Why Hemp Production is a Win for Us All
We talk a lot about the benefits of medical cannabis these days, but not so much about industrial hemp. Hemp is good not just for the US economy, but also for the planet. In fact, in the early 20th century, hemp was grown widely in this country and cannabis was legal. That changed with a slew of anti-cannabis legislation, such as the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970, which put an end to the cultivation of hemp.
The main issue which has stifled hemp production is that the crop has always been associated with cannabis containing THC, though industrial hemp is not psychoactive as it cannot contain more than .3% THC. So policy makers have felt that encouraging hemp production is tantamount to encouraging the growth of marijuana. This is simply untrue.
Over 20 countries, including Germany, France, UK, Canada and Spain have no restrictions against the growth of industrial hemp. These countries realize the difference between cultivating industrial hemp for agricultural purposes and cultivating cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes. Recently, there has been a revival in the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States, and the American hemp industry had sales of $580 million in 2015. Farmers, business owners, environmental activists and nutritionists have taken to growing hemp in a big way. Today, the production of sustainable hemp seeds, oil and fiber in the United States finds application in the raw materials used by major corporations such as The Body Shop, Ford Motors and Patagonia.
Hemp is a natural substitute for wood and cotton fiber, and can be used to make paper. It serves as a great replacement for wood because of its low lignin content. This means it can be converted into pulp far more efficiently. Also, the pulp produced from hemp does not contain toxic substances such as dioxin, which is released by wood during the pulping process. The quality of the paper produced from hemp is of the highest quality – plus, it is friendly to the environment. Hemp can also be used in construction. It is used to make strong but lightweight fiberboards which are lighter than those made from wood. It is combined with lime to produce insulating and soundproofing material.
Hemp is also an efficient alternative source of energy. The waste products obtained from hemp oil are an excellent source of ethanol. Just an acre of hemp gives you 1,000 gallons of fuel, which is a very high yield. It is resistant to pests for the most part, and can be grown in many different soil types and environments.
Hemp could ultimately replace wood and concrete at construction sites to produce construction material which is not only cheaper than glass but also easily recyclable and safe to use. Large-scale industrial hemp production is a win-win for both the environment and the US economy, a rarity these days. As George Washington said, “Make the most of the Indian hemp seed and sow it everywhere!”