My blog is dedicated to the exploration of industrial hemp in America including the rich history of all forms of cannabis, the evolving law and politics of hemp and marijuana, the many products made from cannabis and the capacity, real or imagined, of hemp to re-industrialize rural America and revitalize the American family farm.
Andrew Follett, owner of Follett Health Solutions LLC with “Cannagenix” brand hemp seeds and Liberty Bar and Grill owner Steve Schwenk, who offers a pizza with the seeds on it. PETE BANNAN — DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
Andrew Follett is like many entrepreneurs in the area: young, energetic, with a burning desire to talk about his newest venture.
But unlike those who have created the latest app or video game, Follett has a public relations hurdle to clear before his startup can become a success.
That’s because Follett Health Solutions LLC sells the “highest quality hemp foods and ingredients, to retail, food service, bulk customer, as well as end consumer product manufactures.”
But before readers get the idea that Follett is pushing to legalize the use of marijuana in food products, he hopes they take time to educate themselves on a product that is as old as the nation.
“It is part of the American dream,” the 30-year-old Exton resident and father of one said last week during an interview at the Liberty Union Bar and Grill in Chester Springs, which uses one of Follett’s products on one of its most popular pizzas. “We never would have gotten our independence without it. We never would have had our liberty and freedom.”
According to supporters, George Washington grew hemp, as did Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on their lands.
While hemp and marijuana are two popular names for the cannabis plant, hemp contains very little of the THC compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive qualities.
And its versatility makes it one of the most valued, under-utilized plants available, said Follett, who is originally from Downingtown.
It can be used in flooring products, composite materials, plastics, paper, Hempcrete building materials, food products for human consumption, livestock and poultry feed, horse bedding, biofuels, land remediation, cover crops, and more.
Follett said there’s a company in Florida that has built an entire car with hemp while Nissan and Mercedes use it in door panels, he said.
Others are using it instead of fish oil products, which many people ingest to lower bad cholesterol levels.
“We literally can save our oceans,” Follett said. “There’s not an industry right now that can’t use hemp.”
Follett has chosen food products as his initial entree into the business.
His “Cannagenix” brand hemp foods include Hemp Protein Powder, Hemp Hearts, Toasted Hemp Seed and Gluten Free Hemp Flour.
Current customers span the spectrum, from organic ranchers in the Midwest, to restaurateurs on the East Coast, he said.
Locally, in addition to the Liberty Union Bar and Grill, Follett’s hemp-based products are found at the Nourish Juice Bar and Cafe in Kennett Square, the Station Taproom in Downingtown, the Lionville Natural Pharmacy and the Nourish Juice Bar and Cafe in Kennett Square. It’s also available on keystonecannaproducts.com and Amazon.com.
Liberty Union Bar and Grill owner Steve Schwenk said his restaurant features an all-American menu that includes dishes from each state. When an item from one of the states featured is particularly popular, it stays on the menu. Such was the case with the Colorado pizza, which features elk sausage and hemp seeds.
“It caught on, it has a nice crunch to it,” Schwenk said. “It’s one of the more popular items on the menu.”
While optimistic about the success of his current line, Follett has bigger hemp dreams.
One of Follett’s goals is to get Pennsylvania to join the other states that now allow farmers to grow hemp – the practice had been banned for about 80 years.
There are two bills awaiting votes in the Pennsylvania General Assembly: Senate Bill 50 and House Bill 967. Both bills attempt to align Pennsylvania law with current federal law, supporters say. The federal farm bill passed in 2014 allows farmers to grow hemp if they are affiliated with a university research program or are licensed by their state departments of agriculture — provided those states have passed pro-hemp legislation.
Follett has been licensed by the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Agriculture. He notes that interstate commerce involving hemp is still illegal, meaning he must import the hemp used in his products from Canada or Europe.
“My end goal in this journey is to have large acreage of a variety of hemp strains tailored to specific industry, and a processing plant capable of a broad spectrum of product-specific processing,” he said “I started my brand with many goals in mind ... I not only want to create the markets here in Pennsylvania for hemp products, I also want to create a national brand to give new ‘hempsters’ a starting point and product line to get hemp into their own local markets.”