By Morris Beegle
Welcome to my 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 Jason Amatucci, President of the Virginia Hemp Coalition. Jason came to NoCo2(2nd Annual NoCo Hemp Expo) in Loveland when we moved over to the Ranch Events Complex in 2015. Since that time I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with Jason around the country and most notably in Cologne, Germany, for the EIHA Conference in 2018 and Queen with Adam Lambert, Live At Lanzess Arena. .
Let’s get to know Jason a bit better and why he loves hemp!
Jason’s passion for natural remedies & sustainable development and assisting the re-emergence of the American agricultural sector has been eternal. Through the years, Jason has been a primary drafter & editor of all hemp related bills passed in the Virginia General Assembly. He has also assisted advocacy at the federal level with the Industrial Hemp Farming Acts and Farm Bills in the United States Congress. Jason earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia with a double major in anthropology and political science & earned a Certificate in Global Studies from the Center for the Study in Global Issues on a study abroad program in Italy. In his free time, Jason enjoys cooking & pairing good food and wine together. You can find him on the ski slopes in winter and on the golf course or a hiking trail in the warmer months. Jason is a rabid college basketball & football fan – his favorite teams are the Virginia Cavaliers & the Georgia Bulldogs.
When and why did you get into the hemp/cannabis industry?
I got started with the hemp industry in college at the University of Georgia. I sold hemp wallets, backpacks, purses, and checkbook covers when people actually wrote checks (that should date me, haha) on campus. My mom still uses her hemp wallet, and it still looks great, a true testament to the strength and lasting qualities of the hemp fiber. In those years I started to get into cannabis activism and was very active locally promoting hemp and pushing back on the insanity I saw with the cannabis laws in general, especially in Georgia. We (cannabis activists) tried and tried to get some legislative movement in the late 90’s and early 2000’s as Canada and Europe were gaining on us year after year but all we could get were “studies” and things that didn’t legalize or protect the industry from the dark cloud of being classified as a schedule one controlled substance. That of course all changed with the 2014 Farm Bill.
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 founded the grassroots hemp advocacy organization the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition in 2012. We renamed it the Virginia Hemp Coalition in 2020. I have spent my time focusing on educating lawmakers and administrations in Virginia and at the US Capitol/White House, and being directly involved in drafting/editing legislation and getting those laws passed that make a difference in reversing the erroneous prohibitions and regulations placed on hemp. We have been very successful so far and currently we are in the process of keeping our lawmakers in the General Assembly and those in the Governor’s administration honest and accountable to promote freedom and free markets when it comes to Virginians inerrant cannabis rights.
What are your favorite products and/or attributes of the hemp/cannabis plant?
The fact that cannabis has so much mystery, intelligence, and synergy with humans that we have just begun to understand. The plant provides for us in so many ways. Cannabis is one of the most intelligent plants in the world and it is continuously evolving for the benefit of humans as we extend our relationship with it. It’s exciting to know that in the future we will learn much more about just what makes this plant so giving and beneficial to mankind. There is no doubt that the draconian cannabis prohibition days are numbered and that will allow for another renaissance for this valuable resource.
Do you have any current or upcoming projects you’re working on and would like to let folks know about?
The 2023 US Farm Bill is coming up and we have a huge legislative session in early 2022 here in Virginia that will greatly impact the future of cannabis laws and regulations in the Commonwealth, so we are asking for all hands-on deck to get our inherent cannabis rights back where they belong, respected and intact. I am also working on some other big things in the plant medicine world and 2022 may be the year they go public, stay tuned.
What are your 3 favorite places in the World you have traveled to?
Yellowstone National Park (lived there a few years)
Cinque Terre, Italy
What legacy would you like to leave for the next generation from your work?
Keep your focus on what is important and stand your ground when its important. Don’t get caught up too much with the ego side of this work or the quick riches side of it as well. I’ve found the folks who do the most good in the cannabis realm do it for the most pure reasons and many times folks don’t know about it or know the whole story. Also, would give advice to the next generation that amassing fast money or market share in the cannabis industry which is also equated for “success” as a goal for the current majority in this “gold rush”, isn’t always everything it’s cracked up to be.
What is your favorite hobby and who are your top 3 favorite bands/musical artists of all time?
Favorite hobby is hiking/camping. And 3 top (that’s a hard one because of the 3 I have about 30) favorite artists are: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Alpha Blondy & Pink Floyd
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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