The hemp industry has ample opportunity to do good in the world, however, there is a dark side that very few people will talk about. A close friend shared his horror story with me one evening and it gave me a new look into the shadowy corners of the industry. For legal reasons, names have been changed in this article.
Joe received an offer to work on a hemp farm that offered bonuses, decent pay, and housing. With how the hemp market was thriving, it sounded like a wonderful opportunity. But as the saying goes, not all that glitters is gold.
The decent salary he was offered began to stretch thin when his workweek began to run into 12 hour days, 7 days a week. Overworked and quickly racing towards his wit's end, Joe quickly grew to despise the industry he once loved.
Anyone who has worked on a farm can tell you the work is not easy. It's even harder if you work for a YouTube farmer with a God complex. Even though Joe and several other staff members had experience with not only farm work, they had come from the cannabis industry. However, like many a bad boss, upper management with little to no experience called the shots without considering the consequences. As a result, time, money, and peoples' patience were wasted.
After several drinks into our conversation, Joe told me a story that made all of my bad boss stories pale in comparison. Remember how housing was offered? The electricity between the multiple houses, barns, and other buildings on the property put too much strain on the breakers. One night after a heavy snow, the electricity to the entire farm went out. Joe was one of several who went out to assess the damage and found that the breakers were damaged beyond repair. Luckily, Joe and several others could repair it if they had the parts they needed. However, they needed to go into town for the parts.
During the initial assessment of the breakers, upper management had not yet appeared, but when the power had not been immediately been turned back on, a manager came out to see what was going on. Joe and the others explained what happened and needed to be done to get power back on. The manager's response was a resounding, "I just got back from town and I don't really want to go back."
Naturally, this did not sit well with the farm workers. The outside tempature was in the single digits and the houses did not have the best insulation. No one wanted to spend the night without power then go to work in the cold the next morning. Instead of arguing, Joe and another employee went into town themselves, driving the near hour long trip (made longer by the weather) into town on unplowed roads in the middle of the night.
Needless to say, Joe and many other workers did not stick around for long. Joe was fortunate enough to find another job and housing with much better conditions. However, his story made me think about the darker side of the hemp industry.
The hemp industry is still going through its wild west phase, but research and education is evolving it into a diverse and beneficial industry. Part of cleaning up the industry is doing away with employers who take advantage of employees like Joe. Only by talking about these issues can we erase the shadowy parts of the hemp industry.