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OneRouge Community Check -In - Week 165

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Fun fact! In Louisiana, the poverty rate is 19.6%; meanwhile is it 11.6% nationwide (also not great, but still). We have been the “world’s prison capital” for decades. Yet some 85% of our crimes are property or income based. It is absolutely right to say that to address poverty, we have to give folk a place to work and build dreams for themselves and their families. The budding cannabis and industrial hemp economies could offset many of those negative statistics. But too few understand the truth of how it all works. Join us this Friday as we hear from experts in the hemp growing and cannabis education spaces as they share how we can use this point in time to change the trajectory of poverty in South Louisiana. Our featured speakers are:

  • Dr. Vic Ford - Associate Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources, U. of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service

  • Frank Johnson - Chief Creative Officer at Courtesy Grows LLC

  • Dr. Jennifer Timmers - Agriculture Instructor & Program Co-Coordinator, Illinois Valley Community College

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!



Casey Phillips: Hello and welcome everyone. Both new friends, Jennifer, Mr. Groves. I appreciate courtesy grows.

Great to meet y'all and they said we have a multi-state group here today and it's going to be an awesome conversation put together by Pepper and I hope everybody welcome everybody to the Friday space.and

We are going to start today with our friends from BREC. Andrea. Hi, Miss Roberts. How are you?

Andrea Roberts: I'm wonderful. How are you?

Casey Phillips: I'm doing great. I'm doing great. Look, we're gonna turn it over to you and our amazing friends at Team BREC, you've been in this space now for several years and we always appreciate what you are in the space. Let everyone know on the call something about you that they may not know, right?

They could be professionally, personal or anything, but just so you know, because you always you always speak well on BREC's behalf and you're going to again, but we'd love to know more about you.

Andrea Roberts: Okay. Thank you. Thank you. My name is Andrea Roberts. I am BREC's Chief Operating Officer, but I'm not supposed to be talking about BREC.

I'm supposed to be talking about me is that my favorite recreational activity is riding ATVs in the mountains. And I do that once a year. Yes.

Casey Phillips: This is so fun. We are about to head to Red River, New Mexico and take a little time off and that's a big hotspot for that as well and I can see that in your personality.

I can see that. That's awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Andrea Roberts: Sure. Should I just fire away? Awesome. Good morning everybody. Thanks so much for having me. I will not take up much of your time but I ask Casey if we can have just a minute of your time this morning. To inform you guys that Breck has just kicked off our next 10-year master planning process.

So if you would recall or if you've been in Baton Rouge for a while, Back in 2004, BREC created this plan called Imagine Your Parks that transformed the park system. So there was a tax that came along with it, but it allowed us to build all the community parks around the parish, as well as Liberty Lagoon, Splash Pads.

All the cool stuff that we have in our park system. That was a 10 year, so it was divided up into two 10-year plans. The tax was a 20-year tax. The first 10 years was completely transformational. The second 10 years was focused on quality. So we went back and did some upgrades and put air conditioning in some rec centers and went around and upgraded neighborhood parks.

Now we are ending that 10-year plan. So it ends at the end of 2024. And we just kicked off the planning for our next 10 years. The first 10 years was focused on transformation. The second 10 years was focused on quality. And the next 10 years we will be focusing on equity. And that is a year-long process consisting of five different phases.

We are in the first phase, which is basically a listening session. So I wanted to give you guys the survey and encourage you to take the open-ended survey. Give us all the feedback you have and also let everybody know about the survey. And I will put that in the chat. And so I promised I would be quick and I would be happy to answer any questions if I'm allowed that time.

But otherwise, thank you so much.

Casey Phillips: Awesome. Of course. By the way, thank you for the brevity. What a gift. That was really to the point. Not that you never are. Is anybody have any questions for Ms. Roberts and our BREC through the survey process?

Okay. Just as a reminder voting matters. And so does participating in these surveys. If you want to, it's all the work that we do on the ground is important, but ultimately you have to influence systems and you have to influence the way that the larger entities in the city work to make the city work better.

If you can take 10 to 15 minutes, the survey is quick. It's efficient and they are paying attention to the results. Your voice matters. So please participate in the BREC survey. Participate in the Plan BR, feedback sessions in the all the city plans that come out and ask for public comment.

It does matter. You have people who are in service at these agencies like Miss Roberts, like Miss Hendricks with Kendra, Build Baton Rouge And they do listen to people's voice and feedback. So get involved, get engaged, just combine 10 years of future whining, right? All the breaths that you would do about whining, about not having the things that you want, and take those 15 minutes and let it be known.

So that is the pontification. Thank you, Miss Roberts and Pepper, if you would like to take it away.

Andrea Roberts: One more thing. So the survey, there will be five phases. Like I said, this is a very open-ended survey for the first phase. We will have surveys at other phases. So as we take this very broad feedback that we get from the community, we will narrow it down and have a more narrowed-down survey as we go along.

So I hope I'll be able to join you guys again and promote the next survey as well. So expect multiple surveys, but please give us your input. Thank you so much.

Casey Phillips: You bet. Hey, Dr. Epps, you have your hand raised before over to Pepper.

Sydney Epps: Hello. Good morning. Before we move on, I just wanted to ask, I received a survey in the mail. Is this the same?

Andrea Roberts: Oh, thank you so much for bringing that up. It is not the same. We currently not only have the open-ended survey that I just promoted to you guys, but then separately, we have a company doing a statistically valid survey through the mail. And so if you receive that through the mail that is different, but that one is equally important.

It is a statistically valid needs assessment to ask you a completely different set of questions.

Sydney Epps: Thank you so much.

Andrea Roberts: Thank you.

