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Hempfest Spreads Increased Awareness

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Hemp got some time on the runway during a fashion show Saturday at Caras Park, where volunteers showcased clothing made from cannabis to an audience filled with dreadlocked hair and Chaco sandals.

The Hemp Fashion Show was one part of the 13th annual Missoula Hempfest, presented by the Montana Hemp Council.

However, this controversial plant, which is banned for industrial growth in the U.S. largely due to its similar appearance to marijuana, has a rather conservative past.

“George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp,” said Kristen Opp, owner of the store Authentic Creations, which provided the clothing for the fashion show. She added that during WWII, the U.S. government encouraged farmers to grow hemp so that it could be used for uniforms and many other supplies.
Jeremy Briggs, president of the Montana Hemp Council, said that the plant was favored for its tough and resilient nature.

“Hemp is among the longest, strongest, most elastic and most durable fibers in nature,” Briggs said. “It won’t mildew or rot like cotton fiber, which requires 25 percent of the world’s crop chemicals.”

He said that in addition to clothing, hemp can be used in food, body care, cars, homes, paper, plastic and fuel.

Besides Authentic Creations, other vendors also featured items made from hemp, including a booth set up by Tsering Dorjee and his wife, who sell hemp clothing they buy through family members in India. L.K. Handicrafts, Inc., another vendor selling hemp items, started its business to help friends in Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam by reselling their products in the United States.

“America imports more hemp than any other nation,” Briggs said. “But we’re the only industrial nation that prohibits it – it’s irony.”

Andrea Harsell Behunin, secretary of the Montana Hemp Council and producer of the hemp fashion show, advocates growing hemp locally.

She said hemp being mistaken for pot is its “biggest misconception,” and she hopes to work on “dispelling the myth and educating farmers to help us.”
Opp said that although hemp and marijuana are both in the Cannabis genus, hemp can’t get you high.

Unlike marijuana, hemp has very little THC, a component within the plant that creates the “high” effect, and in hemp grown for industrial production it is almost non-existent.

“It drives me crazy when people come into the store and ask me, ‘Can I smoke this?’ It’s not the same!” Opp said.
Hempfest volunteer David Drake said Hempfest is “about reeducating more than anything.”

Briggs hopes the Hemp Council can show Montanans “the benefits, history, uses, and politics of agricultural and industrial hemp.”

Briggs said new awareness regarding hemp has led eight states, including Montana, to remove barriers to its production or research. Another 28 states have introduced some legislation regarding hemp.

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Montana Kaimin
Author: Carmen George
Copyright: 2008 Montana Kaimin
Contact: montanakaimin.com
Website: montanakaimin.com - News
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