(Screen grab from TreeFreeHemp.com)

Colorado collective draws on demand for hemp paper, printing (interview)

Entrepreneurs seek out the middle ground between paper and "green" consumerism.

Hemp paper and printing are the latest venture for longtime northern Colorado music and events promoter Morris Beegle and his Colorado Hemp Company business collective.

Hemp printing company TreeFreeHemp.com
Loveland-based Tree Free Hemp prints this poster titled “The Many Uses of Hemp” on hemp paper. The poster was designed by Canada’s Dandy Graphics and is distributed by the Rocky Mountain Hemp Association. It can be purchased for $8 (plus shipping) through RMHA.

Colorado Hemp Company is behind the NoCo Hemp Expo, an annual event that showcases hemp’s use in clothing, foods and beverages, as well as intellectuals, entrepreneurs and activists who favor the vast applications of hemp, marijuana’s non-mind-altering botanical cousin. The logistical demands for that event alone, not to mention the myriad concerts and festivals Beegle has promoted over two decades in the music business, dictate a demand for paper and printing, and that demand is mirrored worldwide.

Contrary to the dour outlook for paper characterized by the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company on television’s “The Office,” the paper industry has experienced rocky but consistent growth over the last five years, according to The Financial Times. Industry analysts attribute that growth to the fact that so many different types of products fall under the “paper” umbrella, including greeting cards, invitations, packaging, toys and housewares.

But at the same time that people are finding fresh uses for paper, so too are consumers concerned about environmental issues, with experts reporting that more than 70 percent of American consumers now think “green,” and vote with their wallets when it comes to environmental issues. What’s more, traditional paper production remains a “green” pariah: “The (tree) pulp and paper manufacturing industry is among the world’s largest users of energy and emitters of greenhouse gases, and a significant source of water pollution and landfill waste,” according to the WWF.

Beegle and the Colorado Hemp Company believe this is where hemp businesses need to push in. The result is TreeFreeHemp.com, a site that sells hemp posters, postcards, bookmarks, invitations, promotional materials and the company’s latest product launch, hemp CD sleeves.

Here, Beegle talks about the financial viability of the hemp paper and printing business:

Colorado collective draws on demand for hemp paper, printing (interview)
Morris Beegle, who runs the Colorado Hemp Company business collective, poses at his Loveland home with a variety of hemp products. (Jenny Sparks, Loveland Reporter-Herald file)

The Cannabist: Tell us about your hemp paper website.

Beegle: TreeFreeHemp.com is the hemp-paper printing site that falls under the Colorado Hemp Company. The site is strictly focused on offering hemp paper and packaging. Our paper is a mix of post-consumer recycled materials and hemp pulp. It’s acid- and chemical-free archival paper, and it’s sustainable, which will help minimize the deforestation that’s going on across the world.

The Cannabist: What sort of market exists for hemp paper?

Beegle: There are other tree-free papers out there. It’s mainly used for specialty printing like greeting cards, and it typically has a higher price point (than traditional paper because) it is an eco-friendly product. So the main consumers are the “green” crowd. But I think that going forward, we’re going to see more and more people leaning toward environmentally-friendly options. …

A lot of our energy is geared toward the music and poster business. Let’s say you go to Red Rocks and you see Pearl Jam or The White Stripes or Phish or whoever it may be, and they’ve got a limited-edition show poster that’s 200 or 250 copies. If that poster is printed on archival, acid-free hemp paper, it’s got more value. It’s something that people will want to hold on to, like their vinyl albums or their comic books.

The Cannabist: What else is on the horizon for the Colorado Hemp Company?

Beegle: We’re working with the author Doug Fine on a variety of things. He’s been on tour (in support of his book “Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution”), and was also in Europe recently for a big hemp conference. He’s a real ambassador for hemp. … He’s got a follow-up to “Hemp Bound” that covers his 2014 hemp tour and all the harvests in Colorado and Kentucky that he’s been to. And we’re going to print that on hemp paper come the first quarter of next year. …

We’re also working with High Hops Brewery in Windsor on a Colorado hemp beer using (Springfield farmer) Ryan Loflin’s crop from last year.

And we’re looking forward to next year’s NoCo Hemp Expo on April 4, 2015. We’re taking our event to The Ranch at the Budweiser Events Center (in Loveland). We’re going to have 40-50 vendors along with speakers, food and hemp beer.”