Hemp: A Win-Win Formula For Economy & Environment, Here's Why

This article was originally published in September 2020.

This week's Benzinga Cannabis Hour featured Last Prisoner Project's Steve DeAngelo; Hoban Law Group's Bob Hoban; and The People's Dispensary's Christine De La Rosa (link to video below).

Co-hosts Patrick Lane and Javier Hasse guided the conversation across a wide variety of topics. Here's a breakdown of what was discussed.

Steve DeAngelo, Founder, Last Prisoner Project

Steve DeAngelo is perhaps one of the most renowned leaders in the sector. Touted as the "Father of the Cannabis Industry," the LPP founder is indeed a multihyphenate: speaker-activist-advocate-entrepreneur-educator.

He kicked off the conversation by making a case for a hemp-based economy.

"We can wear hemp clothes. We can eat hemp foods. We can start driving this hemp economy forward," he said. Why? The environment depends on it.

"For every hectare of hemp that we harvest, we sequester 22 tons of atmospheric carbon," he said. "If we make hempcrete out of that harvested hemp, then the hempcrete — as it dries — will sequester additional carbon, and once harvested, that industrial hemp crop can be used to produce anything that's currently made from cotton, or petroleum or trees."

In DeAngelo's view, a hemp-based economy coupled with a plant-based diet are the two "most immediate changes" that consumers can make in their lives in order to forestall climate change.

DeAngelo also stressed the importance of LPP's mission: decarcerating cannabis. The organization provides a variety of services to those who have been incarcerated with cannabis criminal records, including job training and housing so they're not forced into circumstances that may lead them back to prison.

"Not many Americans realize it, but we incarcerate a larger proportion of our population [more] than any country on Earth — yes, including China, North Korea, Russia etcetera," DeAngelo said. "Five percent of the world's population, we have 25% of the world's prisoners. That's a travesty in 'the land of the free' and 'the home of the brave.'" 

Bob Hoban, Founder & President, Hoban Law Group

Hoban provided viewers with a flavor of what his firm does best. Turns out, there are a lot of focal points. 

The law veteran works personally with about six or seven different clients throughout the course of the year.

"Most of what I do now is provide them strategy and advice," he says. 

He also serves as interim or active CEO to a number of different companies, aiding them in policy, strategy and investment: "Usually my last job is to replace myself."

Among Hoban's practice areas include regulatory divisions around hemp and marijuana; tax and securities; as well as intellectual property, trademarks and patents. 

"Finally there's our global practice, which is really a hodgepodge of great lawyers who understand this space and other jurisdictions," he said.

What's Hoban's biggest challenge? Finding lawyers in other jurisdictions that want to work in the cannabis space.

"When you approach them, they say 'Cannabis? I'm not a criminal defense attorney... that's not a real industry,'" he said. "You show them the numbers and walk through it, and then their eyes open up."

Christine De La Rosa, CEO & National Co-Founder, The People's Dispensary

Flanked by Christmas lights (because "it's 2020... it's a dumpster fire"), De La Rosa provided insight into her unique story. A pulmonary embolism from undiagnosed lupus in 2010 led her to rely on pills and opioids for treatment.

By 2015, De La Rosa still had trouble walking and coping with the pain. She asked: "What happens to me when I'm 60? How many pills do I take... just to be able to get up out of bed?"

That's when she began looking for alternatives and discovered CBD and cannabis.

A Women Grow conference "changed my world," she said. She found her regimen, stopped taking pills and has been in remission for five years thanks to cannabis treatment.

The experience inspired her to launch The People's Dispensary and help others like her. 

"It was so important to me to make sure that people in general, but specifically people of color who have been demonized around this drug and are afraid of it, understand that this actually is an alternative way to treat your illness that's holistic, and doesn't put you addicted to opioids," she said. "And that's how we started."

The Benzinga Cannabis Hour is produced every week and brings together top executives, entrepreneurs, and experts from all corners of the cannabis industry. Each show features three or more guests from a broad spectrum of expertise in cannabis.

To tune in, stream the episode below; click subscribe on the official Benzinga YouTube channel; or visit BZCannabisHour.com.

Cannabis Hour is also published on most major podcasting platforms, including Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Pocket Casts, and more.

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