*Hemp has been
grown for at least the last 12,000 years for fiber (textiles and paper)
and food. It has been effectively prohibited in the United States since
and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Ben Franklin owned a mill that made
hemp paper. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.
*When US sources
of "Manila hemp" (not true hemp) was cut off by the Japanese in
WWII, the US Army and US Department of Agriculture promoted the "Hemp
for Victory" campaign to grow hemp in the US.
its importance for sails (the word "canvass" is rooted in "cannabis")
and rope for ships, hemp was a required crop in the American colonies.
experimented with hemp to build car bodies. He wanted to build and fuel
cars from farm products.
*BMW is experimenting
with hemp materials in automobiles as part of an effort to make cars more
*Much of the
bird seed sold in the US has hemp seed (it's sterilized before importation),
the hulls of which contain about 25% protein.
*Hemp oil once
greased machines. Most paints, resins, shellacs, and varnishes used to be
made out of linseed (from flax) and hemp oils.
designed his engine to run on hemp oil.
(on the Fortune 500) has a mill in France which produces hemp paper preferred
for bibles because it lasts a very long time and doesn't yellow.
products such as medium density fiber board, oriented strand board, and
even beams, studs and posts could be made out of hemp. Because of hemp's
long fibers, the products will be stronger and/or lighter than those made
that can be made from hemp number over 25,000.
hemp and marijuana are both classified by taxonomists as Cannabis sativa,
a species with hundreds of varieties. C. sativa is a member of the mulberry
family. Industrial hemp is bred to maximize fiber, seed and/or oil, while
marijuana varieties seek to maximize THC (delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol,
the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana).
hemp and marijuana may look somewhat alike to an untrained eye, an easily
trained eye can easily distinguish the difference.
hemp has a THC content of between 0.05 and 1%. Marijuana has a THC content
of 3% to 20%. To receive a standard psychoactive dose would require a person
to power-smoke 10-12 hemp cigarettes over an extremely short period of time.
The large volume and high temperature of vapor, gas and smoke would be almost
impossible for a person to withstand.
*If hemp does
pollinate any nearby marijuana, genetically, the result will always be lower-THC
marijuana, not higher-THC hemp. If hemp is grown outdoors, marijuana will
not be grown close by to avoid producing lower-grade marijuana.
are longer, stronger, more absorbent and more mildew-resistant than cotton.
of at least one-half hemp block the sun's UV rays more effectively than
*Many of the
varieties of hemp that were grown in North America have been lost. Seed
banks weren't maintained. New genetic breeding will be necessary using both
foreign and domestic "ditchweed," strains of hemp that went feral
after cultivation ended. Various state national guard units often spend
their weekends trying to eradicate this hemp, in the mistaken belief they
are helping stop drug use.
*A 1938 Popular
Mechanics described hemp as a "New Billion Dollar Crop." That's
back when a billion was real money.
*Hemp can be
made in to a variety of fabrics, including linen quality.
*The US Drug
Enforcement Agency classifies all C. sativa varieties as "marijuana."
While it is theoretically possible to get permission from the government
to grow hemp, DEA would require that the field be secured by fence, razor
wire, dogs, guards, and lights, making it cost-prohibitive.
*The US State
Department must certify each year that a foreign nation is cooperating in
the war on drugs. The European Union subsidizes its farmers to grow industrial
hemp. Those nations are not on this list, because the State Department can
tell the difference between hemp and marijuana.
*Hemp was grown
commercially (with increasing governmental interference) in the United States
until the 1950s. It was doomed by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which placed
an extremely high tax on marijuana and made it effectively impossible to
grow industrial hemp. While Congress expressly expected the continued production
of industrial hemp, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics lumped industrial hemp
with marijuana, as it's successor the US Drug Enforcement Administration,
does to this day.
*Over 30 industrialized
democracies do distinguish hemp from marijuana. International treaties regarding
marijuana make an exception for industrial hemp.
again allows the growing of hemp.
* Hemp growers
can not hide marijuana plants in their fields. Marijuana is grown widely
spaced to maximize leaves. Hemp is grown in tightly-spaced rows to maximize
stalk and is usually harvested before it goes to seed.
