but again the infrastructure is what’s lacking to be able to do that. There’s plenty of manufacturers that are ready to start incorporating hemp fiber into their processes, but until they know that the supply chain is going to be there, they’re holding off. So we do have a good bit of work to do on that side of things.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

The other exciting thing that’s happening is there’s a lot of companies that are working on figuring out exactly what to do with all of the waste stalk that comes from CBD production. for CBD, unlike fiber and grain, those stalks are very thick and they’re not good for textiles or some of the more traditional hemp fiber products, but there’s a lot of innovation going into figuring out how those sort fibers can be used for bio plastics and things of that nature, which is going to be very promising, because right now all of that stalk is either just getting chopped up and tilled back under, burned or otherwise disposed of.

Leafreport – Marika:

Okay. On that point, do you see biodegradable hemp products as replacing single use plastic in the foreseeable future? Is there any sort of advancement in that area?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Lots of advancement in that area. I do think it’s going to be some time before we see a complete replacement of those items, which is, I hope where we do get to. Certainly I think we’ll start with single use plastics in the form of like say cutlery, some of the more sturdy, thicker type disposable plastics. The extruded plastics that are used to make like say water bottles and other containers that are single use are a little bit further down the road, but we will get there and it won’t just be hemp, it’ll be all kinds of bio sustainable materials as well.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So in plastics and in a lot of other things, it’s not that hemp is going to replace all of those things, but they will make all of those things better, stronger and more sustainable.

Leafreport – Marika:

Okay, all right, that’s good news. In that same vein, are you directly supporting cannabinoid research in both private and public institutions or is your support more indirect? Do you more provide guidance? What exactly is your role there?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

We’re not in a position where we can actually provide financial support to fund those types of studies, but certainly we encourage them every place we go because it’s important. It’s not only important for all of the beneficial uses of hemp that we just don’t even know about yet, but it’s also important in order for FDA to provide reasonable guidance to allow the industry to continue and to protect consumers, because while as you had said earlier that a lot of the smaller producers do really take pride in their work and take care to produce a quality product, there’s a lot of snake oil out there too.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

A lot of it that does not meet safety standards, that does not have truth in labeling. We’re seeing people selling hemp oil, true oil pressed from the seed and selling it a CBD prices and deceiving people into thinking they’re buying a CBD product when it’s really just pressed oil from the seed. So there’s a lot of shenanigans going on out there in the industry right now that legitimately does need to be reigned in, but at the same time we need to make sure that the people that have pioneered this industry have the opportunity to continue and to thrive they way they have been for the last several years.

Leafreport – Marika:

On that note, when I write about CBD for entrepreneurs and so on and people trying to start their CBD brand, it is incredible what you would see marketed as, and it’s just regular priced hemp oil, and it’s like, “Oh, it has this energetic qualities and so on.” No, it’s completely riding on the coattails, kind of like, what’s the word for it? Greenwashing.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Right, and it’s also the way a lot of companies have been skirting importation laws as well. There is no tariff code for CBD, it was technically a controlled substance up until the end of last year, so people were looking to bring CBD products in from other countries, they would just use the tariff code for hemp oil, which is supposed to be hemp oil pressed from the seed and that was a way of circumventing the law. Then unfortunately consumers just aren’t well educated, they don’t understand the difference between a CBD extract and whole pressed oil from the seed, but again, back to why it relates to research is it would be nice if CBD products could legitimately make the medical claims that it should have, but it’s going to require those research studies to be done in order to be legally allowed to make those medical claims.

Leafreport – Marika:

Absolutely. Do you think that’s really hurting it as much. Personally, I think people are educating themselves on the benefits CBD. Do we need to FDA to give us a check mark next to CBD? Is it necessary.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

It’s necessary in that there’s a certain segment of the population that will never believe it until the FDA does do it, but it’s more so necessary from a legal regulatory framework. You’re never going to be able to make medical claims without… or you will be violating the FDA rules if you make medical claims that they don’t approve of.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

As far as the public educating themselves, yes, but that is also a double edged sword as well. There’s a lot of reputable places for information out there, but again there’s just as many bad sites out there that people completely misinform. We saw one website, I don’t remember when it was, it was like two years ago, that claimed that CBD cured death. So there’s some legitimate reasons why consumers do need the proper education and need to be protected and certainly when it comes to certain other drug interactions and things of that nature, there are things that we just don’t know yet.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Certainly from my point of view, FDA already has deemed CBD to be safe and effective or otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to grant approval to Epidiolex from GW Pharmaceuticals, so certainly they do have a base of knowledge and safety and efficacy, but what conditions that they’ll apply that for is what remains unknown at this point.

