Above Image Credit: Jessica Barthel

When Daniel Dolgin was working on counterterrorism for the Director of National Intelligence, he never would have believed that he’d soon co-own and -operate the farm cultivating New York’s first legal industrial hemp crop in eight decades.

Not only did Dolgin, 40, assume he’d have a future in the career he’d chosen and trained for at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, but before 2014 growing hemp was illegal throughout the US.

He left government a few years ago for what he assumed would be a temporary hiatus to explore other opportunities. But when he was introduced to Mark Justh, 51, the haitus quickly turned into a whole new career direction.

Justh, who had recently quit JPMorgan Chase after decades on Wall Street to spend more time on the farm he had bought in 2008, told Dolgin he was thinking about planting industrial hemp as a cover crop to help with his hay production.

With his experience in DC, Dolgin thought he could help navigate the bureaucracy to get a license to grow the crop, something that New York had started allowing in restricted circumstances in 2014.

“I never thought I’d grow up to buy a farm and become a farmer, per se, but I realized what he was doing was big business,” recalls Dolgin. “It’s providing value to the agricultural community in a variety of different ways.”

Hemp can be made into a large number of useful things, including clothing, rope, paper, construction materials, cosmetics, animal feed, food, and beverages. Now that nut-free, dairy-free diets are increasingly popular, hemp has the potential to become very popular as a food. Hemp can be consumed in many forms, for example, as milk, oil, granola, gluten-free flour, hemp seed butter, or protein powder.

A Short History of Hemp in the US

From the colonial era through World War II, the US hemp industry was important—even central—to the country’s development. With hemp as the main fiber used for ships’ rigging and sales, British colonies in the Americas were required by law to cultivate it to supply the maritime power.

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