Joe Hickey‘s long term history in the hemp industry started in 1992 with the discovery of the 1942 articles of incorporation for a long time, dormant Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative, Joe renewed the charter and became its founder and executive director in 1994.
The same year after meeting with Joe, Kentucky governor, Brereton Jones established the Kentucky hemp task force to research hemp’s economic opportunities for rural farmers.
In this episode, Joe shares his journey including how he worked with celebrities and other well-established folks inside of the space to create a movement that is now part of the country’s mission to legalize and standardize the hemp and cannabis movement.
My vision is these small factories, making plastics will start building houses with concrete, the hemp concrete. – Joe Hickey Sr.
Some Topics We Discussed Include:
[3:03] – The discovery of 1942 articles that lead to his journey to cannabis
[10:22] – Governor Louie Nunn representing Woody at trial
[32:31] – How involved is Woody still with the projects
[39:04] – Risks of growing hemp without a contract
[51:30] – Where to find more information about Joe and his venture
People Mentioned / Resources
Connect with Joe Hickey Sr.
Connect with Sonia Gomez
Sonia Gomez: Good morning, everybody. This is Sonia Gomez coming to you from Denver, Colorado. This is another rock star episode, didn’t even know it, of The Hemp Revolution. In today’s episode, we are going to be visiting the story and the long term history of Joe Hickey in the hemp industry, which for him started in 1992.
With his discovery of the 1942 articles of incorporation for a long time, dormant Kentucky hemp growers cooperative. He renewed the charter and became its founder and executive director in 1994. The same year after meeting with Mr. Hickey, Kentucky Governor Brereton Jones established the Kentucky hemp task force to research hemp’s economic opportunities for rural farmers.
Much much more to come on that in today’s story including how he worked with celebrities and other well-established folks inside of the space to create a movement which is now part of the country’s mission to legalize and standardize the hemp and cannabis movement give a nice warm welcome to our good friend Joe. Hey Joe How are you?
Joe Hickey Sr.: How are you doing Gomez? I mean Sonia
Sonia Gomez: Okay my best friends call me Gomez so I’ll take it.
Joe Hickey Sr.: Well I grew up with eight boys and one girl so mother was always going John, Tim, baby oh my god, Tom, Jim whoever you are quit it. So I’ve got where I just about answered anything.
Sonia Gomez: I’m the same way, my mom likes, and there’s like a click in between each, Sonia tsk uh, Alethea. I absolutely love it. Joe. We were just having a little offline conversation about how excited I was to have this conversation. Kentucky has been a major major player in the hemp space for a significant amount of time now I feel the rest of the country is finally starting to catch up.
But you were instrumental in sort of creating the entire movement in Kentucky. Can you share with us a little bit about your journey and bringing the conversation to life and now pushing, this movement forward in your state?
The Discovery of 1942 Articles That Lead to His Journey to Cannabis
Joe Hickey Sr.: Well, and I want to give credit to Gatewood Galbraith. Gatewood for years and years before I got involved was you know, trying to legalize recreational and medicinal cannabis in the state. But when I got involved in 92, I had found the Kentucky Hemp Growers Co-Op in this bound up newspapers.
Back then the way that they would, you know, like now we just back it up or take screenshots, but they would bind up a whole month’s worth of newspapers. So they had 12 books every year.
And so I just happened to be going through this one of the books back in from I think was ’42 and where F.G. clay was resigning from the Kentucky Hemp Growers Co-Op to go to Washington DC to run the hemp for victory programme at the behest of Roosevelt. So, when I saw that because we have the Kentucky Hemp Growers Co-Op. And I was thinking tobacco Co-Op, hemp Co-Op, you know, this is crazy.
You know how little things can change the whole history or the trajectory of where you end up in life. - Joe Hickey Sr. Click To Tweet
And so the more I looked into it, actually I went to Frankfort to see if I could find the regional Corporation papers and you know how little things can change the whole history or the trajectory of where you end up in life. And I went in and asked him he said, we don’t have it in our computers, you know, and he kind of looked at me like I was a stoner but you know, I didn’t have long hair and but he was kind of confused because back then hemp and marijuana were synonymous.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah. Today we sell startle with that.
Joe Hickey Sr.: Yeah, but not as much. And so I said, Well, thanks. You know, so I’m leaving. And in, in the capital, they have the real wide hallways, and I guess maybe 30-foot ceilings. And so I’m walking down the hallway away from the Secretary of State’s office. And I hear something I don’t know, I just heard something.