Leafreport – Marika:

Yeah, and there’s still only the one product that’s been approved, right, by the FDA?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Yes.

Leafreport – Marika:

Yeah, okay.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

But CBD is the main and active and only ingredient in that product. So it’s going to be a hard thing for them to claim that it’s dangerous or ineffective if they’ve approved it for another purpose and they also do allow Epidiolex to be prescribed for other indications other than the two forms of epilepsy that it’s been approved for, yes.

Leafreport – Marika:

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

CBG is I think going to be the next CBN and CBC are the three that I’m hearing the most about. I haven’t done too much investigation into what their indications for, but I live here in Pennsylvania and a lot of our farmers are looking to grow CBG varietals next year because of those compliance issues that we spoke about, rich in CDG varietals tend to be much lower in THC and much more easily compliant. So this industry has proven to be very resilient and very adaptive and it will find a way to survive and thrive no matter what the government tries to throw on it.

Leafreport – Marika:

Seems like it, right?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

And consumers will benefit too, because we, like I said, what, there’s over 100 different cannabinoids and discovering the combinations of them and how with the entourage effect and all of that research discovering exactly what this potential is for this plant to help in health and wellness we’ve only just begun.

Leafreport – Marika:

Right, scratch the surface, yeah, absolutely.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

But Anna, if you want to jump in here. I’ve sort of like been blabbering on and on here.

Anna C.:

No, no that’s okay you’ve been answering. It’s great. But yes, we’ve been getting calls and just even in our forum you see farmers CBG flour, so we had farmers that grew it this year as well. I believe, yeah, next year, what I’ve seen just online, CBG varietals. I haven’t heard so much about CBC yet, but once again, it’s something I have to research as well.

Leafreport – Marika:

Yeah, and I did read about the one that makes you exceptionally tired that’s for sleep, CBN or… I might be confusing-

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

That’s CEN.

Leafreport – Marika:

Is it? Okay. Yeah, I read about that as well. It’s interesting all the different things that we can get help with. So what does the FDA’s stance… obviously, it’s only approved the one CBD product. What is their stance at the moment. You cannot add it to anything and call it a dietary supplement or sell it and so what are the rules when we’re marketing CBD brands, because there’s so many… somewhere on the box we have to be careful of, what we can say, what we can’t say. Is there any kind of… I don’t know, can you give us an idea of what we can say and what we can’t say in marketing materials?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

You can’t make any medical claims whatsoever, unfortunately none. You also have to make sure that what the label says is what’s actually in the balm and as you mentioned, it can’t be used as a food ingredient, so therefore it can’t be added to any type of food or beverage and be considered to be lawful.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Now, as we all know, that’s not what’s happening in the real world. There’s plenty of gummy products and beverages products out there. Also, FDA, the worst thing they have done up until now is issue some nasty warning letters to people. They haven’t really gone too much further than that. They’re really in quite a unique box that they’ve probably never been in before, where a product has increased in popularity and distribution to such a degree that the CBD industry is in now, and then retroactively trying to figure out how to regular it. So I don’t envy them in that regard, but they need to do it and they need to do it right or there’s going to be some pretty severe backlash from a lot of people, not only in the industry but consumers as well. A lot of people rely on this product and they’re not going to take kindly to it being taken away.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So I don’t think that’s what they’re going to do, but however, there is a very real possibility that we’re going to need a legislative fix in order for them to be able to get there. There are certain rules in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which is the governing body of the FDA that says that unless a product was marketed and sold as a dietary supplement prior to clinical trials beginning on a pharmaceutical drug, that that product cannot be sold as such.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So in this case, GW Pharmaceuticals submitted the I&D for their trials in 2006. So certainly CBD was not being legally marketed and sold in the United States prior to 2006. They’re trying to figure out a workaround of it, but the reality is we’re probably going to need to have Congress step in and either create an exception for CBD from the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act or provide some other type of clear guidance to do it.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

I know in the Senate Appropriations Bill that Senator McConnell did offer an amendment that sort of mandates that the FDA come up with something in like 90 days, which would be unheard of speed, if that should pass. Now that hasn’t passed yet, but that just shows the level of commitment that we do have from Congress and hemp and CBD is just one of those rare things that ’cause does have bipartisan support in this country, thank goodness. We do need to go down a legislative route, I do believe we can get there.

Leafreport – Marika:

Okay, good. That’s good to know that we have that bipartisan support.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Yes.

