Hemp: The Truth About the Earth’s Greatest Plant
In a perfect world there would be a product that could serve as a fuel
source, a food source, a paper source, a textile source, and this product would
be easy to produce in any of its forms. Believe it or not such a product does
exist; it is the plant known as hemp. No tree or plant species on earth has the
commercial, economic, and environmental potential of hemp. Over 30,000 known
products can be manufactured from hemp.
Hemp was a common crop grown in the U.S. until 1937 when it was unjustly
banned. A common misconception about hemp is that it was banned because it was a
widely abused, harmful drug. Hemp was banned because it was a competitive threat
to the wood industry. Corporations that profited from the demise of hemp spread
rumors 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 uncontrollable
violence, another complete falsehood.
Hemp is the plant scientifically known as cannabis sativa. It is
referred to as hemp when it is grown for its fibers, stem, and seeds. Its leaves
and flowers produce the drugs marijuana and hashish. However, sterile breeds of
the plant are still illegal to grow in the U.S. Literally millions of wild hemp
plants grow throughout the entire Midwest today. Wild hemp, like hemp used for
industry purposes, is useless as an intoxicant. Yet U.S. drug law states that
one acre of this can result in the owner being sentenced to death. The death
penalty exists for growing one acre of perfectly harmless, non-intoxicating
Hemp can produce any product that paper can produce. The difference is
that 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 trees
takes twenty to fifty years to be ready for harvest where hemp is ready to
harvest four times as much in just a year. In addition, hemp produces twice as
much fiber per acre as cotton. Twenty five percent of all pesticides in the
world are used on cotton, averaging to four pounds of chemicals per acre of
cotton in the U.S. every year. Since hemp is a natural repellent to weeds and
insects, it needs almost no insecticides or herbicides. If it were substituted
for cotton it could greatly reduce the pesticide usage. Again, hemp can produce
anything cotton can and what’s more it can produce it better. Levi Strauss
tested 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 the
U.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 in
the U.S., it could supply 100% of the nation’s energy needs.
Hemp seeds are also a source of many products. The seeds contain high
protein oil that can be used for human and animal consumption. Hemp oil is not
intoxicating. Extracting hemp oil is cheaper than processing soy beans and it
can be processed and flavored in any way that soy beans can. Hemp oil can also
be used to make butter, cheese, and tofu. In addition to food products, hemp oil
can be used to make paint, varnish, ink, and plastic substitutes.
One of the many high points of hemp is that it’s easily grown. Unlike
almost all hemp substitutes, hemp can be grown in all fifty states. During the
Second World War, the government temporarily re-legalized hemp so farmers could
grow 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 to
maintain the hemp prohibition. Two of our founding fathers, George Washington
and Thomas Jefferson, were hemp advocates. They said hemp was a necessity to the
success of our nation. Now we have an even greater cause than that; the success
of the planet. We cannot continue to butcher our forests and pollute our soil
and water with chemicals to meet the demands of our every day lives. In turn we
will never be able convince enough people to change the way they live to do any
good. Fortunately, we have the perfect solution right under our noses: hemp.
However, this solution will not do us any good until people realize its
potential, and this will only happen if the word is spread. I can only hope that
enough people are educated before it’s too late.
“Make the most of the hemp seed, sow it everywhere.” George Washington