Hemp History Week Kicks Off

June 1 to June 7 marks the 6th annual Hemp History Week, with over 300 events scheduled nation-wide in all 50 states. This annual event is organized by the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Vote Hemp to publicize industrial hemp, its economic potential and the efforts to enact pro-hemp legislation at the state and federal level.

In addition to hemp home building courses and various grass-roots events the HIA and Vote Hemp, along with the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, are having a hemp planting demonstration on June 2 at the site of the university’s hemp pilot program fields. This historic event is one of many throughout the country in states which have passed pro-hemp legislation authorizing agricultural research on this valuable and versatile farm crop.

Vote Hemp is one of the most successful cannabis reform organizations in the United States. Their most recent success involves the 2013 Farm Bill, which was passed by Congress and signed into law in February 2014. Section 7606 of the Farm Bill is titled “Legitimacy of Hemp Research” and defines hemp as distinct from marijuana and allows states with authorizing legislation to allow, support and advance research on industrial hemp. It is because of this landmark legislation that the historic hemp crop of 2015 is underway. For this reason, the primary theme of Hemp History Week is “Sow the Seed.”

Despite this clear language and intent of the 2013 Farm Bill regarding the advancement of hemp research and cultivation, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had tried to obstruct progress in preparations for the 2015 research crop. Nonetheless, this year’s crop is underway.

Vote Hemp is also mobilizing support and attention for new legislation in Congress. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced this January in both the House and the Senate and seeks to remove all federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Currently, 23 states can now grow hemp for research purposes.

Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, recently spoke at the National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics about hemp for health. Steenstra reviewed many of hemp’s versatile qualities as a source of industrial raw materials but devoted particular attention to the nutritional benefits of hemp seed. The seeds have high levels of vitamins A, C and E, along with beta-carotene. Additionally, they are rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals and dietary fiber. Hemp seeds are also an important source of Omega-3 and other essential fatty acids (EFAs), which not only contribute to overall good health but, according to Bryan Krumm, RN (another speaker at the conference), also contribute to coping with depression, mood stabilization and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Another aspect of hemp’s value as a raw material described by Steenstra and featured during Hemp History Week is hempcrete—a non-toxic building material made with water and hemp that produces a powerful and nontoxic insulator for the construction of greener, energy efficient homes. The HIA is providing a hemp building course in Lexington, KY from June 26 to June 28, featuring contemporary construction methods and hands-on applications for working with hempcrete.

The first week in June will have over 300 events, including educational tours of college campuses, film screenings, outreach at farmer’s markets, lobbying days directed at state legislatures, letter-writing campaigns and other events. A full list of events is available at the Hemp History website.

Hemp is on its way back to prominence in American agriculture. Tremendous progress has been made to re-legalize this valuable and beneficial commodity. This year’s Hemp History Week is not only celebrating the history of this great plant, but making history as it continues to attract, organize and mobilize public and political support for its return.

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