Leafreport – Marika:

It’s probably is going to just take some time as we know Congress isn’t that speedy on anything these days.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Right, and as long as they leave the industry alone between now and then that’s okay. I would rather them take their time and do it right than to just shove something through for the sake of doing it, especially if it’s going to be detrimental to small farmers. So while nobody’s really satisfied with status quo, if status quo means the industry can continue the way it has been until we get the right regulatory path, I’d be okay with that.

Leafreport – Marika:

Okay, wow, good, all right. So hemp has quite a high nutritional value. I saw it in health shops, hemp seeds and all kinds of things. Are we doing anything to promote hemp as a food source, a source of renewable energy and also provide a great materials. So all its other uses, I guess is what I’m saying. Are you guys doing a lot to… apart from CBD as a treatment for all these ailments…

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Yes. So unfortunately on the nutrition side of things it really is just a matter of public awareness and creating public demand. Hemp parts and any product made from hemp seed has always been perfectly legal in the United States and you can find hemp seeds in any kind of whole food store or nutritional type stores. They even are carrying them in Walmart and my husband was shopping the other day and he sent me a whole bunch pictures of hemp oil and hemp seed products that they were carrying in Walmart.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

What’s nice about products that are made from the grain is that we do have the infrastructure already here and in place that can handle that. So any seed pressing equipment that can press oil, like say canola or sunflower, they can already process hemp seed without any changes to their machinery, but the demand just isn’t quite there yet. Most of the products that are manufactured in the United States are even sold in the United States have traditionally come from Canada and because the true commercial scale production has only really been this last year, we haven’t seen those products shift to be domestically produced yet, but we will.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Fiber and grain varietals are nice in that almost all of them are easily compliant with the THC levels, so it’s a lot less risky. Cultivating hemp as a true row crop like corn or soy is more advantageous to most farmers because they can use existing planting equipment and it makes a great rotation with those other crops because hemp just like anything else, you don’t want to mono crop it year after year after year. It really does need to be part of a rotation.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So we do hope to just educate the public on exactly how nutritious hemp seed is and why it’s superior as a protein to soy and other vegetable proteins in order to help create and bolster that demand, but we are seeing some domestic companies. There’s a company in New York that’s making hemp milk on a commercial scale, we’ve seen hemp pastas and protein powders and a lot of innovative products like that that we just need to help promote and make sure that consumers keep the demand up for those products.

Leafreport – Marika:

Absolutely, all right, thank you. So as noted on your website, there’s a lack of infrastructure to support hemp growers, processors and others involved in the seed to sale process. What concrete steps can we can on the state and even on the local level to support this infrastructure and to grow it and establish it?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

The infrastructure for CBD processing is pretty stable. It is primarily the fiber processing that’s severely lacking and there are some very large companies that are working on breaking that bottleneck, but I think the most important thing that people can do to try to promote this industry for farmers is a couple of things. First off, to talk to your state’s economic development team and see if you can create any type of incentives for manufacturers to invest in the infrastructure. We’re seeing some states move to do that.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

The other thing that I think would be good is for farmers to start looking at forming specific hemp coops so when specific harvesting equipment is available… fiber varieties get to be quite tall. It can be anywhere from 15 to 20 foot tall, which means that traditional combine that most farmers have aren’t able to harvest the seed and the stalk because they’re just simply too tall. Also, because the hemp fiber is so strong it easily wraps around a lot of rotary parts in farm equipment, so therefore accommodations need to be made to prevent that from happening and damaging the equipment.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So the specialized hemp harvesting equipment that’s out there that’s more commonly used in Europe and other places that have a lot more experience in hemp cultivation than we do, those pieces of equipment are quite expensive. So I think another good thing would be for farmers to look to collaborate together and to be able to share equipment instead of expecting each and every farmer to be able to foot the bill to invest in that type of equipment, at least until the industry is stable enough to substantiate and warrant that type of investment.

Leafreport – Marika:

I think you’ve given me a business idea now. I’m going to buy this equipment and rent it out. I’ll make millions.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Yeah, it’s what’s going to need to happen because the average farmer is not going to be able to invest a million dollars in a specialized harvester. So it’s always been this sort of chicken and the egg kind of scenario when it comes to fiber processing. Nobody wanted to invest anything until we have federal legalization and now we do have that, but it’s only been a year and while we’re all very impatient to see the rise of this portion of the industry, farmers just simply can’t grow it until they okay they have a market for it. There can’t be a market for it until there’s someplace to take to process it, and there’s not going to be manufacturers that are going to commit to buying it until they know that they infrastructure is there to complete their supply chain.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So there’s going to have to be a break in that line of thinking and it’s going to have to be on the processing side, somebody in a big a way, which I do think we’ll see happen in short order, we’re already seeing a lot of places around the country planning on making this type of big capital investment into the industry and once that happens then the floodgates can open and we can start to see hemp reach its potential.

