By Kay Whatley, Editor
On Thursday, August 30, 2018, the inaugural Carolina Hemp Festival and Expo kicked off at the Marriott (Crabtree Valley) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event ran three days, drawing hemp-interested business people, farmers, and those interested in dipping their toes in to see what the hemp industry was all about.
The first day people lined up to register as the Expo folks set up their displays — everything from grow lights and soil to living hemp plants and literature — with a wide variety of cannabidiol (CBD) oils laden products for eating, drinking, dosing, applying to the skin, or using as a spice to cook.
Throughout the day, scheduled presenters stepped up to share their knowledge as the seated crowd listened. Topics covered included hemp’s many uses, things-to-know for growing, how the industry was doing, where hemp was going, and even a presentation on legal issues in NC and across the country.
Speakers the first day were Blake Butler, Will Daugherty, Dr. James Taylor, MK Smith, Kerry McCormick, Michael Sobol, followed by a cooking demonstration by MaZoe Anderson, and rounding out the day with Kit Murphy and a hemp beer party around the pool.
The hemp beer was courtesy of Founder’s Hemp: Founding Fathers.
On the second day, Friday, August 31, 2018, the Expo continued and a new slate of presenters share what they’d learned over recent years of hemp growing, and visions for the future of hemp. Presenters scheduled Jason Wasserman, Jillian Hishaw (Esq.), Burt James, Rep. Kelly Alexander, Cory, Sharp, Matt Spitzer, Chase Werner, Randall Wilkins, Volker Bornemann, Rod Kight, and another hemp beer party by the pool, followed by the Golden Leaf Banquet.
Between speakers on both days, attendees networked with each other and with the Expo vendors. Despite being the first year for this event, there were multiple event sponsors and the Expo area and hallway were full with:
- The Hemp Farmacy
- Sugarleaf Labs
- Everything Hemp Store
- trikom genetics
- The Hemp Source NC
- Women of Sativa (part of Hemp Team that created this event)
- KREMÉ Cosmetics
- Hybrid Health
- SANA Botanicals
- The Hemp Handler
- Kingdom Harvest
- American Green (complete with dispensary vending machine)
- Charleston Hemp Company
- Hemp Farmers Association
- Southern Virginia Hemp Company (brought live hemp plants)
- Gold Standard Hemp Co.
- Oak City Hemp
- Integrated Hemp Solutions (9 pain clinics across NC)
- Hemp Flower Naturals
- Forest Remedies
- HempAdobe Homes
- Murphy Hemp Company
- Founder’s Hemp
- Softgel Co.
- Cannopy Corporation
- Hemp Inc. (presenter)
Although there were many knowledge nuggets shared during the two days of presentations, and I didn’t hear all the speakers, my favorite quote is “Hemp is hope” — said by Dr. Taylor in his presentation. He then named all the ways CBD, THC, and other components of hemp and marijuana plants may eventually (post-prohibition) play a part in human health and disease management, and discussed the endocannabinoid system.
After two full days of learning, browsing, and networking, on Saturday, September 1, 2018, the day started with a farm tour in Bunn NC (Franklin County) led by farmer Ben Miller and Harold Avery. After giving a talk on how his farm had faired in growing hemp in 2017 and 2018, the group was shown the farm’s dryer, then walked to a field of hemp to see the plants first hand, smell the skunky breeze, and hear more details on their hemp farming experiences.
Following a question-and-answer session, everyone headed to the Festival portion — hosted by the Hemp Source NC’s Wendell store. The festival started with a gathering and discussion in the Hemp Source store, free pizza, face painting, live music, and many industry discussions and farming conversation.
Note that this year’s event hashtag was #CHFE2018… search Twitter to see updates posted throughout the three-day event in Raleigh NC.
Ed. Note: See also the Carolina Cannabis News article on this important, inaugural event: carolinacannabisnews.com/reflecting-on-carolina-hemp-festival.