Industrial Hemp – what can it do for you?

Our group was on non-food agriculture, focusing on industrial hemp. Of course, the obvious choice for us could’ve been on cannabis, as it has become a larger part of the economy in Washington State and beyond. However, we decided to focus on the legalization of industrial hemp on a federal level for various reasons. Initially, we planned on having educational panels with political representatives, hemp farmers, and prospective entrepreneurs to discuss where hemp stands in federal law, its potential uses, and the benefits of legalizing it. Unfortunately, the people we contacted were unresponsive, save one or two people, and we deemed it necessary to redirect our efforts away from an educational panel and towards advocacy and outreach. The group members cooperated very well with each other and it was relatively easy to deal with our early setbacks. Because of this, we were able to regroup and think of more creative ways to educate the public on industrial hemp and the versatility of the plant. We then decided to create a pamphlet and video highlighting the benefits of industrial hemp. With those two tools, we encouraged viewers and readers to exercise their right to express their interest in the legalization process of hemp at the federal level by first, informing them of two new bills in Congress and second, informing them of actions they could take to affect change by supporting these bills by contacting their state representatives.

I was initially interested in industrial hemp because of one of the Jackson School’s Task Force projects that focused on hemp, its benefits, and business prospects around this plant. I found that hemp is an unusually versatile plant whose derived products range from woven textiles to environmentally safe building materials, medicines, as well as processed for use in nutritious food, and more. Because of its many uses and unique properties, the discussion around hemp has ballooned. Unfortunately, not much can be done yet to cost effectively farm and process this plant into a variety of products because of ‘unfair’ barriers placed on the plant. We believed these barriers to be misplaced and the plant itself to either be misunderstood (it is often confused with it’s cousin marijuana) or unfamiliar to potential beneficiaries of hemp. Because of this, I believe our group’s step toward educating people on hemp and introducing ways it could be produced effectively (for farmers) used (for producers and the consumer) was an effective way to affect change for the future of this plant.

Below is some information on the two bills we have highlighted in our pamphlets that we handed out and our video:

HR 5485 and S2667.

To help ensure our country takes this important step, you can contact your congressional representatives, and ask them to support their chamber’s bill. To find your congressional district’s representative, you can go to:





3 thoughts on “Industrial Hemp – what can it do for you?

  1. Andrea Verschuyl

    Hi Aylin!

    Thank you so much for your informative post regarding the politics surrounding hemp production in the United States. I find it very exciting and creative that you chose to focus on industrial hemp, versus a more conventional food item.

    You mention that it can be “processed for use in nutritious food.” I wonder how carbon intensive this type of processing is, and what nutritional benefits can be introduced through the use of hemp as a food additive. It is interesting, on this note, to question whether industrial hemp can ever be accepted as a food substance. Other plants and animals also provide large nutritional benefits while being ecologically friendly and incredibly cost-effective, but for cultural reasons have not been adopted widely throughout the world (consider algae, and insects). Is the future of food one in which the cultural needs of communities must be subjugated to the need for efficiency and ecology? Are the two mutually exclusive?

    Insofar as industrial hemp being beneficial to farmers as a potential cash crop, I would love to see this projection substantiated. In hemp there might be an opportunity for farmers to grow and sell a product that is naturally low-input and high-output, and in doing so gain the financial flexibility and security to better agitate for their interests or unionize against large, hegemonic corporations. Particularly given our course material, which fleshed out in detail the struggles and contradictions of modern farming, I appreciated your explicit reference to how this misunderstood plant might be used to help farmers advocate for themselves.

  2. Lizzy Rose Staal


    This is fascinating. It is crazy how many things hemp can be used for, and how there are so many hurdles and stigmas against its use. All despite being a potential solution to some of the more environmentally damaging things we use, like cotton.

    I am reminded of the visit that environmentalist and political activist Winona LaDuke made back in March to UW, to talk about the benefits of hemp. And her hemp farm. Which I want to volunteer on if possible.

    I appreciated the fact that your video outlined many of the benefits that using hemp has as well as the problems. The fact that it requires more labor to create products from hemp than using other resources definitely explains some of the pushback against it. However, if it continues to gain support through videos such as this, one would hope there will be more energy and attention given to making its use more accessible.

    I love the smiling hemp dude as well, he’s cool.

  3. Allison Kirste

    I really enjoyed reading this and watching your video. You did a good job at debunking some of the misconceptions that add to the stigma around hemp. I had no idea it was good for such a wide array of things. I would be interested to see the government’s reasoning for putting such harsh restrictions on it. The video was very informative, and I was glad to see that you outlined both pros and cons to hemp. It would be far easier to just say that hemp can do no wrong and push for less harsh restrictions, but I like that you acknowledged the labor intensity behind it. I also like that you walked us through your thought process in your blog post and gave us an inside look at how you went about choosing your topic. This is an all-around interesting post, I’m glad you wrote it!


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