I didn’t know if it was for me or what but I turned around and stuck my head back in the door. And I said, Did you say something? He said, Yeah, what year was that? And I said 42 and he said, Well, there wouldn’t be in our computer system anyway, that would be down in the archives. He said, Give me your name and phone number and I’ll check over the weekend because it was Friday afternoon.
And it was one of those has via taken three or four more steps I wouldn’t have heard it and my life would have been completely different. So Monday morning at nine o’clock, I get this phone call and it’s going “yeah, I found it, I found all this right. You know, you just whoa whoa, who is this? He said its Jerry Oh was Secretary of State’s office. He said I found all the corporation records for the co-op.
So I went over there, he gave me the tax records. I mean, he had all these records from the original co-ops. And there was I think, 19 people signed on the co-op original records. And so I took him to a friend of mine whose dad had the largest family on tobacco company in the world at the time. And his dad, you know, was in the ’40s is when his business was really booming.
And so he looked over the names and he was going, Joe said, this is the who’s who in agriculture back in the 40s. So now I’m really interested because now the top people in agriculture are starting this Co-Op, so the more I looked into it, started gathering found out my grandfather grew hemp and my friends Stop to their grandparents. They grew hemp.
And so then I found some old equipment in Paris, Kentucky found all these old records where the Navy was buying hemp from the spears company in Paris, Kentucky. He still had some of the old equipment that we brought some of these antique tractor guys that you know collect and refurbish equipment.
A man brought one of their tractors with those belts on them. And it cranked it we cranked equipment back out for the first time in probably 60 years or 70 years. And so that I collected all this information had all these pictures had all the information that was happening in Europe.
I talk with Ian Low and in England who was getting ready to grow it. I talked to Moshiri Matou who was the minister of hemp in France, and then they were starting to petition the Canadian government. There’s guy Joe Strobel and Jeff Cam. And so I talked to them. And so now I’ve got all this information.
And again, one of these serendipitous things because I never just turned on the radio and listen to it around the house. And for some reason, I turned the radio on and heard this notice Brereton Jones was going to have an open door for so if you want to talk to the governor about anything, you could just go in and sit down and talk to him. Great idea. You know, it’s a shame more people don’t do that.
Anyway, so I’ve, you know, talked my wife into going over with me and we sit down with the governor and I laid all this stuff out and at the end the conversation piece of Joe if you were Governor, what would you do with all this information? And if it was me I’ll form a task force to look in to see if what you’re, you know what I’m telling you is true or not in sweat.
I have no doubt that what you’re telling me is true, and it’s not really that Governor, it’s more the public perception. You know, if you have a task force, it looks into it, then it gives more validity to, you know, to what’s being fed. So that started the task force that was in ’94. And that same year, because the couple year before that, you know, we started going to farm bureau meetings, and you know, we’re getting publicity out there for the co-op.
And so the phone rings one evening, one afternoon, and it was Woody Harrelson. And so Woody called up and he said, I’ve heard about what you’re doing. I’d like to come in and meet you and see how it can help. So that was on a Tuesday evening. And so he came in on Thursday, and then he called his wife that evening and had Laura and Danny at the time, who’s 24 now 25 now, she was a year old then.
And so they came in and stayed a few more days. And then, you know, we started working together. And for the next two years, we went to get to the National Farm Bureau meeting and get support the National Farm Bureau of labour, we went in and just tried to educate as many as we could. And so we got their support, and we were getting all this PR.
Governor Louie Nunn Representing Woody at Trial
And then I came up the idea because of planting seeds in Kentucky because they had passed so all that in federal law, they have an exception for hemp, you know, they say is this except for those stocks and seeds and all this? Kentucky had gotten perturbed I guess, with Gatewood and his perennial run for governor and trying to shake up the system. So they took out that part of the law, so it made hemp illegal, completely, so there was no exception.
So what did I came up with the idea of let’s plant four hemp seeds because goes five was a federal crime not federal but it was the misdemeanour with four and it was a felony if you were if you planted five seeds
Sonia Gomez: So you guys planted four?
Joe Hickey Sr.: So got what a plant for seeds got locked up. And then that started a four-year journey through the court system. And so we had hearings. You know, I think we had four or five hearings in the thing. And we, we had an agreement with the prosecutor that if anything happened, or you know, if we won that they were going to take it, pill it to the next court, and if we won, we would appeal it so we were going to appeal it to try to change the law.
So the court system for four years and finally the Supreme Court, reprimand it back to the district court for a hearing, for a trial. So at the trial, I got former Governor Louie Nunn to represent Woody, it’s trial and does the closing arguments. And it was so funny. So now when he goes you can’t, you know, jury nullification is?
Sonia Gomez: I did only because I have those kinds of conversations. But for our listeners explain.
