It is a known fact that hemp can be used for the following:
Fabric BioFuels Construction Materials Wood Replacement Paper Food Medicine
Plastics Pet Food Art Supplies Detergents Body Care Products Automobile Bodies
Just to name a few.
The earliest know record of men cultivating industrial hemp dates back to 8,000 BC where it was part of the textile industries beginning in Europe and Asia. In 100 BC the Chinese invented paper made from hemp and the mulberry bush. Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 using sails, caulking, and rigging made from industrial hemp. In 1564, King Phillip of Spain ordered hemp be grown throughout his empire. The Declaration of Independence is written on hemp paper, and in 1791 President George Washington set duties on hemp to encourage production, with Thomas Jefferson stating hemp was a necessity, and urged farmers to grow hemp instead of tobacco.
Since these earliest known records of hemp, Cannabis sativa has been rightly praised and wrongly vilified in the United States of America. Even though it was not banned from being farmed or from being sold, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act did levy taxes on any person who dealt commercially in hemp, marijuana or cannabis. It did not criminalize the possession or usage of hemp, marijuana, or cannabis for medical or industrial use, but there was a penalty and enforcement provision that made it illegal to possess for any other purpose. Any ‘handler’ of marijuana, cannabis or hemp who violated any of these procedures could be fined up to $2000 and receive up to five years’ imprisonment.
Many have intimated that big business was behind the tax levy on industrial hemp, in particular Randolph Hearst who saw this inexpensive crop as a direct threat to his newspaper industry and his holdings in the timber industry. Against a last minute objection by the legislative council for the American Medical Association Dr. William Woodward, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed. In 1914, 15,000 acres were dedicated to the cultivation of industrial hemp, which was sold for $12.50 per pound. By 1933, only 1,200 acres were dedicated and the price went down to $9.00 per pound. Once this legislation became law, the United States started down the path of looking for alternatives to industrial hemp.
By 1952, with the passage of the Boggs Act mandatory sentencing and increased punishment were enacted, and the once vibrant hemp industry ceased to exist. Many are unaware of our intricate and, some may say, insidious history with industrial hemp, which dates back to as early as colonial times and as late as World War II. The United States Government in 1943 started the Hemp for Victory campaign, urging farmers to grow hemp due to the shortage of this crop from overseas. Yet after the war, the move to completely ban anything cannabis related was in full steam.
Trees and petroleum took the place of hemp, and the environmental affects are still felt today. We’ve had deforestation on a mass scale, oil spills in our waters, and toxins spewed into our atmosphere as we pushed for plastics to be mass produced, all while hemp was banned from being used. The calls for “Drill, Drill, Drill” have been ignored, and we still are too dependent on foreign oil. Canada exports billions of barrels of petroleum to America yearly, and since 1998 they’ve been cultivating industrial hemp. In Calgary, a car company is about to mass produce an automobile body made out of industrial hemp as a replacement for fiberglass. In 2006, cultivation in Canada peaked at 48,060 acres devoted to hemp. Although numbers have decreased in Canada, other countries have joined in the production of hemp, with Romania being its biggest producer in Europe.
Over 30 countries today cultivate industrial hemp, and the United States is the biggest importer of hemp just as we are of petroleum. As the world rediscovers hemp, America sits on the sideline not willing to properly re-classify cannabis sativa and separate it from its THC laden cousin. Although there are states that will issue licenses to grow industrial hemp in the United States, many farmers like those in North Dakota have had the DEA restrict their attempts to obtain a license. Law suits have been in process for years with no resolution as state’s rights advocates petition the DEA to not interfere with state issuance of licenses to farmers.
As a biomass fuel, methanol, more can be produced with hemp than with corn. As a paper, hemp does not need bleaching, only use of hydrogen peroxide to whiten it, nor does it yellow as fast a wood pulp paper. As a food, the only other food product with more protein than the hemp seed is the soybean. As a building product, it’s stronger and lighter than wood due to its high cellulose content. It can be used as fiberglass, plastic, and lubricants. It doesn’t need treatment against insects or fungus and is a natural deterrent of weeds. You can grow more than one crop per year, and it cross pollinates out the higher THC levels in marijuana if attempts to hide this crop amongst hemp are made.
So with all of the good things about industrial hemp, why does America remain ignorant to its benefits? Not only could we improve the environment, we could become foreign oil independent. We could help farmers struggling to keep their farms. We could recreate a textile manufacturing industry and solve our unemployment woes. When will America wake up and seize the Holy Grail and Savior “Cannabis Sativa”? I hope it’s before my time on Earth has expired. Please join with me and Vote Hemp!