“Because raw hemp is heavy and bulky, its first processing must be processed within about 50 miles of harvest to be cost-effective, which would create thousands of processing, transportation, and manufacturing jobs, including jobs in local further-processing centers, i.e. small weaving factories, seed pressing facilities, and pulp mills. This is exactly what is needed as globalization has swept over America and sent all the labor opportunities overseas, and American farmers are left with weak topsoil, polluted waterways, and clear-cut forests.”
– from hemphasis.net
Is Industrial Hemp marijuana? No. Even though they both come from Cannabis sativa L., the varieties that are used to make Industrial Hemp products (seed, fiber, etc.) and those that are used to make marijuana (flowering tops and leaves) are distinctly different. They are scientifically different and are cultivated in very different ways.
Can you be more technical, what exactly is Industrial Hemp? Industrial Hemp is a number of varieties of Cannabis sativa L. that are intended for agricultural and industrial purposes. They are grown for their seed and fiber content as well as the resulting byproducts such as oil, seed cake, hurds, etc. Industrial Hemp is characterized by being low in THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and high in CBD (cannabidiol). THC is less than 1% and in Canada and Europe the current legal level for cultivation is 0.3%. The ratio of CBD to THC is greater than one.
Then, what is marijuana?
Marijuana is a preparation made from varieties of Cannabis sativa L. that are intended for medical and recreational drug use. They are grown for their THC content, primarily in the flowering tops and to a lesser extent in the leaves. Cannabis sativa L. grown for marijuana is characterized by being high in THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and low in CBD (cannabidiol). The THC content is greater than 1%, usually 3% to 20%. The ratio of CBD to THC is less than one.
We believe that the cultivation and productive use of industrial hemp — and most importantly, its ability to create a healthier world for future generations – is one of the most important stories of our time.
WHY HEMP? WHY NOW?
Today’s kids and, in turn, their own children are facing, and will continue to face, a future marked not only by staggering economic debt, but ongoing health threats from harmful chemicals in our homes, schools, food, air & water. The toll upon our nation’s health – again, especially among our children – continues to climb.
With climate change bringing about environmental catastrophes at an ever-increasing rate, and gas prices rising and making virtually everything more expensive, our lives feel less and less within our own power to control. It doesn’t require a genius to calculate that every time we’re at the gas pump or paying our energy bills, our need to reduce our reliance upon fossil fuels is essential to any hope of renewed economic prosperity.
Industrial Hemp offers a host of innovative solutions for our troubled world — from reducing global deforestation and malnutrition to combating climate change with healthy, energy-efficient buildings. Hemp is a pesticide-free crop that can be harvested for healthier food, clothing and shelter here in the U.S. and around the world. It has the potential to replace 25,000 chemical, petroleum and synthetic-based products in our everyday lives with natural, healthier products that don’t cost us the earth or our health.
Over 30 other industrialized nations are now growing industrial hemp as an officially “drug-free” crop. The United States remains the only industrialized nation that refuses to distinguish it from its sibling, marijuana. Dr. Mike Lawrence of the University of Bath, England, recently told us at the 2nd International Hemp Building Symposium in Spain, “It’s not rocket science….just follow the model of the UK.”
Hemp is an ideal rotation crop for farmers, as it replenishes topsoil. Its individual stalks can grow up to 16 feet tall in 16 weeks – with minimal irrigation, NO pesticides, and just a modest amount of nitrogen for fertilizer. Hemp offers farmers three separate markets — its seeds; its outer fibers; and its inner hurds or “shiv.” Although it is illegal grow hemp in the US, it is legal to import all parts of the plant into the US, causing us to pay import prices on one of the healthiest, most beneficial crops known to man.
Hemp was used in phytoremediation efforts at Chernobyl, where hemp was used to remove lead, uranium and other heavy metals from the soil. While growing, hemp removes CO2 from the atmosphere and releases clean oxygen into the air. As Japan and Haiti look to rebuild themselves, hemp could be used to build thousands of energy-efficient homes.
Hemp seeds provide one of the greatest sources of nutrition known to man, and they are excellent for building healthy immune systems. It contains the optimal ratio of Omega 6 & Omega 3 (3 to 1). As an exceptionally rich source of Omega 3, hemp seed oil can help to inhibit cancer and tumor growth, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increase metabolism, decrease insulin dependence in diabetics, and is a great anti-inflammatory, specifically in regard to arthritis. For athletes and those with injuries, hemp is also a standout, as it can be used to rebuild muscle mass. Hemp seed oil is also excellent for healthy hair, skin and nails. Hemp is a GMO-free crop that is a great addition to any daily diet – especially for vegetarians. Hemp is presently being used to make such diverse foods and beverages as coffee, ice cream, and beer!
The seeds may also be used in the service of beauty products and even cleaning products at a time when both of these industries remain reliant on harmful chemicals. In addition, researchers at the University of Connecticut have found that industrial hemp seeds have properties that make it a viable raw material for producing biodiesel.
