Lean Hemp startup to benefit from “normalization” of marijuana in Florida


The approval of Amendment 2, the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, will regulate the production and distribution of marijuana, and legalizes the use of medical marijuana for sufferers of specific ailments including cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

With marijuana making headlines this election season, we wondered what that might mean for other companies making use of the cannabis plant.  In this Groundswell Startups podcast we sat down with Artem Mischenko, founder and director of Lean Hemp to talk about the difference between marijuana and hemp, and what this change might mean for hemp protein companies like his.

Lean Hemp produces a protein powder with easy, readable ingredients.  They’re vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free and come in three flavors.  Mischenko told us that most protein powders and supplements made with dairy use low-quality milk packed with hormones and, for many, is difficult to digest, causing bloating or indigestion during workouts.  Besides getting away from dairy, hemp is high in protein, fiber, Omega 3 and Omega 6.

What’s hemp?  Can you get high from it?

Hemp, according to Lean Hemp’s website, comes from a different strand of the cannabis plant than marijuana.  The two plants are essentially different plants; they’re grown differently and used for very different purposes. According to Mischenko, the THC content in marijuana typically falls between 5 and 30%, while in industrial hemp the THC content falls to about .1 and .3% ”so you’re not really going to feel any effects, even if you consume the whole plant.”

Additionally, consuming hemp will not cause you to test positive in a drug test.


What’s the difference between Lean Hemp and other hemp protein companies?

Most hemp protein companies exist in Canada, where the restrictions on growing and distributing hemp are significantly lessened.  And, according to Mischenko, most of them focus on “the crunchy people” or, as he rephrases, people who are using them as supplements to a vegan or vegetarian diet or are trying to achieve a healthier diet in general.

In contrast, Lean Hemp focuses on athletes.  Primarily, they advertise to vegan and lactose-intolerant athletes, but Mischenko says that this year, they are renewing a focus on educating a wider audience about the benefits of hemp specific to athletes.


So what about Amendment 2?

According to Mischenko, the effect that Amendment 2 will have on the hemp industry is almost purely cultural.  Mischenko said, that the amendment will contribute an “awareness to the normalization of cannabis as a whole in Florida and people[‘s] beginning to see the potential benefits of the plant as a whole.”  The accepted use of the plant, Mischenko said, will help people see cannabis as a plant rather than an illicit drug.

While Amendment 2 hasn’t had a huge effect on Lean Hemp, Mischenko did talk about the SB 902 bill unanimously passed in 2015.  This bill allows universities to do research on hemp plants with a THC content below .3%.  According to Mischenko, this bill shows gains in the acceptance of the hemp plant and shows signs that maybe someday soon production can start in Florida.

For now, though, more widespread growth in Kentucky is helping Lean Hemp gain a competitive edge on companies based in Canada.  Within the next six months, says Mischenko, supply will be bought entirely within the United States, lowering the cost of production and making Lean Hemp an entirely US-made product.

To find out more about Lean Hemp visit leanhemp.com, and follow their newsletter to keep up with the new instructional content that Mischenko says they hope to produce over the next year.  Apply for Groundswell Coworking membership for a limited discount price here, or find out more about the space opening up in March.

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