Hemp and its Uses

Hemp is the common name for the Cannabis herb which is commonly used for food, clothing and so much more. It is a soft and long lasting fiber. This plants fiber has been in cultivation for the last 12,000 documented years (likely longer) for use as papers, fabrics, healthy foods, perishable plastics, fuels, construction and building materials. Generally speaking, there are a vast number of positive benefits gained from using this source; however there are also plenty of outdated stigmas associated to the product.

Hemp is likely one of the oldest most commonly domesticated plants in use by man. Old Tommy Jefferson in all reality farmed hemp and drafted the assertion of sovereignty on paper derived from this source. General George Washington also grew this highly beneficial plant and good old Ben Franklin even owned a mill that produced paper constructed from this very plant material. This substance was also essential for riggings and sails for ships. Cannabis was a required crop to grow throughout the American colonies, and it was also used extensively in WWII for hemp goods like uniforms, canvas, rope and much, much more. The top dog in the production of my favorite plant today is China. However, Europe, North Korea and Chile are some of the other primary producers. There are also over 30 countries that produce industrial hemp. Some include Canada, France, Great Britain, Spain, Austria and Australia. It is also important to note that the US imports more of this commodity than any other country. Our government however does not distinguish the difference between marijuana, and the non-psychoactive Cannabis used for industrial purposes; therefore it still unjustly remains against the law to farm.

For those of you who do not know the difference, let me explain. Industrial hemp has a THC (delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol) content of 0.05% to 1%. That means a person would have to smoke at least ten colossal hempen cigarettes very, very fast to feel any effect what so ever. And would likely wind up with harshed lungs and a headache. Marijuana typically has a THC content of somewhere between 3% and 20%. While these two plants look quite similar, a trained eye can quickly identify differences between the two.

Here is just a brief list of the excellent qualities of this miscategorized plant:
• The fibers are longer, stronger, mold resistant and more absorbent than cotton.
• It does a superior job of blocking UV rays when compared to most other fibers.
• It creates a quality paper you can recycle several times more than wood-based paper.
• It is a sustainable crop and can grow without the use of fertilizers including chemical, pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.
• It grows well in a wide variety of climates and soil types.
• It grows so tightly together; it out-competes weeds. That makes it great as a weed free crop, and it can easily fall into the category of an organic hemp food crop.
• This Cannabis can displace our immense need for cotton. Cotton is the most chemically treated crop in the world.
• It can also substitute for wood fibers, save our forests and wildlife territories, increase the planets oxygen production as well as carbon sequestration and so much more.
• It can also be cultivated at four times the rate (on average 3-4 months) of the average forest.
• It is also a foodstuff (it contains no gluten or lactose), nutritional supplements, oils, medicines, jewelry, clothing, fuel, hemp personal care products and so much more. There are no recognized allergens associated with this wonder weed.

Harvesting can be less labor intensive than other crops. Typically these diminutive crops are harvested by hand. But, on the other hand, the bigger plantations have expanded access to perfunctory cutter/binder machines and mechanical cutters which can be attached to tractors. Once harvested, swathes of this material are laid out to dry for up to four days. Once gathered it will then undergo a steaming process where after the fibers are easy to separate. This process is known as, Thermomechanical pulping.

There is an overabundance of legal red tape that is hindering the production of this powerfully useful material. There are also many different opinions on how and if we should produce this in the US. Only those who do the research and get the facts should place views on this subject. There are literally boatloads of facts supporting what an excellent product this is and how it could benefit not only our country but the entire world, and the all-around good news it has is for the environment. As a world that is going back to their roots, this is just one of those topics worth mentioning.