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A Growing Hempire

Growing up with conservative parents isn’t easy.

When I broke up with my first high school boyfriend, I cried until my eyes turned red. My mom, thinking I was high, temporarily took away my phone until she realized what had actually happened.

So imagine my surprise when I returned home for spring break last year and discovered that my old bedroom had been transformed into a maze of fluorescent lights and hemp plants.

…but how did my mom complete a transformation bigger than my bedroom?

Over the past year, my mom has been planting, distributing and lobbying for hemp all over the country, and it started with my uncle. After genetically engineering a strand of hemp seeds called RN13, my uncle began searching for micro-climates that best fit the needs of the strand he had created, and Illinois was the perfect location.

Although it took a lot of convincing to even consider this undertaking and even more to begin the actual planting, my mom eventually reorganized her life to accommodate her hemp growing business.

Her massage therapy company took a backseat as my mom dove headfirst into the hemp industry. She started small, by learning about the seed and spending many careful nights investigating seeds under a headlamp and magnifying glass, until she could at last notice the difference between a good one and a bad one.

From there, my mother filled every spare inch of our basement with styrofoam cups, each containing one seed. When the plants sprouted, she transplanted them to a larger container, continuing this process until our two-acre field, formerly filled with hay, was covered in hemp.

In an average week, my mother spends between 20 to 60 hours tending to hemp plants, and that doesn’t take into consideration the countless hours she spends on the phone talking to local farmers and legislators.

Hemp has taken my mother to Kentucky, New York, Colorado and Springfield, Illinois where she met with state Sen. Dave Koehler and Rep. Mike Unes, who have been instrumental in orchestrating policies surrounding hemp farming in Illinois.

Although hemp has changed my mother in many ways, at the end of the day, she’s not a ruthless businesswoman. My mother grows hemp because she truly believes in the medical benefits it provides.

As of right now, the main use of hemp is CBD oil. According to medicalnewstoday.com, the main benefits of CBD oil include its use in therapy for epilepsy and its anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties, and CBD is just one property of hemp. CBN, a lesser researched and naturally occurring chemical in hemp, is currently being studied for the treatment of insomnia and other sleep problems.

My mom has always had an intense desire to help people, and hemp has allowed her to accomplish that on a larger scale than she ever thought possible. The places she’s been and the people she’s met along the way have opened her mind to many possibilities, and I’d like to think that makes my conservative, Christian mother a little cooler than most.

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