AGRIBUSINESS NEWS – Founder’s Hemp

First, and perhaps most importantly, hemp is not marijuana. This is important because, if you grew up in the anti-marijuana days, you may have some preconceived ideas about marijuana and most likely, none of them are good. This article is about the facts and future related to hemp and how a local Asheboro businessman, Bob Crumley, has started a company, Founder’s Hemp, to achieve the ”reintroduction of hemp into the United States and the world while bringing you a diversity of high quality products.”
Chances are, you are using or have used a product made from hemp at some point in your life. According to leafly.com, hemp is one of the oldest cultivated crops known to man. It has been used for paper, textiles, and building materials for thousands of years. In fact, the Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a scrap of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.
Hemp has deep roots in US History as well. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both hemp farmers and grew it for fiber and food. Benjamin Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper, and Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. Some historians say that the first American Flag in 1776 was made from hemp because no other fiber was strong enough to withstand the salty air on naval ships. For over 200 years in colonial America, hemp was currency that one could use to pay their taxes! Hemp was a staple crop of American agriculture, reflected in town names like “Hempfield” and “Hempstead. Go a little further back in history, and ironically, in 1619, it was illegal NOT to grow hemp in Jamestown, Virginia. Massachusetts and Connecticut had similar laws. In the 1700’s, subsidies and bounties were granted in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and other New England states in order to encourage hemp cultivation and manufacturing of cordage and canvas (the word “canvas” is rooted in “cannabis”).
Hemp and Marijuana both come from the same plant-Cannabis Sativa L. The term ‘Hemp’ commonly refers to the industrial/commercial use of the cannabis stalk and seed. It has been lumped into the same illicit category, although ironically, during prohibition, marijuana was perfectly legal and, in fact, promoted by the federal government as a reasonable substitute for alcohol. Shortly after prohibition was repealed in 1933, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed which effectively banned its use and sales. Although the act was later found unconstitutional, newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, along with several of his cronies, Dupont, Rockefeller, and Mellon, who had interests in the industrial and medicinal markets, spread political propaganda. They did this by creating false claims that Mexican immigrants were being disruptive, behaviors they attributed to their ‘marijuana’ use. Thus, the vilification of cannabis began.
However, during World War II, the government needed hemp for the war. So, the USDA’s Hemp for Victory campaign was used to convince farmers to embrace hemp again. Hemp was needed for fiber for the war effort so much so that the USDA even produced brochures and an educational video for further encouragement to the growers. Before becoming widely embraced again, the war ended and so did the large demand for domestic hemp fiber. Many farmers were left high and dry with partially constructed plants and cancelled hemp contracts.
Cannabis’s fate was sealed in the early 1970s with the passing of the Controlled Substances Act, which established schedules for determining the danger and addictiveness of drugs. Marijuana was originally classified as a Schedule-1 drug (the most restrictive) until Richard Nixon commissioned a report to determine what category it should be placed in. The Schafer Commission declared that marijuana should not be classified Schedule I and even doubted its designation as an illicit substance. However, Nixon discounted the recommendations of the Commission, and marijuana remained a Schedule I substance.
Bob and his team at Founder’s Hemp has fought tirelessly to have the commercial cultivation of hemp legalized in the state of North Carolina. In his estimation, this will have a positive impact on the state’s bottom line to the tune of $1 billion in the next few years. With less and less farms producing tobacco for US cigarette makers, Hemp offers the perfect product to reinvigorate the farming communities in North Carolina. Up until the 1930s, North Carolina was one of the largest producers of Hemp in the United States, along with Kentucky and South Carolina. Hemp requires no pesticides, is frost resistant, and can grow in just about any soil or climate. It is naturally resistant to most pests, and the stalks grow so closely together that they discourage weed growth. A field can be used to grow hemp for 14 straight years with very little soil degradation, but it also makes an excellent rotation crop as it leaves the soil rich, fertile and virtually weed-free.
Founder’s Hemp, established in 2016, will be the first food processing plant of its kind built specifically for hemp from the ground up, not reconfigured. It is being built right here in Asheboro, and there are 31 farmers who have committed to growing hemp on their farms for Founder’s Hemp.
In the coming months, Asheboro Magazine will explore the benefits of hemp in great detail. We want our readers to understand the hemp industry poses tremendous opportunity to Asheboro and Randolph County. The Founder’s Hemp brochure sums up this opportunity succinctly –Because of hemp, “North Carolina agriculture is to poised to make history once again, filling the economic void left by tobacco, fueling our best science and industrial potential.” To learn more about Founder’s Hemp and hemp in general, visit their website at www.foundershemp.com

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