Molalla FFA clears up hemp misconceptions, wins state
Molalla FFA's Ag Communications team has won the state championship.
The members of the team were Georgia Hunter, Clay Sperl (sixth high individual in state), Natalee Litchfield (fourth high individual in state) and Adam Miller (first high individual in state).
The students competed in the contest entirely during quarantine.
"I am happy they won but I am prouder that they showed up when times were tough, practicing was impossible and motivation was at an all-time low," said Molalla FFA Adviser Mackenzie Behrle. "This says a lot for their character."
This year's contest consisted of creating a media plan on a commodity of the students' choice. Molalla's students chose to focus on hemp for their plan titled, "Mending the Misconceptions of Hemp in Oregon."
In their media plan, Molalla's students explained the difference between hemp and marijuana, noting that people began to confuse the two in the early 1900s partly because they look and smell alike. However, while marijuana contains 15-50% of the hallucinogenic tetrahydrocannabinol, hemp contains less than .3% and is full of cannabidiol (CBD), the oil of which has been claimed to have healing properties.
The students also described hemp's versatility as it can be used to make not only CBD oil, but also rope, paper, clothing, lotions, milk, flour and more.
The topic is relevant for the town of Molalla, where Columbia Hemp Trading Company has been under fire this year over an odor apparently emanating from its facility.
After receiving numerous complaints about the smell from citizens, the city of Molalla sent the company a nuisance abatement notice, according to a report from Pamplin Media news partner KOIN 6. The hemp company protested the notice, and a hearing was set for a judge to decide. That hearing was rescheduled, and still has not happened yet because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Molalla Planning Director Alice Cannon, the city is still working with the judge to confirm a date for the hearing.
In a statement, the hemp company CEO, Jacob Crabtree, echoed some of the Ag Communications team's assertions.
"Hemp is a natural, farm crop similar to wheat or hops and does not contain any of the psychoactive properties of cannabis," Crabtree said. "Any odors created by the processing of hemp do not pose any threat to public health."
For the contest, Molalla's students also took a journalism knowledge test, an APA editing test and practicums based on a press conference. Litchfield wrote a press release and received the top score in the state, Hunter wrote a blog post, Sperl made a website and Miller made a video for which he also received the top score in the state.
"The last four years I have put so much into winning this competition and it feels amazing to finally get there my senior year," said Litchfied, adding, "Some of my favorite high school memories are staying late with my team for Ag Communications practice."
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