Joe Hickey Sr.: What notification is when you tell the jury this law is wrong, and you’re the last bastion to say the laws wrong. And, they’ve stopped that you can’t do that anymore. The courts won’t let you say that you can’t put the law on trial. King is the governor. Former governor of Kentucky and he just was doing it, he was going you know, you guys are the last you know, if the law is wrong, you guys are the ones here that you know, can make it right.
And so he was doing that, and the judge wouldn’t stop betting, man, I’d given him a hemp bar that I had. And I said, if you can think of some way to use this, you know, you have it. And sure enough, you know, he’s at one point, he just pulled that pant bar out and says laying down the jury. He said I’ve got a hemp bar here. And he says, with permission of the court, and he starts opening, didn’t ask for permission is assuming permission of the court. You know, he didn’t look the judge. They cannot, you know, he opens it up and takes a bite of it. And he says, we’re laying down the jury, you know, and he’s chewing it up, you know, looking at the jury back and forth, and pieces and took a big swallow of it. there that I’m looking back voices.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, jury. He said, I’ve got it on me and I’ve got it in me. He said so if you’re going to convict this man right here, that you’re going to have to convict me too. And you say they had that reaction or just like whoa, and then the Last thing he did when he was closing his argument because the prosecutor’s already has gone first said that you know Woody was only doing this legalized marijuana.
So the governor is walking kind of in front of the prosecutors’ table. And he’s going, you know, my esteemed colleague, the US prosecutor here says that the only reason that my clan is here, you know, he said, Mr. Harrelson is here is because he’s trying to legalize marijuana, and, you know, the prosecutors looking down and lightning-like he’s writing notes and stuff.
And he said, pass out that for one minute, he took his hand and just slammed it down on the table. And he said I’d be sitting at this table right here. prosecutors had a job, you know, struggled him. And you can see all the, you know, the jurors were like, Whoa, and that’s how close that was his closing argument or statement, and so the jury goes out. They come back in it exact, I looked at my watch it was [4:20].
Joe Hickey Sr.: They come out, and I’m looking at them come out, and they’re all looking, you know, because I’m sitting next to Woody, they’re all kind of looking this way. Now they know Woody, it’s not guilty. And he went, how could you know it’s not guilty? So how could you possibly know that? I was going because they’re looking at you. And they said they will be looking at you if they voted to find you guilty. So they found him not guilty.
And so that was in 2000. And then so in 2000, because we had had, we tried to get a bill passed, probably, I think, for the last two years before that. And so in 2001, we went back again. And what we were doing, Sonia, we were having this bill was going to be a research bill for University, university research, because we knew that there was no way that you can’t vote. University you can’t work Kentucky you don’t know what we’re going to do.
But as an aside, what was what I thought was funny, as Mark Twain said, when I die, I want to be in Kentucky because everything happens 20 years later there. So But anyway, so we go to Frankfort, and now we’re loving again. And we’ve got all this publicity, Woody had paid for survey by the University of Kentucky that showed that 78% of Kentuckians were somewhat or strongly in favour of allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp.
So we were using that and family looked like we were going to get enough votes. So we met with David Williams, who was the head of the Senate and we told him we think that we might be able to get enough vote for this to pass. And he’s worth it. If you do, I’ll let it hit the floor. So we finally got our list together and we had enough votes for the majority to pass. And he wouldn’t let it hit the floor. It was like, you know, it just a day after day and nothing was happening.
So I went and met with Governor Nunn who is only like 20 minutes from Frankfurt. And so I sit down with the governor. And I told him, I said, you know, David Williams said that he will let us hit the floor, got come up for a vote, if we had the votes. And so he’s not doing it.
Sonia Gomez: So you snitched on him.
Joe Hickey Sr.: he blind us, you know, saying that he would do that. And so, the governor said, Are you sure you had the votes and I went sure. And so we had developed these pop in the car and so we go jump in a car and I’m telling you, Sonia, if you ever you know he’s passed away now but I mean if you ever were riding with him he drives like 90 miles an hour before he goes. cars pulled him over I’ve been there we got pulled over for and they just look in there and I see the governor going down there tomorrow slow this thing down but
Joe Hickey Sr.: we get over to David’s office, walk-in and he just walked right past the Secretary and you know reaching for the door and says, “government, the senator has somebody in there waiting.” And it’s good. But that’s fine. You know, you sound like nothing so Joe just waits here for me. So he goes in and five minutes later this guy walks out and then another 5-10 minutes later he walks out looks at me and said let’s go.
And so we walk down the hall he said it’s gonna be hard on the floor. So the next day It was called up and voted on. And it passed because it already passed through the house. We already had support in the house. And it passed.
