We decided to take it up, therefore.
We believe it is worthwhile to talk about the challenges in sourcing information for this apparently simple topic. That is necessary to clarify the reasons behind the way we have selected our champions.
Challenge # 1: Advocates vs. Lawyers
The first issue relates to the dual meaning of the term “advocate”. For this topic, “advocate” clearly refers to those doing advocacy for legalizing hemp and its products. Google and a number of other search engines pick up the more professional meaning of the term “advocate”, which means lawyers.
They can surely be advocates for hemp, but our search obviously extends beyond courtrooms. Just in case not everyone reading this piece is clear about why hemp would need legalization at all, here’s an explanation:
It was mistaken as a drug. It is still illegal in some countries. Many people think of the narcotic cannabis or marijuana when they hear hemp. Hemp belongs to the same plant species as drug cannabis: Cannabis Sativa L. That was the reason behind the criminalization of hemp.
However, hemp does not have the psychoactive properties of cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical substance responsible for the proverbial “high” that cannabis causes, is present in very low quantities in hemp.
So, a plant in human use for centuries for its multidimensional usability got prohibited in many countries of the world. It is only recently that a trait of decriminalizing hemp has started. Hence this whole issue of advocating for hemp.
Challenge # 2: Hemp and Cannabis Confusion
Much of the available literature still treats hemp as a form of cannabis. So, looking for advocates of hemp leads to information about people who support cannabis. It is impossible to decipher whether they are in support of legalizing hemp, or the medical and recreational use of marijuana, or both.
To avoid any possible confusion, we have restricted our pick to only those who have been vocal specifically about hemp, rather than cannabis.
Challenge # 3: Persons or More?
This is the challenge that has decided our methodology for featuring the champions that we do. During this period of prohibition starting in the late 1930s, there have been many voices of reason urging a correction of this costly mistake of banning hemp.
From individuals to organizations, academics to activists, farmers to celebrities, newspaper articles to television shows – there has been a lot of ardent advocacy to bring the versatile hemp plant back into human use. To choose only individuals as the top advocates would obliterate the richness of this support, we believe.
So, we present here the top 10 champions of hemp from different categories, going beyond just individuals. Our selection criteria include the temporal duration of support, as also the reach and impact of the support.
# 1. Champion of Champions: China and France
These two countries never banned the cultivation of hemp. That is the greatest advocacy anyone could have done for this multifaceted crop with antiquity in its support. Both of these countries showed respect for ancient wisdom. The result is that China leads the world’s hemp production and France leads the global hemp seeds market.
# 2. The Dr. Oz Show
This is a US television talk show usually focused on health, medical information and wellbeing. Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Turkish American cardiothoracic surgeon and a professor at Columbia University, anchors the show. Debuting in September 2009, it won the Daytime Emmy award in 2010.
An April 2012 report says that Dr. Oz talked of hemp 10 times during the last 18 months. The impact every time was that orders doubled at the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods of Canada, one of the world’s largest producers of hemp food. Sometimes, the orders were too much to handle for this 60-employee company. That’s impact, we say!Dr. Oz has also endorsed hemp in his blog post.
# 3. Oprah Winfrey
Who doesn’t know and love Oprah Winfrey? Known for her healthy lifestyle, anything she endorses immediately becomes a must-have for many. How can she not promote what her favorite Dr. Oz recommends? So, Oprah has been talking hemp for some years. She, too, has written about it on her blog.
# 4 Women in North Carolina
A Chicago Tribune report in July 2019 mentions that women are taking the lead in hemp farming and hemp research in North Carolina, USA. Fanny Tacy is a lead hemp farmer there. One of her plots is a grower-site for the Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program of the North Carolina State University.
Megan Conybeer-Roberts and Gwen Casebeer are two women leading hemp research in the state. Maybe the future of hemp really is with women, as Fanny believes!
Fanny Tacy: Source: https://www.chicagotribune.com/
# 5. World Green Building Council
This is an international organization that functions as a network of the national green councils of more than 100 countries. It continues to be one of the strongest lobbyists for promoting the use of hempcrete in the construction industry.
Hempcrete is a composite of hemp hurds, lime, and water that can be used as a building material. Especially for insulating houses naturally. Increased hempcrete use has the potential to phenomenally reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry.
# 6. Woody Harrelson
Woodrow Tracy Harrelson, better known as Woody Harrelson, is an American actor, director, and playwright. He has been an ardent supporter of the campaign for legalizing hemp in the US. He stars in the movie “Hempsters.” He also traveled across the US in a bus fueled by hemp biofuel for the documentary “Go Further,”
# 7. Forbes
This leading business journal has been publishing articles on hemp and its various uses consistently. When a journal of Forbes’ stature backs hemp cultivation, it can have an extensive impact. Articles related to a wide range of topics always focused on analyzing the green impact of hemp.
With this journal promoting hemp, financiers are likely to be more prepared to invest in hemp. That is one of the major impact areas of the Forbes articles on hemp.
# 8. Bob Burnquist
Burnquist is a professional skateboarder currently considered one of the world’s best. He regularly shares his love affair with hemp food with his fans. He also uses skates shoes made from hemp fabric. His logo appears on a clothing line that uses a mixed fabric of cotton and hemp.
# 9. Gwyneth Paltrow
Beautiful and famous Gwyneth Kate Paltrow is an actor, author, singer, and businesswoman rolled into one. How she uses hemp in her non-dairy kitchen is something she has written about in her published cookbook. She also regularly shares hemp recipes with her fans on her lifestyle website.
# 10. Hemp Industries Association
This is the international network of 16 national bodies that represent industries based on hemp. It promotes industries based on hemp and is a strong advocate for increased research and development in the industrial use of hemp. With more countries legalizing hemp, the membership of this umbrella organization is likely to increase.
Increased use of hemp means a greener planet. We certainly need more champions to endorse the use of hemp. Hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, and CBD oil have received some recognition. The use of hemp biofuel, hemp bioplastic, and hempcrete is yet to receive the attention they deserve.