June 4-10, 2012 marked the biggest and most celebrated Hemp History Week to date. The 3rd Annual Hemp History Week featured over 800 events in cities and towns throughout all fifty states, including 100 grassroots volunteer-led events; more than 700 retail promotions; a restaurant program; and a letter writing campaign that generated over 15,000 letters and calls to U.S. Senators encouraging them to support changes to federal policy that would allow American farmers to once again grow industrial hemp.
The national grassroots education campaign organized by Vote Hemp and the Hemp Industries Association was designed to renew strong support for the return of hemp farming and processing to the U.S. The 2012 campaign celebrated the theme of Hemp for a Healthy Future: Healthy Lifestyles, Healthy Economy, Healthy Planet. Organizers have announced plans for the fourth annual campaign to be held from June 3-9, 2013. More details on the 2013 campaign as well as an archive of events and press coverage from the 2012 effort can be found at: www.HempHistoryWeek.com.
“This year’s Hemp History Week was the most successful yet. We generated over 15,000 letters to the U.S. House and the Senate; produced a record number of events throughout all 50 states; and most importantly saw Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduce an historic hemp amendment to the Farm Bill making it the first time language supporting industrial hemp farming has made it to the floor of the Senate since the 1950’s,” says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “As more Americans recognize the health and environmental benefits of hemp products, hemp farming promises job creation and economic opportunity for farmers and manufacturers and ensures that nutritious foods and sustainable goods are more accessible and affordable for consumers. We need to keep the pressure on Congress and are encouraging our supporters to take action.”
INDUSTRIAL HEMP AMENDMENT TO FARM BILL
On June 7, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) proposed an amendment (S.A.2220) to the Farm Bill (S.3240), the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, which would exclude industrial hemp from the definition of ‘marihuana.’ Senator Wyden’s amendment will empower American farmers by allowing them to once again grow industrial hemp, a profitable commodity with an expanding market. The cultivation of industrial hemp will be regulated by state permitting programs, like North Dakota’s, and will not impact the federal government’s long-standing prohibition of marijuana. To view the amendment, please go to: http://votehemp.com/legislation. In the week following Hemp History Week Senator Wyden spoke on the Senate floor explaining why he is sponsoring legislation in support of industrial hemp farming. To view the video go to: http://bit.ly/WydenSA2220. Vote Hemp is urging supporters to call, email, or write their U.S. Senators today to ask for their support of Senator Wyden’s industrial hemp amendment to the Farm Bill by visiting: http://www.hemphistoryweek.com/takeaction.php.
Hemp History Week is endorsed by a long list of celebrities and high profile wellness experts, including Dr. Andrew Weil, Alicia Silverstone, Phil Lempert, Ashley Koff, R.D., Brendan Brazier, Elizabeth Kucinich, Ziggy Marley, Alexandra Jamieson, Dar Williams, Michael Franti, John Salley, and Kevin Danaher.
This year’s campaign more than doubled in size and scope compared to last year’s event, which mobilized supporters of hemp farming nationwide. With more than 700 participating retail stores and over 100 grassroots volunteer organized events the 2012 campaign was the biggest yet.
Hundreds of natural product retail outlets across the country signed up to participate in Hemp History Week through promotions and in-store events. Hemp product promotions in retail stores increased from 400 stores in 2011 to over 700 participating retail stores this year, including most Whole Foods Market locations in the U.S.
NATIONAL RESTAURANT PROGRAM
New to the 2012 campaign, over 20 health conscious cafes and restaurants around the country participated in Hemp History Week by featuring hemp-infused dishes on their menus. Some restaurants also hosted special events.
SHOWCASING THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF HEMP
A renewable resource offering a long list of health and nutritional benefits, hemp is one of the fastest-growing categories in the natural foods industry. Hemp is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids
(EFAs), providing both super omega-stearidonic acid (SDA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), highly-digestible protein and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and iron, while being a good source of dietary fiber. It is a nearly complete protein, containing all 10 essential amino acids, with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by the human body. Hemp seeds are also gluten-free.
The 3rd annual Hemp History Week was made possible with the support of leading natural product brands that are known for manufacturing the highest-quality hemp products. Hemp can be used in a wide variety of products, including foods, cosmetics, clothing, building materials, auto parts, and many others. The sponsors of the 2012 Hemp History Week are Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Living Harvest Foods, Food Should Taste Good, Manitoba Harvest, Nature’s Path Foods, Nutiva, and Vega. Sustainable hemp seed, fiber, and oil are also used by major companies such as Ford Motors, BMW, Patagonia, and The Body Shop.
The HIA estimates that U.S. retail sales of hemp products exceeded $419 million in 2010, yet American companies making hemp products have no choice but to import their raw materials due to the federal government’s outdated and misguided ban on hemp farming. While demand for hemp products continues to rise, it is becoming a challenge for Canadian growers and processors, currently the primary suppliers of hemp seed and oil to the U.S. market, to keep up and meet that demand.
To date, thirty-one states have introduced pro-hemp legislation and seventeen have passed legislation, while ten states (Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research. However, despite state authorization to grow hemp, farmers in these states risk raids by federal agents, long prison terms, and probable forfeiture of their farms if they plant the crop, due to the failure of federal policy to distinguish oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis (i.e., industrial hemp) from psychoactive drug varieties.
For more information on Hemp History Week 2012, please see: www.HempHistoryWeek.com.