And the one thing that really made a difference is when we drafted the bill. After we drafted, I looked at everything I had the forethought to add one sentence to it. It says Kentucky hereby adopts any and all federal rules or regulations pertaining to industrial hemp. Juan Sanchez, it was an Oculus, you know, the only thing you could say it, it’s a federal government’s basic legal as it then we adopt the rules and regulations.
So fast forward to 2014 when the farm bill passed, we didn’t have to do anything because we already had a research bill set in place. All we had to do is have the KDA do the basic ground rules for it. So we were the first ones to get hemp seeds in-ground and we ended up suing the DEA because they were stopping our seeds from coming in. And what we end up doing is in that I think that was the second year.
The first year we get the seeds that we planted was seeded were named Danny was afterward his daughter, because we had a company in Canada that we had started in ’98 and we shutdown in 2002. We were growing hemp, harvesting the seed, the quarter k with a record Acadian factory set up and we’re making fibre, bales of fibre and then we’re taking those bales with fibres and turning them into this madding that we’re making big, big roles of madding that we were selling to ending bile composite.
And every time you want to cross the border because it said cannabis on it or hemp they were south of that to Boulder. And sometimes they would unload it, sometimes they wouldn’t. But Indiana biocomposite was an arm pan manufacturer, so it had to be there, you know, on time or you shut all these other lands down. So after we got stopped a few times and missed our schedule, they just said, Look, we can operate like this, you know, if you guys are going to continue to get stopped by the government, there’s nothing we can do.
So, they stopped us from sending hemp seed. We had a contract to sell hemp seeds of the birdseed companies, they stopped us because it was a live seed. It was just one thing after another so they basically just ran us out of business. But the good thing is we had that seed that we had developed up there so we brought the seeds and I won’t say we smuggled them in but you know we just shipped them in FedEx.
Joe Hickey Sr.: Yeah. And so that was the first seed that we planted. And so that first year, I think we had like, four or five acres that year. And then the next year when we were going to plant this other seed that was imported, but they were stopping the seed from coming in. So we filed a lawsuit against the DEA, and it basically came down to they weren’t in negotiate, because we were saying that the Farm Bill, basically, it says notwithstanding, so it meant no other law could override this, you know, this legislation.
And so our argument with a federal judge as they don’t have standing because, you know, the notwithstanding in the farm bill, and so the judge kind of looked at the US prosecutors and said he looked at He said, You got to go back in the other room, sit down and make a settlement. So he was basically saying, look, you know, he wasn’t saying I’m a rule against you, but that’s basically he was saying, I think you better go later.
So, what they did was the head of the KDA because everything had to go through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and we were all so soon because they were saying that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture had to be the one growing it. And the KDANS were saying, you know, we’ll be agents of the KDA and grow it. And so there we go. Now KDA has a roll and so that was another one of the things that we were, you know, having allows it over so it came down to agreement.
Okay. We’ll let you grow. will let you have these farmers to be agents of the KDA but we want you to file an import permit. Basically, they just want to still have control of the importation of control. So I didn’t like the deal.
But if we hadn’t got the seeds, because it was already late, because they were holding it, but they finally capitulated, gave us the seed, and we agreed to do the permit for growing, which was flying now as we look back at it, because we don’t import a seed anyway, we grow our own seed and produce our own seeds.
So we don’t really pull with the DEA anymore. So that was kind of you know, after that we started Atalo Holdings, and this is like the six-year I think, yeah, no, yeah, this be our six-year growing and harvesting this year.
Sonia Gomez: And how many acres do you have live?
Joe Hickey Sr.: I think it’s about 2000.
Sonia Gomez: Wow.
Joe Hickey Sr. : Right now. So and then about a month. ago or so, oh, it’s been longer than that. But you know, I’ve been wanting to start my own company and kind of do my own thing because I’ve always considered myself unemployable. And I’ve always run my own companies and everything.
So started a new company that we just started, really, we had our first get together at the southern hemp Expo in Franklin, Kentucky South of Nashville this last weekend. So we kind of had a launch party for our academies called Halcyon Holdings LLC. And basically, I’m just going to continue educating the general public on the benefits of hemp and the thing that I’m trying to get over to people is that CBD is basically a flash in the pan.
Yes, when I started this, you know, I did it because I wanted, you know, we were losing the tobacco farmer back in ’92 when I found this that was around the same time that all these heads of the tobacco will go on. I swear nicotine is not addictive, you know, and those executives all sitting up there swearing that nicotine, one addictive and the government was looking to cut the support programme and I mean, there were all these things going on, and I saw the writing on the wall and that was the reason.
