Second Annual 'Hemp History Week' Begins with Over 550 Celebrations Planned Throughout All 50 States

Campaign Calling for Return of Industrial Hemp Farming to U.S. Attracts Support from Celebrities, Athletes, Health Experts, Politicians, Leading Brands and Retailers

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, May 2nd marks the start of the 2nd Annual Hemp History Week, which is taking place from May  2nd-8th,  2011. The national grassroots education campaign aims to renew strong support for hemp farming in the U.S., which was grown here for centuries until farming of the crop was essentially banned in the mid-1900's. More than doubling in size in just its second year, Hemp History Week 2011 will feature over 550 events in all 50 states this year. The campaign is also featuring an online petition drive to encourage the Obama administration and Congress to change federal policy and allow American farmers to once again grow industrial hemp.

In acknowledgement of Hemp History Week 2011, Rep. Ron Paul will submit an official Congressional Record statement in support of industrial hemp and the campaign for the second year in a row. Paul will also be circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter this week, calling on other members of Congress to, as the letter requests, "Let American Farmers Compete in a Booming Global Market." Rep. Paul will reintroduce the Industrial Hemp Farming Act again in Congress later this year. The bill had 25 co-sponsors in the last session. The statement can be read in its entirety at: http://www.HempHistoryWeek.com/RonPaulStatement.

The campaign has garnered other support in Congress as well, including that of Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon): "During a time of economic distress, we need to be encouraging American enterprise and American job creation. It simply doesn't make sense to restrict a viable industry because of unfounded fears. There are many success stories in my district about companies who use or sell hemp products, and I don't believe we should be limiting their potential. The Hemp History Week campaign is a great opportunity to educate other elected officials and the American public about the tremendous benefits that the ability to grow hemp in America will bring."

The 2011 campaign is promoting the theme of "Hemp for Health and Sustainability" and is endorsed by high profile  personalities  such  as  physician  Dr. Andrew  Weil; actress  and  author Alicia  Silverstone, consumer advocate Phil Lempert, registered dietician Ashley Koff; Ironman triathlete and nutrition expert Brendan Brazier; holistic health counselor Alexandra Jamieson; former NBA Champion John Salley; as well as renowned musicians Ziggy Marley; Dar Williams; and Michael Franti.

"Through Hemp History Week 2011, we are continuing to build support for a federal policy change, while celebrating America's rich history with the crop," says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. "Allowing American farmers to grow hemp will promote sustainable agriculture in the U.S. by supporting local farming, creating new jobs and ultimately fueling the economy," explains Steenstra.

Hundreds of natural product retail outlets across the country are featuring promotions throughout the month of May in celebration of Hemp History Week. Hemp product promotions in retail stores have increased from 125 stores last year to nearly 500 stores this year, including most Whole Foods Market locations in the U.S. Retail outlets will be offering specials on hemp products from leading natural product companies such as Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Manitoba Harvest, Nature's Path and Nutiva.

Across the country grassroots activists and volunteers will also be hosting local celebrations of hemp and its many uses. Students, farm communities, healthy lifestyle advocates, natural foods pioneers, and activists around the country have planned a variety of events. Over 80 grassroots events are happening across the country including tabling at farmers' markets; educational events in farm communities and on college campuses; as well as hemp fashion shows and house parties celebrating the goodness of hemp. Additionally, Hemp History Week will also be represented at many festivals leading up to and after May 8th.

In Boston, MA longtime hemp enthusiast John Dvorak hosted a Hemp History Week Hemposium at Suffolk University this past weekend, while in San Diego, CA organizers are hosting an "Edible and Wearable Hemp Fashion Show" on Sunday, May  8th. Other events across the country will include presentations on "Hemp Technologies in Asheville" in Asheville, NC; "Industrial Hemp 101: Re-Educating the Country" in Greensboro, NC; a week's schedule of celebrations in Santa Fe and Taos, NM; a celebration entitled "Hemp for Oregon – a sustainable crop for a healthy future" at the BridgePort BrewPub in Portland, OR; a cooking demonstration by endorsers Phil Lempert and Alexandra Jamieson at the Bowery Whole Foods Market culinary center in New York City; a press lunch on the health benefits of hemp foods with Ashley Koff, R.D. and Phil Lempert, also in NYC; and "Rural Vermont Celebrates Hemp" in Richmond, VT. A complete listing of events can be found at: http://www.hemphistoryweek.com/events.

