Hemp has a notorious reputation. But did you know that it's been used by human beings for 12,000 years? This harmless plant has been prohibited in the U.S. since the 1950's, yet it was the the Declaration of Independence is printed on it. Jefferson, Davis, and George Washington all grew hemp, and Benjamin Franklin made hemp paper in his own mill.
In modern times, hemp has been effectively used for plastics, paper, construction and furnishings, clothing, oil based paints, fishing bait, mulch, animal bedding, litter, cord, health food, fuel and even some medical purposes. There are estimated to be 50,000 items made from hemp.
Hemp is one name of the cannabis plant. It is a soft, durable fiber. Cannabis Sativa is the best suited to be used for industrial use.
Cannabis is actually a member of the hops family. It produces an unusual family of what are called Cannabinoids. This is what produces the "high" one experiences when smoking marijuana. Cannabinoids are categorized by the overall amount of either THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) or CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the only psychoactive element (meaning it's the only one to have an effect on mental processes)
Canada does allow the growing of Hemp. However, here in the United States, the US Drug Enforcement Administration still clumps industrial hemp in with marijuana. This has been going on since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, in which the taxes on hemp were set so high that it became nearly financially mpossible to grow industrial hemp.
Since 2007, the commercial success of food products made from hemp has grown a lot. It is one of the fastest growing organic crops now known. Hemp grows well in a variety of soil types and climates. It produces about 25 tons of dry matter per year, and the average yield is 3-4 tons of dried, retted, good-quality straw.
To date, there are no known allergies to hemp foods. They even are safe for those who may be unable to eat nuts, gluten, sugar, or lactose. It is an adequate source of iron, calcium or dietary fiber. Hemp is a good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and manganese. It also contains antioxidants and chlorophyll. It's important to note, however, that hemp oil will oxidize and turn rancid in a short period of time if not properly stored.
Hemp seeds are rich in proteins. Rich in antioxidants (both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids) andgluten-free it boosts the immune system.
The fruit (seed) of the plant holds all of the fatty acids and amino acids needed to maintain life. The seeds can be eaten raw, sprouted, or ground into meal. It can also be made into milk similar to soy, and even used for tea.
It doesn't stop there. When used for making clothing, a 55%/45% blend of hemp and cotton is often preferred, although sometimes silk is used as well. Hemp fibers are stronger, longer, more absorbent, and more mildew-resistant than cotton. Interestingly, fabrics made of at least one-half hemp block the sun's UV rays more effectively than other fabrics.
Guess what? Filtered hemp oil can be used to power diesel engines. It is clean-burning and non-toxic. Can also be used in paint, detergent, lubricating oil, varnish and solvent. Due to its high resistance to water, it makes for superior coating and soaks into and preserves wood.
Modern research indicates that hemp requires few pesticides or herbicides to grow. And the growing of the plant requires about the same nutrient levels as a high yielding wheat crop.
Hemp has been grown in Asia and the Middle East for fiber for hundreds of years. Other countries that grow hemp are China, Yugoslavia, France, Romania, and Italy. Its use dates back to the Stone Age. This plant is ultra-sustainable. It grows at four times the rate of trees.
One acre of hemp can make 1,000 gallons of methanol. This type of fuel does not contribute to global warming. It does not deplete the soil, (except for a little nitrogen) and it actually improves soil conditions.
Think about this:
When considering growing conditions, hemp could be grown in all 50 states. The US has a total land area of 3,537,438 square miles, or 2.27 billion acres. If you devoted that entire area to hemp growing, it would produce 2.27 trillion every other year or 1.13 trillion every year. That's 8.6 times our annual consumption of fuel.
So only about 12% of land area would be needed to replace petroleum. You could also make part of the hemp supply into paper, and then recycle that paper into fuel. The possibilities are endless.
Hemp can produce wood fiber, helping us to save forests for watershed, wildlife habitat, recreation, and oxygen production. Not to mention it can aid in carbon removal or sequestration, cooling a rapidly heating planet.