Hemp hurds, or “shiv,” constitute the inner wood-like core of the plant. As such, it’s part of the next evolution in green building. Hemp shiv can be used to create non-toxic particleboard for walls or furniture, whereas present-day particleboard often contains formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals. Lime Technologies in the UK has combined hemp shiv with lime and water to create “hemcrete,” a non-toxic, carbon-negative building material that can be used to help cut energy bills dramatically. Hemp is also a superior insulator and humidity regulator, which make hemp houses and buildings relatively light on heating and air-conditioning costs, while providing healthier indoor air quality. Hemcrete is used in flooring, roofing and walls. On the one hand, it’s mold and mildew-resistant, which makes it an ideal building material for coastal areas and lands prone to flooding; on the other hand, Hemcrete is flame-resistant, which makes it equally ideal for dry regions prone to fires. Hemp hurds are also prized for animal bedding, paper and bio-composites.
Hemp fibers are the long, strong, outer filaments of the hemp plant. They are used, variously, in the making of insulation, clothing, plastics, bio-composites, and more. Hemp fibers are now used to build environmentally-friendly fiberglass for boats, cars, and surfboards. Hemp clothing is naturally sun and mildew-resistant, as well as stronger and longer-lasting than cotton. The process from seed to shirt is an altogether straightforward, green alternative to the way we make clothing now. Hemp plastics can be manufactured in such a way as to make them biodegradable, too.
You’re probably wondering, if hemp is so wonderful, then why aren’t we growing it in the U.S.?
In the 1920s and 1930s, economic power in the United States was consolidated in the hands of a small number of steel, oil and timber companies. Hemp was seen as a direct competitor to these industries. In the mid-1930′s, Popular Science magazine hailed hemp as America’s “New Billion Dollar Crop,” the first time the term had ever been used. In an effort to demonize hemp, effective propaganda was created against it by the spread of misinformation: that hemp was none other than marijuana, plain and simple. The U.S. government, under pressure from these establishment industries, passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which, in turn, imposed a prohibitive tax on hemp itself! This effectively destroyed the industry, and Americans have been denied the freedom to grow this beneficial crop ever since.
THE GREAT HEMP RACE
Great Britain, France, Switzerland and Spain are currently leading the world in the hemp-building sector, while Australia and Germany are the global leaders in the creation of biodegradable plastics and bio-composites. China is the world’s largest producer of industrial hemp, and it’s planning to use hemp to help bring 3 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years. South Africa, likewise, plans to use industrial hemp, with even greater ambition, to help bring 9 million people out of poverty over the next decade.
There’s no denying that a great “hemp race” is ongoing around the globe – with the glaring exception of the United States. Is it any wonder we’re getting left behind in this new green economy? What’s tragic about it is the fact that all Americans, of every political stripe, are clamoring for thousands of new jobs. The United States is already the world’s largest importer of industrial hemp: last year alone, we sent $400 million to China and other nations for their hemp. Imagine what our economy might look like had it been grown here!
Together, we can use hemp to help rebuild the American Dream. Hemp isn’t the only solution, but it has a very important role to play in the creation of a healthier, happier world for us all.
“Make the most of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere”
~George Washington, 1794
HERE ARE SOME OF OUR FAVORITE INDUSTRIAL HEMP LINKS:
Hemp History Week: Hemp for Health & Sustainability – Hemp History Week is a national grassroots education campaign which is designed to renew strong support for hemp farming and processing in the U.S.
Vote Hemp – Vote Hemp seeks the full normalization of, and a free market for industrial hemp in America through education.
Hemp Industries Association – The mission of the HIA is to represent the interests of the hemp industry and to encourage the research and development of new products made from industrial hemp, low-THC oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis.
Hemp.com – a great resource for the latest in hemp news, information and products.
The US Hemp Co. Museum – U.S. Hemp Co. is a non-profit organization dedicated to revealing hemp’s great potential to help solve many of our environmental, financial, and social challenges.
North American Industrial Hemp Council – The mission of the NAIHC is to re-establish and expand the use of industrial hemp by forming and establishing relationships between academia, farmers, agribusiness, manufacturers, government, special interest groups and marketing firms, with emphasis on land management, economic and environmental considerations.
A Renewal of Common Sense: The Case for Hemp in 21st Century America by Erik Rothenberg. This treatise lays out a clear vision for industry and agriculture and hemp’s critical place in a healthy and prosperous new world.
Hemp.com letter to President Obama – a very well written letter to President Obama by Josh Davis, Senior Editor at hemp.com, arguing for the re-legalization of industrial hemp.
The Vote Hemp Guide to activism – This eleven page guide will give you the information and tools that you need to confidently and effectively ask your elected representatives to support legislation which will lift the current ban on hemp farming in the U.S.