Pepper Roussel: Good morning. Thank you all for being here on this Friday and thank you Andrea for sharing that with us. I do hope to see you again just hanging out with us and talking about all sorts of ways for us to vent about things we don't like. I have seen that my internet connection is unstable. so I may be off-camera this morning. I know disappointing...

Nevertheless today we are talking about all things are nine drivers of poverty. What we're gonna do is the same thing we do every Friday, Pinky. We are going to open up the room for our speakers to introduce themselves, let us know who they are, what they do, and then we will jump into the conversation about poverty and in particular, and how growing cannabis and or camp the entire industry can make things a little bit easier for those who are suffering under the weight. So we'll start with you, Dr. Ford, just because you're over here on my right. Please let us know who you are what we, what you do. And then we will shift the conversation into how we can address poverty. But your five minutes starts now.

Vic Ford: My five minutes starts now. Vic Ford. I am the Associate Vice President for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and serve as the Associate Vice, excuse me, the Associate Director for Agriculture and Natural Resources for the Cooperative Extension Service.

And I appreciate everybody being here. A little about myself, initially I grew up in Northeast Tennessee, first generation from subsistence farming. I did a lot of work in beef, cattle, and tobacco. academic background. I'm a forester, a mycologist, and soil scientist. So that gives you some background from there.

Pepper, is that what you needed?

Pepper Roussel: Absolutely. Can you give us a little bit of a teaser and tell us about the program that happens up there in Arkansas?

Vic Ford: Okay, we're talking about, since we're talking about that extension where everything agriculture is what we do in natural resources keying down to our topic today, we were really heavily involved in, in, in the interest when laws passed, laws changed for growing hemp, and we had some research trials, and we had some a lot of programs.

I probably spoke to probably a thousand people on this subject. I have an opinion and how things need to be working in terms of making this a successful program. I think the only people who made money were the people who sold seed and plants. I don't think anybody who actually grew the hemp made any money based on my evaluations of the raw product and input cost.

A lot of people wouldn't listen they listen to some of the fallacies and we've supplied research-based information. And telling the truth is, could it be successful? Yes. But there are some things, some pitfalls that people fall into when they think about growing hemp. That's my teaser Pepper.

Pepper Roussel: And it is perfect because that brings us to the next person who is in that very similar things. Dr. Timmers, if you wouldn't mind, let us know who you are, what you do, and giving us a little bit of a teaser before we shift into the deeper conversation about poverty.

Jennifer Timmers: Okay, so I did miss the first part of that, but I think I got the gist. I am Dr. Jennifer Timmer. So I am currently in Illinois, specifically Oglesby, Illinois. I teach in the agriculture department at Illinois Valley Community College. And at IVCC, we do have a cannabis production program.

And so I started here about a year ago. The cannabis production program is one of the things that they hired me to take over. Prior to that, I had lived in, I grew up in Kentucky. I lived in Florida for several years while working on my Ph. D. in Crop Physiology and Nutrition. And so I have a strong agriculture background in general.

And I've taken what I've known and shown, applied it to cannabis. And taught the students that, which is what they're primarily interested in. But as someone who's recently gone into the cannabis industry, One of the things that I've noticed, particularly in Illinois, is there is a lot of focus on just certain aspects of cannabis and not the crop as a whole.

And so we're working on that at IVCC, just on that education front, but there are a lot of things to overcome. And so at Ivy's in the, at least in the community here at IVCC and in Illinois. It's pretty simple to be able to get licensing to grow hemp, but a lot of people aren't aware of that. And so we have, when I talk to someone, we have 500 acres that are grown in hemp in Illinois total.

And that's it basically across the state. Not a lot. And so that's really frustrating because there's a lack of education here in Illinois on A lot of the benefits and how this can be beneficial to people in Illinois and just trying to overcome that I guess is my teaser. Does that work Pepper?

Pepper Roussel: It does indeed. So, before we shift the conversation our last person up who is an educator and his own right, Dr. Johnson, who is CEO of Courtesy Groves. Frank, if you wouldn't mind letting us know who you are, what you do in poverty eradication.

Casey Phillips: Everybody, Frank Johnson, in a clear voice. Welcome to the space, my friend, and Pepper's about the dial-in for the rest of the call.

But please take it away. Take your five minutes, sir.

Frank Johnson: No worries. Thank you. Hello, everyone. My name is Frank Johnson. I'm the chief creative officer of Courtesy Groves. We are a training and development company and we found that cannabis is a gateway to literacy. The reason why is when we talk about cannabis, individuals are intrigued, they want to talk about it, even if they agree or disagree.

It's a conversation that's very intriguing. We've started working for the plant. We represent the plant in reinventing its reputation. Having individuals understand that it is a plant. that has so many properties and we really have to learn it. We have not done enough research yet. In doing that, we cover every aspect from the industrial side of hemp to adult use, medicinal.

We partner with industrial growers. We partner with cardiologists to talk about the medicinal side. And we educate individuals when it comes down to adult use and responsibility in pedicure.

Right now, industrial hemp is our baby. We just had a successful 2023 research season. We found a fourth-generation farmer 85 years old and he allowed us to grow on his farm. Everything is private funding. We are really intrigued with what happened with that crop.

Once we get into the conversation, we'll talk about industrial hemp and its benefits and how it's just so broad. But also how it will bring young people in because they're intrigued with the plant. But it's a game changer when it comes down to our landscape globally. So that's who we are.

That's what we do.

Casey Phillips: Excellent. Thank you, sir. And I'm not sure if Pepper is still transitioning to her phone, but Dr. Ford, I'm going to kick it over to you because I felt like in your intro, you had a lot to say around the misunderstanding of the hemp from a business standpoint and in whatever areas around it.

Let's start with that. Take it away.

Vic Ford: I have worked with specialty crop farmers for lots of years. In this job and previous jobs, and one of the things that folks, I want to grow what you fill in the blank and first question I always ask, where's your market, who is, what's the demand for this product?

