The first time I realized hemp’s full potential, I was sitting across from Christine DeJesus in a small café. We were chatting about her new position as director of cultivation at Galenas, an Ohio-based medical cannabis company, and she was excited. But she was just as excited about something else: hemp.

DeJesus rattled off some of hemp’s many uses, and I was fascinated. Could hemp really be used to feed people, build homes and replace plastic on a large scale? 

From that moment, I became hooked on the idea of seeing this vision become a reality. Hemp, a crop that was effectively illegal in the U.S. for nearly 80 years, seemed to be the answer to so many problems.

With that vision in mind, I joined Hemp Grower right before the launch of its first issue in late 2019. Despite covering numerous subjects in my previous role as a newspaper reporter, hemp offered the opportunity to cover something both brand new and bursting with possibilities—something that had the ability to change lives.

But after covering the hemp industry in depth, I’ve come to realize that hemp is not exactly the rosy picture I once thought—at least not yet. Regulations are in constant flux, cultivation best practices are still being uncovered, and supply and demand are, for the most part, wildly unbalanced (to name a few issues).

Despite the challenges facing the industry, I feel honored to play even a small part in helping find solutions to these issues, and helping you avoid costly mistakes, through Hemp Grower stories each month.

In this issue, we explore signs that the lack of financial institutions servicing hemp businesses is beginning to change. We interview Melissa Marsal of West Town Bank & Trust, who delves into the challenges behind hemp banking and what industry businesses need to know when shopping for services.

This issue also features both challenges and lessons learned by those who began cultivating hemp in the early days of legalization.

In this month’s Hemp Watch, PanXchange Senior Analyst Tom Dermody explores hemp’s position in mainstream fiber markets.

And our cover story features a cannabis cultivator, Jade Stefano, ND, who, like DeJesus, saw opportunity in the hemp industry—so much so that she began cultivating the crop in 2019.

Hemp may not yet be living up to its promise, but I have faith it will get there. In the meantime, I want to hear more about you—your pain points in the industry, your questions, your successes. Whatever it may be, send your stories along to my email below. Together, I’m confident we can continue unlocking hemp’s fullest potential.

Theresa Bennett is the editor of Hemp Grower. She can be reached at