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Large turnout in Waco for hemp education

Grow Your OwnIt was almost standing room only this past Saturday as Texans met at Comfort Suites in Waco to learn about hemp at NORML of Waco’s bi-monthly meeting.

A group of 35 locals were treated to a hemp documentary entitled ‘Bringing it Home’ presented by Grow Your Own, a family owned business located in central Texas which specializes in helping people grow healthy, GMO-free produce.

Before the movie began, GYO’s Minister Mike made popcorn for viewers to enjoy, which was all popped in hemp oil, a much healthier alternative to other cooking oils.

Minister Mike popping popcorn in hemp oil.
Minister Mike popping popcorn in hemp oil.

The hour long documentary was informative even for those familiar with hemp as it detailed the many uses of the industrial agricultural product, its history, and the laws surrounding the growing of this plant.

Hemp is in the same family as marijuana, which is the cannabis plant. The two look similar, though hemp grows faster and taller, and contains a very small amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana which gives a person a high.

Detailed in the movie was its ability to be used to produce clothes, and on hand was a pair of shoes made from hemp. The first known clothes to be made from hemp were in 300 BC China. Anything which can be made from textiles can be made at a lower cost with hemp, minus the normal chemicals used on agricultural products. Hemp requires no pesticides and very few chemicals to be grown, keeping the soil it’s grown in healthy. The root system of hemp also aerates the soil, making it a very ideal candidate for crop rotation.

According to VoteHemp.org, hemp’s oilseed makes high-grade food and beauty products, while the stalks produce fiber and cellulose for everything from automotive parts and fine clothing to building products and fuel. Over 50,000 products can be produced with hemp. On hand were samples including hemp seed, bread, milk, lotion, deodorant, and soap.

Samples of hemp products including nutritional seeds, lotion, soap, and more.
Samples of hemp products including nutritional seeds, lotion, soap, and more.

Soap, which is typically petroleum based, is much more economical when made with hemp and also better for your skin. The documentary featured one of America’s premier hemp soap makers, Dr. Bronner.

Interestingly enough, hemp is very similar to hops, which are used for brewing beer. Hemp can and has been used to brew beer as well.

Hemp can also be used in building materials, most commonly known as hempcrete, which is a natural insulator. Currently only one home in Texas has been built entirely from hemp, which is located in Bristol.

During World War II the federal government even produced a documentary urging farmers to grow hemp to help with supplies in the war effort. In 1938 a Popular Mechanics article proclaimed that the plant’s uses were vast and that it would be a staple crop for years to come.

After the 1950’s though, hemp would not be grown again in the US until 2013 due to its similarity to marijuana. Hemp is currently illegal under federal law, though it has been legalized in 10 states, however farmers can still face federal prosecution. Over 30 countries around the world produce hemp, including Canada. This forces the US to import all of its hemp rather than it be grown here, which would be a lot cheaper.

Lawmakers and government agents often voice concerns of marijuana being hidden in hemp fields and cite that as reason for keeping hemp illegal. This is impossible to do though because a crop of hemp will ruin a crop of marijuana by diluting its THC content. Every country which allows the growing of hemp has never had a problem with this.

This makes people ask the question of why hemp products are entirely legal here in the US, but it’s illegal to grow this plant.

35 people attended NORML of Waco's February meeting.
35 people attended NORML of Waco’s February meeting.

After the movie, NORML of Waco’s executive director Clif Deuvall spoke to the group about the importance of increasing jobs in Texas, saying that the best way to do that is to open up new industry, pointing to hemp legalization as a source for thousands of jobs. US sales of hemp in 2012 totaled over $400 million.

Currently there have been no attempts to present a hemp bill to the Texas legislature, and Deuvall stated that he would very much like to see one for the 2015 legislative session. This will require action by Texas activists in order to see this happen and Deuvall urged everyone to contact their representatives about supporting hemp and marijuana bills.

“We’re all activists, and if you weren’t an activist you wouldn’t be here” Deuvall stated to everyone in attendance.

The group then covered upcoming events including the Texas Trashoff, which is slated for April 5. On this day will be a state-wide cleanup of adopted highways. NORML of Waco hopes to bring several dozen volunteers out to help clean up their two mile stretch of road between Highway 6 and Mart. The group just recently cleaned up their adopted highway.

There was also brief discussion about the group’s fifth annual Birthday Bash which will be held in July and will feature a BBQ.

Treasurer of the group Alan Caruthers presented a report on the non-profit’s finances, happily stating that despite confusion by banks in interpreting federal marijuana banking regulations, the group now has an account with Wells Fargo.

He did ask for everyone to either renew their membership or sign up to become a member in order to help with the group’s cash flow. Currently they have $50 in the bank but overall are in the red with outstanding debt. The group will soon be able to take donations through their website.

Those who are unable to afford a membership can earn one by volunteering with the group for eight hours. They did stress that volunteers are the core of the organization and are very much needed to help out with events.

Joshua Dunaway, who had been the veteran’s outreach coordinator was unanimously voted in as deputy director of the organization after Stephen Carter stepped down from the role.

Also presented was Travis Hall as the new communications director who was once a student taught by Deuvall in high school. He stated that coming soon will be a new website and a monthly newsletter.

The group’s next meeting will be held in April and will feature an all women’s panel.

Visit NORML of Waco’s website at www.normlwacoinc.org and their Facebook page. Check out Grow Your Own at www.growyourowntexas.com.

By: Stephen Carter
Contact Stephen via email at TXCann@gmail.com

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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  1. […] yes and legalize no” demonstrating that he likely knows next to nothing about cannabis since hemp is an industrial fiber which cannot get a person high. The hemp plant is illegal because of its similarities to […]