Over the past few decades, a number of industrial hemp associations have come to fruition around the world. The oldest of these is the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) here in the United States. The HIA was founded in 1994, and has been a powerful force for advocacy in the years since its inception. The organization played a helpful role in the policy work responsible for eventually re-legalizing industrial hemp in America through the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills.

In 2000, the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) was founded to represent the interests of farmers, processors, and industry operators in the Europe Union. And most recently, the Latin American Industrial Hemp Association (LAHIA) has been formed to lobby on behalf of the hemp industry’s efforts for nations like Brazil, Paraguay, and Colombia.

Industrial Hemp

It’s interesting to compare these country and continent specific trade associations, as they illustrate the multiplicity of perspectives and uses of industrial hemp in different jurisdictions around the world. For example, European farmers have been cultivating the crop for its fiber and grain for decades. As such, the EIHA has long been a unified voice for these interests to European Union policy makers. However, the market for hemp-derived cannabinoids in Europe is fairly nascent. CBD has been treated as a novel food, and the EIHA has been a vocal opponent of this designation, which effectively limits the compounds, and other hemp-derived compounds, application in the consumer market. Recently, the EIHA has made the case for increasing the allowable THC threshold to 0.3%, and has advocated for more progressive regulation of hemp leaves and flowers where THC is concentrated.

Compare the cannabinoid treatment in Europe and the EIHA’s response with the history of the HIA here in the U.S. Hemp-derived cannabinoids have been at the forefront of the U.S. hemp industry, and the HIA has been involved in two milestone court cases against the DEA, one in 2004 and another in 2018 on the legality of this compound. While the HIA has been a strong advocate for extraction and companies in the hemp-derived cannabinoid sector, other trade associations have been formed to focus on the policy needs of U.S. hemp farmers and other industry operators.

It just goes to show the differing policies, laws, and regulations comprising the global puzzle of the industrial hemp’s treatment worldwide, and the efforts that keep the industry moving forward.

Now, a new thought has come to light.

International Hemp Association

It was recently announced that the EIHA was determined to help facilitate the formation of an international hemp association to advocate for the industry before global authorities, like the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations. This would be the first hemp advocacy body that would educate, steer, and apprise international policy makers of the opportunities and challenges facing the burgeoning global hemp industry. I’ve said many times that the ecological and economic successes of industrial hemp as a global commodity will be bolstered by the recognition of international bodies and the resulting legitimization.

The mission of these global organizations is to align.

In order to align countries and continents in a unified way, you need a clear vision. That’s what will be demanded of an international hemp association – the leadership and mindfulness to grasp the whole picture and equitably convey that message to our global policy makers. Otherwise, we’re just spinning our wheels. It is with great anticipation that I sit back and wait to see the future unfold of this international hemp association. For now, it seems we’re waiting for the leaders with that clear vision to step forth. “I got me a violin, I beg you call the tune.”