Probably one of the worst things to happen to the agricultural industry was outlawing hemp. Hemp is one of the most, if not the most versatile and sustainable plant on the planet, having countless benefits and applications in a variety of industries. Hemp contains negligible amounts of THC and, historically, has been recognized as a separate part of the plant, not to be associated with marijuana, which does contain THC. In fact, within the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, marijuana? was define as the seeds and resin, etc, excluding the stalks and fibers from which hemp is harvested. During this time, hemp was grown domestically within the United States, its cultivation encouraged. It was even touted as being the new Billion Dollar Crop,? which was good news for a country emerging from the Great Depression. During the year of 1970, however, the definition of marijuana? was altered to include all parts of the plant, including the stalks, stems, and fibers. This ultimately lead to hemp and marijuana being treated equally under the Marijuana Tax Act.
It is unclear why the definition was changed. Some speculate that hemp threatened the lumber industry, being capable of producing 4x more usable material in less time than standard wood, using only a fraction of the space. Even with the Marijuana Tax Act in place, hemp is a product that continues to be in high demand. Annually, the United States imports millions of dollars worth of hemp fabric and food items, including oil and seeds. Roughly 11 million dollars worth of hemp products were imported into the United States in 2011 alone, indicating a steady increase since the early 1990’s. These products are gaining popularity due to their wide range of uses, health benefits, and green footprint.
Luckily, this year in February, the president signed something called the Farm Bill? which, once again, redefines hemp, allowing it to be grown in universities, agricultural associations, etc., for research purposes. This research is meant to determine whether or not hemp would be a viable substance that would aid in economic growth. Considering the plethora of benefits that hemp possesses, I think the chances of the United States adopting it as a major agricultural product are quite good.
Facts about hemp:
Henry Ford’s ModelT was made from hemp fibers1 acre of hemp can produce as much usable fiber as 4 acres of trees.
Hemp takes less than 4 months to mature into usable plants.
Hemp has deep roots, helping to aerate the soil naturally
A fraction of the land mass within the United States would be needed to produce enough biomass to fuel the country’s needs.
Hemp lasts 2x as long as cotton, and becomes softer with age
Hemp requires very little, if any pesticides
Paper made from hemp lasts much longer than tree pulp, and can be recycled several times
Hemp improves the soil quality by adding nitrogen and nutrients back in
Hemp oil and seeds are highly nutritious for humans
Hemp is hardy and can grow in a variety of locations, being able to adapt to various climates
Hemp oil can be used topically as a mild sunscreen
The Many Uses of Hemp:
Hemp cooking oil
Hemp seeds (food source)
Hemp protein powder…to name a few. Help increase the demand for this amazing material by purchasing hemp over that of standard paper products. Hemp is widely available online in many different forms, and with any luck, will become more and more common locally.