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One family is trying to restore the good name of one of the world’s oldest domesticated crops. Industrial hemp has gotten a bad rap because it’s related to the marijuana plant. The federal government even considers hemp a schedule 1 drug, meaning that there was no accepted medical use at the time of classification (1970, in hemp’s case), and it was considered to have high abuse potential.
In reality, however, hemp contains very little tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so it won’t get anyone high. Since 1970, researchers have discovered that hemp has many health benefits, and it doesn’t require pesticides or large amounts of water to grow.
Having always been environmentally conscious, Arizona ecopreneurs Diana and Jim Jones decided they wanted a home-based business in order to spend more time with their kids, so they started researching this underappreciated crop. After wholesaling hemp-based clothing, they noticed a lack of hemp-based cosmetics on the market.
So in 1996, they started Azida Inc., which sells all-natural hemp-oil body care products. On Azida’s online store, shoppers will find a plethora of cruelty free and vegan hemp-oil products, including shampoo, shower gel, eye cream, sunscreen, lotions, and lip balms.
“Growing commercial hemp will probably be legal one of these days [in the US]. But until the federal government says it’s okay, at least we can help promote a niche market we feel really good about.”
—Diana Jones, Azida Inc.
“We realized hemp is a really great oil, but it was used very little in body care,” says Diana Jones, who notes that hemp oil is rich in essential fatty acids, which “defy aging” by helping the skin retain moisture and elasticity. These fatty acids are what makes Azida products so effective, she says.
The only problem is that antiquated drug policy makes hemp difficult to grow and sell in the US.
“We get our hemp oil from Canada,” says Jones, “but some locally grown hemp would be amazing. Oil would be plentiful and inexpensive [if US farmers were allowed to cultivate hemp], and it would open up so much more industry.”
According to Jones, the healthy properties of Azida ingredients like hemp, jojoba oil, lavender, and rosemary extract make synthetic substances unnecessary. That means Azida products contain no sulfates, DEA, parabens, propylene glycol, formaldehyde, mineral oil, petroleum, synthetic waxes, PABA, or artificial colors.
Hemp isn’t the only thing that the Joneses are passionate about. Cochise County, AZ, is famous for its wildlife, and the Joneses help protect it by donating a percentage of Azida’s sales to area nonprofits dedicated to preserving the region.
Although it has its limitations at the moment, the future of hemp is starting to look brighter as businesses like Azida help introduce more people to the crop. “Growing commercial hemp will probably be legal one of these days,” says Jones. “But until the federal government says it’s okay, at least we can help promote a niche market that we really feel good about.”