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Up in smoke? Hemp farmers fear EU decision

RATINGEN, Germany — For European farm managers like Bernd Wortmann, growing cannabis is a careful ca..



RATINGEN, Germany — For European farm managers like Bernd Wortmann, growing cannabis is a careful calculation.

To be considered legal “hemp” and receive EU farm subsidies, their plants must possess less than 0.2 percent of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These plants also contain over 100 other chemicals, including cannabidiol (CBD) — which is non-psychoactive — that have been less clearly regulated.

Each part of the plant also offers different product opportunities and levels of revenue: Stems are used for fiber production, seeds for foods, feed and oils, leaves for cosmetics and food supplements, and the most lucrative part — the flowering tops — produce CBD for extracts used in things like health supplements and flavorings in foods and beverages such as tea.

“Its a very good smell,” said Wortmann, surveying the green fields he tends on the hills of western Germanys Ruhr valley. “I think hemp farming makes up a quarter of my cash flow.”

His crops are so prized that hes had to plant a strip of sunflowers to mask them from the road. This meets EU greening rules for receiving farm funds but also hides the crop from passing motorists, who he suspects have stolen around 100 plants already this year.

“I think I will have to go to work as a lorry driver maybe” — Hemp farmer Bernd Wortmann

But now Brussels is considering throwing farmers a new equation to figure out, indicating in an initial ruling that CBD food products derived from the top of the plant will not comply with the EUs so-called novel foods regulation.

If they cant sell such a key part of the plant, farmers say they wont be able make ends meet under their “whole plant” business model.

Its another example of how Europes ever-shifting legal gray area for cannabis products could leave businesses scrambling to recalibrate — and many hemp farmers fear they wont survive this potential new legal hurdle.

“I think I will have to go to work as a lorry driver maybe,” Wortmann said with a forced laugh.

Hemp history

Ironically for a product facing a ban under the EUs novel foods directive, Germanys hemp culture dates back many generations. Peasants smoked hemp called Knaster, containing only mild quantities of THC, from the 18th century onward. One hemp farmer in the Ruhr Valley hills, Michael Buscher, is himself the son of a cannabis plant farmer. “I was born in a hemp field,” he joked.

But an international treaty passed in 1961 shook up such traditions, declaring cannabis a narcotic and leading to bans in much of Europe as well as the U.S.

The EUs massive Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies program has allowed the hemp industry to continue in its legal gray zone by implementing the THC threshold in 1999. What has been less clearly regulated is hemp products sold as foods or medicines.

Shops across Europe with cannabis leaves emblazoned on their windows sell hemp flowers (sometimes called “cannabis lite”) and products with cannabis extracts, as long as they stay within the THC limits and claim they are not for consumption.

In December 1997, the EUs standing committee on foodstuffs ruled that hemp flowers were food ingredients — and that “food containing parts of the hemp plant do not fall under the scope of the [novel foods] regulation.”

That decision paved the way for a mini boom in European hemp harvesting, which followed a surge in the U.S. after a 2014 farm bill ended hemp prohibition. Between 2011 and 2018, the amount of land in Europe farmed for hemp mushroomed from 8,000 hectares to 50,000 hectares, according to industry figures.

Hemp farmer Michael Buscher | Arthur Nelsen/POLITICO

Daniel Kruse, the founder of Hempro International, which buys Wortmanns crop to make oil, hulled seeds and protein powders, said he invested €4 million in the hemp industry as a result of that 1997 decision.

But because the products are largely unregulated, reports indicate that products may contain different levels of cannabinoids, especially CBD, than those declared on their labels.

“The industry is not doing themselves a favor if theyre doing such things,” said Sita Schubert, general secretary at the European Medicinal Cannabis Association (EUMCA).

Confusion around the legality of cannabis products has forced the closure of CBD shops in France and the loss of hemp farmers licenses in the U.K.

“To help the hemp industry thrive and to live up to its full potential, farmers need to be able to use the whole crop” — Liz McCulloch, director of policy at Volteface

In an effort to further clarify such products legal standing, the Commission last year pushed companies to submit applications for their CBD products for approval under the novel foods legislation.

The European Industrial Hemp Association, which Kruse also heads, organized 56 licensing applications from its members to remove any legal uncertainty about their operations.

The Commission then issued a preliminary ruling in July that CBD was not a food ingredient after all but rather a narcotic when extracted from the “flowering or fruiting tops” of hemp plants. Brussels is expected to make a final decision in the fall.

The top of the plant is where the most CBD-rich parts are found. If Brussels moves to officially restrict the use of the top part, that would deal a blow to hemp farmers “whole plant” business model.

“To help the hemp industry thrive and to live up to its full potential, farmers need to be able to use the whole crop,” said Liz McCulloch, director of policy at the British drug advocacy group Volteface. “Part of that means extracting CBD from the flower.”

Hemp entrepreneurs say Europes recent boom depended on the cultivation of hemp plant tops to augment retuRead More – Source

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How does overeating affect the immune system?



