Sunday, December 16, 2018

Industrial Hemp: Sustainable Economic Development for P.R.?

By on December 5, 2018

Editor’s note: The following originally appeared in the Nov. 22-28, 2018, issue of Caribbean Business.

Within Puerto Rico’s desperate economic climate, the need for job creation is essential. Thankfully, a new possibility for commercial development could materialize through the production of industrial hemp.

As part of the 2018 edition of the Puerto Rico MedCann.Biz Convention on Dec. 6 & 7, Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp Inc., a global leader in industrial hemp, will present a talk on how to effectively organize a large-scale planting of this product.

Perlowin explained to Caribbean Business that possibilities to use industrial hemp as a raw material are almost endless, with more than 25,0000 products that can currently be produced with it, such as textiles, construction materials as well as cannabidiol (CBD), which is used to treat anxiety disorders and other conditions, among many other uses.

The expert emphasized, however, that there is an abysmal difference between medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp, because CBD is not a psychoactive substance as is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and the former is considered to have a greater scope for medical applications. It is this form that Perlowin indicated is the most lucrative and the one most in demand.

The CEO also said Puerto Rico’s tropical climate makes the island an ideal competitor in this industry, since it allows crops to be grown year-round.

“In Puerto Rico, you can have two crops, and even three a year because of the climate. In other parts of the country, like Oregon or North Carolina, you can only have one crop a year,” Perlowin explained.

The industrial hemp expert said the moment for developing this industry on the island is ideal because the United States lifted this ban through the Senate version of the Agricultural Law of 2018, which removes this product from the list of federally controlled substances.

However, conservative forces gathering in the local government could object to the development of such an industry on the island. This fact does not seem to worry the entrepreneur, who was born and raised in the state of Florida.

“Keep in mind we are talking here about industrial hemp, that you cannot get high with. If someone is so stupid that in 2018 they are confusing hemp with marijuana, they are idiots and are uninformed. We are not talking…about medical marijuana, and if you are so conservative that you are idiotic and stupid, then I am sorry, you need to do some research on what hemp really is, so I don’t foresee any issues with this,” explained Perlowin, who also pointed out that most members of Congress know the difference between both and favor industrial hemp.

Likewise, Mimi Pérez, president of P.R. MedCann.Biz and director of Cannaworks, also foresaw no resistance from the local government since the governor has emphasized his support for this industry’s development.

“The executive [the governor] promotes the initiative. There is a bill drafted in the House of Representatives [HB 1071] to which they already gave their approval and we understand they are finishing negotiations on some amendments with the Senate. The arrival of hemp in Puerto Rico is not only necessary because of the economic impact it will have on the island, but also to continue positioning us as an advanced territory on industrial and health-promoting levels,” said Pérez, who will also participate at the event as a speaker.

Economic and social tool

For Perlowin, the possibility of creating a sustainable economy while also treating health conditions, emotional disorders and addictions are invaluable. Therefore, the expert in industrial hemp develops his crops with a unique method.

The concept of Veteran-Village “Kins” Communities is worked as eco-villages consisting of two-and-a-half acres of land called “Kin Domains,” designed to be sustainable and divided into sections for planting the product, organic gardens, bee combs for natural pollination, a pond and other elements.

In these communities, veteran participants can learn techniques of planting and production while producing natural medicine to treat their post-traumatic conditions.

“It’s like the sixties, part of the back-to-the-land movement. Then I realized that on one acre alone, you can make $200,000, and I jumped at the opportunity for veterans to make $200,000 a year and, at the same time, help them with their conditions. If you have PTSD and you became an alcoholic or an addict because of it, we will treat you because we also have the professional healers who can assist them from the Kins Domain,” the expert explained.

“Basically, we are paying these veterans to get well, the opposite of what the world is doing today. They are paying $30,000 for a treatment and you might not get well in the end. You set up this whole culture of being clean and now you have this massive number of veterans all getting clean and saying let’s get off the opioids, let’s get off the meth, let’s get off the alcohol, and they’re making a fortune while they are treating their conditions. So, it is a very cool, very effective model,” he added.

The 2018 Puerto Rico MedCann.Biz Convention will be held Dec. 6 & 7 at the Wyndham Grand Río Mar Golf & Beach Resort in Río Grande. For more information or to register, call 939-338-3303 or visit prmedcannbiz.com.

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