• The Old Story of a New Industry Part 2: The Rise and the Fall of Hemp

    Learning from the Past


    There is an excitment in the hemp industry these days. It’s similar to how folks felt when Dr. Bronner’s was winning lawsuits against the Bush Administration in the early 2000’s: anything is possible. laws are changing, Native American tribes are beginning to grow hemp, new innovations are making it possible to turn hemp into 3-D printing materials and new medicines. This may not just be another hype. It could be the real deal, the big resurgence of the hemp industry that we have been waiting for. But, as with any resurgence, there is risk. Risk of throwing all of our eggs into one basket, risk of ignoring the limits and difficulties imposed by production and markets. The risk of assuming that we are the “good guys”, just because we have been the underdogs. The risk should not scare us away, but it can give us pause, and remind us to look back and see what we can learn from the past.

    In my second installment of “the Old Story of a New Industry,” I will look at the hemp industry in the period between two big, nation-defining wars: the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. In this time, the industry peaked and, almost overnight, declined dramatically. In this era, major issues in the hemp industry emerged that are with us still today surrounding issues of labor, politics, and industry interdependence. This is the story of a booming industry resting on an unstable foundation, which can teach us a thing or two about our modern hemp industry.

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  • Standing Rock, Industrial Hemp, and Filling the Cultural Void: an Interview with Marcus Grignon




    Once upon a time, on the Menominee reservation in Northeastern Wisconsin, there was a big pine snake. The big pine snake would slither its way into Marcus Grignon’s grandfather’s garden on the regular. The snake liked to eat the little critters that they found there, like rabbits, mice, and other rodents. One day, Marcus Grignon’s father ran into the snake. He was a small boy at the time, but he still instinctively wanted to protect himself and his family by killing the big snake. “Don’t do that, he protects my garden,” said Grignon’s grandfather, who had observed his scaly friend eating all of the rodents who would otherwise eat his vegetables. He knew that the snake was a vital part of his garden ecology, that the serpent helped protect his family. Marcus Grignon tells me this story like a myth, with a reverence and a slight melancholy. Much of his grandfather’s ecology has been forgotten in what Grignon calls a “generational void”.

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  • News Roundup: “Future of Hemp,” the Elections, and More

    This Roundup: My dispatch from HIA’s “Future of Hemp” conference this week. Hemp is seeing support from both sides of the political aisle (and the back row, the balcony, and the even those waiting outside to get in). Everyone is still confused about industrial hemp laws. All the while, across the Pacific in Oceania, Australia and New Zealand are hopping into hemp like a couple of kangaroos.

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  • The Old Story of a New Industry Part I: Hemp in Colonial America

    History Repeats Itself


    Three hundred years ago, the government of the American colonies paid farmers to grow hemp. The government feared that a single crop economy was developing around tobacco, which is hard on the soil and subject to great market fluctuations, so hemp was promoted as a viable alternative in the New World. Fast forward three centuries to this week, and we see an article about hemp researchers at James Madison University, which quotes a professor involved in the project, “We’re hoping, particularly, farmers who may have been involved in something like tobacco farming and are looking for alternatives, this may be a way to save small family farms, give them a healthy crop alternative.” I don’t need to say it, but I will: history repeats itself.

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  • “Your Ad Wasn’t Approved”: Hemp in the Age of Legal Marijuana

    I’ll be honest, the most advanced social media trick I know is clicking “like” on my kids’ new profile pictures. But I am quickly learning that in order to promote the kinds of meaningful conversations that I want to have these days, I need to do more than secretly post my blog at the back of my website. I also have to promote my words in these nebulous networks of chatter, with the hope that people will actually see this vision through the din and smog of a million distractions. So, I’ve been slogging through the rather tedious process of learning to play the social media game in the digital age (imagine your internet illiterate father/brother/uncle asking, frustratedly and earnestly, “So, I can’t reply to a Facebook post by email?” Yeah, that’s me).

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  • Hempy’s Story of the Month Contest

    Why a Hempy’s Story Contest?


    The most important part of Hempy’s work is community building. We love providing sustainable and locally made clothes, but this is only a means to an end. The end is a world full of empowered and connected people who can thrive in a clean, healthy environment. 

    My favorite part of my job is seeing this community grow. The best part of my day is when I open up a personal email or a facebook message from a Hempy’s customer, and I get to see a glimpse into the life of the people that make up the Hempy’s community. 

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