That was the reason you know, when I went to meet with the governor, they said, What do you will meet with him about assure an alien to say, you know, so I said, you know, we’re, I want to talk to you about the farmers losing the income from the tobacco. And so that was always my intent was helping revitalize the rural economies.
Because there’s a, it’s called a multiplier effect in the rural economy is where it farmers gets, a farmer makes $10,000 on his tobacco or, you know, whatever the farmer makes, he takes that money and he buys a new tractor or a lab car who fixes house or he’ll buy a new computer or, you know, that money goes back in the economy, that $10,000 that he ends up spending. When it flows to the economy, it turns in about $40,000 right. And so this multiplier effect is basically been sucked out of our whole economy.
But these big corporations that have moved all of their production, everything overseas, so now you don’t have you know, these local companies that are employing local people that are putting money back into the economy, we’ve basically stepped out and taken away that multiplier effect because now we don’t have the jobs while the selling factors are all down. You know, the shoe factories are all down. You know,
Though and a lot of the farmers when I was growing up, everybody was a farmer. The town I grew up in, the ones that weren’t working in, in the clothing factories. But all that’s gone now. And you know, you get the big farmers out there. They’re growing, you know, a lot of farmers, we’ve got one farmer in our county that’s doing like five or 6000 acres. You’ve lost that small farmer feel, and that ability to, but here’s something that I always think we don’t really think about it is it all goes into global warming and everything.
What we’ve done is we take in, you know, it’s taken hundreds of millions of years to get all that carbon out of our atmosphere and to get this perfect utopia the climate that we have today. Okay. And basically, what happened is all those plants and animals sucked up all that carbon and they end up, you know, getting buried under the ground over those millions and millions of years. That gave us a perfect climate.
And now, in the blink of an eye, in historic terms, we’re sucking all that carbon back out of the ground and throwing it back in the atmosphere. And that’s crazy. And for where this fits in at is, back in the I think it was the 20s and 30s. Henry Ford, George Washington Carver trying to think of a guy that was in charge of that kind of got the movement going books called the camera g mode. And the cameras g moment was, you know, all these guys that got together. You know, Henry Ford made the plastic car.
No, sorry, being as we’re starting to do different stuff with soybeans. And what they wanted to do is the Industrial Revolution was happening around Then what they wanted to do was they wanted to feel the ocean with carbohydrates, which carbohydrates and hydrocarbons which is gas and all their mirror images of each other. So you know hydrocarbons are just carbohydrates that under heat and pressure head didn’t have to know he makes with a hydrocarbon, you make the carbohydrates.
So what these guys wanted to do, they wanted to fuel the rule economic news, a rule economic farmers to appeal the Industrial Revolution. And, again, that if you were buying all your stuff from the farmers, it spreads all that income out over, you know, all over the United States because everybody is supplying this engine, but you had a few guys, the industrialists that could have the money to punch a hole in the ground and had the money to build refineries and had the money to distribute, basically took over the Industrial Revolution and ended up filling it with hydrocarbons.
What I'm hoping is that now that everybody is seeing what's happening by putting all these hydrocarbons back into the atmosphere, finally going to stop and we're going to start revitalizing the economies. - Joe Hickey Sr. Click To Tweet
So what I’m hoping now is that now that everybody is seeing what’s happening by putting all these hydrocarbons back into the atmosphere, finally going to stop and we’re going to start revitalizing the economies, are trying to get back with, you know, who knows how far that you know, we’re too far down the road, this rabbit hole with how much we put into the atmosphere, how much carbon put out there so far, but we’ve got to stop and do something different.
And hopefully, hemp is one of the main drivers it’s going to help us change this whole formula of where we’re at and where we’re going.
Sonia Gomez: That is one of the most incredible storeys I have heard to date. I just imagine like the setting and the court being like a version of my cousin Vinny. You guys just twiddling your thumbs on the sidelines hoping that the answer is going to come through? How involved is Woody still with your projects?
How Involved Is Woody Still with Your Projects
Joe Hickey Sr.: Well, Woody probably spent upwards of probably somewhere between $4 million and $6 million of his own money. He’s put into environmental issues, a trend in not only stopping the destruction of like the old girl forests or redwoods and everything but putting money into alternatives. You know, we have a company called Prairie Pulp and Paper that we form we were going to take wheat straws and turned into paper in Canada. And so we had that project.
But you know, finding the big paper companies because they can cut their price and cut prices. And so after, I think we worked at that for probably 12 years or so, we finally, we just can’t go up against those big companies. And when the word is for like a gnat on an elephant’s bag. Yeah. But the good thing was, you know, we had a consultant we were working with, and when we shut it down, he is going, you guys may think that you fail, he said, but you didn’t because of what you guys did.
