Letter: Industrial hemp for all | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Industrial hemp for all

I’d never been to American Renewable Energy Day, but since I’m passionate about promoting industrial hemp, I thought I’d throw together a little outfit and head to Aspen. I had no idea when I walked into the Hotel Jerome ballroom in a Hemp History Week T-shirt and a hat festooned with stickers and Mardi Gras beads that I’d stick out so much.

Oh, well — I was committed now and excited to hear that Ted Turner and family would be the next panel members. I’ve always admired him and thought he stood out from the rest of his pack, and it was a highlight when he had us all doing wolf howls during his talk. Just what I needed at the moment, sitting there conspicuously in my silly hat.

Because I was there to promote industrial hemp, the all-but-forgotten miracle plant that is our best hope of saving ourselves, I walked up to Ted as he was leaving to give him a bag of chocolate hemp seeds. “Ah, Ted, I’d like to … ” — oh no, he brushed me aside (who is this idiot in the funny hat lunging at me?). But his author Todd Wilkinson took my gift, saying that he’d give it to Ted. Maybe, just maybe, that will happen.

I walked outside, where renowned scientist Amory Lovins was talking with Turner’s grandson, John Seydel. Suddenly a woman walked up and asked if I could take a picture of her with them. “Of course,” I said, “and I’ll get one, too.” When Seydel saw my Hemp History Week stickers, he smiled and said he’s a big supporter of industrial hemp, too. Young people get it!

Gen. Wesley Clark moderated the next discussion panel, “Driving Away From Fossil Fuels.” This time I sat up front, and during the Q&A I asked if anyone had considered industrial hemp as a fuel source. Their consensus was that it’s too valuable for use in other products. They probably hadn’t yet seen the just-released BBC article about a team of scientists who used hemp fibers to build a supercapacitor (a powerful energy-storage device for electric-car technology). So maybe its value is not so much as a fuel but rather as an inexpensive energy-producing material.

Yet another important application added to the over 25,000 other uses for industrial hemp, from cleansing the soil to making medicines and food, building materials, etc. But with over 60 years of suppression because of its association with its cousin marijuana, most people have no idea of hemp’s capabilities (I wonder if many at the conference even know much). Now that it’s legal to grow in Colorado and a few other states, it’s important to get informed.

The Colorado Hemp Education Association is a new organization dedicated to informing people about the benefits of utilizing this incredibly sustainable crop as well as how to move forward in developing this important new industry. Visit http://www.coloradohemped.org to find out more about the exciting possibilities of hemp.

Jackie Chenoweth