Tuesday June 9, 2015

By Andrew Stoll



Every day, more and more Americans discover the benefits of hemp. This ever-expanding market includes healthy food and body care products, as well as eco-friendly textiles, clothing, auto parts, and building materials. But despite hemp’s growing popularity, an outdated and misguided Federal policy – created in the 1930s – currently prevents U.S. farmers from growing this nutritious, versatile, and eco-friendly crop.

Federal policy on industrial hemp is beginning to reflect today’s reality and ensure a better tomorrow for America’s families and farmers, the economy and our planet. The 2014 Farm Bill was a first step, but we need to push Congress to pass legislation in 2015 that will allow commercial hemp farming.

As more Americans recognize the health and environmental benefits of hemp products, hemp farming promises job creation and economic opportunity for farmers and manufacturers, and ensures that nutritious foods are more accessible and affordable for consumers. In turn this means healthier lifestyles, a stronger economy, and a more sustainable world.

Sunday marked the last day of Hemp History Week, which runs June 1st – 7th. Now in its sixth year, Hemp History Week is a nation-wide education campaign and marketing program that seeks to renew strong support for hemp farming in the U.S. while raising awareness about the benefits of hemp products. The 6th Annual campaign will include grass-roots events across the country, nationwide retail promotions, hemp plantings (in some states where hemp farming is legal under Section 7606 of the U.S. Farm Bill), documentary screenings, and farmer outreach.

One of the events during Hemp History Week in Colorado was a screening of the short documentary, “Bringing it home.” Here in the U.S., hemp could be a money-making crop for farmers and create jobs. But why can’t we grow it here? “Bringing it Home” tells the story of hemp: past, present and future and a global industry that includes textiles, building materials, food products, bio-plastics, auto parts and more.

The documentary also highlights several key figures in the fight to legalize hemp including Eric Steenstra and Ben Droz, industry veterans when it comes to lobbying for legislative change on the federal and state levels. The showing was arranged by Zev Paiss, executive director of The National Hemp Association, a rapidly growing association with the goal of expanding the hemp industry through investment, education and a larger, more involved hemp community.

Another event that was put on to honor the expanding hemp movement was the Hemp Farmer’s Market, which took place Saturday at 6565 E. Evans Street in Denver. The market drew over 20 vendors and over 250 people selling everything from clothing, to paper, to viable seed. One of the most exciting booths was the Colorado Hemp Company where Morris Beegle, president of CO Hemp Company has been organizing and promoting events for the hemp world for the past several years and is just getting started. He has developed his own, Colorado grown, hemp paper line that is quickly being adopted by the largest hemp/marijuana businesses in Colorado. After seeing all the non-hemp marketing materials around this and other hemp/marijuana events, the need for more hemp based paper materials is clear. If you are in the marijuana or hemp business, or just want to stop cutting down trees for paper, why would you not contact Tree Free Hemp and Morris for your project?

After learning new information and uses for hemp and being reminded of the current and past uses, Hemp History Week reminds us of the great opportunity and responsibility we have in shaping and creating the industry in the great state of Colorado (and beyond). Collectively, there is still a long way to go but we are seeing the re-emergence of what will be the largest industry to date. Undoubtedly, hemp is BIG business!

Thank you to all those involved in the week of hemp events and for those who have been fighting this battle for a long time. With all of the support and energy, the hemp revolution is picking up momentum and the next great American industry is being born!

By Andrew Stoll, serial entrepreneur and hemp farmer

Photo Credit: Ploëzal (license)

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