Eric Steenstra has over 30 years experience in the cannabis and hemp industry. In 1993, Eric cofounded and created the pioneering hemp fashion brand Ecolution with cannabis activist and business leader Steve DeAngelo. Ecolution created a popular line of 100% hemp clothing and accessories sourced from Hungary and Romania and sold to retail stores across the US, Canada and Germany.
Eric was actively involved in the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) from its inception in 1994 including serving as a board member, Vice President and President. He took over as Executive Director of HIA in 2008 and served in that role until December 2016, guiding the organization to over 400% growth in membership during his tenure.
Eric is a co-founder and the current president of Vote Hemp, a national non-profit grassroots advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. Vote Hemp’s mission is to change state and federal laws to allow American farmers to once again grow hemp commercially. Under Eric’s leadership, Vote Hemp has been instrumental in facilitating pro-hemp legislation passage in more than 39 states. In 2005, Eric worked with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) to draft the first modern U.S. federal hemp legislation (H. 3037) and in 2012 he worked with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to get companion hemp legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate.
In 2013, Eric worked with Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), to get a key hemp research amendment included to the Farm Bill. He also worked closely with the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to include a hemp pilot program provision in the 2014 Farm Bill. Section 7606 of the Farm Bill authorizes universities and state departments of agriculture to conduct research and pilot programs in states that regulate hemp farming. This landmark legislation enabled states like Kentucky, Colorado and Oregon to begin licensing hemp growers and researchers for the first time after decades of prohibition on hemp farming and has restarted and reenergized the US hemp industry.