*Hemp can be
made into fine quality paper. The long fibers in hemp allow such paper to
be recycled several times more than wood-based paper.
its low lignin content, hemp can be pulped using less chemicals than with
wood. Its natural brightness can obviate the need to use chlorine bleach,
which means no extremely toxic dioxin being dumped into streams. A kinder
and gentler chemistry using hydrogen peroxide rather than chlorine dixoide
is possible with hemp fibers.
well in a variety of climates and soil types. It is naturally resistant
to most pests, precluding the need for pesticides. It grows tightly spaced,
out-competing any weeds, so herbicides are not necessary. It also leaves
a weed-free field for a following crop.
*Hemp can displace
cotton which is usually grown with massive amounts of chemicals harmful
to people and the environment. 50% of all the world's pesticides are sprayed
*Hemp can displace
wood fiber and save forests for watershed, wildlife habitat, recreation
and oxygen production, carbon sequestration (reduces global warming), and
*Hemp can yield
3-8 dry tons of fiber per acre. This is four times what an average forest
*If one tried
to ingest enough industrial hemp to get 'a buzz', it would be the equivalent
of taking 2-3 doses of a high-fiber laxative.
*At a volume
level of 81%, hemp oil is the richest known source of polyunsaturated essential
fatty acids (the "good" fats). It's quite high in some essential
amino acids, including gamma linoleic acid (GLA), a very rare nutrient also
found in mother's milk.
original "gruel" was made of hemp seed meal, hemp oil and seed
can be made into tasty and nutritional products.
Here is an interesting and
enlightening assortment of hemp facts:
1) Hemp is among the oldest industries on the
planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the
beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of
the World states that the oldest relic of human
industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to
approximately 8,000 BC.
2) Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew
hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp
during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The
federal government subsidized hemp during the
Second World War and U.S. farmers grew about a
million acres of hemp as part of that program.
3) Hemp seed is nutritious and contains more
essential fatty acids than any other source, is
second only to soybeans in complete protein (but
is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins,
and is a good source of dietary fiber. Hemp seed
is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug
4) The bark of the hemp stalk contains bast fibers,
which are among the Earth's longest natural soft
fibers and are also rich in cellulose. The cellulose
and hemi-cellulose in its inner woody core are
called hurds. Hemp stalk is not psychoactive.
Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent
and more insulative than cotton fiber.
5) According to the Department of Energy, hemp
as a biomass fuel producer requires the least
specialized growing and processing procedures
of all hemp products. The hydrocarbons in hemp
can be processed into a wide range of biomass
energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels
and gas. Development of bio-fuels could significantly
reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear
6) Hemp can be grown organically. Only eight,
out of about one hundred known pests, cause problems,
and hemp is most often grown without herbicides,
fungicides or pesticides. Hemp is also a natural
weed suppressor due to fast growth of the canopy.
7) Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber
on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every
quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can
reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp's low lignin
content reduces the need for acids used in pulping,
and its creamy color lends itself to environmentally-friendly
bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds.
Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer
8) Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and
does not yellow with age when an acid-free process
is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old
has been found. Hemp paper can also be recycled
more times than wood-based paper.
9) Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State
University was found to be twice as strong as
wood-based fiberboard. No additional resins are
required due to naturally-occurring lignins.
10) Eco-friendly hemp can replace most toxic
petrochemical products. Research is being done
to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic
products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic
mixed with hemp for injection-molded products,
and resins made from the oil, to name a very few
examples. Over two million cars on the road today
have hemp composite parts for door panels, dashboards,
luggage racks, etc.
Growing Industrial Hemp Today
|The U.S. is the only industrialized
nation in the world that does not recognize the
value of industrial hemp and permit its production.
Below is a list of other countries that are more
rational when it comes to hemp policy.
research trials in Tasmania in 1995. Victoria commercial
production since1998. New South Wales has research.
In 2002, Queensland began production. Western Australia
licensed crops in 2004.
has a hemp industry including production of hemp
seed oil, medicinals and Hanf magazine.
CANADA started to license research
crops in 1994. In addition to crops for fiber, one
seed crop was licensed in 1995. Many acres were
planted in 1997. Licenses for commercial agriculture
saw thousands of acres planted in 1998. 30,000 acres
were planted in 1999. In 2000, due to speculative
investing, 12,250 acres were sown. In 2001, 92 farmers
grew 3,250 acres. A number of Canadian farmers are
now growing organically-certified hemp crops (6,000
acres in 2003 and 8,500 acres in 2004, yielding
almost four million pounds of seed).
has grown hemp in the recent past for seed oil production.
