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How Can We Continue to Advocate for the Hemp Industry's Growth and Success?

Updated: Apr 30

April was a bustling month for the hemp industry, sparked by the 10th NoCO Hemp Expo, a new Illinois hemp bill, the first IHGA Hemp Lobby Day.

NoCO was amazing this year. Not only were the mountains surrounding us in Estes Park breathtaking (literally sometimes, the air is thin up there!) but the presentations, networking, parties, food, and general vibe of this year's gathering was all spot on. A strong fiber, grain, and art presence was most welcome, as years before were heavy on the presence of CBD companies.

There were plentiful demonstrations to attract and delight the crowds, too.

It was especially cool to participate on the Fiber Genetics and Agronomy panel and share my experience with fiber variety trials on the main stage!

There was a LOT of information to take in but my 3 main take aways from this year's gathering are this:

1. Hemp is not going anywhere and there is a strong support network across the country to plug into

2. Put effort into celebrating our victories, and

3. Incorporate art into this movement whenever you can

If you have thoughts on these take aways please share in the comments below!

More later on ways to get your creativity flowing and synch up with the hemp community...

On April 17th, IHGA members gathered in Springfield for our first IL Hemp Lobby Day. It was a day in which the IHGA sent a powerful message to legislators.

We split up and set out to meet with as many Representatives and Senators sitting on Agriculture and Conservation Committees as possible and were able to meet with a good portion of them; some as scheduled, some in the halls or on the rail, and some in between committee meetings. It was the full experience for those in attendance and overall our message and presence was met with curiosity and support.

The day made evident the work we still have ahead of us in educating our state lawmakers on full potential of hemp and in staying diligent in our combined efforts to combat marijuana industry interference, the misinformation that is spawned out of their propaganda, and the marijuana industry lobbyists and lawyers who still do not fully comprehend the 2018 farm bill.

I encourage all IHGA members and supporters to continue to reach out to their representatives and those that are influencing hemp policy (for better or worse) to tell them your story and how they can help make hemp work for you and for the community as a whole.

Feel free to utilize the document we made below and our new "Hemp vs Marijuana FAQ" page to empower you in your discussions. I also encourage you to utilize the free, self-paced Legislative Outreach program on the IHGA website if you need help figuring out who to reach out, how to effectively share your story, and how to fill out a witness slip in favor or opposition of a bill. BIG THANKS to members and supporters in attendance and service to hemp that day. I am so grateful for your leadership and dedication! If you were there that day leave a comment below!!

2024 IHGA Hemp Fact Sheet

Just in time for lobby day, a new bill in Illinois was introduced that left a lot of us scratching our heads. SB3926, to put it bluntly, is a show stopper for the Illinois hemp cannabinoid industry.

To help break it all down, the IHGA sat down with the Cole Memo to discuss the press release of the bill and implications for the industry and created the above mentioned FAQ page. I am sharing some relevant links to Rod Kight's videos here for more context to the situation and how we move forward, too.

Bringing it back to NoCO for a second, I was able to ask what should advocates in states like IL do to fight back against marijuana industry overreach during the Q&A portion of the Regulatory State of the Union Panel. The answer I received from the esteemed panelists was to have meetings with local reps, make those phone calls, write op-eds, create positive content, etc. - good to hear the IL Hemp Community is on the right track!

So, how can we continue to advocate for the hemp industry's growth and success? I crammed a lot of ways into one month but we all can accomplish small acts to help accomplish our shared goal : supporting a sustainable and equitable hemp industry in Illinois and across the U.S!

  1. Meet with your representatives, share your story, share resources with them like the FAQ and the 2024 Fact Sheet.

2. Familiarize yourself with the IHGA Legislative Outreach tool and the process of filing a witness slip.

3. Show up to support those who are pushing the industry forward!

Network with professionals and expand your hemp knowledge at upcoming events such as the NIHH hemp building workshop coming up in June in Maple Park, IL and the UIUC Hemp Open House we are hosting with Dr. DK Lee and the National Hemp Association!

4. Consider becoming SPONSORS of the IHGA, the Hemp Open House / Dr. Lee's work in sustainable AG, and/or the NIHH hemp building workshop!

To wrap this up, I wanted to share that on 4/20 IDOA shared this post on their Facebook page. I was really pleased to see them spreading the word and participating in the celebration of cannabis that day!


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