The success of the hemp movement as a whole is only possible thanks to the tireless efforts of very special individuals. Two of these are Annie Rouse and Jason Amatucci! We truly appreciate their work as advocates and educators for hemp and the Hemp History Week campaign, and are excited to now see them walk their joint path as entrepreneurs with Anavii Market, as well as sponsors of the campaign!
Read their inspiring journeys, and learn about how they continue to educate people about hemp and CBD through their business.
Anavii Market is Rooted in the American Hemp Revolution
Anavii Market’s purpose is personal - to clear up the confusion around CBD and sell only the highest-quality, hemp-derived CBD products for those seeking alternative solutions to support their health. The seed for this idea was planted when co-founder Annie Rouse was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015. She tried a variety of CBD products to alleviate her symptoms and quickly learned that not all CBD is created equal.
Today, it seems as if new CBD products are being rolled-out daily and more than ever, a trusted, neutral curator of the best CBD products is needed. Co-founder Jason Amatucci recognized this need and the two joined forces in 2017 to launch Anavii Market.
Annie and Jason have deep roots in the American hemp revolution - from farming to advocacy to lobbying and more. Based in Kentucky and Virginia, they’ve individually accelerated the progress of hemp at both local and national levels. With their forces combined in Anavii Market, which only sells hemp-derived CBD, we’re excited to see the fruits of their collaborative efforts!
We sat down with Jason and Annie during a lobby day in D.C. to learn more about their histories with hemp and the role Anavii Market plays in hemp’s future.
Annie’s Hemp History
For Annie, a Kentucky-native, hemp was part of the family. In 1996, her father famously filmed Woody Harrelson planting hemp seeds and getting arrested as a stunt to show the stupidity of treating hemp and marijuana equally under the law. “My dad is my biggest inspiration for my hemp activism,” said Annie.
She began cultivating her own passion for the plant while researching it for a school paper and it snowballed from there. During graduate school, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the life cycle of the hemp plant in Canada. “The Farm Bill hadn’t yet passed so I was basically funded by the Department of State to study a federally-controlled narcotic,” chuckled Annie in disbelief. “That was an insanely special honor!”
After her hands-on experience in Canada’s farm fields and processing plants, Annie took her years of research and experience back home to Kentucky. She got involved on a grassroots advocacy level and organized local hemp events like Hemp Cook-Offs and Hemp Holiday Markets to help normalize hemp to the public.
“I remember attending my first Hemp History Week event at this time,” said Annie. “It was a fantastic way to bring people together in the industry - it helped me meet the local movers and shakers, with whom I still have strong relationships today.”
Annie runs the non-profit, Friends of Hemp, and Think Hempy Thoughts blog, and regularly writes for HEMP magazine. In 2018 alone, she launched a podcast, a CBD oil brand and Anavii Market, AND she was elected to the Hemp Industry Association's (HIA) Board of Directors. Fist bump!
Jason’s Hemp History
For Jason, a Virginia-native, hemp advocacy was a natural extension of his plant-centric upbringing. Jason grew up learning about the value of plants from his father who owned a plant nursery and landscaping business - the Virginia Boxwood Company. He joined his father in running the family business, which still cares for many of the major boxwood gardens and sites at estates and universities throughout Virginia. Through this experience, Jason learned about plants and developed a particular interest in hemp.
“As I learned more about the crop and all it could do for the environment and sustainable economic development, it became clear that it was the solution to a stronger state agriculture industry so very much in need of some help,” said Jason.
With this hands-on knowledge and a Political Science degree from UGA, Jason was uniquely positioned to bridge the needs of those working the land and those controlling the law.
“Legislation is the key to getting hemp on the proper legal footing it so rightly deserves,” declared Jason. “Once we can treat hemp like the rotation crop that it is - like corn, wheat, and soy - we will begin to build the new economy of hemp and all the economic development that comes along with that. Creating a new commodity in the marketplace will trigger all kinds of new jobs and economic development that goes beyond the fields and farms.”
He is a passionate powerhouse who has been instrumental in growing Virginia's hemp infrastructure and economy. In addition to being a constant connector and organizer, Jason worked with universities to establish hemp research programs, founded the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition in 2012 and helped to draft and gain support for all of the hemp bills passed in the Virginia General Assembly as well as the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in the U.S. Congress.
Jason's grassroots efforts have proven successful. When Jason invited Representative Bob Goodlatte to a Virginia Hemp Field Day, the Congressman left with a changed opinion in favor of legalizing hemp production.
“If only we could get all the decision makers and leaders out in the field to learn about hemp (and hemp-derived CBD) first-hand, for them to see the excitement and job creation from the communities they represent, we would be on a much better path to sustainable economic development,” noted Jason.
One decade after Annie’s father filmed Woody Harrelson’s publicity stunt, Jason held a stunt of his own. In 2016, he teamed up with Michael Bowman of the National Hemp Association and Mike Lewis of Growing Warriors to fly one of the first American-grown-and-made hemp flags over Charlottesville’s City Hall. They later presented the flag as a gift to hemp advocate and veteran, Willie Nelson.
Founding Anavii Market and the Future of Hemp
Jason and Annie had heard about each other’s work over the years and got to know each other at HIACON 2017 in Kentucky. A few months later, the two were at a mutual friend’s bonfire outside of Washington D.C. and learned that they shared a dream - a one-stop shop for quality, American-sourced hemp and CBD. They founded Anavii Market soon thereafter.
Empowering people through education is central to Anavii Market's mission. “We’ve lost decades of valuable research and education because of hemp’s wrongful prohibition all these years,” said Jason. “That’s only made the community stronger and more passionate, and through all the grassroots advocacy efforts, like that of Hemp History Week, we have been making real progress together. The future for hemp and CBD is bright.”
“We’re thrilled to be in a position to support Hemp History Week at a sponsor level, especially for this 10th anniversary year!” continued Jason. “They’ve been flat out amazing these past 10 years and have been one of the most, if not the most, successful campaigns to promote hemp in the U.S.”
Increased popularity is positive but can sometimes lead to confusion, which is why the work that Hemp History Week does is so important, and why Anavii Market’s work around hemp-derived CBD in particular is crucial to a healthy hemp future.
“As CBD becomes more popular, we want to make sure there’s a safe, trusted place for consumers to buy their products,” explained Annie. “I’ve had personal experience with mixed results for my own health goals and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. We created Anavii Market to sort through the sometimes-misleading product marketing, and sell only the highest-quality CBD products.”
Anavii Market sells only the best CBD by working with third-party labs to test products, verifying their quality and personally testing them to ensure their effectiveness. In addition, Anavii Market thoroughly vets brands for company values and business practices. They also consider relevant certifications. For example, Anavii Market currently carries two of the few USDA Certified Organic CBD brands - RE Botanicals and Palmetto Harmony - as well as three of the 15 US Hemp Authority Certified brands - Bluebird Botanicals, Plus CBD Oil, and Nature’s Hemp Oil (Annie’s CBD brand!).
Anavii Market is more than an online shop that sells the best CBD, it is the culmination of a decade’s work to legalize and improve access to hemp for all.