U.S. Hemp Industries Association (HIA) Executive Director Eric Steenstra is out as head of the organization, the group’s board said in a release over the weekend. He’s been replaced by Colleen Keahey from the Tennessee state chapter of the HIA, which she founded in 2014. Steenstra had served in the position since 2008.
The change at the top of HIA comes after a turbulent year for CBD in the United States, the latest a bit of confusion that erupted after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) placed a notice in the Federal Register Dec. 14, 2016 that made some in the industry think the Agency was attempting to criminalize CBD, a mis-interpretation which nonetheless quickly gained traction in both mainstream and social media, rattling CBD vendors and consumers.
That flap was preceded in August when a group of U.S. federal authorities issued a joint “statement of principles on industrial hemp,” chiming in on an earlier DEA statement about medical marijuana a week or so previous, also sowing confusion over hemp, and CBD specifically.
Started in 1994, HIA, which is registered in California but works out of a D.C. office, lists 14 state chapters on its web site — Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia.
[Editor’s note: The reference to Eric Pollitt was changed in the following paragraph to correctly identify the company he represents. We regret the error.]
The HIA officers and other board members are: President, Larry Serbin, Hemp Traders, a hemp wholesaler based in Paramount, California; Vice President, Eric Pollitt, Global Hemp, an online retailer and fiber processor based in Peoria, Illinois; Treasurer, Steve Levine, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a legendary Vista, California-based hemp firm that dates back to 1948. Levine is the HIA’s registered agent under the Association’s incorporation in Carpinteria, California; and Secretary, Tyler Frank, Hemptopia Apparel, a Solvang, California hemp apparel retailer.
Other board members: David Bush, DavidLaw, Wheat Ridge, Colorado, an attorney who specializes in hemp industry law; Shaun Crew, Hemp Oil Canada, British Columbia, an industrial scale hemp food maker that dates back to 1998; Richard Dash, Dash Hemp, a Santa Cruz, California-based hemp retailer; Anndrea Hermann, The Ridge International Cannabis Consulting, and owner of Canada-based Hemp Technologies; Rick Krantz, Tahoe Hemp Company, a South Lake Tahoe, California hemp retailer.
Steenstra will continue as president of Vote Hemp, a lobbying group of which he was a co-founder in 2000.
The National Hemp Association, a second nationwide hemp industry group in the USA, also saw its Executive Director depart this past autumn when Zev Paiss resigned.