Now the big paper companies look at them. They’re all doing alternative papers. They’re all doing, you know, wheat straw papers are all looking types of papers that they weren’t before. He said, so, you know, you guys basically did what you wanted to do, and that was to get the attention of the big paper companies to come in and do it but I think we lost a couple of million dollars in 10 x because of the government shutting us down.
So I mean, Woody is still out there supporting. But he, I think Woody feels like that, you know, he’s really gone above and beyond what the average person out there has. But he still knows what he’s still out there and spread the word be still Where’s hemp every chance he gets him just a great guy. I mean anybody that would put their career on the land a lot and to do that, but you got to be pretty dedicated to what you’re trying to do.
Sonia Gomez: So in Kentucky now 2000 acres just in your farm alone, how many acres in Kentucky total? Do you now are producing hemp?
Joe Hickey Sr.
around, you know, somewhere between 40 and 50,000 acres in Kentucky.
Sonia Gomez: Wow. And is it primarily produced for the CBD content or is it a lot of yes.
Joe Hickey Sr.: You know, to me, CBD thing is more of a, I’ll say a flash in the pan. But yeah, I agree, hoping it’s kind of an economic driver, people that make money on the CBD, I’m hoping are going to put that money back into building see crushers, the core game facilities, you know, so we can start having this raw material to start the industry of a paper industry, all industry, concrete industry, plastics, you know, all this stuff.
And the good thing about hemp is, it lends itself to building the role economies because you can’t ship hemp long ways economically. So it has to be processed pretty much locally. And so again, that you know, my vision is these small factories, making plastics will start building houses out of with concrete the hemp concrete.
I wrote a story in this I guess ’97 or ’98 but it was about the hemp house of the future where you know you get out of your bed that has hemp sheets and hemp blankets on it. def on the carpet, this hemp carpet and you get in the bathroom and you wash with hemp soap with hemp washcloth and you drove with a towel and put it all on. You go downstairs and have Imperials for breakfast with hemp milk, you get out sad and your plastic car made from hemp, fueled by hemp fuel and you go to factory work in you know, in a hemp factory. And I hope someday that we can True. I mean, that’s the vision. And that’s what I’ve been working for 27 years now.
Sonia Gomez: I’m going to just say thank you for your service, quite literally paved the way for many of us, especially in my generation. I was a part of the voluntary committee with the Department of Revenue here in Colorado, and they were legalizing cannabis and I owned and operated one of the first licence dispensaries here. And I’m originally from California where proposition 215 opened up for medical use in ’96.
And I was still so young. I’m 34 now. Yes, I’m young right now and I know the how important the work that you did, that was for the rest of the country because it gave us a method it gave us a way to be able to communicate and talk about the importance and possibilities by giving safe access to this plant. And I think a lot of people have focused right now on the health conversation but the ripple effect of the allowance through health care or through our own personal self-care.
Not only is a disruption to the healthcare industry, but the other big, big businesses, I always call it the Battle of David and Goliath, we’re getting ready to come up against a pretty significant fight right now between big business and big industry paired with the mom and pop shops who are pioneering this movement.
And so thanks for your service, because that has literally made it possible for us to be able to have the conversations, open it and educate our communities, our families, the households that we’re a part of, and making this a comfortable subject matter to be able to discuss, whereas I imagine that in the 90s You are pushing this forward. It was not such a comfortable topic of conversation.
Risks of Growing Hemp Without a Contract
Joe Hickey Sr.: No, we couldn’t even get to, you know, we went into senator’s office, our state representatives office who say that we can’t even be seen with you guys. So Wow, yeah. Now it’s just the opposite. Oh, you know, now, Mitch McConnell, who before, wouldn’t even meet with his is now his legacy was the one that brought hemp back into the state of Kentucky.
The one thing that I think people don’t understand like you were saying how many acres are growing in Kentucky right now? The thing that people don’t understand is because they’re growing in Kentucky, Colorado, Oregon, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia. I mean, Michigan, they’re growing it everywhere. But what people don’t understand we’re growing enough hemp in Kentucky to supply 320 million people, every man, woman and child in the state of Kentucky, we’re growing enough hemp to supply 25 milligrams a day to everybody that’s just in Kentucky.
So, what I’m afraid of is all these farmers that have been told, you know, you can make 10 $20,000 an acre of hemp that started to grow this year without a contract, which a lot of them did. The processors that have the equipment to turn the flow of material into oil, they’ve already got contracts, they already have contracts with their farmers, you know, our company, Atalo has contracted so Atala won’t be banned oil from our floor material from anybody else.
