The Carolina Hemp Festival and Expo, in Raleigh Aug. 30 through Sept. 1, began with encouragement from the executive director of the N.C. Industrial Hemp Association (NCIHA), Blake Butler, seen here proclaiming his love for Carolina hemp and holding the final results of a senate vote in the North Carolina General Assembly that allowed the state’s hemp farming pilot program to proceed.

”We’ve got more going on than any other state in the nation that has a (hemp) pilot program,” says Butler of North Carolina’s program, now in its second year. He says the state has 405 hemp growers and 82 processors.

Urging folks to join his organization, Butler says, “I am protective; I will break down doors. I will protect you. And I will follow the law.”

Butler predicts the U.S. Congress will soon pass the Farm Bill that could benefit hemp farmers, adding, “I think we’re going to have federal legalization of hemp, and I think that’s going to come in January or February.”

“I think we’re going to have federal legalization of hemp, and I think that’s going to come in January or February.” – Blake Butler

Cannabidiol (CBD) Cooking Demonstration

Charlotte’s Chef MaZoe, of Cannifusion, was on hand to make mini pizzas, which were delicious and left the meeting space smelling of basil and olive oil.

As she cooked, she explained that she’s a veteran of the U.S. Army and a former Veteran’s Benefits Administration employee. She says part of what attracted her to the CBD-food industry is its ability to help veterans.

She also discussed the need to be consistent when both consuming and cooking with CBD. “You should have some CBD with every meal,” she said, “so you reach your dosage.” (There is a dosage guide on her website.)

Chef Zoe (pronounced Zo), as she prefers, was only one of two speakers to be cheered when she took the stage, so it’s no surprise to learn she sold out of edibles during the convention.

Carolina Hemp Festival cooking demonstration by Cannifusion Chef MaZoe with daughter Tinya

Chef Zoe of Cannifusion, based in Charlotte, N.C., spoke about infusing CBD into food during a cooking demonstration at the Carolina Hemp Festival. She was assisted by her daughter Tinya. Photo credit: Rhiannon Fionn

Carolina Hemp Festival cooking demonstration by Cannifusion Chef MaZoe

“God made it, it’s natural and I am 100 percent for it.”

A Pastor’s Praise

Bishop M.K. Smith, of Christ Temple of Praise in Wilson, N.C., says speaking up about drug issues in the United States “is a passion of mine.”

Before he was a pastor he was an undercover detective in Washington, D.C., with long-term undercover assignments in the illegal drug marketplace. For 30 years, he has served as an expert witness in numerous drug cases.

When asked about cannabis he says, “God made it, it’s natural and I am 100 percent for it.”

Golden Hemp Leaf Award

Asheville-based cannabis attorney Rod Kight was the second speaker cheered upon taking the stage — twice.

The second time he was honored with the Golden Hemp Leaf Award for his efforts in establishing North Carolina’s industrial hemp industry.

During the conference, Kight updated the crowd on several active CBD legal cases currently being litigated in both federal court and in several state courts.

This week Kight published a wonky, and important, blog post explaining the current status of CBD and CBD products in the United States, and particularly in Ohio where a state regulator is threatening the industry.

Carolina Hemp Festival cooking demonstration by Cannifusion Chef MaZoe

Photo credit: Rod Kight via his Facebook page The Definitive Word on Weed

Bob Crumley, of Founder’s Hemp, also received a Golden Leaf Award at the Carolina Hemp Festival. From a statement posted to the company’s Facebook page:

Excited about the opportunity to receive this award, Crumley stated, “I am really pleased with the progression of the industry here in North Carolina. This award validates the movement for us here at Founder’s and the NCIHA. It excites me to be a part of developing a new industry in our state and to receive this reward is like icing on the cake.”

Founders Hemp was the first hemp processor registered in North Carolina.

Correction: An earlier version of this article failed to mention Crumley’s award. We apologize for that ommission.

Other Notable Speakers

Several notable speakers made presentations during the conference including N.C. state Rep. Kelly Alexander, Jr., multiple agriculture experts who offered tips for hemp farmers, and Dr. John Taylor, a pain specialist with Integrated Pain Solutions.

Alexander urged the audience to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections, reminding them that the last day to register to vote in North Carolina is Oct. 12.

Carolina Hemp Festival cooking demonstration by Cannifusion Chef MaZoe

Photo credit: Grant Baldwin

“For me, hemp is hope,” Taylor said, ” … it’s hope for our farmers and it’s hope for preventative healthcare.”

Dr. Taylor explained that most medical doctors aren’t taught about the endocannabinoid system as part of their education and that many have not independently researched cannabis. In addition to instructing the audience to share reputable cannabis research with their physicians, Taylor also encourages them to talk to their friends and neighbors about CBD. Then, he said, we need to encourage friends and family to spread the word themselves.

Why? Because, he explained, ” … we might actually have a solution to the opioid crisis and other medical conditions.”

He says word-of-mouth education — neighbors and family talking and educating themselves, “That’s the only way we’ll take back the power from the government and the pharmaceutical industry.”

“For me, hemp is hope,” Taylor said, ” … it’s hope for our farmers and it’s hope for preventative healthcare.”

Farm Tour and Festival

Reporter Kay Whatley, of The Grey Area News, attended the Carolina Hemp Festival’s farm tour and festival on Sat., Sept. 1. Here are her observations:

After two full days of learning, browsing and networking, on Sat., Sept. 1, 2018, the day began with a farm tour in Bunn, located in Franklin County, N.C. The tour was led by farmers Ben Miller and Harold Avery. After giving a talk on how his farm faired in growing hemp in 2017 and 2018, the group was shown the farm’s dryer then walked to a field of hemp to see the plants first hand, smell the skunky breeze and hear more details on their hemp farming experiences.

Following a question-and-answer session, everyone headed to the Festival portion — hosted by the Hemp Source NC’s Wendell store. The festival started with a gathering and discussion in the Hemp Source store, free pizza, face painting, live music, and many industry discussions and farming conversation.

Carolina Hemp Festival cooking demonstration by Cannifusion Chef MaZoe

Photo credit: Kay Whatley, The Grey Area News

Check out the conference hashtag #chfe2018 on Instagram and Twitter.

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BY Rhiannon Fionn

BY Rhiannon Fionn

Editor & Publisher

Rhiannon Fionn is an award-winning journalist based in Charlotte, N.C.