WASHINGTON, DC – The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Vote Hemp are organizing the sixth annual Hemp History Week, which will be held June 1-7, 2015. Encouraged by federal support in Congress, with the Industrial Hemp Farming Act introduced in both the House and Senate in January 2015, the campaign’s theme Sow the Seed will highlight spring plantings in states that have passed legislation legalizing industrial hemp farming, and encourage consumers to participate in our Take Action campaign to call for support among legislators to lift the prohibition on industrial hemp farming nationwide. Across the country, over 1,100 events will bring documentary film screenings, cooking demonstrations, retail promotions, educational outreach, spring hemp plantings and hemp home building courses to the public, catalyzing movement on the issue of lifting the federal ban on this versatile, sustainable crop. To learn more about Hemp History Week, visit: www.HempHistoryWeek.com.

Spring Hemp Plantings
HIA and Vote Hemp have partnered with University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, to coordinate a hemp planting demonstration, to occur June 2, 2015, on the site of the university’s hemp pilot program fields. Throughout the country, farmers in states that have legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp will begin to plant this spring, and Hemp History Week is coordinating events to celebrate the return of hemp to the American agrarian landscape. Spring planting events will be open to both community and media attendance. An environmentally sustainable crop, industrial hemp does not require chemical inputs of pesticides and herbicides to flourish. As farmers open their hemp fields to the public, grassroots activists will offer educational events about industrial hemp—its history, agronomy, health and ecological benefits—as we join together to sow the seed.

Take Action! Campaign
From May 18-31, Hemp History Week will launch its nationwide Take Action! campaign, in coordination with Vote Hemp, to encourage hemp advocates across the country to engage in concrete steps toward legalizing industrial hemp farming. Encompassing a diverse range of actions, including a citizen lobby day, letter writing drive, and education events, the Take Action! campaign will concentrate and amplify the voice of the hemp movement via the democratic political process. For more information about the Take Action! campaign, visit: http://hemphistoryweek.com/take-action/.

Farmer Spotlight
Hemp History Week has launched a new aspect of the campaign this spring: Farmer Spotlight Interviews. Farmer Spotlights will document hemp history in-the-making, focusing on a prominent hemp farmer each month and interviewing the farmer regarding such topics as hemp agriculture practices, benefits of hemp farming, how they became interested to grow hemp, and other issues pertinent to hemp farming and hemp industry. To view the first in the Farmer Spotlight series, visit the Hemp History section of the website:http://hemphistoryweek.com/hemp-history/u-s-hemp-farmers/.

The Health Benefits of Hemp
Among the fastest-growing categories in the natural foods industry, hemp seed is a rich source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs), providing both SDA and GLA, highly-digestible protein, and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and iron. An excellent source of dietary fiber, hemp seed is also a complete protein—meaning it contains all ten essential amino acids, with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by the human body.

Hemp Building Courses
HIA will organize a hemp home building course, in which members of the public will be invited to participate. The HIA Hemp Building Course will take place in Lexington, KY on June 26-28. Hemp structures are built with hempcrete— a natural material that is energy-efficient, non-toxic and resistant to mold, insects and fire, and which is more quickly renewable and sustainable than lumber. A multi-day course, these programs will cover contemporary construction methods and hands-on practical applications of working with hempcrete, including forming or shuttering, mixing and casting the hempcrete within a framed structure, as well as finishing with plasters and coloring. Students who complete the course will have the knowledge and skillset to pursue a hemp-building project of their own.

Celebrity Endorsements
Hemp History Week is endorsed by 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, Kevin Danaher, John Trudell, and Grammy award-winning band Ozomatli. For the 2015 campaign, musician Jason Mraz, and author Doug Fine have signed on as endorsers of Hemp History Week.

Grassroots Engagement
Over 300 grassroots events will take place nationwide, including an educational tour of college campuses, a restaurant program, film screenings of the documentary “Bringing It Home,” community outreach at farmers’ markets, state lobbying days, a letter writing campaign, spring plantings and other exciting engagement opportunities. Specific details for these Hemp History Weekevents are listed on the website: http://hemphistoryweek.com/events/.

