Hemp Rediscovered Essay Research Paper Hemp RediscoveredMake

Hemp Rediscovered Essay, Research Paper

Hemp Rediscovered

?Make the most of the hemp seed and sow it every where,? a quote by

George Washington in 1794 (qtd. In ?Get the Scoop?). In early American

history hemp was an essential crop, it was used to make rope, sails, lamp oil,

and almost anything else. Henry ford built a car out of hemp that ran on hemp

fuel and oil. The original Levi jeans were fashioned out of hemp fibers. And

even the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution

were written on hemp paper (?Get The Scoop?). In fact, hemp was one of the

largest produced crops in the US until it?s demise in 1937 under the Marihuana

Tax Act. This act of Congress was aimed at Americas newest enemy, marijuana or

cannabis sativa C, but the bill also criminalized the cultivation of marijuana?s

cousin cannabis sativa L, commonly referred to as hemp. Hemp had one more day in

the spot light in 1942 when it was called into battle in World War II under a

flag that read ?Hemp for victory? (?About?). The Tax Act was quickly

reenacted after the war and hemp has not been grown legally on American soil


The reason hemp is such a valuable plant, is that it grows fast, dense, and

easily. The germination period for hemp is about one hundred days depending on

the application for which it is being used (?About?). In comparison with

other cash crops this is good, but in comparison with some of the resources it

can replace, such as trees and fossil fuel, there is nothing better. Hemp

provides a much higher yield than other American cash crops, and can be used for

so many things that it?s market value should remain stable with increased

production. Also, hemp can be grown without pesticides and it actually

replenishes the soil so it can be rotated with other crops to produce higher

yields of both (Field 1).

The maintainability of the hemp industry relies on demand, but with hemp?s

25,000 different uses this is no great barrier (?About?). With current

processing technology every part of the cannabis sativa L plant is useful. The

seeds can be hulled and used in food for flavor and as a protein supplement.

These seeds can also be crushed into hemp-seed oil which is used as lamp oil or

as a moisturizing ingredient in cosmetics and soaps. The leaves are used in

perfumes and powders, and the stalks are processed for fiber products (?Hemp

Knowledge?). Fiber strands processed from the stalk can be made into anything

from textiles to rope or even silk. The coarseness of the material is dependent

on the age and density of the crop (?Endless?). The leftover stalk fragments

are used to produce hemp paper and building materials. These fragments can also

be refined to make paint, sealents, and many of our fuels, such as gas and

charcoal (?Some?).

The most notable uses of hemp in the United States today can be seen in the

clothing and beauty industries. There are several complete lines of personal

care products currently available to consumers. Shampoo, conditioner,

moisturizer, massage oil, and many others can be found using hemp-seed oil. The

key to this is the oils essential fatty acids, which, at first ring, sound like

something you should stay away from but they are very effective in skin and hair

care and can be used as treatments for many topical diseases. There are also

many clothing lines adding hemp to their lineup: Adidas, Ralph Loren, and Calvin

Klien are among the major distributors (?About?). Because of the plants long

fibers the cloths are long lasting and fade resistant. Hemp is also an insular

material, that is, it blocks 100% of the sun?s UV rays (?Endless?).

The two products that have not seen their potential are hemp fuel and hemp

paper. Because of shipping costs of importing hemp the US has not yet introduced

these products to it?s consumers but with widespread cultivation these

applications have the greatest potential. Fossil fuel is a nonrenewable

resource, of which the US has already exhausted over half of it?s reserves.

The answer, of course, is hemp. The US could sustain all it?s petroleum needs

by designating six percent of it?s land mass to cultivating hemp as biomass.

The fuel produced from the hemp?s biomass is nearly as efficient as fossil

fuels in the refining process while cutting pollution. When the fuel is burned

the fuel gives off only the CO2 it has taken from the air resulting in a natural

balance as opposed to the acid rain effect of petroleum based fuel?s CO (?Hemp


Hemp paper may just be the only thing that can save our forests. 260 million

tons of paper are consumed each year, at this rate all our forests will be

destroyed by 2020 (?Harnessing?). In fact we have destroyed 50% of the

worlds forests in the last 50 years. The hemp industry could alone meet all of

the fiber needs of the paper industry, and crops can be renewed in 100 days in

stead of 100 years. The process to make hemp paper is even environmentally

friendly, it results in only 15% of the pollutants and requires no bleach (?Achieving?).

