Thursday, November 5, 2009

Emails from this week.


Between 1999 and 2002, several pieces Industrial Hemp legislation were passed, and six bi-partisan Honorable Statesmen wrote a Letter to the President asking for support to grow hemp. Along with the strong support of Cynthia Thielen, Hawaii conducted the most comprehensive study done on industrial hemp in over 30 years.

Hawaii still has all of the support, but needs action. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act,
HR 1866, needs cosponsors from States that strongly support this issue.


On October 13th, I scheduled a meeting with Scott and Oregon business owners, including CEO of Living Harvest, a Portland based company. (Doesn't Portland overlap into the 1st District?)

Oregon is ideal for hemp cultivation, because of local hemp companies (Living Harvest, Pacific Natural, Naturally Advanced Technologies), as well as the acres of farmland. Passage of Hemp Farming Bill SB 676 reiterated as well as cemented this fact.

We would like Congressman Wu to become a become a cosponsor of HR 1866 The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009. The bill already has support from Oregon Reps Earl Blumenauer and Peter Defazio, and we are trying to get the rest of the Oregon delegation on board, one by one. We have also gained other cosponsors; this week alone, Reps Farr and Schakowsky have been listed on THOMAS.

The reasons to support the bill are very clear. Oregon businesses, residents, voters, AND State Delegation have already shown their support. The 1st district is also an ideal district, it has contains both Farmland and Urban areas.

From what I know about the support for Hemp in Oregon (working for Vote Hemp means that this is my forte), I can promise you that the Congressman's support for this bill will be well regarded and even respected by his constituents.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Eat Local

This video, produced in Canada, is a real piece of eye candy. It's message is easily brought here- Eat American Food. Unless we're talking about hemp, then eat Canadian UNTIL you can eat American.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hemp in Ancient China

Welcome to I Grew Hemp

Welcome to the I Grew Hemp blog.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both advocated for the benefits of hemp.

"Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country."
- Thomas Jefferson

"We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption."
- John Adams

"The greatest service that can be rendered to any country is to add a useful plant to its culture." -Thomas Jefferson

"An acre of the best ground for hemp, is to be selected and sewn in hemp and be kept for a permanent hemp patch." - Thomas Jefferson's Garden book 1849

"Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?"
-Henry Ford

"Make the most of the Indian Hemp [sic, cannabis sativa] seed, and sow it everywhere!" -George Washington

Tuesday, August 11, 2009



Hemp Seizure in Capitol Underscores Confusion Over Cannabis
Hemp Industry Seeks Beer Summit with Capitol Police

WASHINGTON, DC — Vote Hemp legislative assistant Ben Droz was shocked when Capitol Police seized his samples of industrial hemp fiber that he needed for a scheduled presentation to congressional staffers. Police refused to release the fiber after the search, while saying they knew it had no drug value and was "just hemp." The group of officers decided they needed to confiscate all the hemp seeds because no food was allowed, but the hemp fiber was also seized even though it is not food. "I just want to throw this out," said one officer, who ultimately did

Mr. Droz explained to police that the items were being used to illustrate the environmental properties of hemp. "This is just another example of the confusion between Industrial Hemp, an important crop for farmers across the country, and marijuana, a distant cousin also from the Cannabis family." The United States is the only developed country that does not recognize the distinction between the two varieties. Mr. Droz admits, "I gave up the hemp to police, fearing arrest at the time, and now feel compelled to raise this issue so it does happen again because I carry hemp every time I visit the U.S. Capitol."

"The fact that this level of confusion among law enforcement still exists today is exactly why federal policy on hemp needs to change," says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. "We hope for the return of Vote Hemp's property, an apology, and perhaps, a Capitol Hill beer summit or Congressional hearings to discuss our differences with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)."

