By Morris Beegle
Welcome to my new Let’s Talk Hemp weekly industry profile – Shine on You – where I get to feature folks involved in the industry and who are doing important and interesting work from various corners and crevices of the hemp space. This week I have Blake Butler, Executive Director, of the Southeast Hemp Association. I’ve known Blake since 2015 as someone similar to myself who produces events, advocates for the plant, promotes the local, regional, and global hemp industries, and comes from a media and entertainment background. We both share a passion for bringing people together for education, networking, and collaborating, on how to grow and mainstream the hemp industry so it can have the impact we all know it is capable of.
Let’s get to know Blake a bit better and why he loves hemp!
Blake Butler has been involved in the political, business, and activist side of the industrial hemp industry in the South since 2014. Blake has organized hemp educational events in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky, and is a partner in the Industrial Hemp Summit, an annual B2B hemp event held in Danville, Virginia. Blake served as Executive Director of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association from Dec 2018 to Nov 2020 and is currently the Executive Director of the Southeast Hemp Association, a multi-state 501(c)6 trade organization.
When and why did you get into the hemp/cannabis industry?
In 2014 our PR firm got a call that a hemp energy drink was being taken off the shelves by a rogue County Sheriff in Western North Carolina. I immediately engaged in the issue and began organizing and educating others about hemp. We held our first free event, HempX Asheville, in September 2015
You are involved in non-profit work, can you tell us about the organization/organizations that you work with and what you do with them?
I am currently the Executive Director of the Southeast Hemp Association. The Southeast Hemp Association is a 501 (c)(6) trade association that currently represents growers, processors, retailers, and ancillary service providers and plans to coordinate with existing hemp trade organizations to ensure consistency in messaging and goals. We are focused on building the supply chain across the bioregion for the industry and promote best practices and standards for all facets of hemp, from plant to process to product.
What are your favorite products and/or attributes of the hemp/cannabis plant?
I love the resiliency, durability, and sustainability of the plant. I believe “future products” and new opportunities will push this commodity forward.
Do you have any current or upcoming projects you’re working on and would like to let folks know about?
We have some fiber projects coming online with members and area universities. We continue to invite the next generation of thinkers to innovate in the space which is greatly needed.
What legacy would you like to leave for the next generation from your work?
The one important lesson I have learned over the years is how important it is to “stay in my lane” working in the industry. We all have an important role to play as our industry continues to face multiple challenges – I say know your role to be most effective for everyone else.
What is your favorite hobby and who are your top 3 favorite bands/musical artists of all time?
I love trail running and hiking in the NC mountains. My 3 favorite music artists are the Clash, the Strokes, and A Tribe Called Quest.
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About Morris Beegle
Cannabis/hemp advocate and entrepreneur Morris Beegle is Co-founder and President of the WAFBA (We Are For Better Alternatives) family of brands. He is also the producer of NoCo Hemp Expo and Southern Hemp Expo as well as publisher of Let’s Talk Hemp. For additional information on what Morris is up to, visit his website at www.morrisbeegle.com and if you would like to get in touch, drop a message to firstname.lastname@example.org