From hemp hotdogs to the first hemp futures market, a new engine for economies around the globe is born, crushing long-standing taboos around industrial hemp.

OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS, the legalization of industrial hemp in developed nations has slowly increased crop production and promotion of hemp materials for textiles, health foods and building materials. But even with that growth, the industry still faces some challenges, mostly spurred through U.S. regulation. However, the versatility of the crop and the recent legislation in the U.S. mean that the industry is promising for research, innovation and small-business development. The following company profiles highlight some of our top picks for industry leaders making great progress in this emerging market.


Family-owned and female-operated Kentucky Hemp Works grows and processes cold-pressed hemp seed oil, protein powder, salve, lip balm and fire-starter packs. The company has also increased demand for their harvested and processed hemp, providing material to local spirit distilleries, breweries and pet food makers. Founders Katie Moyer and her mother, Janine, do more than just grow and process hemp, they also help support the efforts of future hemp farmers through educational tours and advocacy. Through her work as a member of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, Katie has helped pave the way for Kentucky’s hemp legislative progress.


TreeFreeHemp provides hemp-blended paper products, custom hemp printing services and eco-friendly hemp packaging. Hemp products range from posters to DVD sleeves to calendars, as well as a host of other hemp-manufactured paper goods. TreeFreeHemp has also been steadily working on the development of the first USA-grown, processed and manufactured hemp paper brand for nearly two years, and they have almost reached their goal. Soon, TreeFreeHemp will be releasing “HempStalk” paper, Colorado-grown handmade artisan hemp paper, made with pure hemp pulp fresh from American soil.


SEED CX / Illinois /
Seed CX is helping to legitimize hemp as a commodity and economic driver in the U.S. by lessening the risk that new commodities face when they enter a shifting marketplace looking for a secure platform for their goods. SeedCX provides risk mitigation tools like derivatives contracts (futures, swaps and options) and a digital marketplace where industrial hemp participants can exchange products in a secure environment. SeedCX recently received regulatory approval from the futures and swaps market, the Commodities Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC), which was the first time a federal body has accepted hemp as a legitimate crop. The CFTC is a vital aspect of the U.S economy and system for businesses and investors to manage financial pitfalls, and hemp’s inclusion in the CFTC is a major milestone for the industry’s development.


Cannabis Activist Clothing is designed to stylishly support the validation of cannabis, including industrial hemp, as legalization of the plant makes its steady, sensible march across the world. Made with high quality fabrics – their most popular being manufactured with a blend of 55 percent organic hemp, 45 percent organic cotton – Cannabis Activist Clothing’s line includes everything from hats and T-shirts to sundresses and totes. The hemp fiber guarantees that materials will not shrink and all apparel is durable, breathable and water absorbent. The more these products are worn, the softer they feel.


HEMPORIUM / South Africa /
A provider of hemp textiles, clothing, body-care products, accessories, nutrition and construction materials, Hemporium imports raw hemp materials and works with local industry to produce products in small factories around Cape Town. Because South African law currently only permits industrial hemp production under stringently controlled research conditions, Hemporium’s founders, Tony Budden and Duncan Parker, say the company often finds itself in an identity crisis. But that hasn’t prevented them from making serious legislative changes in South African hemp policy. The two believe that hemp will do more than fit into an eco-niche in South Africa, but could become a life-saving staple for the masses.


SYNERMULCH / Alberta, Canada /
As a designer, manufacturer and distributer of hydraulic erosion control and vegetation establishment products, Synermulch uses a variety of materials including wood cellulose, wood fibers and bast fibers like hemp and flax. Located in the heart of Canada’s oil country and servicing markets like reclamation, industrial, commercial and residential, the company designs custom products specific to various industries. As Canada experiences its 20th anniversary of hemp legalization, the stigma of hemp in the country has diminished considerably making use of their products less taboo. As neighboring U.S. continues to legalize and accept industrial hemp as a viable resource, Synermulch’s market share will surely grow.


Victory Hemp Foods distributes their Kentucky-grown hemp food products to natural food retailers, direct to food manufacturers and through online sales. Their product line includes hemp oil, hemp protein powder, hemp hearts and hemp honey, with some other interesting products expected in 2017. Founder Chad Rosen says Kentucky’s hemp pilot program has been straightforward, but one of his customers and Victory Hemp Foods hit a roadblock earlier this year when they tried to obtain federal approval of a hot dog containing hemp seeds, hemp oil and hemp protein. Rosen explains that they worked with beef producer and Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie and, eventually, they received the USDA’s certification stamp of approval under one condition: the hot dog could contain other forms of hemp but not hemp protein powder. The product was previewed at the Kentucky State Fair in August last year.

Compiled by Annie Rouse, U.S. Fulbright Scholar and Founder of  Think Hempy Thoughts, LLC.
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