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Inside Track

A look at what’s behind today's Minnesota business headlines.

Mn Hemp industry wants charges dropped against truck driver

The recently formed Minnesota Hemp Association is protesting the July arrest in South Dakota of an unspecified truck driver delivering legally grown hemp from Colorado to a processor in Minnesota.

“This situation highlights the serious deficiency of consistent laws around hemp, cultivation, transportation, processing and selling,” said Joe Radinovich, a former Minnesota legislator and 2018 DFL congressional candidate who is executive director of the state hemp trade group. “A Minnesota Hemp Association member expected a shipment of legally grown hemp. Instead the driver was arrested, and the hemp confiscated in a state that isn’t complying with the [federal] farm bill and allowing hemp to be transported.”

The 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act that was signed into law by President Trump. That formerly legalized, after state-by-state emergence of the industry as permitted by federal regulators for several years, the growing, processing and sale of hemp-related products, including so-called CBD oils and balms that lack the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that makes people high.

Radinovich said the arrest in South Dakota was for marijuana posession "with intent to distribute"

South Dakota, whose governor vetoed a hemp-legalization bill this year, is surrounded by states that have given the go-ahead to the hemp industry. The economic output has been projected at $20 billion within several years. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed an industrial-hemp bill last spring, saying she wanted further federal clarification and was concerned about related state-enforcement spending.

“The Minnesota Hemp Association…expects to see charges against the driver dropped, hemp legalized in South Dakota and more legal clarity at the federal level to ensure good people making an honest living in the hemp industry are able to do without fear of legal action taken against them without cause.”

Here's a recent column I wrote about Minnesota’s burgeoning hemp industry:

Rally Ventures is most active local venture firm

Rally Ventures has been named Minnesota’s most active venture-capital firm over five years.

CB Insights, which tracks venture investing,said the Twin Cities-based firm has made six Minnesota investments since its inception in 2012. They are Minnesota-based Atavium, Foodsby, Parallax, SportsEngine, Total Expert and ZapInfo.  

“We’re all about helping entrepreneurs accelerate their businesses by leveraging our experience as early-stage venture investors and bringing together the expertise of our Technology Partner network,” said Jeff Hinck, co-founder and general partner of Rally Ventures, in a prepared statement. “We take this mission to heart in…Minnesota. We…are excited to continue investing in this state’s exceptional tech talent.” 

Rally has participated in four profitable portfolio company exits in 2019, most recently with the sales of  portfolio companies Twistlock and Verodin. In July, Twistlock, a cyber security firm, was acquired by Palo Alto Networks for $410 million in cash. In May, Rally sold its position in Verodin, a leader in cyber security control validation, was acquired in a cash-stock transaction valued at $250 million. 

In 2013, Rally raised a $100-million fund that included investments from “technology partners” such as Piper Jaffray, 3M, Cargill, Google, Microsoft and Protolabs. Since inception in 2012, Rally has invested in 43 early-stage companies.