Hemp advocates stop in Marshall during cross-country road trip
A group of advocates has been traveling across the country in an effort to change the misconceptions and spread the word about industrial hemp.
Rick Trojan, founder of Hemp Road Trip, is a hemp farmer from northeastern Colorado, and went over some of the details of the industry from the farmer's point of view.
"We were really the only farm last year to do it on a commercial agricultural scale," Trojan said. "We only did 300 acres but that was a fifth of the production in Colorado."
He explained he uses the same heavy implements any other farmer would use, but harvesting proved to be slightly different from other crops.
"Last year ... we had a bunch of different sizes (of plants), so from a harvesting standpoint it was a bit of a challenge," Trojan said. "But this year we have more homogenized planting per pivot, so harvesting should be (easier)."
As hemp is still considered illegal under federal law, Trojan did voice concern about the possibilities in the future.
"It's definitely a concern right," Trojan said. "It's legal federally under the pilot program that we're working but the actual plant itself right, (is illegal), so they can come in at any moment and that's defiantly a concern."
However Trojan did voice positivity when elaborating on the conversations he's had with other farmers on his trip.
"A lot of the farmers that we talked to last year to work with us are coming back to us this year and saying 'how can we work with you.' I think they're starting to see that it's the best alternative they have out there ... ," he said. "That's why I grabbed this bus, is we need to pass the Industrial Hemp Farm Act. There's no reason this plant should be regulated any differently than corn or wheat or any other plant."
The group also had on display a number of hemp-made items ranging from food products to topical cream, and a display of hemp crete, which is a hemp-lime mixture that serve the same purpose as concrete.
Road trip member Maggie Booterbaugh went over some of the various uses the plant has.
"You can't get high off of it," she said. "You can actually make 30,000 plus products ... it's a super food, anti-oxidant, it helps your cardiovascular system, you can cook with hemp oil, its great for animal feed ..." and the list went on.
Booterbaugh also commented on the conversations she has had while on their road trip, which took them from Denver, Colo., following the presidential primaries and leading them to visit Iowa, Washington, D.C., New Hampshire and more on their way back to Colorado.
She said they had the opportunity to speak with eight presidential candidates as well as many other politicians who offered their feedback. Booterbaugh asserted that for any movement forward with regards to hemp legalization, the politicians need to hear from the people about the issue.
"We mostly just want to let people know that as a nation, if we want to see this grown, you need to contact your legislators in every state," Booterbaugh said, adding the road trip website hemproadtrip.com has a "take action" tab which can be used to look up the legislatures in your area.