And same thing with when we talked to hemp growers you're going to grow 200 acres. What are you going to do with this? Do you know this is in labor? Do you know this is thing? So just trying to educate folks who are interested in doing it. And a lot of times, and when I do a presentation, I, in fact, I'm successful if I talk somebody out of it to keep from wasting money and time because they're not going to be committed to it.

Just being realistic on the features, and I'm not selling anybody anything. I'm not. My job is to give folks research-based information and the folks that we sit there and talk to and work them through the thought process, if they go through and with a project that will be successful. I think having a dose of reality is really important with that.

I think the other thing is when we talk about the markets I had somebody, lots of somebodies, I'm sitting here thinking about, I can't, I'm trying to add how many hundreds of acres in my head, wanted to do fiber and seed production in industrial hemp. Our closest processing facilities was Kentucky and trying to try to explain to folks, this is not a viable venture because there's so many obstacles for you getting your crop to where it needs to be.

I think as we, if we're serious about having these multiple products, I think on the front end, we're going to have to figure out how we want to process the product that we're producing. And I think I'm going to throw another teaser out there. We can take the rice industry, for example, Arkansas is 50% of rice produced in the United States is produced in Arkansas.

And the farmers there years ago farmed co-ops to market their rice. Riceland is a co-op. The Rice Producers Co-op is a co-op. And they really work hard in terms of working with their members, working with the end users such as Kellogg's. To find out the products they want and to where I, plus they do work on how, consumer preferences and new food items and that kind of thing.

So being able to form a co-op with folks around, I think it'd be accepted, really exceptional, particularly with the processing. Having somebody that's dedicated instead of having 30 producers trying to find out what they're going to do with their crop. They've got a place to go and somebody continuing working full time trying to find.

The markets are processed, the markets are figuring out what we're going to, what they're going to do for there. So that's the other one. When the CBD prices dropped in 2019, 2020 a lot of folks were, the numbers didn't work out. Those who were successful shipped from, mostly from outdoor production to tunnel house and greenhouse production.

Because of demands in that product. Knowing what your end product is and how you're going to produce that and what the product is. What the product that you're, that your customer is wanting is really important. So I think those are really that on the other end, giving expectations, like I mentioned we've been told that it's weed.

We've been told that there's no diseases, no insects nothing else. You try to grow anything, you find out there's a lot of things that like to eat it, and like to grow on it. And trying to explain to folks, they talked about no fertilizers. It's a pretty fertilizer-hungry crop. And being able to look at the nutritional aspects the cultural aspects, irrigation.

The first question somebody was talking about large acreage, how are you going to irrigate it? It's, it's weed. I guarantee you irrigation is your insurance policy. You get a drought you're hung. Those are the kinds of my thoughts with this in terms of helping with producers is doses of reality.

How are we going to do it? And then as they progress in that progression, being able to help them every step of the way and give them the information they need. And I like to hear folks talk about research because there is an awful lot of research in this crop that needs to be done. Right now, soil test.

In Arkansas, we're fortunate. We tax fertilizer prices. And soil tests are free. And we're pushing that. We don't have really good soil tests. We're using tomatoes for soil test recommendations. Being able just even something as such as fertility issues will help us with that.

Helena Williams: Today is just not an internet-friendly day. Yeah. I'm not sure who wants to pick up, but I know Casey, you were connecting to Pepper to allow her to continue the conversation.

Casey Phillips: Yes. And thank you everyone for the grace on the technical issue. We're getting back on track. Pepper are you, is your signal clear and would you like to jump back into the conversation or would I, I have a couple of questions for Ms. Timmers.

Pepper Roussel: Please go ahead. The connection is choppy at best.

And so I'm here, it will be the impediment. Thank you.

Casey Phillips: Thank you, everyone. Miss Timmers, you in your introduction really talked about the need for education. Can you speak on that? On all the different aspects of why you think that's important?

Jennifer Timmers: Yeah, so one of the things that I've noticed is, so I teach two different cannabis-focused classes and the very first class that we have, I asked the students what is cannabis?

What do they think it is? And none of the students are really able to tell me what it is beyond they all go directly to marijuana. That's all. That's all they focus on is a lot of the recreational aspects on the plant, and they don't, there's really a lack of understanding on basically the plethora of different uses for cannabis as a whole.

They think fiber and seed, they think medicinal and recreational uses, and they don't really fully understand how that can be broken down even further. They... I guess they link it to 100% just one specific cannabinoid THC and don't question it further. And so we are able, we spend a good solid, almost a week discussing how it can be broken down.

We talk about how the different uses, we talk about just how it's really underused. I want to say underutilized under just because there's not a lot of understanding on how you can process it and use it to your benefit. I know Vic Ford had talked about how his producers, they were looking at fiber and seed production, but the closest facility to process it was in Kentucky.

And, I guess people go into the industry, they're not understanding that there are processes that they have to take to get from point A to point B. And we do have facilities to do that in Illinois, but a lot of those haven't been fully utilized because they go, someone goes into the industry thinking, this is what I'm going to do.

I'm going to produce this for fiber. This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to go in and produce it for the flower. And they don't really think about, okay, I'm going to produce it for the flower. I'm going to produce it for the fiber. But then what's the next step after I've produced this plant? What do I, where do I go from here?

What else can I do? And so there's a lack of understanding, a lack of education on that front, on that aspect. But there's also a lack of understanding. People go into the cannabis industry and they say, Okay, I want to produce the flower and I want to produce it for the cannabinoids. There are a lot of high cannabinoid-producing plants that would be classified as hemp, but people go in and assume that they would have to get the licensing for marijuana and that's not really a viable option, at least here in Illinois.

