Advocates Promote Sustainability Benefits of Organic Hemp, Innovative Hemp Technologies and the Need to Lift Federal Prohibition on Hemp Farming
By Lauren Stansbury (votehemp.com) and Tom Moylan (wearemovementmedia.com)
The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Vote Hemp launched the 8th annual Hemp History Week, to occur June 5-11, 2017, throughout the United States.
As event organizers advocate for full federal legalization of industrial hemp farming this Spring, Hemp History Week raises awareness about the environmental sustainability, health benefits, regenerative agriculture potential, and new technological applications of industrial hemp. This year’s campaign theme, Breaking Ground, focuses on new advances in hemp agronomy research; innovative, breakthrough product applications of hemp; and the need to break new ground in federal legislation efforts to expand hemp farming legalization to farmers and communities in sovereign tribal lands across America. For more information about the campaign, visit www.HempHistoryWeek.com.
To celebrate the launch of Hemp History Week, organizers have partnered with organic farming pioneer the Rodale Institute, to present the press event Hemp Day on the Farm: Press Conference, Hemp Farm Tour & Hemp Luncheon. The Rodale Institute is one of 16 research organizations in Pennsylvania (Berks County) that have been granted permits to conduct research with hemp farming trials, in this inaugural year of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, which allows for farming of industrial hemp in accordance with the Farm Bill Sec. 7606. Rodale Institute’s hemp farming research project will focus on soil health, hemp as a weed-suppressing cover crop, and best agronomy practices for cultivating hemp via a regenerative agriculture model.
Vote Hemp estimates that the hemp market in the U.S. achieved 25% growth in 2016, reaching a total market value of $688 million. The HIA filed a Petition for Review on January 13, 2017, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, seeking to block the implementation of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) recently announced Final Rule regarding “Marihuana Extract,” which attempts to give DEA regulatory control over lawfully cultivated and manufactured cannabinoid products, including CBD products. On February 6, 2017, the HIA filed an additional lawsuit against the DEA regarding the agency’s illegal attempt to impede interstate commerce of lawfully cultivated hemp food products.
Over 1500 grassroots events and retailer sales are planned to occur in May and June in celebration of Hemp History Week, coordinated by grassroots organizers, hemp farming advocates, and natural products industry leaders around the country. To find an event near you, visit our event listing page on the Hemp History Week website hemphistoryweek.com/get-involved/find-an-event-near-you-coming-soon.
Expanding Hemp Advocacy
Though significant progress toward lifting the federal prohibition on hemp farming in the U.S. was made with the passage of the Congressional Agriculture Act of 2014 (Farm Bill), current federal regulations allow only for “States” to enact hemp farming programs. Sovereign tribal lands across America have been precluded from the economic and research opportunity of hemp cultivation. Hemp History Week advocates for comprehensive, free market legalization of industrial hemp cultivation, and the removal of industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, so that all may benefit from the commercial benefits of this versatile, high-demand crop. This can be achieved with the passage of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which as of June 5, 2017, has yet to be introduced in the 115th Congress.
Filmed on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the 8th annual Hemp History Week campaign video Breaking Groundtells the story of Alex White Plume, Oglala Lakota hemp farmer and activist, whose hemp crop was unlawfully raided and destroyed by the DEA in 2000. An interview with White Plume underscores why the crop should be grown to support sustainable solutions for the next generation; and subsequent scenes elaborate on how Hemp History Week supports this message by generating momentum for hemp advocacy around the country. To view the new video for the 8th annual campaign, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TqInCnvEU&feature=youtu.be.
Hemp for Our Earth
Hemp is an environmentally sustainable, versatile crop that offers regenerative agriculture solutions for healthy soil, efficient land and water use, and innovative product applications. Hemp is a renewable resource that can help reduce market dependency on wood, petroleum, and other non-sustainable industrial agriculture and energy practices, thereby contributing to environmentally responsible food and fiber production, forest conservation, reduction in agriculture pesticide use, and soil remediation. Hemp sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, mitigating the rising rate of CO2 levels responsible for climate change; and furthermore, pollinators thrive on the proliferous pollen created by hemp flowers. Hemp bast fiber has shown promising potential to replace graphene in supercapacitor batteries, which could then be used to power electric cars and handheld electric devices and tools. Hemp fiber can be used to create environmentally friendly packaging materials, and hard bio-plastics for use in everything from airplanes to car parts. Hemp houses are also on the rise, as hempcrete has many advantages to synthetic building materials, lumber and concrete.
Hemp for Our Health
Among the fastest-growing categories in the natural foods industry, hemp seed is a rich source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs), providing both SDA and GLA, highly-digestible protein, and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and iron. An excellent source of dietary fiber, hemp seed is also a complete protein — meaning it contains all ten essential amino acids, with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by the human body. Hemp seed, milk, ice cream, oil, cereals and snacks, as well as hemp protein powder, dietary supplements and body care are increasingly popular and available at natural and conventional grocers everywhere. Consumers are increasingly turning on to the nourishing health benefits of hemp foods and body products.
United in the Effort to Legalize Hemp Farming
Now in its eighth year, Hemp History Week is an industry-wide effort made possible by the support of the leading natural product brands known for manufacturing the highest quality hemp products. These HIA members and sponsor brands include Charlotte’s Web Hemp, Dr. Bronner’s, Farmer Direct Co-op, Manitoba Harvest, Nature’s Path Organic, Nutiva, Pacific Foods, Onnit, Plus+CBD Oil, and Tree Free Hemp.
Legislative Challenges and Opportunities in 2017
The hemp industry faces a number of challenges and barriers to full scale farming of industrial hemp, including: inability of hemp farmers to obtain crop insurance and financing, difficulties involved with sourcing certified hemp seed, lack of adequate processing infrastructure in the U.S. for raw hemp materials, barriers to interstate commerce for hemp products, and the potential mis-regulation of CBD products as pharmaceuticals rather than nutritional supplements.
The 33 states that have legalized industrial hemp farming, per provision Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill, include: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Hemp History Week, June 5-11, 2017, is an industry-wide initiative of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Vote Hemp. The HIA is a non-profit trade group representing hemp companies, researchers, farmers and supporters. Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit advocacy group founded in 2000 by members of the hemp industry to remove barriers to industrial hemp farming in the U.S. through education, legislation and advocacy. For further information, visit www.TheHIA.org and www.VoteHemp.com.