MCC student Joseph Carrasco is working to legalize industrial hemp in Arizona through his agricultural non-profit organization, Hemp Our World (HOW). Motivated by environmental concerns the business and sustainability major co-founded HOW alongside his uncle, Christian Carrasco, in 2013.“We founded the organization because we saw things going on in our planet that we did not like,” Carrasco said. “When we found out all the positive benefits of industrial hemp for sustainable agriculture it was a no-brainer.” “We were sold on its positive attributes and wanted to inform as many people as possible about industrial hemp,” he said.
Among other things, Carrasco said industrial hemp can be used to help the community by being produced into eco-friendly products. “Hemp can be used for clothing, plastics, paper, housing materials, food and body products,” Carrasco said. “It is more sustainable for the environment than traditional sources of raw materials.” According to Carrasco, industrial hemp is a form of cannabis that is classified by the federal government as being different than marijuana. However, the cultivation of industrial hemp in Arizona is still illegal. So, in December HOW Arizona, the political action committee of Hemp Our World, submitted a pro-hemp initiative petition to the Secretary of State of Arizona.
“Our initiative petition is modeled off of Colorado’s hemp bill, it is totally legal for the farmers and also has some favorable points for the state of Arizona,” Carrasco said. Some advantages of legalizing hemp through the measure would be research and education, according to Carrasco. “Any college or university wishing to cultivate hemp for research will be able to and can also receive grants from the state to research the best variety of hemp for the state of Arizona and also research for an official Arizona heritage strain and seed,” Carrasco said. A sustainable institution would benefit the environment in return, said Carrasco. “As students we use a lot of resources throughout our four-eight years of college and universities, that countless amounts of papers, pencils, backpacks, snacks,” Carrasco said. “A lot of trees have to be cut down annually to support our heavy demand on said products, hemp can replace or be used with them all.”
According to Carrasco, the Arizona economy would get a boost from legalization. “The economic revenue generated within the United States in 2014 exceeded $500 million between all hemp products bought and sold,” Carrasco said. “The thousands of production possibilities for this one crop proves it to be a lucrative cash crop.” So far, the organization has received 500 of the 150,000 signatures needed by July 7, 2016 to pass. More signatures will be collected after HOW receives a special product Carrasco said he feels is true to his cause. “We are waiting for a shipment of hemp paper, we feel like it’s a fallacy to circulate on tree paper when we are preaching sustainability.”
Aside from the traditional petition circulation, Carrasco and his organization plan on attending events around the state to spread the word. “We are going to be doing a presentation at the Illuminate Film Festival special screening for the movie ‘Bringing It Home’ which is all about industrial hemp’s history in America,” Carrasco said. “We are also organizing another event by early March at The Firehouse Gallery in downtown Phoenix.”
Overall, Carrasco said the industrial hemp movement is important to him because of his respect for the environment. “Hemp Our World isn’t trying to tell people to consume less; all we are saying is let’s change the way we consume with hemp, it is better for our environment and can make everything we can ever need,” Carrasco said. To volunteer or to help circulate the petition please contact Joseph at JCarrasco@HempOurWorld.org or for more information visit hempourworld.org.