Thursday, July 06, 2006

For the last twenty years, the hemp business has seen phenomenal growth. Laws have been changed to relegalise cultivation in some areas, and major battles, such as the challenge by the US courts over the legality of hemp foods, have been fought. Not surprising then that there are always people who jump out of the wood work to get involved.
While it might seem counterproductive to write anything discouraging such enthusiasm, I think it is not so if the larger interest of a healthy business environment is maintained by pruning out the nonproductive strands and encouraging the hardier branches. A lack of knowledge and underfunding are two conditions in which a business does not thrive; and when a business does not thrive, a bad vibe is sent out, with the public associating a product with failure. Lack of stock, bad products, stressed out staff, these are not good symptoms. They can be avoided by learning more about the product and starting with a sufficient amount of capital. The first is undeniably a fair argument, the second may well eliminate some very hard working and well meaning people, but this is just the reality which we all have to work with.
Another facet of the hemp business is cooperation, and for the most part, this is one of the most cooperative businesses around, it has had to be, given the political shenanigans against it. One could, however, name a handful of individuals who have acted in a negative manner, but it seems that they weed themselves out in time.
Public perception is a big part of any enterprise, and this goes both ways in the hemp world. There are those who are willing to learn about the world in which they live and they can see easily the benefits of having hemp seed oil with its Omega 3,6, and 9 EFAs, of having locally produced energy, paper and fibre, and of having something which provides employment. On the other hand, there are those examples of "I could-care-less" people who actually go to lengths to harm the image of hemp. Some of them are journalists, paid in part by business interests who would rather keep the public buying products that are unhealthy and damaging to the environment. Often these journalists confuse marijuana with hemp, a trick William Randolph Hearst used in the last century.
Recently a tribal chieftain in Walabi was caught with 12 bags of 'Indian hemp' (...marijauna), and given a sentence of 12 years in prison, which the court described as 'lenient'. In conclusion, the court stated that the punishment would serve as a deterrant to anyone 'thinking about getting into the hemp business'.
To anyone thinking of 'getting into the hemp business', don't let their verdict put you off, but at the same time, do take all necessary advice. There is a healthy market for hemp (Anita Roddick's The Body Shop sold $40m worth of hemp products in one year in the US alone), and there is room for many more to be involved, but it is not a get rich quick scheme.
The last piece of advice I will give is not to duplicate what is already being done (which is a tempation to many people without an original idea), but rather, create something new or take an existing hemp item to a new market where a real need exists.
When you do open your new business, we are happy to put up a post on this site and update Hemp for Victory with your details, contact Yves at:

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