And because of hemp?s long fibers the paper produced is stronger and longer

lasting. In fact hemp documents have been discovered from Ancient China dating

back as far as 8000 BC (Nix 1).

Still, with the many known uses of hemp, there is a lot of resistance to

re-legalizing the cultivation of cannabis sativa L. All of the objections

publicly stated are based on marijuana control. Legalization of hem falls in the

DEA?s jurisdiction as it has been wrongfully classified as a Schedule I

controlled substance. It is the DEA?s opinion that if hemp cultivation was

legalized it would undermined the United State?s drug policy, sending the

wrong message to kids. The DEA office is also concerned that henp could be used

to camouflage illegal marijuana crops (Stauber 4).

The concerns of DEA and other legislators could only stem from one of two

things: insufficient information on the differences between hemp and marijuana

or outside influence from petroleum and lumber lobbyists. The hemp plant,

cannabis sativa L, and marijuana, cannabis sativa C, are specific plants in the

cannabis genus (Hickey 1). The obvious difference between the two is that hemp

grows tall with wood-like stalks with dark leaves while marijuana is shorter and

dense, normally a much lighter green than the hemp plant. The most significant

difference in current legislation is in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels. THC

is the psychoactive ingredient that gives the marijuana plant it?s euphoric

properties (?About?). Marijuana contains anywhere from 2 to 27 percent THC

while hemp contains only .3 percent (?Hemp Knowlwdge?). This in combination

with the coarse smoke of hemp prevents any use of industrial hemp as a drug.

When grown together the plants cross pollinate to weaken the hemp crop and

effectively reduce the THC in the marijuana. A hemp field would be the last

choice of someone trying to grow marijuana, not only because of the THC loss but

because of their different physical properties the only camouflage hemp provides

is that of line of sight.

With countries around the world lifting thier own industrial hemp bans

American farmers are crying out for their piece of the pie. America?s hemp

industry alone yields $50 million per year increasing each year by 50%, which is

still limited by the price of imports. Together with the fact that Canadian hemp

growers, although new to the industry, are netting $200 per acre while American

farmers are barely making $20 per acre on their cash crops, it?s enough to

turn the heads of the agriculture industry. Farmers are begging the government

to "Repeal restrictions on the production of industrial hemp as an

agricultural and industrial product,? as was Montana?s recommendation to

Congress in House Act 2 (?Achieving?). Anyone who cares about the

environment agrees with these farmers. It just makes sense to take advantage of

a crop that has the potential to preserve the environment while saving some

American farms.

?About Hemp.? NORML. 6 December 1999. <http://www.norml.org/facts/hemp.shtml>

?Achieving a Sustainable Planet.? Hemp Times. 2 Dec. 1999.


Brandl, Marc. ?A Growing Trend: Hemp Legislation is the hot item these days

in state

legislatures.? The Shore Journal 7 March 1999: 3. 6 Dec. 1999


?Endless Variety Yet High Quality!? Hemp Times. 2 Dec. 1999.


Field, Joan S. ?Hemp: Income, Market Questions Remain.? Agri-View. 1 Dec.

1995: 4.

3 Dec. 99. <http://www.welcomehome.org/cohip/PAGES/IND_HEMP/NAIHF.HTM>

?Get the Scoop.? Kenex. 6 December 1999. <http://www.kenex.org/hempfacts.shtml>

?Harnessing Hemp.? Agri-View. 3 Dec 1999.


?Hemp for Fuel.? Rev. of Energy Farming in America, by Lynn Osburn.

Fornits. 3 Dec. 1999.


?Hemp Knowledge.? Hemp Times. 3 December 1999.


Hickey, Joe. ?Kentucky Farmers File Suit Against Federal Government to

Legalize Hemp.? Hemp.

June 1998: 2. 3 Dec. 1999. <http://www.ndsn.org/MAYJUNE98/HEMP.html>

Nix, Steve. ?Pot for Paper.? About.com. 3 Dec. 1999: 5. 6 Dec 1999.


?Some Facts About Hemp.? Xpoint. 3 Dec. 1999.


Stauber, Karl. ?Industrial Hemp and Other Alternative Crops for Small-scale

Tobacco Producers.?

Agri-View. 1995: 4. 3 Dec. 1999.