Eric Steenstra co-founded the pioneering hemp clothing and lifestyle brand Ecolution with Steve DeAngelo in 1992. Eric went on to lead the nation’s first hemp trade group, serving as the Executive Director of the Hemp Industries Association from 2007 to 2016. Eric currently serves as the president of Vote Hemp and Vice President of the California Hemp Council. He has been a frequent speaker at industry conferences and trusted source to the media, including CBS, New York Times, Forbes, CNN, Rolling Stone, Reuters and the Washington Post.
In his role at Vote Hemp, Eric led the effort to pass hemp farming legislation nationwide and defend the hemp market. In 2001, Eric was part of the team that led the legal effort to overturn the DEA rule banning hemp products containing “any” THC in them. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately overturned the DEA interpretive rule in 2004 catapulting the market for hemp foods forward. In 2005, he worked with Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) to draft the first modern U.S. hemp legislation introduced in Congress (H.R. 3037). In 2012 he worked with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to get companion hemp legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate (S. 3501). Eric worked with Congressman Polis (D-CO) and Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) to have hemp legislation included in the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the first legal hemp farming in over 50 years and resulted in 78,176 acres of hemp being planted across 24 states in 2018. Vote Hemp also played an integral role in the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill including fully removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.
The California Hemp Council (CHC) worked to ensure that the state was ready for hemp legalization at the national level and successfully sponsored and passed state legislation (SB 1409, Chapter No. 986, Statutes of 2018) to allow California farmers to enter the hemp market and meet the growing demands of hemp product companies. The CHC secured the passage of SB 153 which updated California hemp laws to be in sync with the 2018 Farm Bill. If not for CHC efforts, California farmers would likely not be growing hemp today.
Eric was part of groups that were awarded dispensary licenses in Maryland, Oregon and West Virginia and helped to oversee operations in. the Maryland store. He currently is consulting on various hemp and cannabis projects including advising the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Hemp Commission.