by Ricky Haldis
Saturday, September 7th marks the second annual Hemp Heals Festival at the Festival Pier, Penn’s Landing. The Hemp Heals Foundation is a revolutionary organization that strives to “educate, inspire and empower” the public to use products of hemp as healthy, natural alternative to many modern commodities and dietary supplements. However, former player for the Flyers and founder of Hemp Heals, Riley Cote explicitly reinforces that “hemp is not a supplement in any sense, but a food that can revolutionize the concept of day-to-day health, and even save lives.”
Hemp Heals is Cote’s brainchild, and his passion certainly shines through in his eagerness to inform people about the “miracle plant.” Due to a personal experience with successful, life-saving holistic treatment in his family, Cote welcomed the idea of a renewable, eco-friendly resource proclaims that it “represents health across the board.” As Cote realized that the standard treatments of the medical industry sometimes do more harm than good, he turned to the hemp plant as a way to heal the mind, body and soul. He simply states, “Healing should not feel like you are dying.”
Even though the hemp plant has the potential to reform the health industry, the issue of legality still stands as a detriment to the organization. Because hemp is illegal to grow in the United States, it is imported from Canada, where it is thriving and abundant. Products of hemp, however, are perfectly legal in the States. Contrary to popular belief, hemp is not marijuana, and contains no traces of THC, the mind-altering ingredient of the cannabis plant.
“The controversy surrounding the plant is very two-sided,” Cote asserts. “The hemp plant played a very important part in America’s history. The Declaration of Independence was written on paper produced from hemp, and Betsy Ross’s first American Flag was made from it, too. Back then, people even paid their taxes with hemp! They knew it was such a useful resource, and now, it’s completely outlawed in the States. Right now, it is among the country’s top imports. We need to just let it grow. How can I not fully support something that is so real and so good?”
The Hemp Heals Festival is the physical manifestation of all the passion that Riley Cote has built of over a decade’s worth of work. The festival serves as an outlet for him, and allows him to let his imagination run wild for a cause that he truly loves. Cote wanted to compile a bill of bands who would “put off the perfect vibe” for the event, searching for bands that would suit the overall demographic of the festival. The touring schedules of national reggae acts Rebelution and Matisyahu coincided perfectly with the festival, so Cote immediately jumped on the opportunity and booked them to headline. Attendees will also catch Collie Buddz, and Zion I, who will also perform, keeping a level of uniformity within the lineup. Local favorites Bong Hits for Jesus, Jay D Clark, and Cheezy and The Crackers will also work to maintain the mellow atmosphere and keep the good vibes alive. Cote confidently explains, “It will be the perfect day to relax, listen to music, and get educated.”
Even with such a tremendous lineup of bands, the musical aspect of the Hemp Heals Festival is just the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the day, several speakers will take the stage to further the audience’s knowledge and discuss subjects like the uses and benefits of hemp. The event will be swarming with vendors like Hemp Authority, who will be selling a huge variety of hemp clothing, and Nature’s Shea Butter, who specializes in Shea butters, lotions and soaps. Festival-goers should also not miss the opportunity to get their hands on a Hempzel, a hemp-made pretzel, and a Made in the Shade lemonade.
All of the proceeds from the festival will go to Christina Pirello’s Health Education Initiative whose mission is to provide fresh, healthy food for children that has not been chemically altered or treated by government agencies. This organization is the perfect complement to Hemp Heals, who also seeks to eliminate people’s blind faith in the food industry. Riley Cote, founder and figurehead of the revolutionary organization, is the living example of the benefits of overcoming that blindness, being in prime physical, mental and spiritual shape, who makes it his life’s mission to enlighten and awaken others.
As Cote says himself, “If you want to make a change, you have to make the first move. Only you can make that change. You can truly feel real health, and I consider educating people about health to be my mission until the day that I die.”