Courtesy of the National Hemp Association, December 20, 2018
Note from Chairman, Geoff Whaling
Very early today, I received a phone call from the White House confirming that President Trump would be signing the Farm Bill, which contains the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 language, at a WH ceremony at 2:30 today. I was thrilled to hear the news, sorry that I would not be able to be there in person and then took a moment to reflect on the path that brings us all to this, most important and historical day. Congratulations All! I reflected on how far we have come and those that I have met along the way. My path started some 5 years ago after seeing, like so many others the plight of Paige Figi, mother of Charlotte. It was Charlotte’s story and the challenges that those producing her “Marijuana Oil”, which I was sure came from hemp, that motivated me to become more involved in advancing this crop, something I had a small role in advancing in my homeland. Since then, as a full time volunteer, I’ve met thousands of Americans, all who shared a common goal – let’s rekindle this crop!
I worked first in PA with hemp historian Les Stark and Erica McBride (now Erica Stark). Les has worked for 20 years towards this very day. Together we organized the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council, passed legislation in our Commonwealth and then helped Delaware and New York.
I started speaking on panels, attending conferences and hearing from athletes whose own stories would make grown men cry. I heard from farmers across the country that were desperate and needed every helping hand to save the family farm.
State legislators invited us to appear, Members of Congress wanted our participation. That somehow put us on the national radar and shortly thereafter, I joined the Board of the National Hemp Association. Within a short timeframe I was asked to Chair the organization and I have worked everyday to build awareness of our membership and important issues and reconfigured the organization to have a permanent office in Washington so that we could work alongside all the major stakeholder groups that could influence and help us pass federal legislation.
Although many of our meetings with the DEA, DOJ, USDA and the White House were frustrating, the support from every non government organization – national farm organizations, the Council on Government Relations and the National Association of Secretaries Departments of Agriculture gave us support and encouragement to fight the good fight. Not everything we have done has worked out as planned. Some alliances have fallen short, others were self serving and not worth the energy. Yet at the end of this day, none of that will matter anymore.
Tomorrow begins another Chapter in the rebirth of hemp in our nation. We will soon be part of a major announcement that, in our opinion, will provide the much need solution to ensure this crop and industry will have a solid foundation to grow and that will invest millions into research. We will also have to figure out how State programs will merge into the new law, work with Federal agencies that will no doubt know nothing about the new law, while also continuing our work to ensure that all who want to be in this space have the tools that this 2018 Farm Bill provides our crop. Could there be any better way for everyone who has worked so long and hard to see this day? Could there be any better gift for this holiday season? Celebrate well and safely!
We are the National Hemp Association!
Let’s GROW in 2019!