Hemp Expo Exposition
John Edwards Dvorak, Hempologist
April 3, 1997
WHO, WHAT, AND WHERE
The Expo at the 9th Annual High Times Cannabis Cup was held at the Pax Party House in Amsterdam from Saturday, November 23rd through Monday, November 25th. In addition to over 30 companies and organizations associated with industrial hemp, the Expo contained exhibits by several purveyors of products concerning the cultivation and consumption of THC laden cannabis.
As the vendors began arriving at the Pax on Saturday morning, it was like watching a family reunion. Hugs, handshakes, and smiles abounded as people filtered in and started setting up their tables. The hemp industry is composed of people who are dedicated to spreading the truth about the beneficial properties of an outlawed plant. If, through their hard work they make a profit, then another dagger is slipped into the heart of prohibition. Established industry leaders including The Ohio Hempery, Two Star Dog, Headcase, and Ecolution were well represented at the Expo, as were some newer concerns such as the Austin Hemp Company, Lost Harvest, and Planet Hemp.
Most of the participants in the week long Cannabis Cup festivities were American readers of High Times magazine. The Expo exhibitors, on the other hand, provided a more international flavor with representatives from several countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Australia, and Canada. The fact that the resurgence of the hemp industry is a global phenomenon lends credence to the overall movement.
AND THE WINNERS ARE:
The Ohio Hempery, one of the oldest and most successful hemp companies in the world, once again won two Cannabis Cups. This year, they won for Best Hemp Product and Best Hemp Fashion. The Hempery’s founder, Don Wirtshafter, is tireless in his quest to educate the public about hemp. His sage advice and kind smile keep him in constant demand.
Two Star Dog’s quality clothing products brought them a 2nd Place Medal in the Hemp Fashion Category. Their shirts, jackets, and jeans are consistently some of the best hemp products currently available. (I am writing this article in my brand new Two Star Dog jeans. bow wow!!)
The most pleasant surprise in the judging occurred when the Austin Hemp Company (www.hemponline.com) won the Third Place Medal in the Hemp Fashion category. Although the Austin Hemp Company has only been in existence for a short time, their decision to develop new, innovative and stylish clothing paid off. Their hemp/silk “Marilyn Monroe” dress is sure to be a big hit.
HempFlax, a Netherlands based company headed up by the father and son team of Ben and Allan Dronkers, won a 3rd Place Medal in the Hemp Product category. The Dronkers’, who are often mistaken for brothers, also operate the Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum and the Sensi Seed Bank. They are now investing big time in industrial hemp. In this, their 3rd year of hemp farming, HempFlax worked with over 100 farmers to grow several thousand acres of hemp. Much of hemp fiber from these crops is currently being stored in a warehouse for future processing. Individuals interested in investing in the “stalk market” should contact them at +31597615516. Because of the U.S. prohibition of cannabis and hemp, the equipment to harvest and process hemp has not advanced much in the last 50 years. HempFlax has taken the initiative and made the investment to develop machinery that can more efficiently harvest the hemp and process it by separating the woody inner hurds from the stringy outer bast fiber. The result of their work was apparent on the Expo floor as large numbers of people came by to discuss their products, watch their hemp farming video or gawk at the hemp plants that brushed up against the 12 foot ceiling.
JD’S HONORABLE MENTIONS
The International Hemp Association ([email protected]) is a non-profit organization based in Amsterdam. This dedicated group of individuals, led by David Watson, David Pate, and Robert Clark is performing yeoman’s work documenting and disseminating information about hemp. The Journal of the IHA contains a veritable cornucopia of information relating to all aspects of hemp. The IHA is also trying to preserve Europe’s cannabis germplasm in order to revive the viability of different strains of cannabis and to confirm their identity for future use by plant breeders. This project requires additional funds to achieve its goal.
HanfHaus ([email protected]), which operates 20 retail stores in Germany, had a very small amount of table space to exhibit their wares. They did, however, have room to display a THC free hemp beer that gives new meaning to the slogan “this bud’s for you”. HanfHaus’ impressive 36 page catalog contains dozens of “hanf” products including fabric, clothes, paper, cosmetics, laundry detergent, paint, mattresses, and yes even a hemp couch!! As you can tell, the guys at HanfHaus are very serious about their hemp. The near future may even see HanfHaus stores opening in America.
Denny Finneran of Crucial Creations (800-Hemp-4US) had his usual collection of high quality 100% hemp men’s and women’s clothing on exhibition. A jaunty plaid suit also made its debut at the Expo.
Australian Hemp Products ([email protected]) had their new hemp t-shirts on hand for all to see. Operations Manager Brett Lock explained to me that improvements were made to this, the second version of their highly sought after hemp t-shirt. A large selection of bright colors complements the natural color of the original design. Australian Hemp Products’ beautifully photographed catalog shows that the Aussies know about more things than just beer.
The brother combination of Eric and Wes Crain had their rugged and comfortable Eco Dragon ([email protected]) sandals on display at the Expo. These hand crafted sandals contour to the shape of your foot, massaging and energizing your feet as you go. Their strategy of producing high quality, affordable products seems to be working.