It's just not a viable option for people who don't have the money. It's not a viable option for people who don't really have that education or understanding. I know a lot of my students were saying that if you wanted to get a license to go into marijuana here in Illinois, you have to have at least like $500,000 minimum.

In Illinois, the cost for an industrial hemp growers license for three years. After all, the licensing fees was maybe $1,300. And so there's just not a lot of understanding and education on that front. And I, when it comes to the extension, they're starting to explore that some, but as a whole, you either have to learn it yourself or you have to go to one of the colleges that has a program, which I think there's maybe a dozen.

Where is the misinformation coming from? I believe the misinformation, a lot of it is just from, I'd say probably just talk amongst people. It's not any information that a lot of people have aren't coming from a reliable source. It's coming from. Just chat among friends. It's coming from chat among families, things like that.

They're not looking out. They're not looking for resources that come from some sort of research background. They're not looking from for sources that come from like maybe an extension agency or something like that.

Casey Phillips: Thank you. Wow. That was oh, again, just like Mr. Ford. I could take the, that seven different conversations from everything that you just said. Thank you for everything you just shared. Mr. Johnson, Ms. Timmers, and Mr. Ford as well. Anybody who wants to jump in on this next part, talk about the economic opportunity, right?

Talk about the economic opportunity from the free market side, from the social justice side, from the academic side. But talk about all the economic opportunities of both hemp and cannabis and of course, whatever else you'd like to jump in on first.

Frank Johnson: Yes, I, and I just have to let Dr. Ford know and Ms. Timmers know that I truly agree with what they said in both aspects. And I guess it goes to economics because we need processing plants it is.

It's heartbreaking that this, as far as industrial, let's start with industrial hemp, it's a high-yield, low-maintenance quick crop, 120 days. So just to talk about some numbers, these may be max numbers of small farmers could make up to 800 an acre. on industrial him in 120 days.

So add that up. Like, I said, we had a fourth-generation, 85-year-old farmer who grew. But where does the crop go? Dr. Ford talked about coops right now. We're begging. We're begging universities to partner with small farmers to partner with advocate. And really research on land. You're talking about a crop that regenerates soil and air.

It's a compromise with environmentalists and oil and gas. Louisiana is an oil and gas state. Oil and gas is, it's not going anywhere soon in Louisiana. Although we may want it to go it's one of our resources. And, as far as politics is concerned and our citizens who work in plants, that's a long-term challenge.

So these are things that we can make money. We can test at the same time. Our youth are intrigued with cannabis. We're fighting right now with education versus exploitation because right now in our society, THC levels are increasing higher and higher. So we have 15-year-olds that are consuming 30% THC levels.

We really have to address this. They have to understand the plant and they have to understand CBD. As far as economics, the money is there, but who's making the money? Realistically from a medicinal perspective in Louisiana. If we're honest and we have the honest conversation, individuals who have medicinal cards are not just for medicinal purposes.

It's to protect you from the law. And when it comes down to this, and I guess I'm scaling the nine as far as poverty is concerned and economics goes into individuals who have addictions as far as habits concern, they're purchasing cannabis at 60 for 3. 5 grand. It's hard to sustain a household when you have a habit, not saying that cannabis is addictive, but habits, we have habits, and we're addicted to just our everyday lives and how we do things.

We have to educate and education, economy, education brings on funding from everyone. Now, for me, education starts with the top. Because what we find is leadership, they don't understand cannabis at all. Our legislators, they don't understand cannabis. Many people in our in our positions, the decision-makers are ignorant when it comes down to cannabis.

And what we're finding now is cannabis is so animated that if you make a cold call right now, and I challenge you, One out of three people, when you say cannabis awareness, if you say something about cannabis, there's a chuckle. Because automatically, we think about the stone age, or we think about Cheech and Chong.

It's a cash crop, but it's a cash crop that can get out of control if we don't educate. But if we educate, it's a cash crop that can change our society.

Casey Phillips: You just spoke so many truths. Pepper, thank you so much for bringing these three human beings into our space today. Mr. Johnson, thank you for that. So my question is, if we're treated like a crop that has economic mobility opportunity, right? Medicinal usage, maybe stands that, and Dr. Ford, you talked about that you worked in the tobacco industry. We've seen this play before. Like we, like with tobacco and, so I don't understand like, why is it that, how is it that this feels so new when it almost feels like an extension of, would you like to speak on that or anything else?

You don't have to take it in that direction, but you can.

Vic Ford: I think that's a good analogy working with, working in the tobacco thing, but having the long history of Continuous history before health awareness that tobacco had since the discovery of North America, of being able to grow tobacco and processing people becoming addicted to the nicotine and the smoking part of it, chewing part of it.

It was all hand labor. All worked out from there. It's not very high technology really right until here recently in terms of it for us in the, in Northeast Tennessee, that was the only, that was our major cash crop and allotments were less than an acre. So think about that in terms of that returns were relatively high.

I see the same thing with hemp. Particularly growing CBD, very similar technology, very similar inputs, very similar outcomes. But I think the direction I really want people to think about in this topic we're just discussing right now is how do we make that acceptable to a wide variety of people that, one, don't have a whole lot of land.

And can they pay for the land if they get it by using this crop? And I think there are some potential for that starting farmers, new farmers. If you look at the demographics for years on the age of agriculture you've got people my age and older that are primarily owning the land and then very few of them have an inheritance agreement or some agreement to pass on or continue that land base and it gets sold and bought up and that kind of thing.

So I think this is a good way for us to look at beginning farmers socially disadvantaged farmers. We're talking about the increase about using this to fight poverty. I think this is a great idea in terms of starting with this product. I think there are a lot of uses that we're not even touching on yet.