So all these farmers that don’t have contracts are going to end up losing And what’s going to happen is the same thing that happened in Canada in ’97. In ’97, they allow the farmers the first year they allow them to grow hemp, and they made great money. And all these other farmers saw that you know, they made great money, let’s go and plant.
Sonia Gomez: Jump on the bandwagon.
Joe Hickey Sr.: Jumped on the bandwagon. ’98 they had a bumper crop in for three years, you had green beans full of hemp seed, and it crashed the market. And it took a while for the market to recuperate. And this is exactly what’s going to happen with us right now. These farmers out there are going to be sitting on this and the price is going to keep dropping because, you know, if I’m a farmer, and I’ve got 50,000 pounds or 10,000 pounds of hemp if I had to sell it at a 10% or 20% loss, just to get some money back, I’m going to do it.
And that’s what’s going to happen, you’re going to have these farmers that are desperate and they’re just going to dump it for whatever they can make off of it, the market is going to crash and you’re going to end up with all this material on the market. And it’s going to take probably, it’ll probably settle down after two or three years. There’s going to be just so much there. So anybody that knows me, you know, be careful if you’re going to grow next year, don’t grow without a contract.
Sonia Gomez: This is such good advice that I was going to ask you this because I usually ask my guests these questions. Who should they have contracts with before they begin their farming?
Joe Hickey Sr.: Okay, that’s a really good question with really hard to come up with an answer because if you’re going to contract with a company, you need to know that they’re financially able to do it. You need to have an ironclad calm contract that has repercussions if they don’t follow through with their purchase contract
Sonia Gomez: Financial repercussions?
Joe Hickey Sr. : Yeah, I mean, there has to be, you know, if you don’t bad at a certain time or something, then it’s just like, if you don’t pay a loan back, you know, then you have to pay penalties. You know, I mean, there has to be something in there that protects the farmer’s exam, a real way of dealing with it instead of just like, well, I don’t have the money, I can’t pay you.
Sonia Gomez: Look what happened in the market, blah, blah, blah.
Joe Hickey Sr.: Yeah. And so, if I was a farmer, I wouldn’t grow for anybody that I didn’t know that I didn’t feel like that they could do it and I’ve had some farmers calling and say, you know, we want our RAD this year, call me up. So you know, we want to sell our crop but we don’t know who to sell to. And he said we’re thinking about going with this one company that says they’ll process far as but they’ll do 50/50 split the all that produce an hour.
Why don’t you do that? Because now you’re just you’re down from throwing material to oil, and what are you going to do with all you don’t have a market for it, and the market is going to be so flooded, you’re just gonna be sitting there with all on your hands. So, in 50/50 split is outrageous, you know, they were doing start off at 20/80 and then it went to 25/75 and then went to 30/70. And it just keeps, because they know that they can take advantage of the farmers, those are in a tight spot.
So I just don’t want to say people get too far out on the limb. You know, these farmers need to know that, you know, if it was me, I would grow an acre too. I would do my own, you know, do moonshine extraction, makes my own products, do a mom and pop thing and you know, develop something that you can control and sell on your own.
Don't go out there and try to grow 50 or 100 acres. Just do something you can control yourself, do something you can make your own. - Joe Hickey Sr. Click To Tweet
Don’t go out there and try to grow 50 or 100 acres. Just do something you can control yourself, do something you can make your own. Make your own make one business won’t be vertically integrated. And you know, farmers don’t need to make a lot of money to survive, you know if you can make 5060 $80,000 a year, you know, you live on the farm, but you should change duelled if you’re going to lose that kind of money here.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, absolutely. This is, you know, I love that we’re having this conversation right now. And I, as a matter of fact, would like to invite you to do a part two because I think that the direction advice around how to build your company in a sustainable way so that you can stand the test of time right now. Everybody is so concerned about how they’re going to get into the industry. But no one’s really you leveraging the foresight to be able to figure out how they’re going to stay relevant in the industry.
Joe Hickey Sr.: So much money that’s being poured into this industry right now, it is crazy.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah. an incredible amount of money and the challenge. So because of our network and I’m not sure how much you know about me, my husband and I have been in this space for 30 years combined, I started on the patient side, he on the business side, and we came together in 2009 when cannabis was legalized in Colorado, I’ve worked the soil to sale process and all of these ventures and over the times, we’ve built up this pretty vast network that covers banking and merchant processing, you know, standardizing and stabilizing the supply chain compliance, distribution, marketing and advertising, just some of the key challenges that are unique to our industry.
