About the Iowa Hemp Association
The Iowa Hemp Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit, Iowa-based, advocacy and public benefit organization dedicated to the re-introduction and re-emergence of hemp as an agricultural crop in Iowa by educating farmers, farming organizations, landowners, students, and state legislators on the history, present, and future of hemp.
The IHA was founded in 2015 by a group of cannabis and hemp activists from across Iowa. Across the country, states are passing legislation allowing farmers access to this once-staple American agricultural crop. As of the end of the 2015 Iowa Legislative Session, our lawmakers continue to deny Iowa farmers the legal climate necessary to take advantage of the rapidly growing hemp industry.
The IHA is engaged in various political and educational initiatives to educate Iowa farmers and the general public about the growing, $620 million US hemp products industry. As Iowa lawmakers drag their feet, farmers in Kentucky, Colorado, Tennessee and other states are beginning to reap first-mover profits generated by this multi-revenue crop. The IHA believes that this opportunity should be available to Iowa farmers under a regulated industrial cannabis program under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture.
The IHA is also committed to the expansion of existing Iowa laws concerning the medicinal use of cannabis. Our goal is to educate the general public on the role of cannabis in health, and we have partnered with the National Cannabis Nurses Association to help spread this message. Please contact us for more details!
“Fields of Opportunity” Educational Tour
We are engaged in our “Fields of Opportunity” strategic educational initiative, detailed below, which is a unique way for to support hemp activism in our national farming heartland.
Our “Fields of Opportunity” educational series involves a multi-faceted presentation on cannabis and hemp. Starting with an overview of the history of prohibition and the Controlled Substances Act, we move on to discuss the environmental benefits of growing industrial hemp. Following this discussion, we provide a presentation on the Endocannabinoid System and the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Finally, we close out with an overview of the historical importance of hemp to the global economy, its subsequent prohibition, and the economic opportunities available to Iowa farmers with the passage of the 2014 Federal Farm Bill. The mission of this tour is to educate Iowans on the differences between hemp and marijuana, the history of hemp, its economic and environmental benefits, current legislative obstacles, and how Iowans can get involved. Through lobbying efforts, we have found that without grassroots support from Iowa farmers, landowners, and other stakeholders (especially the Iowa Farm Bureau), the top agricultural state in the US will continue to lag behind its peers in industrial hemp cultivation, research, and production.
If you are interested in sponsoring an IHA Fields of Opportunity Educational Presentation, please contact us for more details! For upcoming events, please see the calendar.
Board of Directors
Dr. Christopher Disbro
Dr. Christopher Disbro is an Iowa native, having attended Dowling Catholic High School before going on to earn his Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Notre Dame in 2007, majoring in Political Science and Pre-medical Studies with a supplemental major in German. While at Notre Dame, he taught biology laboratory sessions as a teaching assistant. He also attended the University of Innsbruck for a year during his undergraduate education and the Goethe Institute in Salzburg for intensive German language training. After graduation, he attended St. George’s University for his medical training where he had first hand experiences with the healthcare systems in England and Grenada in addition to working in hospitals in New York, California, and Ohio. Since then he has been working with Heartland Hemp Co to promote effective and safe means for patients to obtain new medications and advocating for the adoption of reasonable cannabis policy here in Iowa.
Boris Shcharansky has resided in Iowa since he was three years of age. Born in Moscow, Russia and making his way to the United States via Israel, Boris received his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with Concentrations in Real Estate and Finance. Currently, he is CEO of Heartland Hemp Company, a local Iowa firm focused on leveraging agricultural technologies, superior industrial/medicinal cannabis genetics and global cannabis relationships to benefit Iowa farmers, landowners and consumers. In addition to Heartland Hemp Co, Boris is part- owner and Executive Vice President of Continuous Control Solutions in Des Moines, Iowa. Previously, he was one of the founding members of PetroTiger, the largest local oil field services company in South America, before joining Continuous Controls Solutions. Boris has been passionate about hemp medicine and therapy since being diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis in 2010, and has been a close follower of the cannabis and hemp industries as they have emerged over the past decade, developing key relationships and partnerships. Boris is a member of the National Hemp Association and Medicinal Hemp Association. He currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Karin, and daughter, Katarina.
Aaron Schoeneman was born in Chicago’s South Side and moved to Ames, IA to attend Iowa State University. After majoring in Political Science and pre-Law for 3 years Aaron took a hiatus from ISU following 3 major reconstructive shoulder surgeries. While he attended Iowa State, Aaron became the Deputy Director of Iowa NORML, the Iowa Affiliate Chapter to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and then the Executive Director in the Spring of 2012. When Aaron left ISU he became very avtive in Iowa politics. In 2014 he was elected to the Story County, Fourth District and Iowa Democratic Platform Committees and wrote the Iowa Democratic Platform. Since then Aaron managed political campaigns for both Jon Neiderbach and Jon Neiderbach during the 2014 election cycle. In 2015, Aaron continued his studies at Kaplan University pursuing a degree in Legal Studies while co-founding both the IHA and the Families United Action Network (FUAN). He is also working on establishing a political communications consulting firm called Allies United that focuses on customized political campaigns and recording commercials for candidates running for election to political offices in Iowa.
Michelle (Shelly) Van Winkle
Michelle (Shelly) Van Winkle has been a practicing nurse since 2003, working across multiple disciplines including pediatrics, surgical assistance and intensive care treatment. Nurse Van Winkle has also worked with patients as a Nurse Case manager through United Health and as a Legal Nurse Consultant at Med-Law Connection in Bettendorf, IA. Previous to her nursing career, Shelly was enlisted in the US Army Military Intelligence from 1988-1991. She holds an Associate of Nursing and Associate of the Arts from College of Sequoias and is a Member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association.