The Cache TEAM Coalition hosted a cannabis and hemp summit on Monday at the Cache Valley Event Center, with professionals presenting on everything from academia and manufacturing to business development.
The summit’s aim was to educate and inform the public about the many uses of cannabis and eliminate the stigma surrounding the plant. Other contributors included Salt Baked Magazine, First Nation Sourcing and USU Extension.
Cindy Maughan, founder of First Nation Sourcing, presented a talk on the economic benefits of hemp.
“As we move forward to the future, I feel it’s like a computer chip,” Maughan said. “You’ll see it everywhere.”
Hemp can be used in almost every industry, from textiles and infrastructure to food production and the medical field. Maughan said that hemp seeds were the most nutritionally complete food source and even healthier than kale.
Maughan also showed off wood, paper and concrete all made with hemp.
“We spend half, half of our chemicals to make T-shirts white and paper white. Hemp makes it natural,” she added. Even the Declaration of Independence was drafted using hemp paper.
A panel of medical providers and professionals, including dispensary pharmacists and advocates, shared their experiences with cannabis and the benefits they’ve seen while working in the field.
Sam Warner, who works for Perfect Earth, an apothecary store in Logan, has a passion in tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. While it is the main compound in cannabis, THC also exists as oils, edibles, capsules and more.
“I feel like every drug I learned about in pharmacy school has a mechanism except THC,” he said. “Why doesn’t THC have a mechanism or action? It helps everybody.”
Warner also explained the benefits of THC, including preventing nausea from cancer medications and increasing appetite of people with AIDS.
“I’m really passionate about figuring out how everything works and really trying to help get people to see THC as a tool,” he added. “It’s not any different than anything else. It helps.”
Additional panels included talks from tribal and community leaders, data and research about growing hemp/cannabis and the benefits of using hemp in manufacturing.
Tyler Hacking, a student studying hemp at Utah Valley University, presented a compost he made using hemp that increased crop production. He also discussed the history of cannabis and how it became illegal in the United States.
“Not everyone in this industry is a guerilla growing criminal,” he said. “In fact, there is a lot of cannabis growing history here in Utah. Originally, it was a textile product. A lot of the lobbying against it came from the cotton industry, who essentially worked to villainize it so they wouldn’t lose the power they had for textiles and fabrics.”
Hemp was originally grown in the American colonies as a cash crop, but in the 1930s, bureaucrats painted the drug and communities who used it, such as African Americans or Mexicans, as a threat to an already suffering country. Hacking said there were racist and unethical intentions from the start.
As a part of his research, Hacking hopes to remove stigma around cannabis users and growers. Most people who use cannabis use it for pain, and his research showed that it is actually a gateway away from drugs. Alcohol use was the biggest factor to point toward harder drugs.
Additionally, most people who grow cannabis/hemp in Utah are Latter-day Saint families looking to make money. The legal cannabis industry made a whopping $17.5 billion in 2020 and experts expect it to grow to the trillions in future years.
“I care a lot about people — the only way to show that is to make sure they get what they need,” Maughan said. “It’s hugely important that we make the rules so it’s widely accessible to have these things.”
The hosts and coalition hope to have more of these conferences to spread their message to general public about the benefits of hemp and cannabis. The coalition states that proper policies will “accelerate jobs” in “agriculture, manufacturing, business/finance, engineering, software development, AI, nanotechnology and energy.”