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WAFBA announces a pause for 2023 Southern Hemp Expo in Nashville

WAFBA (We Are For Better Alternatives), the umbrella organization that hosts and produces NoCo Hemp Expo, Southern Hemp Expo, Hawaii Hemp Conference, Winter Hemp Summit, and other hemp-centric conferences, trade shows, and events, is going to pause the 2023 Southern Hemp Expo. The Southern Hemp Expo, aka SHE, was launched in 2018 in Nashville and is the sister show to NoCo Hemp Expo.

SHE was a successful event in both 2018 and 2019 but was canceled in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. SHE moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2021 and back to Nashville in 2022. Both shows struggled to regain the momentum that the hemp industry had prior to the pandemic, and both shows ended up being dominated by the rise in the intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoid category, including Delta-8, HHC, and other derivatives that have come to be popular with the consumer market in areas of the United States where adult-use cannabis is not yet legal.

Hemp for health and wellness
Both NoCo Hemp Expo and Southern Hemp Expo were founded on the decades-long mission and mantra that hemp is for health and wellness for humans and animals and an environmental benefactor for the planet in being able to produce eco-friendly, carbon-neutral to carbon-negative materials for a variety of industrial applications. These include commercial and residential construction products, textiles, automotive components, paper and packaging, bioplastics and biocomposites, animal bedding, biochar, and more.

Another long-standing mantra for the hemp industry has been "hemp does not get you high," which was the case until the domestic oversupply of CBD biomass increased significantly in 2019 and 2020. Additionally, the FDA continued to skirt its regulatory responsibilities given to the agency by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill to regulate the burgeoning and popular CBD market. The lack of regulatory oversight kept major retailers and major consumer brands on the sidelines as well as investment money out of the industry. This, in turn, was a factor in the increased oversupply and the eventual development of the synthesized, hemp-derived cannabinoid market that is proliferating today. This market has opened up a variety of concerns, from consumer safety issues to state product bans, as well as state legislation approving these products and other various regulatory murkiness around the country. To put it simply, it's a mess and extremely complicated to navigate in this new category of the hemp industry. To be clear, WAFBA, Southern Hemp Expo, and its management are not in favor of "banning" or making "illegal" this new category of hemp-derived products. This category of products needs federal regulation, which we hope will occur in the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill.

Focus on flagship event
With the above-mentioned confusion, complexity, and the state of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids, WAFBA has decided to focus its trade show and event energy on its flagship event, NoCo Hemp Expo, and to do everything they can to build this event as the international hub and gathering spot of hemp-based health, wellness, nutrition, environmental, and socially impactful opportunities that can benefit humanity and the planet.

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