Hemp: For Today and Tomorrow


When it comes to holiday shopping, I tend to be a last-minute shopper. And by “tend to be,” I mean I always wait until the last minute. I try my best to be as sustainable as possible and support local businesses. So, this past Christmas Eve, I gave Oregon Hemp Works a call and had the local Oregon business put together a collection of soaps and lotions for those special hempsters in my life.

Personally, I have long been a fan of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and am very appreciate of the company’s products (and activism), so I definitely encourage everyone to support Dr. Bronner’s. However, it felt rewarding to support a local business that is doing great work and activism as well. In the relatively immediate future, we should see more and more hemp businesses flourish as  federal and state laws improve. While it is legal for Americans to purchase and consume hemp, it still violates federal law to cultivate the plant, forcing businesses to support farmers in countries that do allow their farmers to cultivate the sustainable and profitable crop, such as China and Canada.

Oregon actually decriminalized hemp production in 2009, under a hemp farming bill, championed by State Senator Floyd Prozanski, a long-time champion of both sensible hemp and cannabis policies. The landmark bill allowed the state Department of Agriculture to issue hemp production licenses to qualified farmers, but the department hasn’t wanted to issue licenses for a variety of reasons, including the fact that federal law has remained an obstacle. Measure 91, passed by more than 56% of voters this past November, not only legalized cannabis for adults over 21, but also prohibited the state from using federal law as a reason to deny the issuance of hemp licenses.

Even before the passage of Measure 91, the state had taken some steps to move towards a rational hemp policy thanks to the work of Sen. Prozanski, along with United States Congressman Earl Blumenaur, attorney Courtney Moran and Oregon farmer Richard Mundell. Both Prozanski and Blumenauer have worked to advise the state on moving forward on hemp production and Richard Mundell, with the legal assistance of Moran, petitioned the state to allow the local farmer to cultivate hemp in Dufur. While the state wasn’t quite prepared to issue licenses at first, they have started the rule-making process to do so, so there is great hope that hemp production can start soon in the Beaver State. On January 6th, the state Department of Agriculture is holding a a hearing on industrial hemp regulations. Oregon, a trailblazer on many issues, should step up to the plate soon, and not let Kentucky or any other state get too far ahead.

Activist icon Jack Herer championed the many benefits of hemp long ago, publishing the Emperor Wears No Clothes and that mantle has very much been carried by bestselling author Doug Fine. Fine’s latest book, Hemp Bound, was deemed a “blueprint for the America of the future” by Willie Nelson himself. Today, Fine travels the globe educating the world about the economic and environmental benefits of hemp. As our world struggles with a multitude of economic and environmental issues, governments and businesses would be wise to heed the calls of those promoting such a multitude of industrial uses and environmental benefits. The War on Marijuana has had many nonsensical implications and we are starting to roll back many of those, the ridiculous prohibition of industrial hemp should be an easy issue to correct.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon’s ca