A commercial driver can use CBD oil

Sharp knives against gentle hemp in Burgenland

The time of waiting is over. It took almost five months for the hemp to ripen for harvest. A monster on wheels moves through the field. The driver is enthroned high up in his cabin and lets his gaze wander over the sea of ​​leaves.

What looks like a combine harvester is a harvesting machine specially designed for industrial hemp. Something like that would be expected elsewhere, not in Burgenland. Just outside the gates of the Gols wine-growing community is one of the largest hemp plantations in Austria. What was sown at the beginning of April is now ready for harvest.

Start with a few women

Andrea Bamacher strokes the jagged leaves, pinches one off, bites into it, thinks it's good. The native of Styria is considered to be the Expert on hemp, not only in Austria - Europe-wide. "I had contact with herbs in the garden early in my childhood, I loved them, and I couldn't let go of them," she says.

Bamacher, who worked for a while as a sailing instructor on Lake Neusiedl, became aware of hemp through a former work colleague. After intensive occupation with the 4000 year old cultivated plant and various attempts to earn money with it - including setbacks - Bamacher founded Deep Nature Project in Gols in 2015. It started with a handful of women - now almost 70 people work in the company. At least that was the case before Corona. The majority of women are still employed in hemp processing, and some have been working from home since the summer.

"Our vision was and is to develop sustainable, natural products that are beneficial for health," says Bamacher. "We are organically certified across the board, as the first company in Europe, probably worldwide."

Efforts to accommodate single mothers with children in particular during working hours have also paid off. In spring, Deep Nature was recognized as the most family-friendly medium-sized company in Burgenland.

Psychoactive ingredient bred out

The psychoactive ingredient THC has been bred from the industrial hemp varieties that are used for the production of food and nutritional supplements. The central ingredient that Bamacher is concerned with is cannabidiol (CBD). It is a substance belonging to the cannabinoid class. Around 140 of these have been researched so far. These valuable substances are found on the leaves.

"In the first year we trembled whether we could even bring in the harvest," recalls Bamacher. "The first farmer drove into the field. A short time later, the machine broke down. The next one did not come even ten meters. Then we harvested by hand."

In the meantime we have learned something new and know better how to mow the tough-fiber hemp without the harvesting machine starting to smoke or even catching fire because fibers get caught in the rotating parts.

"We know every farmer personally who grows hemp for us," says Stephan Dorfmeister, co-founder of Deep Nature and responsible for the company's finances. In addition to farmers in Burgenland and the Waldviertel, there are also some under contract in Germany and Croatia.

Hemp straw is also used

The upper third of the hemp plant is shaved off by machine. The leaves land in a container via a conveyor belt. The bar mower with freshly sharpened double knives is best for harvesting the hemp straw. "Hemp straw, says Bamacher," is not a waste, but a valuable raw material. "It is used for clothing, ropes, paper, but also for dust-free animal bedding, something for horses.

Deep Nature lets the leaves dry at a partner in Podersdorf. Together they have developed a process that is as gentle as possible. Dorfmeister: "Our aim is to lose as little as possible of these valuable substances at every processing stage".

The refinement takes place in Gols in a former Zielpunkt branch. Here, hemp oil is extracted from the paste-like mass, largely automated. Proteins are extracted and processed as a waste product of the pressing of seeds, many other mixtures for humans and animals are created here under almost clinical conditions. Hygiene sluices have not only existed since Corona. "We are food certified and are strictly tested," says Bamacher.

The hemp pioneer is worried about a move by the EU Commission that could result in the criminalization of CBD products. She suspects the pharmaceutical lobby behind it, which wants to capture the lucrative market for itself.

(Günther Strobl, September 3, 2020)

KNOWLEDGE

It is an ancient cultivated plant that is making waves again right now: hemp. More precisely, it is the ingredients that excite the mind, Tetra-Hydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Put simply, THC affects the head because it is the most psychoactive ingredient in the hemp plant; CBD is the second most common active ingredient in the cannabis plant and acts on the body. CBD has proven medicinal benefits and is the most sought-after compound for medicinal purposes. And - it's not a psychoactive connection. In mid-July the EU commission published a preliminary statement that is hard on the stomach of hemp processors. So would be natural Hemp extracts and cannabinoids no longer as food, but classified as a medicinal product. Not only hemp processors such as Deep Nature in Burgenland are on the other hand, also Peter Kolba from Consumer protection association no longer understands the world. "I'm a chronic pain patient and I know the blessing of cannabis medicine in making neuropathic pain bearable. Six drops of CBD oil in the evening and I fall asleep. A few puffs on a vaporizer of CBD flowers, and it goes to sleep quickly. Instead of chemical clubs pure natural product, "says Kolba, describing his experiences. He suspects the strong behind the move by the EU Commission Lobbying the pharmaceutical industry, who does not want to give this growing, lucrative market out of hand. There are only in Austria 1.5 million pain patients correspondingly more in the EU. The consumer protection association has asked the EU Commission to also hear the voice of patients, not just that of the pharmaceutical industry.