The Hemp

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Written by Alex Patsfield on 10/20/2021.
Data Last Updated: 06/10/2024.

Chromometer 7 min

Let’s imagine the Olympic Games of all plants in the US, and try to choose a champion. Which one is the fastest grower? Or which one does the best job in cleaning up our planet? That would be quite a competition! And in lots of nominations the winner will be the same. Guess what?

Let us introduce to you — The Hemp!

Exactly, the champion among plants is the one that is firmly associated with drugs and villains. However, before reading this article, we have to make a difference. Hemp is not the same as weed. Weed, or marijuana, is the cannabis plant that is used, among others, as a recreational drug, due to one of its chemical constituents. THC it is, and weed lovers appreciate it for the ability to drive them high and bring smiles on faces.

Let us introduce to you — The Hemp! 

Hemp is its cousin that produces no psychoactive effects, because it has almost zero THC. One would call it a disadvantage, yet the absence of this drug makes the help only better. We would like to tell you about numerous uses of this magic plant, its benefits for ecology, economics, public health, and other spheres of our life.

What Can We Do With Hemp?

What Can We Do With Hemp?

Let’s see what people could do with hemp if they weren’t so scared and biased. It’s amazing, but the uses of industrial hemp may number in the dozens! This article will not fit all of them, so we’ll try to tell you about the most interesting ones:

  • Medicine. The first thing that comes to our mind is the health care sector, where the benefits of CBD, the major active agent of the plant, are well-known and widely used nowadays. All health benefits of hemp are still to be discovered, yet thousands of people already use CBD as antidepressant, anxiolytic medication, anti-epileptic drug, pain killer, additional therapy for cancer treatment, appetite normalizer, and many others.
  • Food industry. The seeds of our champion may take the leading position in the health-food field. They are rich with all necessary nutrients, such as amino and fatty acids, proteins, vitamins and minerals. We consume them from nuts, fish, eggs, meat, etc., and now all you need is 100 gram serving of the hemp seeds. Not to mention CBD beers and wines!
  • Paper production. Nowadays, people deforest the planet to produce construction materials and paper. More than 99% of all paper produced by humanity is produced from wood. However, hemp paper production has lots of advantages — the plant grows faster than trees in the forests, it does not require hazardous chemical processing to make it white, and the final product comes firmer and of a better quality.
  • Bioplastics. All plastic things you have at home can be easily made of hemp. The plastics made of plants are better for the environment as they are degradable. Yet, their production is much more expensive than the production of the traditional plastics, and major businesses are loathe to promote bioplastics instead of conventional ones.
  • Textiles. Do you know what is the most ancient artifact of human manufacturing? It’s a 10 000 years old piece of fabric made of hemp. Being a durable and serviceable material, it is good for making clothes and furniture.
  • Housebuilding. Bricks made of hempcrete, which is a construction material similar to concrete yet lighter and firmer, not to mention its eco-friendliness, are already used in housebuilding in the USA, have lots of advantageous qualities, such as noise, heat, and moist proofing, fire resistance, etc. Moreover, we can use hemp to produce glues, insulating materials, plywood, etc.
  • Fuel. Eco-friendly diesel and ethanol can be derived from hemp oil.
  • Beauty industry. There are numerous CBD products used in the beauty industry, such as lotions, creams, soaps, shampoos, etc. Health benefits of hemp make it one of the best plants for these purposes.
  • Animal feed. Hemp is as useful for pets and cattle as for human beings. Using it as the animal feed, you have better nutrition and healthier animals.

As you can see, hemp is a real treasure. So, why has it been outlawed for so many years?

American History of Hemp

People have been cultivating hemp for thousands of years, it seems like from the very beginning of our civilization. First fabrics were made of hemp, first paper — again hemp. In the 16th century the king of England mandated all of his landowners to seed 1/4 of an acre of their lands with hemp. And when Europeans came to North America, hemp was one of the backbones of its early economy.

American History of Hemp

Yet, there were several problems with this plant that led to its fall on the very takeoff:

  • farming hemp was too labor- and time-taking process, which was the reason of the violent use of slave work;
  • cotton gained popularity quickly and was much easier to cultivate;
  • there were no technologies to make it economically reasonable.

Still, in the early 20th century hemp was cultivated here and there. All of a sudden, a hope of the new hemp boom appeared in the form of a novel invention — a mechanism that processed hemp into jean fabric and required just a little of human labor.

Unfortunately, it did not help at all. The investors had distanced from the hemp industry due to its new unfair reputation. Racist and ignorant association of hemp with weed abuse by Mexicans and Chinese people did the trick. By the 1930’s, after a ruthless media anti-marijuana and racist campaign, a huge tax had been implemented on all products made of cannabis plants. Including hemp. That was the end of the American hemp economy.

New Dawns of Hemp

At the end of the 20th century, the laws became friendlier, and hemp was removed from the outlawed plants. Most states allow its cultivation, along with the medical and recreational use of cannabis. This year, more than 150 000 acres of the farm lands are used to cultivate hemp. This soar is all based on the CBD popularity, which is obviously not enough.

New Dawns of Hemp

Hemp construction materials, hemp clothes, hemp paper, hemp fuel, hemp bioplastic are yet to come into our life. Why is it better than what we have now? Why do we need those changes, you may ask. Well, here are some of the reasons:

  • due to its fast growing, hemp takes lots of CO2 from the atmosphere;
  • at the same time, it cleans the soil of heavy metals and other hazardous elements;
  • hemp-made products are much more friendly to the environment than mineral fuels, traditional paper or concrete, or oil-based plastics.

All we need is to be careful and cultivate it properly, using novel technologies and approaches, such as the ones suggested by Winona LaDuke, a hemp activist. Remembering that our land is our home and treating it with respect and care, using regenerative crop-rotation agriculture and no till policy, with hemp we can change the world.

Written based on a video «Hemp»

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