Asheville native Blake Butler to lead N.C. Industrial Hemp Association


Blake Butler

Big news on the industrial hemp front, as Asheville native Blake Butler is named executive director of the N.C. Industrial Hemp Association, a statewide group of about 1,000 hemp farmers and business owners.

Butler has been working as co-owner of Adapt Public Relations, an Asheville public relations firm, with business partner Jill Lieberman.

North Carolina is in the second year of a pilot project to allow folks to legally grow industrial hemp. Tar Heel farmers and business owners have jumped in: about 325 people have obtained a license under the state’s pilot program to grow hemp on 4,754 acres of farmland outdoors, and up to 1 million square feet of indoor greenhouse, according to a recent story by the Raleigh News & Observer, with another 80 licenses issued to processors.

What does this mean for Asheville? With Butler heading up the statewide association, look for Asheville to become a percolating center of this burgeoning industry. The association’s headquarters will be moved from Raleight to Asheville, where we’re already seeing a wave of new retail hemp dispensaries opening, and Western North Carolina has a vibrant small farm infrastructure that’s waiting and ready for a new cash crop.

Here’s the full press release:

The Board of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association (NCIHA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Blake Butler as Executive Director. Butler, a partner in Adapt Public Relations in Asheville, will fill the duties on a part-time basis until the end of the year and then transition to full-time beginning January 1, 2019.

North Carolina finished 2017 with more growers, acres, and processors than any other state in its first year of hemp production. With possible federal legalization of hemp on the horizon, it’s critical that North Carolina position themselves in this emerging industry.

Said NCIHA President Marty Clemons, “Blake joins us at a time of great transition for the industrial hemp industry and the NCIHA. We are confident he is the voice we need as we all work together to add more value for Association members and make North Carolina the industry gold standard.”

The NCIHA is a 501(c)(6) trade organization with over 1,000 members that represents all the stakeholders helping to build a thriving hemp industry in North Carolina. It was also responsible for the lobbying effort behind the passage of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in 2015.

With experience in politics, media, and public relations, Butler brings a diversity of experience to this position. Additionally, he is the co-founder of HempX, which has organized hemp educational events and workshops in multiple Southern states since 2015.

“Bob Crumley, Jeff Cartonia and some of the early adopters have done an incredible job in growing this organization,” said Butler. “I plan to build on that success and continue to work with hemp farmers, entrepreneurs, and businesses across the state.”

The Association will move its offices to Asheville, with plans to open an additional office in Raleigh early next year. To learn more about the NCIHA and how to become a member, visit