WAFBA's Morris Beegle on the State of the Hemp Industry Today

New industrial applications, plus the lingering challenges for advertising hemp products

Morris Beegle is co-founder and president of the WAFBA (We Are For Better Alternatives) family of companies, which include the annual hemp exposition NoCo Hemp Expo, the largest hemp-centric conference and trade show on the planet.

Since 2012, Beegle has been developing global brands in the hemp space, and with eight companies—from NoCo, the Colorado Hemp Company, to Let's Talk Hemp, Silver Mountain Hemp Guitars, and more—Beegle is renowned as an educator, advocate and facilitator for the benefits of hemp and cannabis in manufacturing, nutrition and related sectors. 

Beegle is also an avid rock 'n' roll enthusiast. His U.S.-based Silver Mountain Hemp company manufactures specialized guitars, speaker cabinets, accessories and components molded from hemp composites. His company Tree Free Hemp supplies U.S.-manufactured hemp paper and printing services. The Colorado Hemp Company provides creative direction for brand, media and event production. Let's Talk Hemp is an education and advocacy platform and monthly podcast that integrates into conferences, festivals and broadcast media channels. 

We spoke with Morris for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.


Morris, tell us...

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, I'm president and co-founder of WAFBA—the We Are For Better Alternatives family of brands includes NoCo Hemp Expo, the world's most comprehensive hemp-centric conference and exposition; Silver Mountain Hemp Guitars, a manufacturer of boutique hemp guitars cabinets and components; Tree Free Hemp, a hemp paper and printing company; Let's Talk Hemp, a comprehensive digital media platform, and several others.

Your earliest cannabis memory.

Smoking cannabis with a group of friends from junior high school.

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

I have been a recreational cannabis user since high school, but didn't appreciate the truly positive impact of the plant until I started using it medicinally as a substitute for opioids back in 2009, when Colorado opened up the medical cannabis market. I've since abandoned all pain medications outside of cannabis flower and full spectrum hemp oils.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

I would say The Truth by 14er is my favorite flower. I have been a fan of all of their varieties so far.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

For me, and I would say most of my hemp and cannabis colleagues, the biggest challenge is utilizing social media and Google to advertise our products like any other business. Even though hemp is federally legal, social media platforms still discriminate against it and block companies from being able to advertise.

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

I'm really excited about the industrial applications of hemp that are beginning to develop—building materials, paper and packaging, bioplastics and composites, and nano-fiber technologies for battery energy storage and batteries. All of these applications are real and on the horizon.

A cannabis trade organization that you support and why.

The U.S. Hemp Building Association is an organization doing great things to bring green building materials into the light, and into the discussion of both residential and commercial development moving into the future.  

A recent project you're proud of.

After more than three years in development, we have finally created the first truly 100 percent hemp bodied guitars and hemp based guitar combo amps, including hemp cone speakers at Silver Mountain Hemp, a boutique musical instrument company. Why? Check out Dave Beegle playing the Silver Mountain Hemp Strat prototype, honoring Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits.

Someone else's project you admired recently.

I am a big fan of the good people at HempWood. They are producing a hemp board product that we are not only using in our hemp guitars and cabinets at Silver Mountain, but companies from around the country and world are using their products for flooring, cabinets, furniture and many other items typically made from timber.

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

Scheril Murray Powell is a powerhouse when it comes to both hemp and cannabis advocacy and activism. She is an attorney, entrepreneur, educator and public speaker who continues to raise the bar for all of us in the cannabis space.

A movie, TV show, music or food you most enjoy pairing with cannabis.

Coming from the music industry, I am a fan of many genres and enjoy cannabis not only with good rock 'n' roll, but with blues, jazz and world music, too. As to a movie or two, I would have to say The Big Lebowski and Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny both pair well with cannabis.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

I would most likely be back in the music industry or in the golf industry.

Higher Calling is a weekly series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please get in touch.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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