Hemp products have been subject to confusion in the past. In 2002, the DEA attempted to ban imports on hemp foods, despite the growing recognition of its value to farmers and consumers. Vote Hemp, the Hemp Industries Association, and several U.S. and Canadian companies, successfully challenged the DEA in a lawsuit calling the ban unwarranted and illegal. Since this ban was lifted, the hemp industry has grown substantially every year. Last year alone, grocery store sales of hemp food products grew over 40%.

Since 2005, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 1866) and its predecessors have waiting for a hearing in the House, but it's been tabled the entire time. The bill has a dozen bi-partisan cosponsors, and allows states like Oregon (as of Jan. 2010), Maine, Vermont, North Dakota, Montana (and many others) to grow hemp based on State laws. Sixteen states have already passed legislation, and many, like the ones listed above, are simply waiting for the federal ban to be lifted once again. Mr. Droz has been working with Vote Hemp in order to raise congressional awareness about this marginalized issue.

The growing market proves the case of hemp. Food sales have grown every year since the ban was lifted. Other parts of the hemp plant, such as those confiscated from Droz, can be used to make any number of consumer products, while all jobs generate from the industry could be as green collar jobs.

Despite a growing global industry, U.S. farmers are still unable to grow hemp. All hemp in the U.S. must be imported from other countries to be either processed or sold here.

"It's ironic that the very items I was using to clear up confusion, became the subject of contraband and were confiscated," Mr. Droz comments after the incident.

# # #

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Email 2- Hemp in Hawaii

It was great to talk with you yesterday. You had lots of great questions and kept the meeting interesting.

I'm sorry that I didn't have the documents I should have. I didn't really know that I was going to get to sit down with you for so long. Thankfully, everything is online, so here are several links:

First of all, as far as growing trends go, new reports are coming out everyday.
Just earlier this week, on August 4th, an Oregon based hemp company (that conducts research in Vancouver) signed a deal with Hanes apparel.
About two weeks ago, BBC released a mini-documentary of a eco-car made of hemp.

I wanted to make sure to show you how instrumental Hawai'i has been throughout the years.

Here is the Dear Colleague Letter written by your boss Rep. Neil Abercrombie and former Hawai'i Rep. Patsy Mink. Hawai'i was the only state to have two Representatives come together for the State. Their letter was sent alongside another letter with 21 signatures.

Since 1999, four pieces of legislation have been passed. Hemp farming bills have been introduced several times as well. For links to all of these, please visit the Hawai'i section of our site.
Currently, there is a farming bill on the table, HB 305
Whether or not this passes, it shows that support for hemp is still thriving, if not growing.

Hawai'i is one of the only places where industrial hemp has actually been planted. A study was conducted for over two years before it had to be terminated, when administrative delays on the part of the DEA became too costly. The final report can be found here. By the end of the report, Dr. David West proved that it is certainly possible to breed a strain of hemp that can thrive in tropical environments.

Hawaii has had so much support for hemp.
In 2001, six bi-partisan state legislators wrote a letter to former president George W. Bush asking for support to grow hemp.
If you really have the time, here is a report prepared for State Representative Cynthia Thielen, democratic floor leader who became a major proponent for industrial hemp. The report, while written in 1996, is very insightful and well researched.

Hawai'i was one of the earliest hemp supporters, and throughout the years, has definitely been one of the strongest. I hope that Rep. Abercrombie sees some of this support during his recess, and reconsiders it as an issue worthy of attention.

Thank you so much for your interest in this topic. Let me know what you think about this, and certainly if you have any other questions. I would love to be in touch as I try to gain support from other Hawai'i delegates as well.

Thanks again,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

First Attempt at Posting an email as a Blog Post

This is my first attempt at an idea I just had. I apparently am too busy to keep a blog. But, I always wanted to have a blog that I updated, that ideal site that entertained random people around the world. You could say that what I do on Facebook is, for all purposes, blogging (micro-blogging, actually). And true, with over 1,500 friends, I'm sure I get a few random views.

Well, I usually am too busy writing emails as a hemp lobbyist, or going out as a freelance photographer, to write blogs or keep a photo blog. Some of my photography can be viewed at the social blog Brightest Young Things. More on that later. See, I have so much to blog about!

