Cannabis Advisor Urges Outdoors Industry to Consider Hemp

Craig Binkley speaking at the cbd + wellness booth at the 2020 Outdoor Retailer Outdoor + Snow Show.
Craig Binkley speaking at the cbd + wellness booth at the 2020 Outdoor Retailer Outdoor + Snow Show. Hannah Gartner
Craig Binkley has worked as a business advisor for many different industries, including food and beverage, alcohol, automotive, pharmaceutical, agriculture...and now cannabis. For Binkley, the move makes perfect sense, and is rooted in his desire to help grow a field that he sees as having the potential to make the world a better place.

The Outdoor Retailer Outdoor + Snow Show, which just concluded its three-day run in Denver, included many demonstrations and panel discussions. On January 30, Binkley offered a talk titled "Unlocking the Power of Cannabis & Hemp for the Outdoor Retail Market." Much of his speech was dedicated to debunking the misconceptions that many people have about cannabis, and he took great care to explain what differentiates the cannabis used for marijuana and the cannabis used for hemp.

With a picture of the classification of organisms on the screen to his left, Binkley noted how closely related these two plants really are: They're in the same order, family and genus. It's not until the species level that they become distinct, making them as similar as a jersey tomato and a cherry tomato. Explaining it another way, Binkley said, “It's cannabis and hemp at the same time — you can't separate them because they're the same thing.”

The similarity of the plants led to both marijuana and hemp being outlawed by the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA). But the 2018 Farm Act removed hemp from a CSA listing, Binkley noted, creating the opportunity to finally explore innovative uses of the plant. While he's a proponent of using CBD and other cannabinoids for health and medicinal purposes, Binkley encourages greater consideration of hemp, which is often overlooked and can be used in almost countless ways.

According to Binkley, hemp has over 50,000 known uses, including as textiles, building and industrial materials, paper, food and for body care. Now he wants the outdoor recreation industry to begin relying on hemp as a sustainable option for the creation of its products.

“The outdoor industry aspires to become climate-positive," Binkley concluded at the end of his talk, noting that with that goal, if any group should consider using hemp, it's this one.
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