Somebody typed up in the chat about the Hemp Creek. Hemp Creek, which is adding hemp fibers to concrete. Excellent opportunity for that. Hemp fibers and pregnant plastics for increasing strength. There are lots of other products that we could do with this and make that go. But the challenge is one.

Building the supply and the other challenge is how do we process it and getting into those products and in the industrial thing. And I think that's where we need our economic development people and being able to reach out to them. I think this is, I could go on and on about the markets of this.

I'm looking here about Mr. Groves, the Courtesy Groves folks were talking about The returns. I've got a, I got a cost of return here. Hemp, CBD products, and this is 2020 numbers, are about 5,000 input per acre, yielding between 18,000 and 10,000 in terms of returns. I'm looking at under plastic.

Again, some returns, but it's going up to cost 12,000 to 14,000. And then for seed, the figures I had here was 2,000 return with 500 increase. And I think another thing of the products is that one of the products we haven't talked about and I think would be extremely interesting is the hemp oil from the seed.

It doesn't have any CBD or THC in it, but it's an excellent oil. And I think being able to, people right now are using pecan oil as a specialty oil in salads and cooking and that kind of thing. So I think there may be some opportunities along that thing. So I'm rambling, so I'll turn it back over.

Casey Phillips: No, not at all. It was it was great. Thank you. That was great. There's a question from Dr. Tuck in the chat about, If anybody wants to speak on co-op models that are working in the states that you're in. But Mr. Johnson, I don't want you to, I hate whenever you're doing a panel and there's like a rhythm that everybody goes in the same order, so I'm going to come back to you.

Is there anything that comes up for you that you want to, that you want to elaborate on? Because you had some incredible points, especially shielding from law enforcement with those medicinal cards, the price point of the per gram the fact that you have to pay for the doctor's visits with such regularity.

There's just, there's a lot of economic barriers to this.

Frank Johnson: Okay. Dr. Ford and I hope we talk after this. And I want to encourage anyone on this feed to educate yourself on cannabis. We use a different vehicle of training because of our literacy rate. We use edutainment. It's education and entertainment combined.

We have fun, but when you leave, you have a subliminal message of wanting to be a better person. You learn about cannabis. But from a respectful perspective which goes on through life. So if I can respect cannabis, because we have so many people who love cannabis, they're avid cannabis users, they're biomolians, so let's take that and let's put that out in the universe.

As far as co-ops are concerned, the challenge that we have in Louisiana is Our farmers, our hemp advocates. We are a collective, but we're not in a relationship with our universities. And I say this respectfully, Dr. Ford. It's our feeling, what we're feeling right now is universities are getting their funding.

They're doing their research and it's almost like a private, it's capitalism in a sense, where they're doing the research. They're not getting a lot of funding. But they're doing the research and they're doing it to patent or to own a certain sector of the market. It's still capitalism in a sense, and it's still pushing out our small and large farmers.

When, as far as research is concerned, collectively, if we work collectively, we should be able to get the funding from the United States. We have young people that are intrigued with the plant, so we can look at different genetics. We can look at what varieties. Pair with our climates. The research.

Yesterday we had a meeting with Louisiana Industrial Hemp Committee. We got zero funding. Universities funding is low. Universities' research is private. It's not really shared with the farmers. So we are not a collective. And when we talk about poverty it's the same thing. We're doing the same thing and we have a new market now.

We have a plant that is sacred and profane for, so from the sacred perspective, are we respecting it? Are we pushing to get, pushing it into a capital capitalizing position? We're doing the same thing that the street does. We are telling young people not to practice hate and violence and separation, but we do it.

We do it. We have to be the example, especially when it comes down to this plant because they love the plant. And I hate to talk about fear, but if we don't, if we don't educate the public, if we don't educate, we will have grandmothers. Cannabis is a plant that does not discriminate race, gender, sexuality, political beliefs.

It does not matter. People engage with cannabis, it's an opportunity to educate and once we educate, if we don't, we will have grandmothers of all races, all sectors going to corner stores, purchasing for 25 and we don't know what's in it. It will be a problem. And when you look at it and when you look at everything else right now in our society, if we don't control it, if we don't educate, then we're headed up a dark hole.

Casey Phillips: Wow. Awesome. No, no further comment on that. Thank you. Mr Johnson. I see that Pepper has a question in the chat for Dr. Timmers and dr timmers. Apologies. I did not realize that you had your PhD. I should have added the PhD in front of your name. So I apologize for that because I always respect it.

Pepper's question is what areas of production are your students entering developing new products? And I want to know whether they can develop this alternative oil that Manny popped into the chat. It looks like business, a business is launching today at one route.

Jennifer Timmers: So my students they have a variety of different interests.

So there are some students that are. attending that are specifically interested because they have their medical cards and they're growing plants for their own use. I have some students that are interested in being cultivators within the cannabis industry for medicinal and recreational use. But I also did have one student that just recently graduated, and he is a, he's a chef.

And so he had a strong interest in the use of cannabis in edibles, but also There are students who are interested more in kind of what Pepper's talking about, which is the use of hemp seed oil in cooking and in food purposes. So there are some oils available on the market for use in salad dressings, for use in bread dipping and stuff like that.

And actually in my introduction class, we actually do. We had one lesson where we were talking about this. We were talking about the uses, how it could be used as like an alternative to olive oil and stuff like that. And one thing was that it had the temperature had a very low smoke point. So it would have to be used for like dressings and salad dressings and oil dips and things like that.

But there is some interest. The one big thing there is that The one big thing there is that a lot of people, a lot of the products that I've seen for this are the ones that are available are like low quality. And so people get interested in this and they decide that they're going to try it, but they're going to choose something that costs a little less.

And if it costs a little less, it hasn't really been processed the way it should be. And so they get a bad experience with it. And so they try it. And they try it, they have something that's a lower quality, they have more of a, it has more of a green, vegetative taste to it. And then they just go back to whatever oils they were using originally.