Well, here's my email that I wrote on Monday. I had a meeting the next day with the office of Michael Michaud from Maine.
And, since that already happened, I can say the meeting went quite well.

The email is to a grassroots organization to get them to somehow get us more support. (I figured, why not try?)


Industrial Hemp is a sustainable agricultural crop that is actually good for the soil. It does not require chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides to grow, and does not require much other inputs such as water irrigation. It is a rotational crop that helps curb topsoil runoff and is a nitrogen fixer as well. It grows so fast and puts so much oxygen in the air that some applications and studies have measured a negative carbon footprint. One such example is in Hemcrete, a type of concrete made with just pure hemp and powdered lime. The footprint is negative because the carbon is actually sequestered right inside the cinderblocks. Hemp is also a great source of plant protein, grown in a much more sustainable manner than soy. Hemp is one of the fastest growing sectors of the natural products industry; here is a video from CNBC about the commercial aspects.

The State of Maine passed a bill, LD 1159, which would allow the state to license hemp farmers. However, there is still a federal ban on growing hemp. That is why we are working to gain support for HR 1866.

This Tuesday, I have a meeting with the Office of Michael Michaud of Maine. It would be great if we could get some extra calls or letters from his district. We sent out a capwiz action alert with quick links to prewritten letters and talking points for calls.

Hemp is a "convenient solution" to take care of our problems with our economy and environmental crises. If the federal ban were to be lifted, carbon emissions would go down while research into green technologies would go up. Why hemp rather than other alternatives? Hemp produces more oxygen per acre than any plant; (algae is a different story)

I hope that with your help, we can get more letters to support this important issue.

Thank you,



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Biggest day ever?

So, today was one of my biggest days ever.
Yesterday I had a meeting on the hill with the agricultural legislative assistant (LA) for Zack Space of Ohio. The meeting went as well as I could have expected. The staffer said that Zack Space would not be supporting HR 1866, mostly because the farmers had not already come to her to fight for hemp themselves.
Today, I talked on the phone with the director of the Ohio Farmers Union, and followed up with an email to see if we can change that.

So, after my meeting on the Hill, I started walking around. I made calls to certain offices while sitting at a bench outside the Rayburn building, telling them I would be in later that day. After a few calls, I went in for lunch in the Longworth Cafeteria.

I ran into my friend from college, Charlie Herron, who happened to place second in the national debate competition in Chicago that I attended with him. While I could have easily taken the people's choice award (which did not exist) I did not actually place. I said to him as we ate, "Who's the lobbyist now?!" in a sarcastically aggressive tone.

After lunch, I started going around to different offices. I stopped at many (but not all) of the offices I had just called. I would just go into an office that was particularly inviting (mostly based on State or if I knew the person's name), introduce myself, and give them my card to forward to the agriculture LA. I did this to about 20 different offices.

I came home, changed, took a nap, walked the dog, put on my 'party clothes', and went out. After participating in a psychological study (and walking away with $40 cash), I went out with some friends to the 'Froggy Bottom', a bar with great drink specials right by the 'Foggy Bottom' metro stop. I met a very nice girl from Arkansas who was enjoying the last few days of her four week 'out of Arkansas' internship. Today was actually her 22nd birthday. She is living it up right now, I can party imagine and partly say from experience.

Today I emailed a bunch of people, canceled two meetings on the Hill, and booked another meeting with a lobbyist to talk about strategy. I talked to my boss, the president of both Vote Hemp as well as the Hemp Industries Association, for a long time on the phone. I took a ceramics class for the first time in about four years. Best of all, I got to hang out with my pseudo-supervisor, Adam Eidinger. He DJed new age house music while I sent emails to lobbyists and staff members from the Tennessee Farmer Bureau. It was such a good time that I even made a video on my phone.

