2020. What a year.

We’ve seen protests erupt across the country in support of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other victims of racist violence, which resulted in a call to action: defund the police and reallocate funds to support social services. In Louisville, we saw the loss of many wonderful people in the weeks and months that followed, including David ‘YaYa’ McAtee, Tyler Gerth, Travis Nagdy, and Kris Smith.

Kentucky gained widespread attention for the (still ongoing) demonstrations in Louisville, as well as our governor’s daily coronavirus briefings. His go-to ASL interpreter, Virginia Moore, became a viral meme that encapsulated the frustration many of us felt about people that didn’t take the pandemic seriously and ignored CDC recommendations.

There’s really no way to overstate the devastation that COVID-19 had on our world, especially considering how it has disproportionately hurt Black and Indigenous communities. Small businesses have permanently shut their doors while Congress floundered on providing any meaningful support to working-class people.

This year has produced trauma for a lot of us. It has kept us indoors, separated us from our families, and pushed a lot of people on the edge of eviction. But it also forced us to take a step back and rethink the way we spend our time. It helped us realize both the fragility and importance of human connection.

As it was for many people, the events of 2020 threw a wrench in our plans. We had originally intended to show “Hemp State” in more cities and towns across Kentucky with post-screening discussions that were meant to ignite local conversations about cannabis, agriculture, sustainability, racism, and the criminal justice system. We hoped to kick-start the new format of the film series and encourage Kentuckians to invest themselves in social issues. But these things don’t always work out the way we expect.

While we are certainly proud to see the television debut on KET earlier this year, we felt it was the right time to make the film accessible to everyone, free of charge. That’s why “Hemp State” will be released online Friday, January 8th, 2021.

We wish everyone a happy and healthy new year. Stay strong and never give up.