Few know my history helping turn the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) into a credible trade group. I hold it accountable today because I feel a responsibility to keep it on the straight and narrow, like I did years ago.
My work driving the interest in food was the first for it, skeptical from the start they were that hemp could be a viable part of a commercial food industry.
Here’s a bit of that history, from 1995 to 2001:
Shareholder. Yes, it was a for-profit association back then and I had among the largest number of shares in the proposed unregistered stock scheme.
Award-winner. I received the first two awards the HIA gave, via Hemp World magazine, for food and product innovation, in 1997 and 1998.
Director. Among other things, chose the domain (thehia.org) and helped the Executive Director manage the organization.
Treasurer. Obtained compliance with IRS (it was a for-profit business until 2003 when it looked better to be suing DEA as a real nonprofit). Instituted formal bookkeeping, hired the CPA firm they still use, and made the association self-sustainable for the first time via the annual Convention.
For instance, here is an ad for HIA I wrote and placed in hemp journals, paid out of my pocket. An Executive Director of HIA once said I was “generous to a fault,” which they used against me later by weaponizing my work in food to sue DEA and drive me into retirement. Why? Doing 90% of the business in hemp food at the time, I welcomed DEA’s clarification of what we already knew anyway, namely that hemp foods with no THC were legal. It answered every investor and buyer’s first question, unequivocally. Since it was all imported, U.S. Customs’ THC protocol controlled and it had a cut-off of 1 ppm, easily attainable. DEA was trying to legalize 96% of all hemp products no max THC, after seeing our responsible management of the THC issue with a “zero THC” policy to quell consumer concerns. HIA’s TestPledge program had a 1.5 ppm limit, meaning HIA killed the hemp foods market for years to gain a mere 0.5 ppm. And worse, it made an enemy out of DEA, which did all it could to make life hard on hempsters after the Farm Bills passed legalizing it.
Convention Manager. For the years 1996-8 I led the convention team, used it to fund a majority of the organization’s annual budget while still reducing cost to members. Picked the location (Isis Oasis in Hopland CA), hired the entertainment (with many members sitting-in), spoke on panels, hired the catering and made sure hempseed was in every dish.
Sponsor. Gave it and its members space at my prime-location Expo trade show booths for free, and put money in the coffers often. Five percent of profits from the sale of HempRella and Hempeh Burger went to it for a while.
Founder and Chairman of the Food and Oil Committee. Without the legitimacy I gave them in food as an established successful Inc. 500 food professional who pivoted to hemp food years earlier, how else could a fiber and retail group sue DEA over food and not be laughed out of court?
Founder and Manager of the True Hemp Fabric Certification Program. I wrote and administered the first certification program in the hemp industry, for fiber. They thought a food guy wouldn’t know how to do this, but with no loopholes only Denny Finneran’s Crucial Creations registered. I also created the Certification logo.
But when HIA crashed the hemp food market for years by suing DEA, I retired, 8 years of pioneering hemp food work and $2.5 million down the drain. Then I wrote this about that:
Hemp Kills with “Bros” like these
Reefer madness affects more than the police
Lie cheat and steal, the ends justify the means
Hemp has lost its soul, sold out its dreams
DEA’s evil that’s for sure
But HIA’s equally unpure
If we stoop to use the devil’s tools
Then we’re all just a bunch of fools
At least we long knew the DEA was bad
But by the HIA we’ve all been had
They let their smoky rage
Deafen them from a sage
Who proved we won the battle
But with no money to make from such prattle
They concoct a plausible story
Spun for maximum glory
People give ’em money cuz they think it is right
They don’t know that they’re slowing the fight
What will NORML do when it’s free to grow
Maybe that’s what’s been holding them back so
There’s no money to be made when it’s legal
Dealers need them to keep the price regal
After the DEA is the FDA and all the lawyers makin’ hay
This alphabet soup requires smarts to stay
Store by store and day by day
One step at a time we were winnin’ the fray
These thieves in the night hide in white light
Sayin’ up is down and left is right
Just a wolf in sheep’s skins they are
The only hempsters making money pass the bar
What a movie star knows about it couldn’t fill a joint
As a Venture Cap he’s never on point
But the well’s been poisoned by Machiavelli’s chums
Just for money for those f*cking bums
The only sh*t they give about the plant
Is that they profit and you can’t
Reefer madness affects more than the police
Hemp will kill the spirit with devils like these
From: The Richard Rose Report. Copyright 2020 Richard Rose, all rights assigned under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license.