Thursday, May 31

What about industrial hemp and the value it could add to our economic situation?

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What about industrial hemp and the value it could add to our economic situation?

Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L.

It is a tall, slender fibrous plant similar to flax or kenaf.

Farmers worldwide have harvested the crop for the past 12,000 years for fiber and food, and Popular Mechanics once boasted that over 25,000 environmentally friendly products could be derived from hemp.

Unlike recreational marijuana, strains of Cannabis approved for industrial hemp production produce only minute amounts of the psychoactive drug tetrahydrocannabinol(THC), not enough for any physical or psychological effects. Typically, Hemp contains below 0.3% THC, while Cannabis grown for marijuana can contain anywhere from 6% to 20% or even more.

Hemp possesses a high percentage of the compound cannabidiol (CBD), which has been shown to block the effects of THC. For these reasons, many botanists have dubbed industrial hemp "anti- marijuana."

More than 30 industrialized nations commercially grow hemp, including the major producers Canada, France, and China. The European Union subsidizes farmers to grow the crop, which is legally recognized as a commercial crop by the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Nevertheless, US law forbids farmers from growing hemp without a federal license, and has discouraged all commercial hemp production since the 1950s.

The ability to grow, harvest and find commercial applications for Hemp could create thousands of jobs in the following months.

That's right, thousands of unemployed Americans could be back to work quickly and cheaply.

In addition to putting thousands back to work quickly and helping put money back into the pockets of the currently unemployed American, these items could be taxed.

The taxation would then allow money to start flowing into the coffers of the local, state and federal revenue offices once again.

Industrial hemp has many uses: paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food, and fuel.

It is one of the fastest growing bio-masses known, and one of the earliest domesticated plants known.

It can be environmentally helpful, for example hemp requires fewer pesticides, no herbicides, it controls erosion of topsoil and produces oxygen.

Hemp can be used to manufacture cosmetics and even plastics, most of which are currently petroleum-based and do not decompose easily.

Belive it or not, Mercedes-Benz uses a "bio-composite" composed principally of hemp fiber for the manufacture of interior panels in some of its automobiles. That's right, your Merc has Hemp in it right now.

Hemp can also be used to replace many potentially harmful products, such as tree paper (the processing of which uses chlorine bleach. This results in the waste product polychlorinated dibensodioxins, popularly known as dioxins, which are carcinogenic, and contribute to deforestation. New technology has allowed for more environmentally-friendly paper production from wood pulp, though the production of wood pulp paper still claims to be one of the highest CO2 emissions by industry.

In 1916, USDA Bulletin No. 404, reported that one acre of cannabis hemp, in annual rotation over a 20-year period, would produce as much pulp for paper as 4.1 acres of trees being cut down over the same 20-year period. This process would use only 1/4 to 1/7 as much polluting sulfur-based acid chemicals to break down the glue-like lignin that binds the fibers of the pulp, or none at all using soda ash. The problem of dioxin contamination of rivers is avoided in the hemp paper making process, which does not need to use chlorine bleach (as the wood pulp paper making process requires) but instead safely substitutes hydrogen peroxide in the bleaching process.

If the new (1916) hemp pulp paper process were legal today, it would soon replace about 70% of all wood pulp paper, including computer printer paper, corrugated boxes and paper bags.

The bulletin lists increased production capacity and superior quality among the advantages of using hemp for pulp. Lyster writes in Bulletin No. 404, Every tract of 10,000 acres which is devoted to hemp raising year by year is equivalent to a sustained pulp producing capacity of 40,500 acres of average wood-pulp lands.

Stop and think about it.
An acre of hemp produces four times as much pulp as an acre of trees.

The use of hemp for fiber production has declined sharply over the last two centuries, but before the industrial revolution, hemp was a popular fiber because it is strong and grows quickly; it produces 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than flax when grown on the same land.

Hemp can be used as a "mop crop" to clear impurities out of waste water, such as sewage effluent, excessive phosphorus from chicken litter, or other unwanted substances or chemicals. Eco-technologist Dr. Keith Bolton from Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia, is a leading researcher in this area.

Hemp is being used to clean contaminants at Chernobyl nuclear disaster site.

Simple Biofuels such as bio-diesel and alcohol fuel can be made from the oils in hemp seeds and stalks and the fermentation of the plant as a whole.

Henry Ford grew industrial hemp on his estate after 1937, possibly to prove the cheapness of methanol production at Iron Mountain.

He made plastic cars with wheat straw, hemp and sisal.

Filtered hemp oil can be used directly to power diesels. (Popular Mechanics, Dec. 1941, "Pinch Hitters for Defense.")

In 1892, Rudolph Diesel invented the diesel engine, which he intended to fuel "by a variety of fuels, especially vegetable and seed oils."

Every industrialized country in the world, excluding the United States, produces industrial hemp.

Think of the loss to our economy that this has cost us, the industrial leader to not be allowed to use this resource.

Click here to read Part IV of this article: The Economic Case for Legalization and Decriminalization of Marijuana

Click here to read Part I of this article: Could marijuana and industrial hemp feed our starving economy?

Click here to read Part II of this article: What about industrial hemp and the value it could add to our economic situation?

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