The hemp community lost a committed, visionary leader this week; and I speak for many when I say, “I feel very sad.”
Dion Markgraaff was a youthful, long-time hempster, cannabis activist, visionary entrepreneur and friend to many in the industry. A short list of his accomplishments includes opening the first hemp store in Amsterdam in 1993, smuggling viable hemp seeds to the USA for planting the first domestic fields in more than fifty years, opening the first medical dispensary in San Diego, advocating for the rights of cannabis patients, and building model hempcrete houses, a passion he shared far and wide as a founding member of the US Hemp Building Association--always with a smile.
Although we had met before, during the nineteen years of my running Vital Hemp, we first bonded in 2017, on a farm tour to the hemp fields near Lexington, Kentucky, the most impressive grow we had ever seen. Like two high rebels on the bus to school, we joked and told stories, entertaining some of our colleagues and probably irritating some others ☺. Dion embodied the truth that a person is much more than their impressive resume.
The next time we bonded, he was standing next to a hemp house he built, in the Hemp Village at San Diego’s Earth Day festival. Blowtorch in hand, he held the flame an inch from the structure, that would not catch fire, no matter how many times he tried. Removing his welder’s mask, he grinned, “Imagine if we start building all the homes in fire areas from hempcrete.”
Dion's latest creation: a hempcrete church to celebrate all forms of cannabis.
Dion understood that such a move would not only protect homes--a fact made abundantly clear as last year’s fires ravaged our Western states—but also help cool the globe by using an industrial crop more effective than any other in sequestering atmospheric carbon. He definitely saw the big picture.
As those of us in the hemp industry continue to manifest our visions for a future we want to share, I believe it’s vital to pause, to recognize the unflagging, evolving commitment of our modern pioneers. People like Dion may not have personally made millions; but their work facilitates the growth of several lucrative cannabis industries. Dion battled irrational prohibition laws and regulations, always allied with those who continue to believe in the better future we see with hemp. As one of those allies, I honor his work on behalf of healthy ecosystems that support all life, including our own.
Thanks for being vital,
~Let Us Hemp You Out!~