United in the Effort to Bring Back Industrial Hemp Farming
An incredibly versatile crop, hemp fiber, oil and seed are used for a myriad of products—including health foods, cosmetics and body care products, building materials, automobile parts, bio-composites, batteries, bio-fuel, textiles, paper and other products. Now in its sixth year, Hemp History Week is an industry-wide effort made possible by the support of the leading natural product brands known for manufacturing the highest quality hemp products. These HIA members and platinum sponsor brands include Daily Greens, Dr. Bronner’s, Living Harvest, Manitoba Harvest, Nature’s Path Foods and Nutiva, and silver sponsor Himalania.

“Our line of hemp milks infused with green superfoods is a natural evolution from our core line of all-green cold-pressed juices. Hemp milk is the perfect plant-based milk alternative,” said Daily Greens founder, Shauna Martin. “Not only is it a complete protein with perfect proportions of Omegas 3 and 6, it is also high in iron and calcium. We are excited to participate in Hemp History Week in order to help educate folks about the rich nutritional benefits of hemp seeds and all the wonderful ways to consume hemp.”

“Hemp is an integral component in our body care products, as the Omega-3 rich hemp oil provides moisturizing nourishment to the skin, and imparts luxurious smoothness to our soaps’ lather,” says David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the top-selling brand of natural soap in the U.S.  “Dr. Bronner’s plans to source the twenty tons of hemp oil we use annually from American farmers, rather than import it from Canada, once the crop is legal and the infrastructure for hemp production is in place. Given the momentous progress made this past year, including the first legal hemp crops harvested in Colorado, Kentucky and Vermont since the 1940’s, we are determined to keep up the momentum on the issue in Congress so that 2015 lawmakers allow U.S. farmers to once again cultivate hemp.”

“With the ever growing number of food allergies, hemp seeds are an easily digestible plant protein and an impressive source of all 10 essential amino acids,” says Dan Ratner of Tempt, which makes the #1 selling hempmilk, coconut hempmilk, hemp tofu, and brand new hemp yogurt. “Currently, we must import our hemp seed from Canada and Europe, which translates to higher consumer prices and an increased carbon footprint. We continue to push for better industrial hemp legislation and hope to one day purchase our hemp from U.S. farmers.”

“Here in Canada the legalization process started with research trials, so we are tremendously hopeful the same will be true in the U.S.,” says Mike Fata – CEO & co-founder of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods. “As the market for hemp food products grows, we need to source more hemp seed to meet the demand. Manitoba Harvest is eager to partner with U.S. farmers and has profitable production contracts waiting.”

“Hemp seed is a nutritious superfood that Nature’s Path includes as a plant-based source of protein and fiber in a growing number of our foods – from snack bars to granolas, waffles and oatmeal,” attests Arran Stephens, co-founder and co-CEO of Nature’s Path Foods, North America’s largest organic breakfast and snack food company. “We’ve been cooking with hemp seeds for decades and are delighted to see the industry grow. We look forward to celebrating this important and versatile crop during Hemp History Week – a time to educate people on the benefits of embracing hemp; both in our farmlands and on our kitchen tables.”

“More Americans are choosing organic foods. Nutiva is the leading producer of organic hemp products and we’ve seen our sales grow over 60% annually for the past 10 years,” said John Roulac, founder and CEO of Nutiva. “It’s vital we legalize the cultivation of hemp within the U.S. so we can source domestically grown hemp and support our American farmers.“   

Legislative Progress and Challenges in 2015
When the 2013 farm bill was signed into law in February of 2014, the hemp amendment to the farm bill, Sec. 7606 Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research, defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana, which is subject to prohibition per the Controlled Substances Act. This was an historic moment in the longstanding effort to legalize hemp as the act asserts that industrial hemp is not psychoactive, having less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol on a dry weight basis and therefore presenting no drug value.

The bill further allows for states that have already legalized the crop to cultivate hemp within the parameters of state agriculture departments and research institutions. Read the full text of the Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research amendment on the Vote Hemp website: http://www.votehemp.com/PDF/Pages_from_farm0127.pdf​.​

In defiance of clear Congressional intent regarding the legitimacy of industrial hemp for agriculture and industrial applications, the Drug Enforcement Administration has hindered attempts at progress made by agriculture departments in many states that have legalized industrial hemp farming, by refusing to grant permission for state licensing of potential hemp farmers and by not granting import permits for certified hemp seed​.​

In January of 2015, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in both the House and Senate, H.R. 525 and S. 134 respectively. If passed, the bill would remove all federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp, and remove its classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

Despite contradictory actions among federal authorities, the number of states that have pro-hemp legislation continues to increase. Currently, 22 states may grow hemp per Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill, including California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.