The guys at Earth Goods ([email protected]) from Seattle had a very nice selection of reasonably priced hemp clothing for men and women on display. Earth Goods uses 100% hemp for some of their clothing items and hemp/silk or hemp/cotton blends for others. The colors resulting from their natural dying process are “earthy”, which I love. For instance, there are several shades of brown to choose from when picking out one of their shirts, skirts, dresses, blouses, or jackets.
Lost Harvest ([email protected]) proudly showed a wide range of products that they manufacture out of colorful hemp cloth. These items, which include wallets, hats, kicksacks, flying disks, fanny packs and hand-bags all stand up to Ethan Jule’s exacting standards. Lost Harvest’s motto is: “You know you’re going to have fun, so have fun with hemp”. How can you go wrong with that?
Valchanvre Incorporated, a Switzerland based company, has developed several 100% natural products that utilize the nutritious and aromatic qualities of hemp seed oil. They have made a commitment not to use chemical solvents in the preparation of their hemp seed oil, massage oils or perfumes. Valchanvre’s “Indica” and “Sativa” perfumes exude a most kind fragrance. Their massage oils contain at least 98% hemp seed oil, with the remainder being made up of natural essential oils blended by an aroma therapist. To top it all off, their hemp seed oil is produced using the healthy cold pressing method.
The City of Amsterdam deserves special recognition for providing the atmosphere of tolerance that allows the Cannabis Cub to exist in the first place. The 400 or so cannabis coffeeshops in town do not prevent Amsterdam from being one of the safest, cleanest, and most efficiently operated cosmopolitan cities in the world. Their trolleys and buses zip through the streets alongside phalanxes of bicyclists who continue to pedal regardless of the weather, which can be somewhat damp.
Instead of incarcerating their cannabis users, the Dutch regulate and tax them, thereby turning a ban into a boon. The Dutch philosophy of tolerance basically means that you can do anything you want as long as you do not harm another person. The legalization of prostitution, with its attendant regulations, has actually helped The Netherlands achieve one of the lowest HIV infection rates in the world. The legitimazation of these “victimless crimes” reduces the influence of organized crime and the hard drug pushers.
As more Americans visit Amsterdam and realize that cannabis regulation actually works, the word will spread that tolerance can, in fact, be tolerated. Perhaps a fund should be started to send American politicians to Amsterdam so that they can see first hand how well the Dutch system works. Anyone up for a road trip with Jesse Helms and Orrin Hatch?
Despite this illusion of paradise, a pall of misery still covers the hearts of many. America’s war on some drugs has caused thousands of non-violent citizens to flee the land of the free. These “reefer refugees” come to the Netherlands to seek asylum from draconian laws. However, as Les and Cheryl Mooring found out, the long arm of American “justice” is far reaching. The Mooring’s have been held in a Dutch jail for over a year, awaiting extradition back to Clinton County Arkansas for allegedly violating America’s cannabis laws. The Green Prisoners Release Amsterdam organization ([email protected] or [email protected]) is working to free the Mooring’s and others. Any financial or moral support is appreciated.
ROPE, DOPE, AND HOPE
Throughout this year’s Cannabis Cup, I felt like I was at ground zero of a new era. All of the lies of the past were being obliterated by the truth that hemp can, and will lead us into a more prosperous future. Some of the most active and intelligent people in the world of hemp were there. In addition to the people mentioned above, attendees included: Jack Herer, Dennis Peron, Mishka, Marc Emery, Dick Cowen, Steve Hager, Larry Dupree, Mari Kane, Richard Rose, Todd McCormick, John Howell, Dr. Alexander Sumach, Arjan, Mila Jansen, Stephen Gaskin, Jerzy Prytyk, Eagle Bill, J.P. Morgan and Paul J. Van Hartman. All of the major disciplines of hemp were represented: industrial, medicinal, recreational, religious, environmental and activism/legalization. Impromptu bull sessions, smoke-ins, and business meetings were commonplace. The foundation of the nascent hemp industry was being laid. It is up to all of us to build upon this foundation.
The Cannabis Cup is a place for people to get together and rejoice in the fact that they have not succumbed to the brainwashing of the media, politicians, and big business. I was lucky enough to be able to attend this year’s Cannabis Cup. Even if you can’t make it to Amsterdam to enjoy true freedom, you can have your own Cannabis Cup. It’s easy. All you have to do is buy, make or sell hemp products, work to legalize hemp, research the historic uses of hemp, or just talk to people about hemp. You’ll be surprised at hemp’s vast and varied past, and awed by it’s seemingly infinite future.
America’s insane prohibition of cannabis/hemp prevents; farmers from growing the most versatile plant on the planet, millions of people from processing cannabis/hemp into thousands of products, us from healing the environment that has so thoughtlessly been ravaged, millions of people from using the safest therapeutic substance known to man to relieve and/or cure numerous diseases and ailments, all Americans from being truly free.
The most significant tragedy resulting from cannabis/hemp prohibition involves the arrest of over 500,000 Americans a year for cannabis possession, cultivation, or distribution. That’s one half of a million individuals who are generally upstanding, tax paying, members of society. The amount of resources wasted to track down, arrest, adjudicate, and incarcerate these people is truly staggering. Persecuting people for this non-violent offense will surely be looked back upon as one of humanity’s greatest follies. Write your local politicians and explain to them that you do not agree with this fascist policy.
Keep up the fight, and peace.
John Edwards Dvorak, Hempologist