And so there is a wide variety of interest, including what you're talking about, pepper the more culinary purposes. I started rambling, I think, but...

Casey Phillips: No, not at all. We're just, I'm going to keep my words less and let y'all just keep talking. Dr. Ford. I thought that Mr. Johnson, and he was very, obviously he posed it very respectfully.

It is not in a personal way at all, but I thought that Mr. Johnson actually really hit on something about the perception of the relationship with ag divisions doing the research and the proprietary in capitalistic side. I would love to get your perspective from the other side of the house on it, understanding that you're not speaking on behalf of the entire university ag system.

You're just giving your perspective on what it was what was talked about.

Vic Ford: It's kind of an interesting thing. I appreciate Mr. Johnson's comment and a lot of respects. I do agree with him. The way funding is now with the capacity grants being cut in favor of competitive grants, what's happened is that we don't have capacity anymore to look at things in terms of as issues emerge.

And I have faculty for example, I have faculty that any of their support staff, research associates, research technicians, grad students are all on soft money. So they're all hustling the bucks for that. So that gets in terms of the university. The patents thing that's also pressed by the university in terms of trying to get money to operate from that.

So it's a, he's right about all those. Patents We're our genetics folks, we're not doing any breeding necessary with cannabis, either, either for marijuana or hemp at all. So that issues that, but for other crops, we will patent things and have royalties, but we will sell our production seed for a lot less than say a commercial outfield will.

So we, that's one of the things. The other thing is that money, research follows the money. Money from state government follows the money at just the nature of the business we're in, but one of the things I do promote when I talk to the horticulture folks or when I talk to other folks that the beef cattle folks, I said, the reason there's money flowing here is because there's seed money coming into that.

And I think that's something we need to think about in terms of if we want more research into something, how do we get those funding in there? And right now, relying on state funding it's sometimes difficult in my state. I'm sure it's probably difficult in Louisiana for anything such as this, but being able to say, okay, I've got a co-op of producers, I need to fund a technician, and from that we'll do X, Y, and Z.

The commodity boards, the big boys, that's how they get their funding through that. that they will have a checkoff funds and that kind of thing. So investing into that is being able to put some seed money into a program. As when I mentioned the co-op, that would also be made, would say, okay, where has a co-op, we're going to invest in research by providing funds for people to do work on that.

So that's the things that we do that corn, soybeans, All of them have a promotion checkoff fund for that. So that's how that gets away. I'm not so hepped up on, on the breeding programs. I, and this is my personal opinion. Haven't been, worked in pine breeding for a little while.

I think the private sector probably does a better job. I think in university sometimes in the breeding program. Because breeding programs are expensive. But I think if there's a funding source that we can say, okay, we can support our own selves by selling the seed from that. I think you can have a public breeding program.

That'd be competitive. It's got to have that commitment from folks making sure that funding stays there. So I think I personally think that I personally think that's The process, I think you're right we're having we're talking about funding and investment and if this is to going, I think there's money that will be generated as we produce this to help support that research program.

And I think that's really the thing is that we're going, I'll be honest with you, I gave my faculty. Opportunities to be the hemp specialist and nobody wanted it, so I ended up taking over the hemp specialist. So that's how I got to be in this business, plus a little bit of experience I had in other things.

I'm also the hammerhead worm specialist, the jumping worm specialist, by the way.

Casey Phillips: So I'm learning all kinds of things about people today. Fascinating. Seriously, all the way across the board. And it's also interesting as you interact with people who are working at state, like LSU ag or you name it, whatever, whatever state university, the amount of people who worked, who have worked there for a long time and all of a sudden inherited the canvas program, whether they want to or not, that's the J. O. B. And it's it's been pretty fascinating across the board the spectrum of people that are working at the, in those spaces.

Manny given your background and of course your familiarity in ag and university, or Dr. Tuck, did y'all want to chime in at all before we headed back over to Mr. Johnson and Dr. Timmers?

Manny Patole: I think what Dr. Ford and everyone else said has been correct, right? It's research is driven by money, which is then driven by research.

It's a mutually enforcing loop. But also that universities are a highly extractive industry. I keep telling everyone that every time. And it's always about not only about what's the research produced and the knowledge produced, but it's also how is that... Equitably shared and distributed to everyone, you know around them so even if there is research being conducted and if it is from a public source like NIH or something like that It's public funds that are funding it.

But does that mean that the public actually gets access to The final results. And I throw things up in the chat when I can, but, and I'm always like, someone wants to know more if I can find sources from the libraries. I'll share it, but it's very hard on the other side of folks like yourselves who are trying to get more access to verified research that they can't because it's required to go to a university because they own it.

Which then makes it not necessarily a higher education. It's more of a business. But they're protected by being, a university entity. That is me, in person, not as the...

Casey Phillips: Woo! Woo! All the things are being said today. I love it.

Vic Ford: I will give the model. I'm still an old enough guy that I like the traditional extension model where we have a county agent.

And my successful programs with reaching those hemp producers is working with those county agents. Now, they may not know anything about him, but they can go through training and they'll bring the specialist in. In fact, one operation that was looked like looking at going in a little place called Dequeen, Arkansas, which is on the far western part of the state, looked like they were going to have a couple of businesses coming in.

I worked a lot with the county agent, and that was the contact person. And to me, that traditional method of being able to get the research out through the local public, through a county agent, is so important right now. Particularly with this and partner with that county agent. Cause that to me is for the local folks is the gateway to the university system.

Build that relationship, folks, everything is about relationships. Build that relationship with that county agent and work through that. So that's the thoughts. Plus a lot of extension services have really good economic development departments that can help in that issue too. So being able to build that whole.

mess with that, with going through that, with that, that portal, that's some of the mistakes I think some folks will say is that we're going to go to the department while these folks are teaching and doing research. The best place to enter is locally. And I think, all things could go through locally on there.

