The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - 31

Except for Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication used to
treat some forms of epilepsy, the FDA has not approved
hemp or CBD for any therapeutic uses.
Money is, of course, in the mix. In 2017, the U.S. hemp
industry earned a healthy $820 million, according to the
Hemp Business Journal. By 2022, the market is expected
to reach anywhere from $2 billion to $22 billion.
Those who've watched hemp for awhile say it is here
to stay. There's too much potential, too many anecdotes
of people who've had positive experiences, to think that
hemp-derived products will disappear anytime soon.
"Long story short, I see a lot of potential there but
we have a long way to go to figure that out," Fike says.
It may turn out that the biggest miracle isn't hemp's
healing prowess but its creation of a brand-new industry.

HISTORY OF HEMP
The irony is that hemp is very, very old.
Like 10,000 years old. Like first plant ever cultivated
for textile fiber old.
Hemp is native to Asia, according to the website
Britannica. The Chinese first made paper, then fabric
from hemp. The sails of explorer ships were cut from
hemp cloth. The word "canvas" comes from the word
"cannabis." Hemp is one of several varieties of the
Cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana is another.
The birth of America is interwoven with hemp, explains
the Founder's Hemp website. It was illegal NOT to harvest
hemp in the early days of the colonies. Thomas Jefferson both
grew hemp and drafted the Declaration of Independence
on paper made from it. Hemp was processed into ropes and
clothes and U.S. currency and even American flags.
The rise of cotton and rayon and a smear campaign
linking hemp with its buzz-inducing cousin caused a
sharp drop in its popularity in the 1930s. Concerns about
limited fiber supplies during World War II led the U.S.
government to promote the crop. But production declined
after the war and a ban in 1970 abruptly ended U.S. hemp
production. It would not be legally grown in the United
States again until 2014 - and then only for research.
It took 2018's Farm Bill to remove hemp from the
Controlled Substances Act. Hemp was no longer a
Schedule 1 drug, no longer categorized in the same
company as heroin, LSD and ecstasy, no longer regulated
by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Once Virginia's
General Assembly voted to align state and federal law in
March 2019, hemp could once again be grown, harvested,
processed and sold on Virginia soil.
"We have this long-seated history of using hemp

TheRoanoker.com

fiber," explains Tom Hammett, professor of sustainable
biomaterials at Virginia Tech, who teaches a class that
experiments with uses for hemp. "We need to be a student
of history to find out what products were made from hemp
and then modernize and make those products even better."
Restrictions on food-grade imports of hemp and hemp
oils had been easing over the years, so that some hemp
products could be found on specialty store shelves as
early as the 2000s.
And the push for legal status for medical marijuana
created a curiosity and acceptance of the potential
healing effects of hemp.
But few were prepared for the rush that kicked in once
hemp became legal. Farmers jumped on board hoping for
a cash crop that could replace the revenue they once earned
from tobacco. Entrepreneurs saw opportunity around every
corner. Regulators and law enforcement agencies weren't
sure how to move forward. Consumers were thrilled to hear
of plant-derived pain relievers without serious side effects.
The reality, of course, is unknown, somewhere in the
middle, probably less mind-blowing than many say.
For now, hemp is the good-looking, gun-toting
cowboy who sauntered into the saloon. It's just that no
one knows if we should sweet talk him or stand back
warily and watch his first move.

HEMP FOR HEALTH
Enter Susan Cromer.
In truth, Cromer walked into the cannabis world
nearly a decade ago. She was living in Florida, working
as a U.S. distributor for an organic plant growth enhancer
company, when her attention turned first to medical
marijuana and soon enough to hemp.
She was impressed with the Cannabis sativa plant and
its potential to heal. Both hemp and marijuana boast
hundreds of chemical compounds; both produce THC
and CBD, but at differing levels. The legal definition
of hemp is Cannabis sativa with less than 0.3% THC.
"How do the compounds combine? How do they work
in isolation," asks Cromer. "Different varieties may produce
different benefits. That's why this plant is so miraculous."
By 2014, research into how hemp's compounds worked
in the human body was under way. Cromer moved to
Roanoke. In 2016 she began an online business selling
high-quality CBD products and found her niche
educating and advocating for hemp.
Cromer held workshops where she fed participants
hemp seeds and foods made with hemp and she
explained the science behind hemp for health.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020

31


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The Roanoker - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - January/February 2020

The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Intro
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Cover1
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Cover2
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - 3
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