Opinion February 21, 2021 | 1:12 pm

Hemp is NOT Marijuana: but it is a potential windfall for the Dominican Republic 

Renn Loren

Industrial hemp has a less than 0.3% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive agent in Marijuana) level.
Furthermore, hemp was removed from its classification as a controlled substance.

The Farm Bill contains a change of how industrial hemp is now classified.

Under the Farm Bill, hemp is no longer considered a controlled substance non-hallucinogenic cousin of marijuana; hemp has been considered a controlled substance because it has that tiny amount of THC. However, hemp has about as much chance of getting someone high as honeybuns have got someone drunk (honeybuns contain a correspondingly small amount of alcohol.)

So, other than a wholly undeserved stigma created by an industrial juggernaut engaging its political allies to remove its biggest competitor through a campaign of utter falsehoods and racially-charged exaggerated fabrications: there is absolutely no reason not to farm hemp and reap all the socio-economical benefits from farming hemp in 2021. None.

The pathway to a uniquely versatile product that produces millions of dollars within 100 days has been approved, cleared, and green-lighted by the Biden Administration and the US government. On a planet whose atmospheric composition has become a bit too heavy with carbon dioxide lately, the carbon-sequestering ability of hemp offers yet another win-win scenario. The more hemp planted, the more CO2 neutralized.

Q&A with Caribbean Hemp Company’s Founder and CEO Gregory Ricker.

Why the Dominican Republic?

Ricker: “The DR offers a surplus of ideal elements that are thoroughly conducive to hemp’s industrial farming. The tropical environment allows the entire process to be conducted outside, which saves millions of dollars. The DR has a highly affordable labor force.

The combination of its location, the water supply that runs within the rocks and throughout the island, which has perfect PH levels, the ideal soil, the available lands, and the most progressive forward-thinking government the country has had in history all mean that the DR stands to be the largest source of the highest quality industrial hemp in the world.

With all projections predicting a 100 billion dollar industry by 2027, no other business, industry, or sector surpasses the industrial hemp industry.”

What is it precisely that the Caribbean Hemp Company offers?

“Ultimately, the Caribbean Hemp Company offers an industry that would boost all segments of society and help on every level of it.

From the ground level, we propagate the seeds from the planting process to harvest. We walk every grower through the entire process: a hug and a handshake, and goodbye. Our model perpetuates the grower’s propriety.

So you feel that the DR has the potential to produce the highest quality hemp in the world?

That is undisputable—God’s blessed this island. The abundance and profusion of perfect elements needed in the hemp farming operation exist naturally here: you could not have designed a better, more receptive climate and environment for hemp cultivation.

What are the most significant benefits the hemp industry would provide to the Dominican society?

Almost overnight, the per capita wealth would go through the stratosphere. The DR is poised to become the next Monte Carlo.

The sheer prosperity from this enterprise would generate an entirely new, much-needed revenue source that would spawn whole new industries, jobs, and sectors that would allow the DR total financial independence.

For every mother looking into her child’s eyes with hopes for their future, the hemp industry offers untold educational and entrepreneurial opportunities.”

So what stands in the way? What are the main obstacles?

“The indecision of bureaucracy and the DR’s international viewpoint and opinion are two of the biggest challenges. There is a real stigma to doing business in the DR as it stands. There always seems to be one-too-many middle people looking to be included.

The hemp industry offers the DR the opportunity to be encouraged and move beyond its dependence on foreign income sources. The potential is virtually unlimited.

There has never been an administration capable and able to take the DR to a level of prosperity it has never known. President Abinader and First Lady Raquel Arbaje are exceptionally suited to allocate that wealth in a meaningfully significant humanitarian way that would benefit the whole of Dominican society.

We are talking about here is no less than a world-changing event happening right here on this island.

There is also the unjust villainization of hemp due to an entirely erroneous association with its psychoactive cousin. Industrial hemp has nothing to do with marijuana. They are two entirely different things.

Enough is enough already! Hemp is NOT marijuana, OK?

The difference could not be more pronounced. Industrial hemp is a plant with no psychoactive chemicals or qualities.

It is time to move past the rampant ignorance surrounding this plant since the era of Reefer Madness.

As it stands, it is a bit of an international embarrassment that hemp is viewed in the way it is on this island which is the most conducive friendly environment for the cultivation of this plant—in the world!”

What drives you to pursue this uphill battle?

“If we could put just one child through college, wouldn’t that be reason enough?”

What do you have to say to the Dominican people? 

“Please just get involved, take part, have an interest. Think about the future, your children, and think about how bringing in a new industry like hemp could rejuvenate and improve the quality of life on this island. Hemp farming presents a future that offers something other than driving a motoconcho (motorcycle).”

Why now?

“It’s a four-year-old industry, and growing it anywhere else in the world takes a year, whereas here in the tropics allows for a 90-day harvest. This results in a four-time annual crop yield for the growers.”

How many other Caribbean islands and nations are currently farming industrial hemp?

“At present, five other islands, Costa Rica, and Florida all farm industrial hemp.
My lady and I own seventy percent of the company, but we hope to give it back to the people someday.
After all the farms are established, ownership of the entities is returned to the farmers/landowners. It’s approximately a three-year process.
Then we head off to our next endeavor.”

So you see the expansion of the industrial hemp industry as inevitable as it is unstoppable?

“It’s bigger than any individual, company, or business model: how do you stop a weed? It’d be like trying to stop grass from growing!”