When You Partner With Mama: Industrialized Hemp
The growing industrialized hemp industry is proving destructive to the land and the indigenous communities who live where much of the budding cash crop is grown. Some cannabis companies are choosing to do the right thing, and making mama proud.
Hemp is the go-to product for people who want to exude a natural lifestyle and value eco-friendliness. But little do many hemp consumers know, the mass production of hemp around the globe has had devastating effects on indigenous communities where fertile soils are attracting huge companies to develop sprawling hemp farms.
The Overlooked Communities Affected by Market “Greenwashing”
All companies are particularly careful about their public image and for decades advertisers have been pulling on our emotions to sell us their brands. The cannabis market is no different, and companies know their customers value environmentally friendly and sustainable products. Fair trade, organic, and eco-friendly are more than just buzzwords.
This is where “greenwashing’ comes in, or the term used to describe deceptive market practices that convince buyers that a product is socially and environmentally friendly when in reality they are not. In Colombia, the indigenous community of the Misak people have long opposed the cannabis industry wreaking havoc on their lands and leaving its citizens in the dust.
Colombian villages have suffered decades of injustices stemming from illegal production of marijuana and the drug trade that puts the profits from cocaine and heroin over the lives of the people who live there. The area has been notorious for growing fields of poppies.
Starting this year though, many of the ills of illegal marijuana trade will be rectified. Colombia’s Misak people are the country’s first indigenous community licensed to produce medical cannabis. One woman in particular can be given the credit for most of the social equity in Columbia’s cannabis market– Liliana Pechene She is Director of Indigenous Relations of the
Misak people in the southwestern region of Colombia known as Popaya. And she signed an exclusive agreement with One World Pharma on behalf of the Misak people.
Columbia’s quota to fulfill 44% of the global medical cannabis demand had giant companies vying for acres in the communities they care little about. At a time when climate change and social equity are important to many people, companies like One World Pharma leading the industry will leave other companies no other choice but to get with the times and do the right thing.
Cannabis Company Partners with Indigenous Communities
Liliana Pechene is a 2019 recipient of the Elinor Ostrom Award, made possible by the Ford Foundation, for her work in social justice for indigenous communities and her work in places within Columbia, Latin America, Scotland and Indonesia.
More specifically, for her Plan de Vida. As the award website describes it; her life’s work aimed “to support communities to protect their territories and cultures through widely teaching and disseminating innovative approaches to relearning collective memory, deepening collective consciousness, and on the basis of this, visioning, planning and putting into practice” her approaches to social equity.
“By sharing our Misak approaches and methodologies, my work will contribute to helping these communities rebuild their collective memory, to strengthen their collective consciousness and to determine their own futures. This is the only hope we have of saving our mother Earth, the ancient peoples of this earth, and humanity.” Pechene says on the site.
A leader and former governor in her indigenous Misak community, she negotiated on behalf of her people to work with cannabis and hemp company One World Pharma to produce fields of hemp in Colombia ensuring they simultaneously give back to the community as part of their business model.
Pechene came up with a way that would benefit the small community of Misak people as much as it would benefit one of the largest and fastest growing industrial hemp companies in the world. Historically, this is unheard of and for the future of cannabis and indigenous communities everywhere, this is extremely significant as it sets a standard to be met by other companies that want to stay competitive in the market and make consumers happy.
Making Mama Proud
One World Pharma boasts being a certified Fair Trade Company, a label usually co-opted by small scale coffee roasters and high end apparel. This means they are dedicated to the Misaks, their land and traditions, and their futures.
One World provides the seeds to grow the hemp, and buys back the raw material once it is ready for harvest. The Misak citizens work the farms and production and are able to strengthen their economic infrastructure. Above that, they even issued shares of the company to the Misak people, proof of investing in the community without whose land the company would not be able to operate so successfully.
Their plans are to reverse the damages large scale and illegal operations have had in that corner of the world and beyond while helping indigenous communities reap the benefits as the industry grows.
What Does This Mean for the Future of the Cannabis Industry?
From being rooted in community, to eliminating the abundance of plastic in cannabis packaging and using socioeconomic and environmentally sustainable methods of operation, these trends are inevitable. The industry can’t flourish if consumers catch on to the greenwashing many companies have relied on to trick people into being customers.
When one of the largest global cannabis companies does something, the rest of the world pays attention. That One World Pharma has taken the initiative to work with a small indigenous community in order to supply nearly half of the world’s medical cannabis needs means every other company will eventually fall in line.