So that's just my thoughts.

Casey Phillips: I see I see a lot of shaking nodding of the head from our from Dr. Tuck. So Patrick, being that you just walked, like Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts across the Bridge of Light from Ag World to the Walls Project, welcome I said welcome what's your perspective?

And then Mr. Johnson, I'll ping it back over to you.

Patrick Tuck: I keep agreeing with Dr. Ford. The reason that research needs to be paid for in different ways in the university setting because of the loss of the capacity-building types of funding that was previously available. So now that it's competitive, the universities really do have to diversify their funding revenues.

And one of the ways to do that is to sell patents. Also on the on the extension side, we have a little building in Baton Rouge called Nat Hall. And named after Seaman A. Knapp, who we brag about as being one of the originators of that extension model. And I completely agree that the local extension county agent is the point of contact because they're in the community, they're seeing the challenges, and they're bringing the research from the central university setting into the community to address the needs on the ground.

So those are just, and then everything else that, yeah. I really enjoyed his comments. I thought they were bang on.

Casey Phillips: Thank you, Dr. Todd. Mr. Johnson.

Frank Johnson: Extension. Extension agents are the key. Educating Extension agents is the task. Extension agents are not educated when it comes down to cannabis as a whole.

So what we're finding is they're taking the position of enforcers it's and I understand that portion, but to be able to talk to not only a former, but individuals in your county about the plan and responsibility and just take that role from a higher position. Consciously, I think it's needed.

I think right now in Louisiana and Mississippi We're seeing a battle and it's getting interesting because if farmers and cannabis advocates and universities, if we don't partner, private entities are going to come in and they're going to divide it more and more. You're gonna see small farmers being pushed out.

You're gonna see individuals come in by land. Build processing plants, use our rivers, and literally, the only word I can use is rape us. When it comes down to our resources. And that's what it is. We control the market right now. We are not really talking to our MSOs like we should. Universities are.

But getting your MSOS (Multi-state operators), although they pay taxes but we still have a civic responsibility to really get our citizens engaged. And it will bring more money. I believe that MSOS can multistate operators.

Because now we're looking at cannabis being grown. And it's we know the footprint of the camp of the plant. That's important. But we have to give back because right now we have so many challenges. We have to educate ourselves. We can't just rely on Children, young people to educate themselves.

And we don't know everyone. on this feed. If you're not a consumer, one. And if you don't know one, you don't know who you know. We really have to talk about it. And one more thing, our biggest challenge right now, our ministers have to get educated on cannabis. It has been a challenge.

Getting minister's clergy educated on cannabis. It's not about pro or con it's about education. Then you can make a decision. But how can I talk to a person about their habits if I can't intellectually talk about it? I can't just say no because you shouldn't do it. We really have to have, we have to discuss it.

It's here. It is here. It's not going anywhere. It's been here. Dr. Ford, Dr. Timmers, they're doing their jobs. They're doing what they do. But we have to really come together and we really have to show our young people and I keep saying young people because we blame young people for crying, we blame young people for everything negative yet we're not the example.

They're doing the exact thing that we do and when it comes down to this plant it's about to go into a private entity. We're partnered with Jamaica and it's so strange. I'm in Louisiana. I'm in Louisiana. To be honest with you, from an educational, from a business perspective, we are poor. From an international conscious perspective, we're wealthy.

We use a different model and that model is shared profits. So let me explain to you what shared profits has done for my company. As a social entrepreneur that was on his own I made enough to live off of. It's a passion for me. When I did share profits, I now have a food scientist that can talk to individuals about edibles because they are rampant in our communities.

They're misused in our communities. And it's intriguing to individuals who, who are consuming. They want to hear the philosophies of it. We have a botanist, a master degree botanist, we have a cannabis consumer, a cannabis consultant, we have a marketing agency, and we're partnered with a film production.

A million dollar from England. Just went to Jamaica, all-expenses paid. But in our state, it's hard to get work because individuals, and when I say individuals, I'm talking about companies. They are shy to really engage cannabis education. They're shy to talk about it. Our legislators ignored hemp because they looked at it from a CBD versus medicinal cannabis industry fight.

And that's a prop. And we really, once we, if we don't talk about it, like I said, it's not going anywhere. We're just putting our heads in the sand.

Casey Phillips: Dr Timmers really just hit it like right on the head. Education in that word is small. E Biggie capital letters in graffiti letters all the way in all the ways education needs to be had on a lot of different levels.

And it's just a fascinating conversation about the ministers and the clergy and it's a complicated one and I'd love to we'd love to have you back if you would like to get in there. I also want to make sure and just point out the obvious folks. We've said it on the call before and the reason why this comes up in kind of a certain syncopation.

It's really difficult to point towards new agricultural crops that are emerging at the velocity as here, right? And to stick your head in the sand, using Mr, Johnson's words to feel like we've been saying this for 15 years in Louisiana. We're just missing an economic opportunity to diversify our economy and our state in our region.

Arkansas and Mississippi and Texas are actually not competitors. They're part of our region and to be able to participate and bring what's great about our ability of all of this concentration of engineers that are manufacturing petrochemicals and other things and the access to the rail to the deep sea ports to the river infrastructure.

This is such a missed opportunity for the last decade to continue building an economic power in the region of the south and it's it's such a missed opportunity. But anyway, I also wanna say that listen to all of what we've said. There's not really anything squishy. This is economics.

This is education. This is real industry talk but there is just this softer side to that. How often are we talking about a product that can actually generate income in communities that it's actually the plants been used to imprison and oppress and put that balance scale. But has so many medicinal like benefits, right?