CHINA is the largest exporter
of hemp textiles. The fabrics are of excellent quality.
Medium density fiber board is also now available.
The Chinese word for hemp is "ma."
DENMARK planted its first
modern hemp trial crops in 1997. The country is
committed to utilizing organic methods.
FINLAND had a resurgence of hemp
in 1995 with several small test plots. A seed variety
for northern climates was developed called Finola,
previously know by the breeder code "FIN-314."
In 2003, Finola was accepted to the EU list of subsidized
hemp cultivars. Hemp has never been prohibited in
Finland. The Finnish word for hemp is "hamppu."
FRANCE has never prohibited
hemp and harvested 10,000 tons of fiber in 1994.
France is a source of low-THC-producing hemp seed
for other countries. France exports high quality
hemp oil to the U.S. The French word for hemp is
banned hemp in 1982, but research began again in
1992, and many technologies and products are now
being developed, as the ban was lifted on growing
hemp in November, 1995. Food, clothes and paper
are also being made from imported raw materials.
Mercedes and BMW use hemp fiber for composites in
door panels, dashboards, etc. The German word for
hemp is "hanf."
BRITAIN lifted hemp prohibition in 1993.
Animal bedding, paper and textiles markets have
been developed. A government grant was given to
develop new markets for natural fibers. 4,000 acres
were grown in 1994. Subsidies of 230 British pounds
per acre are given by the government to farmers
for growing hemp.
is rebuilding their hemp industry, and is one of
the biggest exporters of hemp cordage, rugs and
fabric to the U.S. They also export hemp seed, paper
and fiberboard. The Hungarian word for hemp is "kender."
INDIA has stands of naturalized
Cannabis and uses it for cordage, textiles and seed.
ITALY has invested in the
resurgence of hemp, especially for textile production.
1,000 acres were planted for fiber in 2002. Giorgio
Armani grows its own hemp for specialized textiles.
JAPAN has a rich religious
tradition involving hemp, and custom requires that
the Emperor and Shinto priests wear hemp garments
in certain ceremonies, so there are small plots
maintained for these purposes. Traditional spice
mixes also include hemp seed. Japan supports a thriving
retail market for a variety of hemp products. The
Japanese word for hemp is "asa."
NETHERLANDS is conducting a four-year
study to evaluate and test hemp for paper, and is
developing specialized processing equipment. Seed
breeders are developing new strains of low-THC varieties.
The Dutch word for hemp is "hennep."
NEW ZEALAND started hemp trials
in 2001. Various cultivars are being planted in
the north and south islands.
currently grows hemp for fabric and cordage and
manufactures hemp particle board. They have demonstrated
the benefits of using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated
by heavy metals. The Polish word for hemp is "konopij."
ROMANIA is the largest commercial
producer of hemp in Europe. 1993 acreage was 40,000
acres. Some of it is exported to Hungary for processing.
They also export hemp to Western Europe and the
U.S. The Romanian word for hemp is "cinepa."
RUSSIA maintains the largest
hemp germplasm collection in the world at the N.I.
Vavilov Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry
(VIR) in St. Petersburg. They are in need of funding
to maintain and support the collection. The Russian
word for hemp is "konoplya."
SLOVENIA grows hemp and manufactures
has never prohibited hemp, produces rope and textiles,
and exports hemp pulp for paper. The Spanish word
for hemp is "cañamo."
SWITZERLAND is a producer of hemp
and hosts one of the largest hemp trade events,
grown hemp for 2,800 years for rope, caulking, birdseed,
paper and fuel. The Turkish word for hemp is "kendir."
UKRAINE, EGYPT, KOREA, PORTUGAL and
THAILAND also produce hemp.
UNITED STATES granted the first
hemp permit in over 40 years to Hawaii for an experimental
quarter-acre plot in 1999. The license was renewed,
but the project has since been closed due to DEA
stalling tactics and related funding problems. Importers
and manufacturers have thrived using imported raw
materials. 22 states have introduced legislation,
including VT, HI, ND, MT, MN, IL, VA, NM, CA, AR,
KY, MD, WV and ME, addressing support, research
or cultivation with bills or resolutions. The National
Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) has endorsed
industrial hemp for years.
|Chris Conrad, "Hemp: Lifeline
to the Future"
Jack Frazier, "The Great American Hemp Industry"
Hemptech, "Industrial Hemp" and "Hemp