BULLHEAD CITY — After decades, hemp no longer is illegal to grow. Licenses are being issued to farmers in Arizona interested in producing the multi-use crop.

Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc., said he wants to see part of Golden Valley become a productive agriculture operation focusing on hemp. It’s supposed to be a place that provides those who work the land an opportunity to benefit financially and better their lives.

“What we didn’t do in the ’60s, we’ll do in our 60s,” Perlowin said about the land. Portions will be used to benefit segments of the population. Some also will be devoted to helping Keepers of the Wild.

He created a contest on 300 acres of land devoted to growing hemp to produce products made with cannabidol (CBD). The contest, expected to last about six months, has been named the “Great American Hempathon.”  

“This is an opportunity for those who are directly involved or would like to be involved in the hemp industry to get seen, be heard and get started,” according to Perlowin.

Water pipes will provide plenty of water for the plants. RV sites are being prepared so people can stay on the land during the grow. 

And “our live streaming video cameras will allow the world to watch the ‘The Great American Hempathon,’ in real time,” according to a news release about the event.

Entrants are asked to pay $10,000 to enter. People who demonstrate outstanding products and processes will receive prize money from a $100,000 purse.

The revenue split will be 60% to the grower and 40% to Hemp, Inc.

Each grower gives a dedication to a veteran or veterans group as a way of showing gratitude for veterans’ service to the country.

Each team should have a master grower “with the knowledge and experience to grow CBD-quality hemp cannabis” and be responsible for installing the irrigation systems, preparing the soil, and maintaining their five-acre contest site.

There will be weekly seminars to help the teams learn about best practices.

Perlowin noted that farmers will grow hemp during Hempathon that is much different from the plants that grew wild in some parts of the country decades ago.

Growing and cultivating hemp first was criminalized in the late 1930s, but the U.S. government later encouraged its growing during World War II due to shortages of other fibers. Hemp ultimately was banned once it was added to the list of Schedule I drugs — along with other forms of cannabis — as a result of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

The federal government delisted hemp as a Schedule I drug through the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. 

Arizona legalized hemp in May for cultivation of industrial hemp for experimental purposes.

Perlowin said that, overall, Arizona state licensing is slower than originally anticipated. The start date for Hempathon will be announced once the location is fully licensed.

Hemp grown for today’s CBD products isn’t as easy to bring to harvest “as corn or rye,” he said. “It’s a very complex plant to grow.”

And once harvested, indoor space is needed to prepare the buds for oil extraction. That oil will be used for such products as the many pain relievers now sold that have CBD as the active ingredient.

Hemp and marijuana plants are closely related but far from identical. Hemp has virtually no tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the active ingredient in marijuana. It does produce more CBD than marijuana, however.

Most people who can farm hemp obtained their experience by growing marijuana, Perlowin explained.

The Hempathon effort includes Veteran Village Kins Community Arizona Inc. The Hempathon grow site is within that group’s 500-acre Eco-Village.

Veterans Village Kins Community is going to provide veterans with 2.5 acres of property. These kin domains are based on a book series, “The Ringing Cedars of Russia,” by Vladimir Megre. 

Anastasianism, a religious movement that began in Russia during the 1990s, sprang from Megre’s writings.

Ringing Cedars also describes what these kins have within fruit trees that provide each property with a “living fence,” Perlowin said. 

The sites will be designed and used the way the occupants see fit with items such as a pond, organic garden, material for a house and one acre to grow hemp. The kins are meant to provide fully sustainable living situations. A support system geared toward veterans’ needs will be available to those residents, Perlowin said.

Once referring to himself as the “King of Pot”, Perlowin was imprisoned for nine years for marijuana smuggling. 

Publicly-traded Hemp, Inc. was started about a decade ago. It has two processing sites: In Spring Hope, North Carolina, there is an industrial hemp processing plant, and in Medford, Oregon, there is a processing center.

Perlowin, Barry K. Epling and two entities he controls, Ferris Holdings, Inc. and Hobbes Equities, Inc., are accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of a “comprehensive, years-long scheme to defraud investors and evade securities law by selling restricted shares of Hemp without registering the sales,” according to Forbes.com.

Perlowin asserted that he did nothing of the sort. The specific accusation against him for gifting stock to someone, that person selling the stock and then loaning those proceeds to the company isn’t true, he said. 

That matter should be in court next year.

If he ends up being found guilty it’s a civil offense. He won’t end up back behind bars.

“If we lose, we get a fine,” he said. “But we won’t lose.”

For details about Hempathon and the veterans community being set up, go to www.kinscommunities.com/hemp-grow-off.

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