The hemp plant is very likely the most misunderstood and shunned plant in the entire world. It is one of the world’s oldest industries and was grown for over 12,000 years before being prohibited in the 1950’s. It was completely accepted as a valued, versatile resource and was even grown by highly respected people in the United States such as Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The only downside to the versatile yet shunned, natural resource is that to the untrained eye it closely resembles the marijuana plant. This is followed with the wrong assumption that it also contains the THC that gets marijuana smoker high. The truth behind this myth is that industrial hemp has a THC content of only .05% – 1% whereas marijuana has a THC content of 3-20%. This means in order to get “high” from smoking the hemp plant you would have to smoke 10-12 hemp cigarettes in a very short period of time. This is almost nearly impossible task due to the large volume and high temperature of gas, vapors and smoke.
The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp during this time. The hemp plant truly is one of nature’s wonders and can be used for textiles, food, paper, and even fuel. It is nature’s longest, strongest, and most durable fiber. As a fabric, it is also softer, more insulating, more absorbing, more breathable, and longer lasting than cotton. It is one of the most complete foods with a balanced ratio of protein and carbs, numerous vitamins, amino acids, and minerals, and contains more essential fatty acids than any other food source. It makes an obviously better choice as a paper source as it can yield 3-8 dry tones of fiber per acre, 4x what an average forest grows plus it renews itself in as little as four months!. The hemp plant can also produce biodiesel, a natural fuel source that runs in any conventional diesel engine.
Besides being such a versatile and renewable resource, the hemp plant is also very easy to cultivate. It grows without herbicides, pesticides or fungicides and is also a natural weed suppressor because of the fast growth as a canopy. When it is added to other resources such as wood and plastics it makes even stronger and environmentally friendly. Slowly, hemp is gaining the recognition and acceptance it deserves throughout the world. Egypt, Korea, Portugal, Poland, Chile, Thailand, Switzerland, Spain, Slovenia and Romania and the Ukraine all produce hemp. Germany and Great Britain have lifted the bans on growing hemp in the early 90’s and many other countries have hemp industries. In North America, a small number of Canadian farmers are now growing organically certified hemp crops but the US is the only industrialized nation that does not allow the agriculture production of hemp crops. Knowledge and education are the keys to freeing hemp from its misconceptions and allowing it to, once again be one our world’s most versatile and valued resources.