FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
What: NoCo Hemp Expo presents three-day hybrid live/virtual event to celebrate the hemp industry.
When: Thursday, Mar. 25-Saturday, Mar. 27
Where: Renaissance Denver Central Park Hotel and National Western Complex
Denver, CO (March 30, 2021) — NoCo Hemp Expo made a triumphant return to Denver’s National Western Complex, March 25-27, after a year of COVID restrictions and cancelled events nationwide.
Over 240 exhibitors on two floors of the complex showcased the range of hemp applications — from botanicals to bioplastics, genetics to farm equipment, health foods to building materials, cars to guitars, textiles, and much more. Exhibitors and visitors mingled following Denver’s COVID-safe protocols. Despite hurdles and new rules and regulations, the NoCo team was able to open doors after two years to enthusiastic exhibitors and attendees.
Others participated virtually through the Whova app, which included maps, schedules, video presentation links and online community interaction.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis spoke Friday, calling the hemp industry a “Field of Dreams” that persevered in spite of adversity.
“If anyone is ready to plant the seeds for a rapid recovery and regenerate growth for future generations, it’s the hemp community,” Polis said.
Polis praised the dreamers and disruptors who helped craft the state’s hemp regulations and said hemp was a lifeline to Colorado farmers and businesses.
“That red, white and blue hemp flag that went up for Colorado Hemp Week on the west side of Colorado’s golden Capitol dome, a proud banner made from legalized industrial hemp,” Polis said. “Thank you for making history so we could fly our flag to honor it,” he added.
Thursday, the Investor Forum met at the Renaissance Denver Central Park Hotel. Friday’s expo focused on business, banking and regulation at the National Western Complex. Saturday, the expo was open to the public as Farm Symposium participants discussed the future of hemp grown for CBD, fiber and food.
“We have to change the energy of this planet,” said Morris Beegle, welcoming attendees. The president and co-founder of We Are for Better Alternatives (WAFBA) said hemp has an even larger role than ever to play in helping the Earth.
“In 2021, we can begin to change the world with this plant and this platform,” he added.
Visitors from across the United States and overseas mingled with exhibitors and speakers.
“Here we are, networking at last,” said retired organic chemist and Boulder hemp ice cream proprietor Agua Das Ellis who carried a cooler of his sweet treats over his shoulder. Das Ellis spoke Saturday about the use of hemp biochar as a carbon-capturing technology.
Husband and-wife Isluv Robertson and Dr. Dennis Sanders were attending from Jackson, MS., where they said they jumped on the first opportunity to grow hemp on their farm after the crop was finally legalized in the state.
“It’s great to be welcomed into a community that embodies our values and goals,” Robertson said.
Speakers were bullish on hemp, believing that the hemp industry in the United States can only grow bigger going forward.
“After a very long absence from in-person events, it was exhilarating to network in person with many of the industry’s leaders at the NoCo Hemp Expo,” said Garrett Bain, President of EcoGen and Chief Commercial Officer of Kadenwood, LLC. “I was excited to be a featured speaker along with two other members of our EcoGen team. You could feel the excitement in the air about the future for hemp-based brands and farmers. As a leading hemp company, EcoGen will continue to set high standards of leadership and innovation in the industry in 2021.”
On the Jack Herer Education Stage there was a 90 minute Diversify Hemp session, where Los Angeles-based “Hemp Twins” Noemy and Abigail Cuevas discussed their mission to bring social equity through business opportunities in hemp to neighborhoods in Los Angeles hard-hit by the War on Drugs, Noemy Cuevas said.
“We are first generation Latinas in the white-male dominated cannabis industry,” Cuevas added.
The twins displayed hemp outfits sewn by fashion students at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. They organized a virtual fashion show this year, which they shared at the Dion Markgraaff Materials Zone Stage.
“We are so grateful to be a part of such a well organized, professionally ahead of the game industry conference. It was run cautiously given our current state yet so smoothly. That is professional grace,” said Dawne Olsen of Colorado’s own Authentic Hemp Company.
Nancy Whiteman, a pioneer cannabis investor since 2010 with Wana Wellness, remained positive on CBD, even though the industry went “overnight from illegal to ubiquitous.”
“In spite of all the clutter, there remains a great opportunity,” Whiteman said.
Mike Fata, a founder of Manitoba Harvest and a pioneer in the hemp food and nutrition market, said he thought about 25% of U.S. households would buy hemp foods in upcoming years, up from 2%.
Attendee Ulas Ograk, a professor of agribusiness at University of Louisiana Monroe, came to NoCo to investigate his plan of growing hemp in the Louisiana Delta.
“They call I-10 in Louisiana the ‘cancer corridor.’ We want I-20 to be the ‘green corridor,” Ograk said.
Steven Gluckstern, CEO of Santa Fe Farms, rolled out a new lego-block hemp-building technology first developed in Canada by JustBioFiber. Gluckstern said he believed that the most important future role of industrial hemp was the opportunity for carbon sequestration, especially in the biochar market.
“This plant touches every sector on top of climate… We are defining an industry,” he said.
New Orleans builder Joel Holten, a member of the U.S. Hemp Building Association, said he viewed hemp as a means to “empower the people of the Gulf South” by teaching hemp construction techniques which he and architect Troy Verrett will be using on a new duplex in the gentrifying 7th Ward this year.
“When we build this model, we can take this anywhere,” Holten added.
International Hemp’s Terry Moran, a former Colorado Dept. of Agriculture specialist in the certified seed program, said the pieces were in place for seed and fiber hemp to move forward in the mainstream.
“Hemp has grown up now,” Moran said, adding a fork in the road will separate “people growing for fiber and grain from people growing for flower.”
“Certified seed and little or no regulation is what we’ll need if you want to see hemp grown on millions of acres,” he added.
NoCo Hemp Expo organizers said they’re already planning on improvements for the Southern Hemp Expo, held Sept. 2-4 in Raleigh, N.C., including more versatile digital signage and improved navigation and technology.
“This will be way more sustainable and provide better visibility for our sponsors,” said show director Morris Beegle.
About WAFBA and Colorado Hemp Company
We Are For Better Alternatives (WAFBA) is committed to researching and developing better alternatives so that hemp can once again thrive, prosper, and help individuals and communities throughout America and around the globe. The Colorado Hemp Company, the producer of the 7th Annual NoCo Hemp Expo (NoCo7), is a leading organization for the advancement and advocacy of hemp farming, processing, production, innovation, education, and legalization in the USA. The entire team is committed to researching and developing alternatives so that hemp can once again thrive and help individuals and communities throughout America and around the globe.
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