This week has been so much better than my last. I can only hope that my overall enjoyment of Washington DC follows that ubiquotous exponential graph that was popularized by Al Gore.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Research, Research, Research: Getting the Ducks in Line

I can't believe that I'm almost through my second week already.
Oh wait. I meant to say, I can't believe I'm almost through with my third week.
I can't believe that I didn't know the difference.

I can say that next week, I already have two meetings for Tuesday.

For the past 2 and a half weeks now, I have been preparing for meetings. I have been building lists of congresspeople, and doing research to add to the lists. Using a spreadsheet, in an unfortunately yet unavoidable confusing manner that even I can barely understand, are the following thing:
-Lists of congress people by State, by committee, and by voting record
- Choose Relevant States- Maine, Montana, Oregon, North Dakota, Vermont, New Mexico, Kentucky, Missouri,
-Congress person's political leaning, State (I usually just guess the two letter abbreviation), and phone number
- Appropriate committees and subcommittees. Notables include:
-Judiciary committee
-Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security (HR 1866 referred)
-Committee on Energy and Commerce (HR 1866 referred)
-Subcommittee on Energy and Environment
- Agriculture
-Horticulture and Organic Agriculture
-Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research
- Small Business: Rural Development, Entrepreneurship, and Trade
- Science and Technology: Energy and the Environment
- Nutrition & Forestry
- Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming
- Natural Resources
-Finally, important notes. This include if I've met with them, what they did for a living, what they support, etc. This includes any laws the congressperson's state; as well as business and amount of constituency.

Wow. That's a lot. See, that's why it's been taking me so long. It's also why I don't really know what day it is.
Now, I just need to make sure I have it all memorized.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Back In Washington

I thought that it was time to revisit my blog after about a year of latency.
I'm back in DC and working again for Vote Hemp. The goal is to get federal recognition of industrial hemp. This is no easy task and has never been done before.

Grassroots support for hemp is notable and significant. To date, 14 states allow hemp farming, and Oregon will be the 15th state within two weeks. (SB 676 has already passed committee and is on the senate floor today). While individual states show enormous support with both constituencies and legislature, this hardly translates to the federal level.

My job is to get support for HR 1866, the third reintroduction of Ron Paul's "Industrial Hemp Farming Act". I have nothing against Ron Paul, but apparently, this is not the case for most politicians. Most politicians would support hemp if it were politically viable; unfortunately, at the moment, it is not.

I'll try to keep you updated this summer. If you read this far, shoot me an email so that I know to keep writing....


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hemp Facts

Hemp: the real problem is miseducation. Did you know that…

1) Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. In fact, one of the oldest relics of human industry is the pattern of hemp fabric in ceramic shards dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.

2) "Make the most of the hemp seed and sow it everywhere."- George Washington. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.

3) Nutrition- Hemp Seed is far more nutritious than even soybean, contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is 35% dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug. See

4) Fiber- The bark of the hemp stalk contains bast fibers which are among the Earth's longest natural soft fibers and are also rich in cellulose; the cellulose and hemi-cellulose in its inner woody core are called hurds. Hemp stalk is not psychoactive. Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.

5)Energy- According to the Department of Energy, hemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures of all hemp products. Hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to ethanol to biodiesel. Development of biofuels is undoubtedly a step towards greener energy.

6) Easy to Grow- Hemp grows well without herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. Nearly one third of the agricultural chemicals used on US crops are applied to cotton.

7) Paper Production- Hemp produces roughly four times more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can actually reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp's low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and its creamy color lends itself to environmentally friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxins and fewer chemical byproducts. It also means that hemp can recycled many times before the fibers break down entirely.

9) Green Building- Hemp makes for great construction material. A company called Hemcrete uses a modernized form of an age old technique to create a concrete like material, several times lighter and stronger, (as well as sustainable) than actual concrete. Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard.

10) Plastics- Hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. A company called Wheatware makes disposable plastic, yet biodegradable, eating utensils out of corn and other biomass. Hemp (along with other natural fibers) is combined with resins to create lightweight and very strong composite materials, used in millions of cars and even airplanes.