Hemp grows 10 feet tall in the Arvin area.

An inaugural "meet and grow" for Kern's burgeoning hemp industry Thursday night drew a standing room-only audience that included representatives from some of the county's most prominent farming families.

At least 150 people — investors, lawyers, seed suppliers, soil-amendment vendors, growers — crowded into The Links at RiverLakes Ranch to make business connections and hear presentations geared toward increasing local production of the marijuana-looking plant behind the modern cure-all known as CBD.

Discussions open and private ranged from tirades against strict federal guidelines to expectations that Kern's statewide leadership in registered hemp acreage will lead to increased investment in a plant county officials see as a valuable crop-diversification opportunity. Because of cross-pollination effects, local officials also view the nonintoxicating plant as a deterrent to illegal pot fields.

"It looks like here you're interested in doing a lot of different things," said Bari E. Smith, chief operating officer of Imperial CBD Extraction, who made the trip to Bakersfield from the company's headquarters in Imperial. She said it appears county officials seem to be open to processing of hemp for several different uses.

"I think you (Kern County) are in an ideal location for that," Smith said.

Among the local farming interests on hand to learn more about local hemp-growing opportunities were representatives of the Banducci and Zaninovich families. One local farming company, Jasmine Vineyards, sent people from its hemp-growing arm, EcoHemp of California LLC.

Locally prominent lawyers were present as well, along with a local human resources firm, Worklogic HR, which paid for a chance to promote its new hemp-oriented arm, Greenleaf HR.

Vice President Jason Thomasy told the audience the new company offers a full complement of human resources services, from benefits and payroll to risk mitigation to workers' compensation.

The meeting was organized by Bakersfield-based Hemp Access and convened in a small meeting room where the dank smell of skunk was so strong that windows were thrown open to let in fresh air.

Kern's brief experience with legal hemp has been somewhat bumpy. A researcher from Indiana who contracted more than 500 acres of hemp production recently saw his entire crop destroyed by the Kern County Sheriff's Office, in cooperation with the FBI, after samples of his crop tested above the federal limit of 0.3 percent THC, the high-inducing chemical in marijuana.

The destruction resulted in a $1 billion claim that has since been rejected by the county and is expected to end up in court.

A presenter at Thursday's meeting, Farmtiva Quality Hemp Seed CEO Chris Boucher, called the 0.3 percent threshold "ridiculous." He noted that the hemp industry is pushing for a looser, 1 percent limit, which many growers say would allow them to preserve keep of their crop without leading to misuse by pot smokers.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf. Sign up at Bakersfield.com for free newsletters about local business.

(6) comments


first.... most of the liberals in Kern County are not hanging out at "The Links at River Lakes Ranch" and second these farmers have registered as Republicans and lastly... its business........ a potential money maker and since famers still get plenty of cheap water and the have the land... now they can replace all those fungus ridden almond groves....its called crop rotation


" . . . dank smell of skunk . . . " Yep . . . that's it . . . !

A different kind of . . . “rope-a-dope.” . . . ! (dbl entendre)


More examples that city/county leaders and businesses are SUCKERS for liberals. This is just another “back door” attempt at getting pot into our community. These fields will be misused & misappropriated (just like they are in EVERY COMMUNITY where they’ve been allowed) so that the product will end up in a bong & pipe NOT in a factory being used in manufacturing, the the owners will just act oh so surprised & flabbergasted…wink, wink…when it’s discovered. Wake up Kern County, you’re being duped!! AGAIN! #MEASURE_N_IS_A_FRAUD


There is plenty of Cannabis within the community already.

Prohibition does not work, fear mongering Reefer Madness is not effective.

Even at a 3% THC content the crop would not be suitable for those that choose cannabis when the average THC content is over 10% for those that choose to partake.

There's an excellent book called, "Chasing the Scream" I would like to recommend.

Hemp became outlawed do to Hurst industries owning paper mills and did not want to compete with hemp paper, which was a superior product.

As for harms to the community, alcohol has a more detrimental effect.

I choose not to partake in either cannabis or alcohol but I do not feel it is my decision to tell other adults what they can and cannot do.


Another Trumphole mouths off,

All Star

I wonder if 5th District Supervisor candidate David "The Jackal" Abbasi was in attendance?

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