North Carolina farmers are turning over a new leaf, you might say.
“I didn’t think I’d be farming hemp two years ago,” says Waylon Saunders, with a chuckle.
Saunders farmed all the traditional stuff on his land south of Asheboro … corn, soybeans.
“It’s pretty much trial and error growing hemp,” Saunders says, because there’s no one around whose grown it, after it was banned by the federal government in 1937. “That’s one reason why we done such a small test area. We didn’t want to go big, like plant 10, 15 acres like we do soybeans or more. We just wanted to do something small, get some data, do some testing and then, maybe, try to go big next year.”
Bob Crumley is ready to go big, right now.
He began his quest to bring back hemp after he researched what could help cancer patients, in particular, after several close friends developed the disease.
And then he found a multitude of other good uses for the plant and began thinking about whether he should begin the crusade to bring it back.
“We did polling before we ever started on this journey because,” says Crumley. “I wanted to find out, are we Don Quixote, here, or is this really an opportunity?”
It turns out there is plenty of opportunity.
Crumley believe it will soon be bigger than tobacco is and cites how much we thought of it, in the past.
“They grew hemp on the White House grounds. Where the Pentagon is, right now, in the 1920s into the 1930s is where the government did its hemp research,” he notes. “Where hemp grew well, then tobacco grew well, now hemp will grow well, again.”
It was so big, the town we know as Robbins, N.C. today, was called Hemp, N.C. until the 1940s.
Sue McDuffie remembers those days. As she walks through town showing me the sites, I ask about the old Hemp Elementary School.
“It was in this school that you wrote the letter to Mr. Robbins?” I ask.
“Oh, yeah,” she says. “And the classroom was on the left-hand side of the building, about five classrooms down.”
In that classroom, McDuffie’s teacher had all the fifth-grade students write a letter to Karl Robbins.
Robbins was an immigrant from Ukraine who became a textile magnate and owned the mill that dominated the town of Hemp, at that time.
Once the plant was banned, the town moved to change the name to Robbins, after all he’d done for the town.
“She went to the blackboard and wrote on the blackboard, a letter to Mr. Robbins. And we all copied it, signed it – you know, our names – and she delivered it to Mr. Robbins,” says McDuffie.
Bob Crumley isn’t moving to change the town name back … but he’d sure like to see his company, Founder’s Hemp, grow to help many more people who can benefit from the ingredients that can be extracted from the plant.
“The most asked question I get from the news media is, ‘What in the world got an injury lawyer into hemp?’ says Crumley. “And it’s a legitimate question.”
See the answer, in this edition of the Buckley Report.