New Patagonia Film Addresses Industrial Hemp Legalization in the USA

Taken by D.Hedden 2015
Taken by D.Hedden 2015

Patagonia states in a press release that in 2016 alone, the U.S. will import an estimated $500 million in products made of industrial hemp. “Unfortunately, here in the U.S. hemp has mistakenly found itself on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act even though it has no psychoactive properties. Industrial hemp is a crop that has the potential to lower the environmental impacts of textile production, empower small-scale farmers and create jobs in a wide variety of industries. On July 4, 2016, a petition will be delivered to Congress urging them to pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015/2016 (S.134 and H.R. 525), legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States.”

The Brooklyn Fashion+Design Accelerator recently participated in a hemp workshop moderating a Hemp Work Group covering food and fashion angles. It’s interesting to discuss some pretty plain facts with hemp becoming legalized in the U.S. like how can we effect policy and how can hemp be effectively utilized in local fiber sheds and not get abused as cotton has, but the elephant in the room? How can we get the U.S. government to look at hemp as a fiber and not as a drug.

Taken by D.Hedden 2015
Taken by D.Hedden 2015

Harvesting Liberty, a short film Patagonia released yesterday was made to address the current status of industrial hemp in the U.S. Directed by farmer/surfer/environmentalist Dan Malloy and produced in partnership with Fibershed and The Growing Warriors Project, Harvesting Liberty tells the story of U.S. Veteran Michael Lewis and the work he is doing in conjunction with The Growing Warriors to reintroduce industrial hemp into Kentucky – and eventually all U.S. agriculture.

Patagonia writes: “On July 4th, 2014, Michael flew an American flag at the Capital made of hemp grown on his farm in Kentucky, symbolizing the key role industrial hemp has played in the founding of our country. Harvesting Liberty was created to educate society on the immense potential industrial hemp holds for food, feed, fiber, fuel and families. Federal law currently denies American farmers the right to grow the crop in U.S. soil – this film is working to change that reality.”

Taken by D.Hedden 2015
Taken by D.Hedden 2015

Check out the film below to learn more about industrial hemp in the U.S. and some of the people getting behind making what was once a (legal) American grown and sewn commodity, a reality for our future.

Harvesting Liberty from Patagonia on Vimeo.

Thanks to Patagonia for these Industrialized Hemp Talking Points:

• Hemp is not marijuana – it’s a crop that produces a fiber used in all kinds of great products. Unfortunately, its cultivation is not legal in the United States.

• Legalization of industrial hemp would be good for the U.S. economy and great for our ability to source high-quality, environmentally responsible materials here in the United States.

• Patagonia supports a simple, commonsense measure to clarify that industrial hemp is not marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act – allowing hemp to grow freely again and our economy to grow as a result.

Why We Like Hemp

• As a fiber, hemp has many great properties that fit Patagonia’s environmental commitments: it requires no irrigation, uses no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and is harvested and processed by hand. Hemp also has properties that help us create high-quality garments with excellent performance: it’s a strong fiber and wears cool in hot weather (similar to linen)

• The potential market in the outdoor industry for U.S.-grown hemp is substantial. Recently, we’ve been testing innovative new hemp fabrics that show impressive results compared to some garments made from 100% organic cotton.

Current Law Drives Us to China

• Unfortunately, industrial hemp is illegal to grow in most parts of the world, including the United States, because government agencies continue to associate it with marijuana.

• Patagonia sources high-quality hemp fabric from China, where the company has a long- standing partnership with a mill that specializes in hemp and hemp blended fabrics with recycled polyester, recycled nylon, and organic cotton.

• Patagonia is interested in expanding the use of hemp in its lines, but rather than buying hemp from China, the company would like to see the domestic hemp industry grow and flourish – both for the sake of the U.S. economy and for the sake of the outdoor industry.

A Simple, Commonsense Solution with Broad Support

• S.134 and H.R. 525 represent a simple, commonsense, bipartisan measure to clarify that industrial hemp is not marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act – allowing hemp to grow freely again and our economy to grow as a result.

• There is little or no formal opposition that Patagonia is aware of. The greatest obstacle is the fundamental misconception that industrial hemp is the same as marijuana, which can be overcome with education about the difference between the two crops.

• In addition to the Outdoor Industry Association, legalization of industrial hemp is supported by a number of farming organizations such as the American Farm Bureau, National Farmers Union, the National Grange, the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and regional organizations, such as the North Dakota Farmers Union, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Minnesota Farmer’s Union, the California State’s Sheriffs’ Association, Hemp Industries Association, Vote Hemp, and the North American Industrial Hemp Council.