Joy Beckerman is the first woman to be both President of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and sit on the Board of Directors for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The founder of Hemp Ace International, a New York-based consulting, legal, and brokerage firm serving the global community, Joy has been a figurehead in the cannabis movement for over 25 years. An award-winning, fiercely committed activist, she works with lawmakers and regulators to reshape policy at all levels of government.
Honeysuckle caught up with Joy, first at Kaya Fest in southern California, where she invited us onto the famous Hemp Road Trip bus, and most recently at CannaGather, New York’s premiere networking community for the legal cannabis industry. At the latter, Joy addressed a crowd of over 225 excited spectators seeking to participate in this dynamic emerging market. Under her tutelage, they found out why our country is truly in the midst of the Hemp Revolution. (CannaGather itself is breaking barriers within the cannabis space, as the organization’s New Jersey branch is about to hold a landmark meetup in Trenton, in anticipation of the state’s vote on adult-use legalization.)
Below, see video footage from Joy’s keynote speech at CannaGather – and then read on for a conversation as rapturous as our interviewee’s name!
Watch Joy talk about hemp regulation and profitability at CannaGather:
She goes on to discuss the vast range of products that can be made from hemp and New York’s own Empire State Development Industrial Hemp Research Initiative:
HONEYSUCKLE: New York is now one of the country’s leaders in hemp production, right?
JOY BECKERMAN: New York is the only state that has invested $10 million in grant funds, through the Empire State Development Industrial Hemp Research Initiative. In July 2017, [Governor Andrew] Cuomo signed a law that was championed by hemp heroes, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Thomas O’Mara… That bill not only removed the cap of ten growers to an unlimited amount of growers, but it also [provided funds]: $5 million for hemp production and $5 million for hemp processing. Lots of that money is still available, so if folks are either wanting to relocate or expand their operations to New York, they are eligible for these grants.
Tell us about hemp’s most innovative, sustainable uses.
We’re talking about a plant that improves every single industry it touches. Paper, textiles, biocomposites, bioplastics and resins, industrial sealants and coatings, building materials… The game-changer is nanotechnology – the ability to create materials while customizing their atomic structure. We see it incorporated into electronics, telecommunications and so many other products we don’t even realize. Hemp stalk is 77 percent cellulose nanocrystals; these substances have higher strength than glass, aluminum or steel. And while graphite whiskers and carbon nano tubes are stronger than hemp cellulose, the latter is considerably low-cost, nontoxic, widely available and sustainable. Cellulose nanocrystals have excellent potential for automotive parts and conductive composites, but only Canada is exploring that so far.
Hempcrete is a building insulation made from the plant’s woody core. How does it help constructional sustainability?
It’s an ancient building material – a mold, rot, fire and pest-resistant insulation that lasts hundreds of years. It’s reusable or recyclable after the lifecycle of your building is done. A 12 to 18-inch-thick wall of hempcrete and lime, depending on the extremity of your climate, will give you a year-round interior temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit with no heating or cooling system. That’s with great windows, of course. This is also a tremendous game-changer because now over 50 percent of our landfills annually are consumed with temporary building materials. So not only are we negating that, and healing that, we’re sequestering carbon because the lime fossilizes over time and hempcrete starts to grab carbon molecules from the air… Now we’re having a smart income home that reduces the need for HVAC systems. Hempcrete is just the gift that keeps on giving on multiple levels. It’s also great for folks who are sensitive to electromagnetic frequency (EMF). We can add graphite mesh [to hempcrete] and make a home completely EMF-free.
What can individual consumers do to support the hemp revolution?
The greatest thing people can do is incorporate hemp into their daily lives – buy hemp, demand it. Make better choices. It’s [how we] show our lawmakers, folks in charge of economic development from local level all the way to the federal, that we want that supply here in America. We’re choosing health for ourselves and our families… And if we use regenerative agricultural techniques, if we are good stewards of the land, we can replenish the soil. We can reinvigorate the family farm and American farmers can participate in what is now truly a global industrial revolution.
You, like most people in the cannabis community, feel a spiritual connection to the plant. Do you think the plant loves us too?
I feel like we know it intimately, like the plant is in many ways our best friend. I believe that cannabis and humanity are much closer than people think, and I can’t wait for us to get more answers and do more research on what that relationship is. I’m excited to learn those answers.
Make sure to check out CannaGather New Jersey’s historic meetup in Trenton on October 30 featuring NBA star Al Harrington, founder of Viola Extracts and partner of Simply Pure NJ. Tickets and information are available on their site here. The next NYC event at Galvanize is on November 20, where the keynote speaker will be Mitch Baruchowitz, managing partner of Merida Capital. Tickets are available here.