Overeating is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. While it is widely understood that excessive eating leads to obesity and other health problems, many people are unaware of the impact that overeating has on the immune system. In this article, we will explore how overeating affects the immune system and what can be done to prevent or mitigate the damage.

The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against harmful substances and infections. It is responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful pathogens and other invaders that may cause harm to the body. When the body is functioning normally, the immune system works efficiently to keep us healthy. However, when the body is subjected to chronic stress, such as from overeating, it can become weakened, making it less effective at protecting the body against illness and disease.

One of the ways in which overeating affects the immune system is by increasing inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or infection, but when it becomes chronic, it can have a negative impact on the immune system. Chronic inflammation is associated with a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

Another way in which overeating affects the immune system is by altering the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and play a crucial role in maintaining good health. When the body is exposed to a high-fat diet, the balance of gut bacteria can become disrupted, leading to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and the suppression of beneficial bacteria. This can result in decreased gut function and reduced immune function, making it more difficult for the body to protect itself against harmful pathogens.

In addition, overeating can also lead to obesity, which is a major risk factor for a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Obesity is associated with a range of physiological changes, including insulin resistance and the release of cytokines, which are signaling molecules that play a crucial role in the immune response. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of cytokines, it can lead to a state of chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

Finally, overeating can also affect the immune system by causing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the body is exposed to an excessive amount of free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that can cause damage to cells and tissues. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to oxidative stress, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

In conclusion, overeating can have a profound impact on the immune system. By increasing inflammation, altering the gut microbiome, causing obesity, and inducing oxidative stress, overeating can weaken the body’s ability to protect itself against harmful pathogens and other invaders. To maintain a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, and avoid overeating. By taking these simple steps, you can help protect your immune system and reduce your risk of illness and disease.

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Homelessness and mental illness are two intertwined issues that have a complex relationship. Homelessness can cause or worsen mental illness and, conversely, mental illness can contribute to homelessness. It is a vicious cycle that can be difficult to escape, and it is important to understand the ways in which these two issues are interconnected.

Homelessness can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. Living on the streets can be a traumatic experience, with a constant fear of violence, theft, and disease. Homeless individuals often face stigma, discrimination, and a lack of privacy, which can lead to feelings of shame, hopelessness, and isolation. The stress and unpredictability of homelessness can trigger or exacerbate mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mental illness, on the other hand, can also contribute to homelessness. Mental illness can make it difficult for individuals to maintain employment, manage their finances, and maintain stable housing. Individuals with mental illness may struggle with accessing treatment and support, and the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness can also contribute to feelings of shame and isolation. These challenges can lead to a cycle of homelessness and mental illness, where each issue exacerbates the other.

There is a need for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness and mental illness. This includes providing safe and stable housing, access to mental health treatment and support, and addressing the underlying social determinants of health that contribute to homelessness, such as poverty, lack of education and job opportunities.

Housing First, a program that prioritizes providing permanent housing to homeless individuals before addressing any other issues, has been shown to be effective in reducing homelessness and improving mental health outcomes. This approach recognizes that stable housing is a critical foundation for addressing other issues, including mental health.

In conclusion, homelessness and mental illness are complex and interrelated issues that require a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address. Providing stable housing and access to mental health treatment and support is critical for breaking the cycle of homelessness and mental illness and improving outcomes for individuals experiencing these issues. It is important to continue to address the root causes of homelessness, including poverty and lack of access to education and employment opportunities, to reduce the prevalence of homelessness and improve outcomes for those experiencing it.

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Improving Reception For Children With Cancer – Basque Family Support Association



The association “Tous avec Agosti” wants 2023 to rhyme with new dynamics. For nine years now, the structure has been working to welcome families of hospitalized children in Bayonne. Since 2018, 47 families have been able to find some respite in an apartment in Anglet.

Apartment in Anglet

Since she has benefited from an apartment in Anglet, the association “Tous avec Agosti” has enabled nearly 50 families of patients hospitalized at the Center Hospitalier de la Côte Basque to stay close to their loved ones. This represents 600 overnight stays, 47 families from 23 departments and even from Belgium and Spain. At the beginning of 2023, the structure has just had its prefectural approval renewed and sees things big.

“We have been working in our area for years,” notes Frédéric de Arroyave, the association’s president, but “in 2023, we will show ourselves much more, on the markets for example, but also in acts. The apartment we have in Anglet is a haven of peace for families going through terrible times, but for some it is difficult to access”. The apartment is located on the alleys of the Jardins d’Arcadie, near Biarritz – Pays Basque airport. We want to get closer to the Bayonne hospital.

The association “Tous avec Agosti” was born in 2015. Agosti, 10 years old, is suffering from cancer and taken care of at Bordeaux hospital for 6 months. His father, Frédéric de Arroyave, living in Ahetze, has the possibility of integrating a parents’ house and can stay with his child. Such a structure did not exist in Bayonne, so he launched the project and the association which lives today thanks to donations from contributors and the dozen (very) active volunteers. Each year, approximately 4,000 children are hospitalized in Bayonne.

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