And such a kind side and such a, if educated and people actually understand what they're consuming and they're not worried about going to jail for it, it's, there is a, I don't know, I don't know if y'all agree, but it feels like our society could use softening just a little bit. It feels a little crazy out there, right?

I don't really understand why people are against something that would put the Bob Marley vibes out in the world right now. That seems counterintuitive. Let's bring it down just a little bit, and there is that side of the plan as well. Closing comments, Dr. Timmers, Dr. Ford, and Mr. Johnson. And thank you all for today and for all the comments in the chat.

Jennifer Timmers: Yeah, just, I guess thank you for having me here. Thank you for inviting me to this, Pepper. Thank you for reaching out to me. I really enjoyed my time here, but what we all hit on and what you were just talking about, I think education is a big thing that needs to be expanded on. A lot of people need to be further educated on this crop.

Vic Ford: I agree wholeheartedly. I appreciate the time, appreciate having the opportunity to discuss this. My expertise is not necessarily in the cannabis side, but more in the hemp side. production side. And I think there's a really good potential. Somebody put the Delta Regional Cannabis Co-op.

I think that's a really great idea. I think that's something we need to work towards that. Thank you all for listening, putting up with me today.

Casey Phillips: It was a pleasure. Thank you both Doctor Ford and Doctor Timmers. Mr. Johnson, we're gonna let Louisiana close this out before we move to community announcements.

Frank Johnson: Thank you again for the invitation. I think this is a huge step because we're discussing it. So it's out there in the universe from a biomarker perspective. If you're pro-cannabis, anti-cannabis, educate yourself. Learn, your perspective is based on your education on it. Let's discuss it. Let's have a discussion.

And that's all we can do. And take it from there. But industrial... is our key. We really have to look at that.

Casey Phillips: Yeah, we've been missing out on we've been missing out on some tax revenues, my friends. Whoo. We would have been, we've been working with surplus every year.

I don't know. I don't want to give that much credit that the books would have always been bouncing beyond my, that's above my pay grade, but that's the optimistic side of it. All right, Pepper, thank you so much. I'm sorry that you've been having technical difficulties because I know you have a passion for the subject and probably would have brought even more power to the conversation.

But I did my best to fill in for you and channel your energy, but thank you for putting this call together. I'd like to open it up to everybody for community announcements, what's shaking this weekend? Thank you. Or coming up that's important to civically engage in first time quiet group?

Manny Patole: I'll start. I know we're those, we're familiar also working on some other projects down here in the Baton Rouge area. Casey's been kind about sharing some opportunities, but if folks have one or two people that like to be part of a trial for our broadband service, please let me know.

We're looking for people around BRCC Acadian, just one or two families who want to. Help us test our technology. And you can drive by and see the masks put up as well. Man, sometimes things do happen fast in Louisiana, y'all. It's it's awesome. It's awesome when it does. It's more about forgiveness, not permission.

Casey Phillips: I say, I plead the fifth. As did anybody else. Reverend Anderson. You've had so many wins lately, my friend. Congratulations on you and Dr. Bell's work last Monday. If you, Dr. Bell, if you or Reverend Anderson would like to come off, you can share that success and anything else that's coming up that's important to you.

Flitcher Bell: I'd just like to thank the community. The event the International Day of Justice the one Casey's referring to for those of you who are not aware and what it was an event to help people. with the traffic binge warrants. We know that it's a great, a lot of people, everybody has to have a license to drive.

But the four courts in the Baton Rouge area, the 19th JDC District Court, the Baton Rouge City Court, the Zachary City Court, and the Baker City Court all send personnel out there and they will recall on bench warrants. There was no police presence. No one was being arrested just to recall and get the traffic warrants cleared up and to try to help our community as a whole.

Get people back on track of having that license. It was headed by Genevieve Robleshaw over at the 19th JVC, who did a great job. She works under the direction of Judge Don, Chief Judge Don Johnson there. So it was a great event. It was a great thought. It's a great process. We had well over 300 people show up that afternoon that who all got help, and who are all better because of it as of now.

Casey Phillips: Awesome. Thank you, Dr. Bell. Anybody else? Any other community announcements?

Sydney Epps: Oh, let me share. I just received word that a submission that I've been working on a minority girl stuff called eco-terrorism, necropolitics and health outcomes in Louisiana was accepted for a journal.

With a 2024 publication date, and I'd love to speak to some of our community members to assure that I'm including all of the facets of macropolitics within this conversation. And for those of you who aren't familiar, macropolitics is the politics of death, right? And so this would encompass healthcare outcomes in the prison industrial complex.

Really all aspects of poverty and suffering. So please, if you'd like to sit down and talk to me and make sure that everything is covered from a historical perspective please let me know.

Casey Phillips: Sydney, congratulations. And please if there's any kind of standard outreach email that you have, and if you have any interest in being connected to the EBR folks with the Medicaid providers anybody in the healthcare space, I'd be happy to make those introductions.

In fact, we have a couple of those folks on. What's up, Ms. Tanzel? And on the call right now, I'm happy to help contribute to make sure that historical context is there. Congratulations. That's awesome. Anybody else? It's an unexpected little moment of joy. Anybody? All right. Look, we're gonna wrap up early.

I hope that you all get to have a very peaceful and weekend. Educate yourself. We'll take that from today. "Educate yourself and know the plants." A new OneRouge t-shirt emerged from today. So I appreciate you our wonderful speakers and thank you to everybody that is that attended today and put stuff that contributed in the chat.

Kendra, Erica. Good to share space with you multiple times this week. Marcella, always good to feel your presence in Tekaoma and your wonderful work and friend Harvey and cool beans, Verna Bradley. As said, thank y'all so much for being here. Have a wonderful day and a peaceful week.

Thank you. Thanks, Benny. See you on the next trip.


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