A renewable resource offering a long list of health and nutritional benefits, hemp is one of the fastest-growing categories in the natural foods industry. Hemp is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs),  providing super  omega stearidonic acid (SDA)  and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA),  highly-digestible protein and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and iron, while being a good source of dietary fiber. It is a complete protein, containing all 10 essential amino acids, with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by the human body. Hemp seeds are also gluten-free.

Hemp History Week is made possible by the support of leading natural product brands that are known for manufacturing the highest-quality hemp products. Hemp can be used in a wide variety of products, including food, cosmetics, clothing, building materials, auto parts and many more. Sponsors of Hemp History Week include Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, French Meadow Bakery, Living Harvest Foods, Manitoba Harvest, Merry Hempsters, Nature's Path Foods, Nutiva and Sequel Naturals. Sustainable hemp seed, fiber and oil are also used by major companies such as Ford Motors, Patagonia and The Body Shop.

Arran Stephens, founder of Nature's Path Foods, North America's top-selling independent organic cereal company, says "We believe our products exemplify all of the goodness that hemp has to offer as a nutritious, gluten-free, non-GMO superfood. Nature's Path is proud to have been part of the growth of the hemp industry since the beginning. This May, we look forward to celebrating America's rich history with hemp farming, while educating consumers about the benefits of hemp foods."

Other U.S. hemp manufacturers have been relentless in their struggle for the right to buy hemp from U.S. farmers. "For nearly ten years, the Bronner family has financially supported efforts to lift the ban on non-drug industrial hemp farming because it is an environmentally-sustainable crop," states David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, the top-selling brand of natural soap in the U.S. "Despite our efforts, we are forced to continue purchasing the twenty tons of hemp oil that we use annually from Canada. This is a lost opportunity for American farmers and businesses, which is becoming more absurd and outrageous with each growing season that passes."

The HIA estimates that U.S. retail sales of hemp products exceeded $400 million in 2010, yet American companies making hemp products have no choice but to import their raw materials, due to the federal government's ban on hemp farming. While demand for hemp products continues to rise, it is becoming a challenge for Canadian growers and processors, the primary suppliers of hemp seed and oil to the U.S. market, to keep up and meet that demand.

"Nutiva's sales have grown at an annual rate of 41% since 2006. In 2009 and 2010, we were named by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing businesses in America," says John W. Roulac, founder and CEO of Nutiva. "By allowing U.S. farmers to grow and sell hemp seed, it will help the entire industry to meet the growing demand for hemp products."

To date, seventeen states have passed pro-hemp legislation, and six states (Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon,  Vermont  and West  Virginia)  have  already  authorized  the  licensing  of  farmers  to  grow the  crop. However, despite state authorization to grow hemp, farmers in these states risk raids by federal agents if they plant the crop, due to the failure of federal policy to distinguish oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis (i.e., industrial hemp) from psychoactive varieties. Meanwhile, the Canadian government recently funneled nearly $1 million into their hemp industry, as they look to increase production capacity and make even greater inroads into the American market.

"My co-founders of Manitoba Harvest and I are proud to have successfully petitioned our government to legalize hemp in Canada over a decade ago. We are very appreciative of the Canadian government's support and hope that the U.S. government will see the opportunities with industrial hemp as well," says Mike Fata, co-founder and CEO of Manitoba Harvest. "With consumer demand for hemp products growing, why shouldn't American farmers also be allowed to benefit from this huge opportunity?"

For more information on Hemp History Week 2011 and a complete listing of event and retail locations, go to:

www.HempHistoryWeek.com.

SOURCE Hemp History Week



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