And I cannot tell you how many folks who are new to this business come in with these huge visions of making it striking it rich, but there’s very little planning, they’re spending, you know, 20% of their time on the planning and 80% on the execution. Which means time and money are being wasted. They’re continuously hitting, you know, these incredible hurdles which could potentially bankrupt, you know, just their energetic bank, let alone their financial resources.
And that’s why we created a membership community called The Emerald Circle because we wanted to pull in our network to be able to help farmers get the contracts to, you know, the brands or help them create the vertically integrated model where they would understand the source all the way to sale and then really having a hyper-focus on the efficacy of the product because right now the flash in the pan that is pushing the movement forward and really, you know, driving the conversation of this industry is CBD is the healthcare conversation is the opioid crisis.
And with that, the is a massive movement and opportunity opening up for the other uses, which is for me kind of sad. I come from California where everybody was really in Northern California everybody was hyper-focused on sustainable living, you know, communal economic responsibility, sustainable practices and farming and supporting local and that was like a huge part of our culture there.
So the conversation was never strong enough, the Y never made them cry, you know, they’re like, oh, paper, let’s let somebody else figure that out. Right. So now that we’ve made such big strides in the healthcare conversation, or in the health conversation, now it’s like, well, what else can happen? So I’m very, very excited to see what happens in the next three years.
I hundred percent agree that CBD is the flash in the pan. I think we’re going to see these peaks of the industry and happened with the discovery and awareness of each one of these cannabinoids so we have at least 100 years to go before we’re exhausted conversation but I think you know, there’s a lot of opportunities right now to open the conversation around how useful the other aspects of having are for you know, the food industry, the paper industry, the building industry, it’s just such a such an incredible time.
This one guy said one time said it’s one of the few crops that can help feed and clothe you and kill you. So, but I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I really enjoyed it too. And I can’t wait in our follow up conversation. I want to talk about how your new venture is getting ready to pave the way for these next-generation conversations, to have it a sustainable project. says how we’re going to infiltrate these other industries.
You know, what are some of the other pieces of guidance that we can offer farmers extractors? You know, the industry as a whole as we are shaping and getting our feet on the ground here? How can we build our infrastructure and foundation so that it’s solid and that we can stand the test of time? I would love to continue that conversation.
Joe Hickey Sr.: Okay, well, I look forward to
Sonia Gomez: Okay, awesome. For those of you who are listening today, I am so grateful for your time and attention. This is the hemp revolution and what we are experiencing right now is quite literally the largest disruption and big business industries that have shaped our communities for generations. The multi-layer, experience and opportunity that hemp is giving us right now is one of the most important movements that you could ever be a part of.
So while you are sitting at your dinner tables with your families and while you are out there in your communities’ pioneer and pushing for our rights to safe and legal access. While you are a part of researching and looking for your way to enter into this space, ask yourself this question what are you most passionate about? And what problem do you want to solve? They say that when you serve the masses you can eat with the classes and your mission and movement has to be bigger than the income that you want to generate.
I’m Sonia, your host of The Hemp Revolution. We can’t wait to see you on our next show. Check us out at theemeraldcircle.com and Joe where can they find more information about you and what you’re up to?
Where to Find More Information About Joe and His Venture
Joe Hickey Sr.: Well, we just started our new company. So Halcyon holding LLC com HALCYON Holdings with an S LLC com and we’ll have the website up probably within the next week or two.
Sonia Gomez: Perfect so it’ll be live when the interview goes live. We will be also posting the link so check out the links around this video and inside of the article for show notes on today’s episode and we can’t wait for part two, Joe, thanks so much for coming on with us.
Joe Hickey Sr.: Okay, thanks. Take care.
Sonia Gomez: All right, you too. And we’ll see you guys on our next episode.
Sonia Gomez: Thanks for listening to another Rockstar episode of the hemp revolution podcast. I’m your host Sonia Gomez. And just for you we took notes on this episode along with the links and other resources mentioned inside of today’s show. Get them for free right now by going to theemeraldcircle.com. Now, if you want more on this, please subscribe to the show on Apple podcast or wherever you like to listen and you will be automatically entered in to our monthly giveaway where you can get swag bags, all kinds of cool gifts and discounts from our guests and exclusive offers that are only mentioned right here in the hemp revolution podcast. I can’t wait for you to share share this with your friends with your help, we’ve been able to impact millions of people’s lives around the world with the truth about hemp and cannabis. And we know that you love us so much that you’re going to leave a review and rate us right now on your favourite platform to absorb content just like this now, we challenge you to dream big and love the life that you live. Thanks so much and we hope to see you on our next episode of the hemp revolution podcast Ciao for now.
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