Hemp heads, rejoice: Your week is here! Thanks to its laws legalizing cannabis, Colorado has exploded into one of the country's hemp capitals, but hemp's products are noteworthy for much more than getting users stoned — actually, they won't get you stoned at all. But hemp can help kick-start healthy eating habits and is a base material for eco-friendly building supplies, clothing, plastic and energy resources. So why doesn't it get more love?
Enter Hemp History Week.
Founded in 2010, Hemp History Week was created to spark grassroots efforts for federal hemp legalization across the country. Because it's in the cannabis family, hemp remains a Schedule I substance and is still technically illegal at the federal level, despite lax enforcement and varying laws from state to state. If you want to get involved in the push for federally legalized hemp, here are five ways to help out during Hemp History Week.
There's no shortage of ways to use hemp — you can wear it, build with it, turn it into paper and much more — but the best way to celebrate the plant is to ingest it. We're not talking about edibles that get you high, but hemp-based foods such as hemp milk, roasted hemp seeds, vegetarian hemp burgers, hemp granola, hemp coffee and hemp protein. Rich in vitamins B and E, iron, zinc, omega-3 fats, linoleic acid and other nutritional proteins and fats, hemp seeds are on the rise as a popular health-food supplement, with many hemp food products made right here in Colorado. You can find hemp foods at most health-food stores and health-focused supermarkets.
Party with other hemp lovers
Check the Hemp History Week website for a long list of things to do around the country this week, with almost twenty events right here in Colorado. While Denver is usually the epicenter of this state's cannabis and hemp gatherings, the agriculture-heavy portion of southern Colorado is going to see most of the action this week. Small communities such as Monte Vista, South Fork and Manitou Springs are hosting hemp food tastings, policy updates, dinners, educational talks and more. The week kicks off with a hemp-planting party in Fairplay; meetups in Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins, Greeley, Lakewood and other towns take place through June 10.
Learn about hemp's history
To celebrate Hemp History Week right, do a little bit of learning. While psychoactive cannabis (the stuff that gets you high) gets all the publicity, hemp has a similarly twisted history of suffering unfair prejudice in America. Despite having been grown by our Founding Fathers and containing minute amounts of THC, industrial hemp has had a roller-coaster relationship with the government. It's time you knew more about hemp's important role in our country's agriculture in the 1800s, how its inclusion in 1937's Marihuana Tax Act began the first wave of prohibition, and how the Controlled Substances Act continued America's trend of hemp prohibition. The recent rise of CBD products is just another mark on hemp's complicated timeline; get the full story for yourself.
Fight for its future
Although states allowing regulated industrial hemp production and/or legalized recreational cannabis are allowing farmers to cultivate hemp for research and commercial purposes, the majority of the country still doesn't grow the plant. The Drug Enforcement Administration recently clarified that CBD and non-psychoactive cannabinoids don't fall under the Controlled Substances Act, and various legislative efforts have given states the right to create their own hemp-farming programs, but it's still a Schedule I substance. Gabriel Ettenson, COO of Colorado-based hemp supplement company Elixinol, believes the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would finally grant full protection to hemp farmers and product manufactures alike.
"People truly understand hemp better today than any other time in the last fifty years. I’m confident that in five years, people will be more familiar and more comfortable with the many ways hemp can improve their lives and our entire planet," Ettenson says. "We are active supporters of the Hemp Farm Act of 2018, which will eliminate this confusion once and for all."
This week is also a chance to boost your local economy, as many of the hemp products available in nearby stores are produced in-state. Colorado companies that make hemp-infused baked goods, honey, lotions, oils and more sell their products throughout the state and online, and that's not even counting Colorado's growing hemp-derived CBD industry. Read labels, do research — and buy local!
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