“I see opportunities and challenges for both industrial hemp and adult-use cannabis. As someone who is not in the adult-use cannabis space per se, I see continued consolidation and a tough investment market plagued by regulatory issues, politics, and a fairly healthy black market.”
2023 is here with us and as usual, it’s time to strategize and reposition ourselves to seize every opportunity that the new year brings along. As Morris Beegle puts it, the year ahead will present opportunities and challenges for the cannabis industry in equal measure. MyCannabis had the rare opportunity to interview Morris who is a business leader with over a decade of experience in the hemp industry. Over the years, he has been involved in different projects that are causing an impact in the global hemp industry and he hopes to do even more in 2023, including launching a revolutionary line of hemp foods. In this brief interview, Morris gives us a glimpse of his journey into the cannabis industry as he also shares highlights of 2022, predictions for 2023, and his master plan for the next phase in the industry. Without further ado.
As a brief introduction, how did your career path lead you to the cannabis industry?
I had spent roughly 25 years in the music industry from 1987 until 2012 before making the decision to pivot into the cannabis space. I co-founded Colorado Hemp Company in March 2012 as Colorado considered legalizing adult use cannabis with Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment that eventually passed in November 2012 and legalized recreational cannabis as well as industrial hemp. It was time for me to move on from the music industry as that landscape had changed significantly with digital downloads and streaming, decimating the physical media business of CDs and DVDs, which was the core of my company business at Hapi Skratch Records.
Colorado Hemp Company began as a merchandise company producing tshirts, hats and working with other hemp merchandise companies producing hemp shoes, wallets, beanies, backpacks and more. From there Colorado Hemp Company started developing other brands including Tree Free Hemp Paper and Printing and then producing NoCo Hemp Expo, and in the beginning of 2015 created the overarching WAFBA umbrella to house these brands and future brands to come.
Briefly introduce WAFBA and your unique role in the company
I am the co-founder and President of WAFBA – We Are For Better Alternatives, which is an umbrella of multiple hemp-focused brands we have launched over the years. WAFBA can be broken into 2 different divisions, one, events and media, and two, products and services. The events and media division consists of NoCo Hemp Expo, Southern Hemp Expo, Experience Hemp, Winter Hemp Summit, and other trade shows, conferences and events that we have produced over the years along with a media and education platform, as well as a podcast, called Let’s Talk Hemp that resides at letstalkhemp.com. The products and services division includes Tree Free Hemp, a hemp paper and printing company. Silver Mountain Hemp, a hemp guitar and amplifier company. And One Planet Hemp, a hemp apparel and merchandise entity that produces hemp tshirts, hats and other merchandise for our events and brands.
What has been the highlight of your company/career in 2022?
Colorado Hemp Company turning 10 years old in March 2022. Making it 10 years in this industry after the challenges faced since 2019, and in particular throughout the pandemic, I am proud of. Thanks to the WAFBA team, and to strong industry partners and leaders, I feel optimistic about the opportunities that are ahead of us over the next decade. Another personal highlight from 2022 was going to Bangkok Thailand for the first annual Asia International Hemp Expo and speaking on multiple high level panels with a strong group of global delegates spanning 5 continents.
Any predictions for the cannabis industry in 2023?
I see opportunities and challenges for both industrial hemp and adult use cannabis. As someone who is not in the adult-use cannabis space per se, I see continued consolidation and a tough investment market plagued by regulatory issues, politics, and a fairly healthy black market. I think some of that can bode well for the industrial hemp space as there are significantly more investment opportunities for long term growth due to the immense number of applications for grain, fiber and cannabinoids in the health and wellness space, the industrial materials space, and the environmental and climate/carbon space.
Hemp has been plagued with bad press due to a variety of factors, most associated with CBD, Delta-8, other intoxicating cannabinoids, and the FDA dragging their feet on the regulation of CBD. Hemp, however, is much more than cannabinoids, and the tremendous value of grain and fiber and environmental benefits will continue to gain traction in 2023 and hopefully lead to positive mainstream acceptance and necessary investment capital coming into the industry to help it fulfill its promise as a super crop.
What’s next for Morris?
There’s several things on my docket currently. One, we are releasing our 2023 Let’s Talk Hemp Opportunities Report in January. Two, we are hosting the 9th Annual NoCo Hemp Expo at a new venue, the beautiful Broadmoor Resort and Convention Center in Colorado Springs March 29-31. And three, I will be launching my hemp foods brand a little later in the year that I have been conceptualizing since 2012. Hemp foods is an underserved category and one that has significant promise because of the nutritional value of the hemp seed. Needless to say I will have plenty of exciting projects that I will be working on over the coming year/years.
It was a great pleasure to have this one-on-one with Morris Beegle from WAFBA. Readers who wish to keep up with the company are more than welcome to visit any of the websites listed below.