Hemp: The Truth About the Earth’s Greatest PlantIn a perfect world there would be a product that could serve as a fuelsource, a food source, a paper source, a textile source, and this product wouldbe easy to produce in any of its forms. Believe it or not such a product doesexist; it is the plant known as hemp. No tree or plant species on earth has thecommercial, economic, and environmental potential of hemp. Over 30,000 knownproducts can be manufactured from hemp.Hemp was a common crop grown in the U.
S. until 1937 when it was unjustlybanned. A common misconception about hemp is that it was banned because it was awidely abused, harmful drug.
Hemp was banned because it was a competitive threatto the wood industry. Corporations that profited from the demise of hemp spreadrumors that marijuana was a major drug problem, which it was not at the time.They also propagated a campaign that it was a drug that induced uncontrollableviolence, another complete falsehood.
Hemp is the plant scientifically known as cannabis sativa. It isreferred to as hemp when it is grown for its fibers, stem, and seeds. Its leavesand flowers produce the drugs marijuana and hashish. However, sterile breeds ofthe plant are still illegal to grow in the U.
S. Literally millions of wild hempplants grow throughout the entire Midwest today. Wild hemp, like hemp used forindustry purposes, is useless as an intoxicant. Yet U.
S. drug law states thatone acre of this can result in the owner being sentenced to death. The deathpenalty exists for growing one acre of perfectly harmless, non-intoxicatingweeds!Hemp can produce any product that paper can produce. The difference isthat one acre of hemp can produce four times as much paper as one acre of trees( a study done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Also, a crop of treestakes twenty to fifty years to be ready for harvest where hemp is ready toharvest four times as much in just a year.
In addition, hemp produces twice asmuch fiber per acre as cotton. Twenty five percent of all pesticides in theworld are used on cotton, averaging to four pounds of chemicals per acre ofcotton in the U.S. every year.
Since hemp is a natural repellent to weeds andinsects, it needs almost no insecticides or herbicides. If it were substitutedfor cotton it could greatly reduce the pesticide usage. Again, hemp can produceanything cotton can and what’s more it can produce it better. Levi Strausstested a pair of hemp denim jeans and the results showed hemp jeans to be 65%more durable than the average store bought pair.Hemp produces more biomass than any other plant that can be grown in theU.S. This biomass can be converted to fuel in the form of clean-burning alcohol,or non-sulfur man-made coal.
It is estimated that if hemp were widely grown inthe U.S., it could supply 100% of the nation’s energy needs.Hemp seeds are also a source of many products. The seeds contain highprotein oil that can be used for human and animal consumption. Hemp oil is notintoxicating. Extracting hemp oil is cheaper than processing soy beans and itcan be processed and flavored in any way that soy beans can. Hemp oil can alsobe used to make butter, cheese, and tofu.
In addition to food products, hemp oilcan be used to make paint, varnish, ink, and plastic substitutes.One of the many high points of hemp is that it’s easily grown. Unlikealmost all hemp substitutes, hemp can be grown in all fifty states. During theSecond World War, the government temporarily re-legalized hemp so farmers couldgrow it for the war effort. Hemp helped win World War II!It is high time for this country to take a second look at this product.
After reading these facts I challenge anyone to come up with a reason tomaintain the hemp prohibition. Two of our founding fathers, George Washingtonand Thomas Jefferson, were hemp advocates. They said hemp was a necessity to thesuccess of our nation. Now we have an even greater cause than that; the successof the planet. We cannot continue to butcher our forests and pollute our soiland water with chemicals to meet the demands of our every day lives. In turn wewill never be able convince enough people to change the way they live to do anygood. Fortunately, we have the perfect solution right under our noses: hemp.However, this solution will not do us any good until people realize itspotential, and this will only happen if the word is spread.
I can only hope thatenough people are educated before it’s too late.”Make the most of the hemp seed, sow it everywhere.” George WashingtonSocial Issues