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Hemp movement in Philly headed by Former Flyer

When people hear “hemp,” they assume it’s being said to them by somebody with at least one pot leaf hoodie in their closet.

Would you give the stink eye to somebody pounding O'Douls in the parking lot before work?

I mean, yeah; probably. You might also just walk by quickly and try not to make eye contact. But one thing you couldn't do is accuse them of showing up to work drunk.

Nobody's really confusing O'Douls with alcohol, except maybe tragically clueless teenagers, but there are debates in this country that use a similar brand of ignorance to continue.

When people hear "hemp," they assume it's being said to them by somebody with at least one pot leaf hoodie in their closet. But while hemp is a form of cannabis and gets a lot of eye rolls, there is one thing it doesn't get: people stoned.

There's no THC in hemp – which is to say, there's no aspect of the plant that would get someone high, like marijuana would; just like O'Douls, without any alcohol, can't cause you a drinking problem. The misconception is that hemp and marijuana, coming from the same plant, are one and the same. They are not. And naturally, it's up to former Flyer Riley Cote to spread the word.

His playing days behind him after retiring from the NHL at 28, Cote is an assistant coach for the Adirondack Phantoms, when he isn't campaigning for the health benefits of hemp. Back in 2007-10, Riley Cote would try to get his point across with intense punching, or perhaps throwing his body into a man's head. These days, Cote takes a far more diplomatic approach to problem-solving, organizing events to advocate the value of hemp as a replacement for plastic, textiles, fuel and as a healthy dietary supplement. Hemp Heals strongly argues that the consumption of hemp seeds will aid in the healing process, as well as act as a preventative measure against getting sick.

That's why the Hemp Heals Music Festival is coming to Penn's Pier this Saturday, Sept. 7, and Cote is an active force in getting it there.

"I really believe this could help heal bodies, the environment, and the economy," Cote said in an interview last year.

His involvement in the hemp movement was triggered by a desire to keep his body healthy after a career of getting abused, as well as his sister's multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2000, after seeing hemp have a positive effect on her after every other treatment failed (The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation denies hemp's value as a treatment). But the misconceptions of hemp's cannabis influence, and laws in the United States that prevent it from being grown domestically, presented obstacles.

So, Penn's Pier will be the temporary home of the hemp movement in Philly on Saturday, with acts like Matisyahu and Rebelution, as Cote and Hemp Heals do their best to convince the masses that hemp and marijuana are two different things.