Ben Masel

Wisconsin: Lawmakers Propose Bill To Restore Industrial Hemp

Fairwater Hemp Company 1917

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

MADISON, WIS. - Lawmakers are seeking to restore Wisconsin's once-prominent hemp industry, giving farmers the chance to add the versatile plant to their rotation.

Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) and state Senator Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) have proposed a bill to regulate the production of industrial hemp, which has thousands of uses. The bill has bi-partisan support within the state.

Representative Kremer recently issued the following statement from his office on February 23, 2017: "I am really excited to have had the opportunity to educate myself on this topic over the past six months. The 59th Assembly District has a rich history of agricultural hemp production in the first half of the 20th century and processed industrial hemp in Hartford for the war department. Today, the future is bright for this commodity -- new jobs, increased tax revenue, brand new tech industries and agricultural growth."

“I think we can be a leader on this, and that’s what I’m hoping to get with this bill,” said Kremer.

Wisconsin: Patients Receive Oregon Medical Marijuana Authorizations at Harvest Fest

Wisconsin-DennisBrennan(GreatMidwestMarijuanaHarvestFest2014)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Forty-eight Wisconsin medical marijuana patients this year got their Oregon medicinal cannabis authorizations at the annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest. "But wait," you may be thinking. "They live in Wisconsin, not Oregon." That's entirely true -- but according to those in the know, having an out-of-state medical marijuana authorization gives these patients some legal cover should the police come calling.

The authorizations were issued by THCF Medical Clinics at the Harvest Fest as part of something called The Ben Masel Project. Masel was a famous Yippie activist based in Madison who started the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest; he died suddenly from cancer three and a half years ago.

"The Oregon permit has saved several people in Wisconsin from arrest," THCF founder Paul Stanford told Hemp News. The fact that Oregon issues permits to out-of-state patients has been helpful to those in Wisconsin and other non-MMJ states, according to Stanford.

"This weekend, we helped 48 patients in Wisconsin get Oregon medical marijuana permits, bringing in almost $10,000 in state fees for the Oregon Health Authority," Stanford told us. "Really, the Wisconsin Legislature should act to help its sick and dying patients, and keep those funds in Wisconsin."

Stanford said speaking at the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest, the 44th annual event, "is an old tradition" for him. "I first spoke here in Madison 25 years ago, in 1989, and I came back and spoke again in 1990 and many years since," he told us.

Wisconsin: Hemp as an Energy Source in 1917

The photo below show the company's employees, mostly area farmers in 1917. The company owner is pictured in the back row at the far right.

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! Established in 1916, the Fairwater Hemp Company was one of the upper midwest's largest hemp producers. It was located adjacent to the booming railroad line and also to the west of the north fork of the Grand River, making it convenient for the production of electricity to power their manufacturing plant. The community of Fairwater, which was founded around the water power of the river in 1848, was officially incorporated in 1921.

In 1917, Fairwater Hemp began using industrial hemp as electrical energy when the river was low by burning the byproducts of their hemp rope manufacture, hemp hurds, to drive a steam engine to produce electricity. This instance is the first documented use of hemp as an energy source.

Although Fairwater hemp operations ceased in 1931, the number of things that can be made from hemp continues to grow today. The possibilities for the plant are endless job producers for those who wish to be innovative. It is this writers opinion, we must re-introduce this agricultural crop to our society, now more than ever.

United States: Ben Masel, Freedom Fighter, Dies Too Young

By Paul Stanford, Hemp News Director

There is a truth that must be heard! Ben Masel was, beginning in his teens, a leader and activist for freedom and cannabis. Ben was brilliant, incisive and a Grand Master chess champion. He was a seemingly fearless advocate who spent his life supporting others and working for freedom and justice. I am proud and honored to count Ben Masel as an associate, mentor and friend.

Ben was the primary force behind the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest in Madison, Wisconsin, which happens in late September every year since 1970. Until the Seattle Hempfest emerged in the late 90s, it was the largest pro-marijuana rally in the world. I was honored to speak at the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was truly empowering and inspirational to march the half mile from the University of Wisconsin campus down State Street, with 15,000+ others, to the Wisconsin State Capitol in the early Autumn sunshine, the colorful Wisconsin foliage and the crisp clean air. Ben also was a driving force behind Wisconsin's annual Weedstock protestival. The Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest continues today and is still one of the largest pro-cannabis events in the world.

United States: Celebrating the Life of Wisconsin Activist Ben Masel

An activism pioneer who inspired many, Ben Masel loses battle with lung cancer

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! Madison, Wisconsin - A lifelong activist, Ben Masel, has died after his battle with lung cancer. As the Hemp and Cannabis Community and many others mourn this great loss, we must also remember what Masel spent most of his life fighting for and continue on the path he helped to blaze.

Over the course of his life, Masel traveled countless miles and spent innumerable hours voicing his ideas and fighting for the rights of his fellows. Even in the face of opposition, he continued to speak out in favor of hemp and cannabis legalization, freedom of speech and the ability of people who make a stand to make a difference.

Masel's life-long passion project, Madison, Wisconsin's Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, began as a marijuana smoke-in in 1971. The Harvest Festival, now celebrating its 41st year, has a long history of promoting cannabis hemp legalization and free speech while providing an annual celebration for like minded people to join together.

Wisconsin: Marijuana Activist's Case Against UW Police Officers Ends in Hung Jury

By Kevin Murphy, The Capital Times

An excessive force lawsuit brought against two University of Wisconsin-Madison police officers by marijuana activist Ben Masel, 55, of Madison, ended Tuesday night in a hung jury.

After a two-day trial, the seven-person jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on whether Officers Mike Mansavage and John McCaughtry used more force than necessary when arresting Masel for trespassing at the Memorial Union in June 2006.

Masel had been soliciting signatures to get on the ballot for the U.S. Senate while on a sidewalk near the Memorial Terrace, an area not designated for such activity by UW policy. Masel refused to leave the area when requested by Memorial Union event managers who then called UW police to enforce the policy.

Masel alleged he was pepper sprayed and "brutally handcuffed," when arrested. He sued the officers alleging use of excessive force. He also sued the Memorial Union employees and the UW Board of Regents claiming their policy, which limits political activity of uninvited guests to the sidewalk in front of the union, infringed on his free speech rights and was unconstitutional.

District Judge John Shabaz dismissed Masel's constitutional claim, citing case law that allows public universities to restrict activities of uninvited guests on their property as long as the policy is applied equally to all individuals. Shabaz allowed the excessive force claim to go to trial.

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