Perhaps the most rewarding part of this journey so far has been the opportunity to mingle with others who are deeply committed to making the world a better place. It’s inspiring to connect with those who share the same vision for a healthier, cleaner, and more prosperous future by empowering people to take action to better themselves and their communities. More than hemp itself, it’s the building of relationships with these dedicated and hard-working people that makes joining this movement so fulfilling.
In the beginning, to be honest, I felt a bit embarrassed not to have known about industrial hemp. That something so important had stayed out of my gaze up until now is testament to the effectiveness of our government’s efforts to keep this plant out of the public light. True that the conversation around marijuana cannabis is more complicated, given that it induces psychotropic effects, but the only things hemp cannabis ever hurt were the bottom lines of the companies behind its polluting competitors. When these companies colluded with our government in the 1930s, they launched a racist propaganda campaign targeting minority groups that turned mainstream western culture against cannabis. With one stroke the entire cannabis plant, in all its forms and for all its uses, was sent into a nearly 60-year total prohibition by the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. However, then as in now, there exists no logic that justifies ever banning cannabis grown for its industrial or purely medicinal purposes. Not only does it provide the raw material for an astounding array of applications, but its cultivation is beneficial to the land it grows on and for the environment in general.
Cannabis began its journey back into the mainstream when California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, but oddly it would be nearly another two decades before hemp would find its way back into U.S. soil. Colorado boldly planted the first crop in 2013, one year before Congress added a provision to the 2014 Farm Bill that grants states the right to grow hemp under their own “industrial hemp research pilot” programs. WA passed its hemp legislation in 2016 and began work on creating rules for its own hemp pilot program. The state would be ready to accept applications for licenses by spring 2017, just in time for the growing season.
Face glued to my laptop screen for many an hour, the world of industrial hemp unfolded before me with every click. I wasn’t sure exactly what to do about what I was learning, but I knew “nothing” simply wasn’t an option.