Leafreport – Marika:

Yeah, especially as you mentioned before, there’s kind of a smaller operations that are leading the way in new innovative products and so on and they can’t make that kind of investment, so if we can get another body that can do that, we can have all these smaller brands excelling further.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

And actually some of the business models that we’ve seen in other parts of the world is that the processing facility, the demarkation is the facility that takes the hemp stalk and breaks down hemp into its two component fibers, the bast fiber and the inner woody core, which is the herd.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So a very successful business model is where that decortication facility is actually invested in the equipment for harvesting, they will contract the farmers to grow for the facility and they will actually do the harvesting themselves to keep the burden off of the farmer. So that is another viable business model that we would like to see

Leafreport – Marika:

It does seem very reputable, wow, okay, good. So recently I actually did a review on a brand for Just Pets, a CBD pet brand. So I was wondering what kind of future you see in the veterinary applications of CBD and other kinds of cannabinoids? Are there any other that could be helpful for pets and animals and what kind of progress do you see in this area?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

With the exception of THC, I actually suspect that the cannabinoids that are beneficial for humans are going to prove to be beneficial for most pets and obviously we know that THC, for dogs in particular is not good for them, but has proven to be helpful, but it’s important for people to note the barriers to that for animal consumption are exactly the same as far as FDA regulations goes, and in some cases it’s actually worse. They almost regulate stuff for animals more so than they do for people if you can figure that out. Even simple things like using hemp as an animal feed, not CBD but hemp seed and hemp protein, you can’t feed that to an animal and then feed that animal to a human, even though it’s perfectly okay for a human to directly eat that protein.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So there’s a lot of hoops to jump through in all of it and the way they treat animals as far as CBD goes, there’s one regulatory pathway for like veterinary use, there’s another pathway for animal feed for pets versus animal feed for livestock versus animal treats, which is not regulated the same way as animal food. So there’s a lot of different pathways and pitfalls in getting CBD approved for pets as well as it is for people.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Now the good part is that there is no Epidiolex version in the pet world for CBD, so they’re not competing against an already approved prescription grade product for pets. It’s still going to require the same type of clinical trials and studies to be done to get it approved and unfortunately it’s for every single animal. Like it’s like one blanket approval, like CBD is certified as grass, which means generally regarded as safe. Like if you do it for dogs, then you have to do it for cats and then you have to do it for birds and swine and sheep and every different species of animal has to go through its own approval process.

Leafreport – Marika:

Yeah, that makes sense. When I was writing that review of the pet CBD I was wondering how they figure out dosing. It must be quite difficult figuring out the dosages for pets and for different size animals.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So we know dosing for people-

Anna C.:

recommendations. We start small, I think gradually, but…

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Yeah, we’re just not there yet. It’s not like you weigh this much, take this much, this many milligrams. It’s all trial and error.

Leafreport – Marika:

Absolutely. Well you can at least talk to the person and say, “How do you feel?” but you can’t really…

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Right, but again, you still have those variables. They’re like, “Okay, so this person tried 300 milligrams three times a day,” but then you have to wonder, “Well, is what they bought actually 300 milligrams?” We don’t know. Like I’ve seen people try stuff and they’re like, “CBD just doesn’t work for me,” and then you buy them a reputable brand and they’re like, “Oh well yeah, maybe it does work.”

Leafreport – Marika:

Okay, for me it’s also dependent on brands. Like some brands are wonderful, some are like, “Eh,” so yeah, it just all depends I think.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

And why is that when in theory it should all be the same? Like 300 milligrams of CBD should be 300 milligrams of CBD regardless of who you buy it from.

Leafreport – Marika:

Exactly. So when we look at the whole picture what do you think is your greatest challenge is for the future?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Again, it depends on which side of it you’re looking at. On the fiber side it is the infrastructure is by far the biggest and largest bottleneck. For CBD it’s the FDA and it’s also coming up with enough solid genetics to satisfy the industry that are going to be safe for farmers. The new USDA interim final rules are very harsh and I think there’s some hope we’ll be able to get that relaxed a little bit in one key important way, and that’s in how they take their samples. So I think that the FDA is going to be the biggest hurdle. Certainly it’s very popular, it’s everywhere and it’s just getting the right regulatory framework in order to have it be viable for farmers and also safe for consumers.

