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Growing hemp for a greener world Print E-mail
Hemp and marijuana are both classified as “Cannabis sativa”. However, industrial hemp is bred to maximize fiber, seed and/or oil, while marijuana maximizes THC, the psychoactive ingredient. Industrial hemp THC content is 0.05-1%. Marijuana THC content is 3%-20%.

To get “high” a person would need to power-smoke 10-12 hemp cigarettes over an extremely short period of time. That much high temperature vapor, gas and smoke would be impossible for a person to withstand.

Hemp has been cultivated for over 12,000 years as fiber and food.

It was so important for rope and sails (the word "canvas" comes from "cannabis") that King George ordered American colonists to grow hemp, which both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did.

Ben Franklin’s mill made hemp paper, on which Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. When the Japanese cut off

"Manila hemp" (not true hemp) in WWII, the US Army and US Department of Agriculture promoted the "Hemp for Victory” movie campaign to grow more hemp in USA.

 

This lasted until the 1950’s, despite the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, which taxed marijuana so heavily it became unprofitable to grow hemp. Congress still wanted industrial hemp cultivated, but the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now the Drug Enforcement Agency) classified all several hundred C. sativa varieties as "marijuana". Federal provides “grow permits” for hemp, but the DEA requires plants to be secured by fences, razor wire, dogs, guards, and lights, making it cost-prohibitive.

 

Hemp provides high-quality paper with longer fibers, allowing it to be recycled several times more than wood-based paper. With its low lignin content, hemp pulping requires fewer chemicals than wood. Its natural brightness makes chlorine bleach unnecessary, so less dioxin pollutes streams; hemp paper uses hydrogen peroxide rather than chlorine dioxide, also benefitting the environment.

Hemp not only threatened DuPont's sale of chemicals to pulp trees for paper, but hemp fiber cloth competed with Nylon, which DuPont patented in 1938. Many claim that DuPont actively lobbied for hempprohibition in 1937 to reduce competition. DuPont denies those allegations.

Henry Ford experimented with hemp to build car bodies, because he wanted to build and fuel cars from farm products. Rudolph Diesel designed his engine to run on hemp oil. Hemp oil once greased machinery. Most paints, resins, shellacs, and varnishes were made

out of linseed and hemp oils. However, the US effectively prohibited any hemp products in USA since the 1950s, unless imported under strict regulations such as birdseed, which is actually hemp seed (sterilized before importation), the hulls of which contain about 25% protein.

 

Unlike USA, over 30 industrialized democracies distinguish hemp from marijuana and allow cultivation.

The European Union subsidizes farmers to grow it; BMW of Germany and Canadian

car manufacturers are experimenting with hemp materials to make cars lighter, stronger and more recyclable; at a mill in France, Kimberly Clark produces quality hemp paper for bibles, because it outlasts wood paper and doesn't yellow. Because of longer fibers, hemp paper can be recycled several times more than wood-based paper.

 

Hemp grows well in a variety of climates and soil types and is naturally resistant to most pests, reducing pesticide use.

It grows tightly spaced, preventing weeds, so herbicides are unnecessary and weed-free soil is available for the next crop.


Hemp facts

Could displace cotton, which uses massive amounts of chemicals harmful to people and the environment. Cotton uses 50% of the worlds pesticides. Hemp fibers are longer, stronger, more absorbent and more mildew-resistant.

Could displace wood fiber, saving forests for watershed, wildlife habitat, recreation and oxygen production, carbon sequestration (reduces global warming); hemp yields 3-8 dry tons of fiber per acre - four times what the average forest yields.

Hemp oil is the richest known source (81%) of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids (the "good" fats).

It's also high in some essential amino acids, including gamma linoleic acid (GLA), a rare nutrien in mother's milk.

Over 25,000 products can be made from hemp, including construction products like medium density fiber board; oriented strand board, and even beams, studs and posts. Because of hemp's long fibers, the products are stronger and/or lighter than those made from wood.

 

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