Morris Beegle’s friends call him “the Bill Graham of hemp.” After leaving the music industry when his one-stop shop Hapi Skratch Records was upended by the digital revolution in 2012, Beegle decided to take his skill set to the emerging hemp industry, launching the annual NoCo Hemp Expo in Denver.
“I’m a promoter of the plant and the planet,” he says. “But I’m also a realist. In a world of petroleum, corn, soy and timber, how do we draw attention to hemp in the commodity market to start replacing some of these more environmentally detrimental ingredients? We have a long way to go, but this plant can make a difference in the future of humanity.”
Beegle’s latest enterprise Silver Mountain Hemp Guitars manufactures guitar bodies, speaker cabinets, amplifiers and straps made from this most versatile of materials. The $3,000 HempCaster uses maple for the neck and hempwood for the body. It’s a Frankenstein hybrid of the Telecaster and the Strat. So far, Silver Mountain has created four HempCasters, with a dozen more on order. He’s also working on 3D-printed and fully biodegradable hemp plastic guitar picks.
Morris Beegle: "We need to get the FDA and the DEA out of our business because they suck and should just go away.”
“Hemp is a much harder wood than either hickory or oak,” Beegle explains. “Sonically or tonally, it holds up against any Strat, Les Paul or Telecaster. But it’s up to the players for the kind of tone they prefer. Everyone who’s used it loves the feel and the way it plays. It’s also a novelty item for serious collectors.”
Beegle was originally attracted to the hemp seed for its applications in textiles, fibers and food. After having a few hemp guitars manufactured for him in Canada, he ordered speaker cabinets constructed out of hemp particle board from Hard Truckers and hempcone speakers from Tone Tubby and Eminence. Guitarists like Trey Anastasio, Carlos Santana, Warren Haynes and James Hetfield have used these speakers.
As for the future of the hemp/CBD business, Beegle hopes the DEA and FDA will stop threatening CBD manufacturers who go over the 0.3% THC limit. “It’s a tough tightrope to walk,” he says. “It’s almost impossible to be compliant. We need to get the FDA and the DEA out of our business because they suck and should just go away.”