Leafreport – Marika:

Okay. Thank you. I guess I’d like to finish with what are the similarities and differences between your organization and the U.S. Hemp Authority and other hemp trade groups? How do you distinguish yourself or how do you differentiate?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

I think certainly we all have the same goals and in the end want the same thing, but I do believe that we have different approaches. I think what sets us apart from them, the U.S. Hemp Authority they have that self regulatory labeling type of thing and they’re part of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable and while I agree with the concept of it, the reality is that it doesn’t replace FDA approval and it doesn’t, in and of itself provide the… If you would just go randomly pluck some people off the street they’re not going to know what that certification means, but I think at the end of the day what differentiates us and I can confirm this is our responsiveness.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

We answer the phone. You get to talk to a live person when you call and talk to us. We respond to every voicemail and every email and we just truly take a more grassroots approach than some of the other organizations do, but again, I’m not here to say anything negative about any of them. I admire the work that all of them do, we’re all on the same team and the end and it’s not a competition. We don’t see eye to eye on every issue or in our approach, but I do have nothing negative to say about any other association.

Leafreport – Marika:

Lovely. I guess in the end we all celebrate the victories together, right, the small victories.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Yeah, that’s how it should be.

Leafreport – Marika:

Absolutely, yeah. And just why did you personally get involved in CBD and you as well, Anna? Like what was it that got your interest or peaked your interest and made you get involved?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

For me I blame my husband. My husband time but it is all his fault, but for the overall hemp industry. My husband wrote a book about the history of hemp in Pennsylvania and we-

Leafreport – Marika:

Oh, what is the book?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

It’s called Hempstone Heritage.

Leafreport – Marika:

And the author?

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Les Stark.

Leafreport – Marika:

Okay, thank you.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So we decided to get hemp legislation introduced in Pennsylvania and we did that and we got it passed unanimously in one session, which was pretty phenomenal and then when the governor did the ceremonial signing of the bill, that’s when Les proposed to me. So it was pretty cool. It was a pretty special day, but aside from that, honestly when we started out neither my husband or I even really knew much about CBD. My involvement particularly in CBD is sort of an evolution from my overall interest and passion of the hemp industry as general as it being just one component of overall what it can do. It’s really been an amazing journey to watch this industry grow and I’ve learned so, so much over the last several years about the miracle of this plant.

Anna C.:

I was introduced to the plant about a few years ago. I was watching a documentary on sustainable housing, Earth Ships, which led to me learning about hempcrete and that to where I actually met Erika and then boyfriend. So this was like, what, four or five years ago and he had a workshop.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Yeah.

Anna C.:

So those people that I met that day are the people I still keep in contact today and I’ve been just volunteering my time in the hemp industry and just seeing Erika almost at like every Pennsylvania or local hemp event and it just led us to this position now. Like who knew? I’m a curious learned and you don’t know where it leads you.

Leafreport – Marika:

Yeah, and clearly there’s surprises around every corner. It’s surprises a few times, is this plant so

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

And it still has more surprises in store too.

Leafreport – Marika:

Yeah. Well thank you very much, ladies. It’s been lovely talking to you. Thank you for shedding so much light on the industry and giving us more information about that. We’ll definitely make a note of your husband’s book as well.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Thank you.

Leafreport – Marika:

That seems like an interesting one to read. Yeah, is there anything else you wanted to add or ask us or…

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

So as you may or may not be aware, earlier this year USDA announced that they were going to make hemp crop insurance available through their whole farm crop insurance program, but independently from that, we’ve been working with a company called ,who is a developer of federal crop insurance programs and we approached the FCIC, which is the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and picked a proposal for hemp crop insurance and just last week it was approved. It’s going to rollout 4/20/20 in select counties in 21 different states. So this is different than what USDA was offering under the whole farm insurance, this is true multi peril crop insurance for hemp, so we’re pretty excited about that development as well.

Leafreport – Marika:

That is fantastic. Thank you for mentioning that. Yeah, that’s definitely something to

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

That’s one the recent news.

Leafreport – Marika:

Absolutely, very exciting, yeah. Thank you very much for today.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Thank you.

Leafreport – Marika:

All right.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

And Happy New Year.

Leafreport – Marika:

And you too. Thank you. Bye bye.

National Hemp Association – Erika Stark:

Thanks, bye bye.

 

ENJOY READING? SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Marike de Jager
Marike de Jager
CBD Journalist
Marike has a keen interest in everything CBD. After starting her own journey managing chronic pain with CBD, she realized just how little objective advice there is out there. Today she advises fellow entrepreneurs who are getting into the private label CBD industry on what consumers value most, and what they need to do to provide the best possible product they can.

Read More

Leafreport picks for best cbd oil
FOLLOW US
Important Disclaimer
All contents of the LeafReport Site, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on the LeafReport Site are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the LeafReport Site!