Medicine, housing, food, textiles, fuel… these and thousands of associated products can be created from hemp – not something you would have thought of 10 or 20 years ago as a viable industry here in the states, but the turn around in our country’s understanding of our history with hemp now gives business a projected 24 billion dollar new industry by 2024…
The Midwest iHemp Expo hosted by iHemp Michigan held at the Lansing Center this past Friday and Saturday opened with Blain Becktold, Government and Industry Liason explaining the history of John Freeman’s dream of the Industrial Hemp Association with Freeman himself sitting humbly on stage, along with iHemp Vice President Dave Crabill. Crabill and Freeman continued on with the acknowledgment of the attendees, sponsors, and speakers, the explanation of the agenda, and then introduced the energetic and masterful Jonathan Page Sr. – Esq, newly appointed CEO of Green Farms, whose charismatic storytelling highlighted the relentlessness of a few of the most well-known inventors and businessmen of our country’s heyday, and how anyone hoping to succeed in the new and incredibly varied sectors of the hemp industry would be wise to envision themselves within this same passion, and positive collaboration. It’s a fact that the competition is fierce and for most, a place where experts are few and in high demand of their experience.
Understanding an industry as varied in its supply chain as Hemp calls for, could be daunting for a newbie, but the producers of the iHemp Expo had it covered. The over 1,200 attendees of the conference could hardly be disappointed at the variety of professionals available – from over 50 educational presentations to the over 70 exhibitor booths laid out in just the right amount of space, information and connections were abundant and questions were easily answered. From farming experts to construction components, right down to cancer treatment for animals, the conversations and technical knowledge of the attendees was invigorating and downright fun!
Even the Speaker’s Agenda was placed in an All Access Pass Workbook, complete with bio’s and places to put your inspired notes along side the schedule.
For those seeking informational support on growing, long time farmers as well as Government Organizations were also on hand such as the USDA, the Midwest Hemp Council, and the Michigan Farm Bureau. Non-Profit Organizations, as well as having exhibitor booths, had a panel discussion on Hemp as a Building Material – represented were the US Hemp Building Association, whose area Leaders, Roman Vyskocil and Eric McKee sat down with the US Hemp Brokerage to cover the facts on hempcrete, insulation, flooring and more.
All individual speakers and panels covered a myriad of topics from legal regulations, growing skills and product creation, right down to the pharmaceutical properties of CBD and how these conponents heal our bodies. Dr, Gus Rosania, Professor of Pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Michigan and Endo-Cannabinoid Educator and CBD Hemp Researcher Michael Thue, also CEO of Great Lakes Health Supplements, got down into the factors that create long term pain management and the aspects of natural and sustainable medicine.
New business can give families and couples a chance to build their personal dreams and empires, and the conference was not short of growing Michigan-based examples.
Newly formed seed company Michigan Hemp Works are making it easy to buy hemp seeds in smaller quantities for beginner growers while other seed companies provide larger amounts for the professional farmers, such as Alpha Pharms. MHR Brands Lisa and Jeff Gallagher pride themselves on the consistency and quality of their products and white labeling of others wellness brands.
Other long time Michigan based family businesses like Colville Crop Insurance were also on hand to give sage advice. Eddie Thomas of Thomas Brothers Equipment in Paw Paw Michigan has been selling farming equipment for decades at his family’s business – his father started the company in 1936 – so though the industry is new for him, his knowledge of what’s needed for farming, as well as his stories of changing times were an added delight.
The passionate and energetic Mel Spencley of Above The Roots was a wealth of health information as she shared some of their incredible testimonials on cancer cures for animals and their other customers.
Dennis Stephens of Monty’s Plant and Soil Products was happy to recount the history of the company’s nutritional soil products from the first hand experience of development – a scientifically definitive account of how to grow the best crop using nutrients developed for each stage of growth, including the preparation of the soil itself.
Garett Fortune, whose story was covered in August of 2014 by The New York Times took his idea for the Funcsac and created the larger and well-needed Hempsac to add much needed odor and time management for hemps biomass.
Taimour Azhar and David Camby from the North Carolina based The Hempville, explained the many uses of the processed fiber compiled from the stalks of ‘industrial hemp’ and how it differs from the seemingly more popular CBD hemp grown for its medicinal properties, and how they are envisioning the first processing plant in Michigan.
Cathleen Francois is Executive Director of GreeningDetroit.com and GreeningMichigan.comYou can contact her at CFrancois@GreeningMichigan.com or 248-818-4252