Earlier this month, the sun shined warmly on the Ranch Events Complex in Loveland, CO for the second annual NoCo Hemp Expo. Surrounded by panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains, hemp enthusiasts lined the expo’s entrance with excitement for a budding industry. Over 1250 attendees gathered throughout the course of the day to meet with over 70+ exhibitors and hear from 50+ speakers.
“Game on in the hemp industry, everyone! This is going to be awesome!” exclaimed expo organizer, Morris Beegle of the Colorado Hemp Company. Morris busily scurried his way past a BMW vehicle, designed with hemp door panels, and through the lines of people zig-zagging the entry.
In 2012, Colorado state citizens voted to permit the growth of industrial hemp for commercial purposes under Amendment 64. Though the state allows this kind of production, it remains illegal under federal law. Federal law classifies hemp as a schedule one drug because it contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC). Unlike cannabis, however, the hemp plant contains usually less than .3% of the psychoactive cannabinoid and can’t get you high. High or not, Loveland’s Sheriff, of Larimer County, banned anyone from bringing hemp plants or germinating seeds to the event due to conflict with federal law.
Designated protest areas were made available at the event for attendees looking to demonstrate against this. Beside them, Good Seed, a hemp burger company from Austin, TX, flipped organic veggie-burgers made from alkalizing ingredients for the event’s attendees. In addition to delicious hemp burgers, guests of the event also enjoyed hemp beer by High Hops Brewery and gluten, soy and dairy-free ice cream sandwiches made by a well-fitting named company, “Hemp I Scream!”
Industrial hemp has thousands of purposes and can be used to make food, fuel, fabric, plastics, construction materials, textiles and paper, to name a few uses. (ncsl.org). Considering our society’s dependence on environmentally harmful and oil-heavy materials like plastic- the synthetic components of which are literally clogging up our waterways and leaching into our oceans- we need industrial hemp production now more than ever.
Hemp can grow on every continent except Antarctica and is currently harvested in over 30 different countries. America, where it’s still mostly illegal to grow for commercial purposes, is the largest importer of hemp receiving 620 million dollars worth of the crop, from China alone, each year. Leading American hemp companies like Dr. Bronners have been importing tons of hemp across state lines for years in order to create products and serve their customers high demands. A remedy for rural economies, hemp holds the power to not only revitalize our agricultural sectors but also, support the redevelopment of our communities.
The education segments, presented by the Rocky Mountain Hemp Association, were abundant and among the most valuable at the NoCo Hemp Expo. Throughout the duration of the event, guests were welcome to attend a series of speeches and panels from industry experts including Michael Bowman, a well known hemp activist; John Roulac, Founder and CEO of Nutiva, a superfoods company revolutionizing the way the world eats; and Josh Kaplan, partner of Vicente Sederberg, the cannabis industry’s expert legal team advising visionaries as visionaries themselves.
Amidst the entrepreneur elevator pitches at booth after booth of the exhibit hall, we discovered some pretty fascinating companies doing incredible work in the industry.
The Fay Farm, a natural body care products company from Washington, is a family operated business that got their start in the skincare realm of hemp 11 years ago. The company’s co-founder, Stacey Anderson first began creating “Healing Hemp” products as an alternative to the steroid treatment doctors were only prescribing her daughter’s eczema with. From her research, Stacey discovered, “hemp oil has the highest amount of omega 3s and 6s and is the fastest cell regenerative oil”. Stacey’s family (which consist of 7 daughters and one sweet husband!) began adding the CBD properties found in hemp to their muscle rubs and have successfully treated fibromyalgia, neuropathy and arthritis. Their healing hemp lotion has also helped relieve anxiety in autistic children.
The ArcView Group, a cannabis investment company and research firm dedicated to the belief that business is the most powerful platform for political change, was also exhibiting at the expo. ArcView’s foundation has brought fourth legitimacy in the cannabis sector and strives to support the progression of industrial hemp in America by supporting the entrepreneurs starting up in the space. In addition to its focus on cannabis-related companies, ArcView is now venturing further into the hemp arena.
Just a year ago NoCo Hemp Expo sponsor, Recreator, successfully raised $46k via Kickstarter for their hemp apparel company. Tyler Purdue, Recreator’s Director of Sales, described the brand’s initiative, “to make wearing hemp clothing cool by focusing on sustainability and creativity.” The company, that makes their clothing in Los Angeles, CA, plans to travel the United States promoting their eco-conscious fashion line and the agricultural hemp movement they’ve founded themselves upon.
The versatility of hemp creates the potential to become the new cash crop for America but, only if we let it! Though hemp companies are popping up all over the nation, there is still a lot of work to do in regards to the legality of this plant. Few advancements have been made at the federal level and only recently, under section 7606 of the Farm Bill signed in 2014, have 14 states been granted the rights to grow industrial hemp for research. Under the bill, these states including Hawaii, North Dakota, Maine, Nebraska and Oregon can grow only to determine whether or not it makes sense for Americans to produce commercial hemp. In order to localize the source of hemp ingredients, reenergize our agriculture, economy and communities this movement needs more people excited about the future of a happier and healthier tomorrow.
To take matters to the next level, find out if there is a hemp initiative in your state and learn more about the opportunities to get the industrial growth of commercial hemp on your ballot. Use VoteHemp.com’s Action Alert system to contact your local representatives, find out if they support industrial hemp production for commercial use and let them know your views on the matter. Share this piece with your online community. Or get involved with Sparkleberry Lane’s #HempWednesady initiative by posting a fun fact about hemp each Wednesday to the social of your choice. Find our fun facts and see how we raise awareness on our Instagram @sparkleberrylane!
Even if you have never been politically inclined, you can still support this movement by buying hemp products when you have the opportunity. Hemp seeds are a superfood and make amazing smoothies and salad toppers, and you can even find hemp protein powder for your workout shakes. Clean yourself, your clothes and your dishes with Dr.Bronners and use the harmless grey water to shower your garden with. Or purchase hemp material like clothes and rope whenever possible.
And, like Doug Fine, author of Too high to Fail and Hemp Bound, proclaimed at the opening ceremony of the event: “You people that are just curious about hemp farming are part of this revolution and thank you, thank you, for being here!”
“It was such an honor to participate in this truly outstanding, historical industrial hemp convention ~ in a legal market! I tip my well-worn hemp hat to Morris Beegle and the Rocky Mountain Hemp Association for creating this amazing, nation-healing experience.” – Joy Beckerman, President of Hemp Ace International and long standing hemp activist.
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