Test developed by University of Minnesota research could help hemp farmers keep crops legal

On top of all the other risks Minnesota farmers face from planting to harvest, those growing industrial hemp deal with an unusual one: If the crops produce too much THC, the psychoactive substance present in all cannabis plants, then it’s not hemp under state and federal laws, but marijuana.


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It can be very difficult for growers to know exactly how much THC their hemp seeds are going to produce, so farmers can plant seeds thinking they are growing a legal and environmentally friendly crop, only to find out they’ve actually invested time and money in growing a drug.

All of it, then, must be destroyed.

To combat that uncertainty and risk, researchers at the University of Minnesota recently developed a genetic test that will take out some of the guesswork.

The research, published last month in the American Journal of Botany, compared the genes of different varieties of cannabis.

The hope is that the test will be used to certify industrial hemp seeds, giving farmers a guarantee that what they put into the ground will be legal when it’s time for harvest, said George Weiblen, the U researcher who led development of the test.

Seeds for corn, soybeans, alfalfa and just about every other crop grown in Minnesota are certified by independent organizations for purity, to make sure the seeds are free from weeds and of the quality the seller claims them to be.

But industrial hemp is such a new crop that there is no certification process yet. That leaves hemp farmers, especially first-year growers, pretty much at the mercy of whoever they’re buying their seeds from, Weiblen said.

“So we’re seeing that companies and individuals are claiming their seeds will meet the THC threshold, but then growers will find out at the end of the season that those claims weren’t true,” Weiblen said.

Botanists still aren’t sure exactly why cannabis plants produce THC — or tetrahydrocannabinol. It may offer them some protection, keeping pests away from their leaves, Weiblen said.

But each plant can only invest so much of its energy into producing the substance. Some strains produce more, while others instead produce more of the similar but less-psychoactive substance, cannabidiol or CBD.

The U’s genetic test will accurately predict which of the two substances the seeds will favor when they mature.

The THC thresholds for industrial hemp — no more than 0.3% of the plant’s dry weight — were set by Congress in the 2018 federal Farm Bill.

Meeting that threshold has proved to be a challenge for growers, said Anthony Cortilet, supervisor for the noxious weed and hemp program for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The department has been overseeing a pilot program for farmers to grow industrial hemp since 2016. More than 300 growers planted more than 8,000 acres of hemp in Minnesota last year.

About 12% of those crops failed their THC tests at harvest and needed to be destroyed, Cortilet said.

“That’s a huge concern for the industry,” he said. “When

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University of Michigan fraternity in legal dispute after admitting women, non-binary members

ANN ARBOR, MI — The national chapter of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity is suing the University of Michigan chapter, claiming that admitting a woman and having a member who identifies as non-binary has caused harm to its trademark, a lawsuit says.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Sigma Phi Society on Oct. 20 in U.S. District Court in Detroit, alleges that the conduct of members at UM’s chapter of Sigma Phi has caused “irreparable harm to the valuable Trademarks, including infringement and dilution thereof, and to National Sigma Phi’s image, identity, and goodwill.”

The national chapter also filed a preliminary injunction to stop the local chapter from using the name.

“I am troubled that an internal dispute (where a) chapter (is) deciding to have more inclusion by broadening their membership has been met by a federal court trademark lawsuit,” said David Nacht, the Ann Arbor-based attorney representing the UM chapter.

Messages left with the Dinsmore & Shoh law firm representing Sigma Phi Society were not immediately returned, but in response to a defense brief, RJ Cronkhite, an attorney with the firm, wrote that the defendants have failed to create a valid argument regarding the trademark infringement let alone rebut Sigma Phi’s preliminary injunction request.

“Instead of focusing on trademark law, defendants’ response principally focuses on falsely accusing National Sigma Phi of violating various inapplicable laws,” Cronkhite’s response says. “National Sigma Phi finds Defendants’ accusations in this regard inflammatory, unfounded, and legally meritless, and will contest them vigorously in the due course of these proceedings.”

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Denise Page Hood heard oral arguments from both sides Thursday, but said she won’t issue a written opinion about the injunction request until next week.

Nacht provided background about the case in his response to the lawsuit. He wrote that a Sigma Phi member who identified as a man while rushing and pledging the fraternity began to identify as a woman. Around the same time, another member began to identify as gender non-binary, according to his response.

Members at the fraternity decided they would invite women to rush, and they initiated five women that semester, the response states.

Michigan Sigma Phi began circulating a proposal to amend the National Sigma Phi’s constitution and by-laws so that each chapter could dictate its own membership policy regarding gender. Michigan Sigma Phi’s alumni board told members that the best way to get the policy noticed was to publish the proposal in Sigma Phi’s quarterly newsletter, the Flame.

The publication of the summer 2017 edition of the Flame was delayed until August, and the proposal was not noticed within the 60 days required before a vote.

Shortly after, Michigan Sigma Phi elected its first female student president for the 2017-18 school year, according to court records.

In October 2019, members tried to put forth a proposal at the fraternity’s General Convention, but the proposal was blocked, Nacht wrote in the response. Female members of Michigan Sigma Phi were not allowed to participate or even

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Fox News Legal Analyst Links His Downed Wi-Fi To Biden, Gets Mercilessly Mocked

Twitter users went to town on Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett on Friday after he appeared to suggest there was some nefarious link between his imminent filing of a column criticizing Democratic nominee Joe Biden and the disconnection of his internet.

Jarrett — whose tweets and articles President Donald Trump has shared on dozens of occasions — said he found it “odd, if not curious, that the moment I hit ‘send’ on my column […] my Wi-Fi service disconnected.”

“Never happened before. Probably just a coincidence,” he added:

“I’m sure it’s just a communications failure. Or not,” Jarrett conspiratorially wrote in later posts:

Jarrett’s tweets went viral for all the wrong reasons as politicians, journalists and others responded in various mocking ways:

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