The legalization of drugs has been a topic for many years now. Some people think that if the government controls it, then the problems it causes will decrease. I am not one of these people. The legalization of marijuana serves no purpose in the lives of people, but I am for the legalization of industrial hemp. You might ask, “Isn’t it the same?” The answer is no. There are many differences between the two. Marijuana (Cannabis Indica) usually only reaches approximately four feet in height, while industrial hemp (Cannabis Sativa) can grow up to sixteen feet. Marijuana’s stalk is nearly solid, while industrial hemp stalks are fibrous with a cellulose center. The point that generates the most concern is the potentially psychoactive chemical delta-9 tetrohydro cannabinol (THC). Industrial hemp generally has one percent THC or less, while marijuana has three to fifteen percent THC content. These are just some of the differences in the two, but the most important one is the use of industrial hemp. Many uses of hemp can replace a lot of the resources that we are depleting now. Thus, by legalizing industrial hemp we may be able to save some trees and use hemp in place of other resources.
The deforestation of trees are a major concern, acres and acres of trees are being cut for timber, even though they are replanted we will eventually run out of trees. If we find alternatives to cutting trees, then our trees will live and also protect our environment. Since trees are a natural way to fight the green house effect, we have to save them. The main way to do this is by cultivating industrial hemp. Approximately thirty percent of hemp’s tall, thin stalk is made up of this long bast fiber simply known as “fiber”. The other seventy percent is made of a short core fiber known as “hurds” or “shives” (Roulac). The fibers that are extracted from hemp can be used to make paper.Some of the first papers ever produced were apparently made from hemp fiber (Rosenthal 88). Until 1883, from seventy five to ninety percent of all paper was made with cannabis hemp fibers, some which were maps, money, Bibles, and even newspapers. The first and second drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper. The second draft is the actual draft that was agreed upon on and released on July 4, 1776. A few weeks later, Congress ordered the Declaration to be copied on to a parchment of animal skin (Herer 7). In fact, China was the first ones to cultivate and use hemp. With their ever-increasing interest in the written word, the Chinese developed the first paper industry. The famous writings of Confucius and Lao Tzu were transcribed on hemp paper to be handed down through time (Roulac). This shows us that hemp can be utilized in place of our greatest natural resources, but some people do not want this to happen. One of the reasons that hemp is not used in the United States could be that the timber industry would tend to lose a lot of money. Weyerhaeuser is the biggest supplier of timber in the Northwest, and if trees were replaced as the main source of paper, then they would undoubtly lose millions of dollars in revenue. Who’s to say they couldn’t change their product to hemp? I’m not saying that people can’t make money off of this, just that it should be looked at as an alternative. Small farmers could profit from hemp cultivation also.
Many farms are going bankrupt today because they can’t sell their crops. Hemp is considered a fast growing plant, as it can reach its full height in ninety days. This will allow more planting in one season than just one. Since hemp requires little to no fertilization or pesticides it will greatly improve the ground it is planted in and also protects against any poisoning of our wildlife. Dr. Lyster Dewey of the United States Department of Agriculture wrote in the agency’s 1913 yearbook that hemp cultivated for the production of fiber, cut before the seeds are formed, and retted on the land where it is grown, tends to improve rather than injure the soil (Roulac). The reason being that the hemp plant needs no pesticides is because it is relatively immune to insects and disease. Hemp has it’s own built in weed control which will prove extremely important to the environment, because no chemicals will penetrate the ground and seep into water supplies or streams which house our salmon.
Farming of hemp is not a new idea. Actually, in the 1900’s hemp was thought to be the new cash crop of the United States once machinery was built that could harvest, strip, and separate the fibers in the hemp plant. However, in 1950 hemp was made illegal because of its cousin marijuana. Today, some experts believe that hemp cultivation could generate five hundred billion dollars to one trillion dollars of revenue for the United States (Herer).
That’s exactly what the state of Hawaii is trying to do today. Since thirty-two industrial nations are growing hemp, the U.S. has given the approval for Hawaii. Hawaii is the first state to be given the federal governments approval to experiment with cultivation of hemp in over fifty years. Hawaii is usually known for it’s high potent marijuana, but today they are the new pioneers for the environment. The Drug Enforcement Agency approved the land that was financed by the shampoo maker Alterna, but this being America, the land of conservatism, the land is surrounded by a chain link fence, razor wire, and a twenty-four hour infrared security system (Hemp). Since hemp only has one percent THC in it, you might as well try smoking Kentucky Bluegrass, because you won’t get a buzz, but maybe a headache. Today, twenty-two states have expressed interest in hemp farming. Even Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura is prepared to issue permits to grow hemp for Minnesota farmers (Hemp).
Governor Ventura is not the only political figure fighting for the farming of hemp. Green Party Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader is also in favor of this. Mr. Nader has said the Drug Enforcement Agency is proposing new rules that would require a product containing any amount of THC to be classified as a “ Schedule I” controlled substance, the same category as heroin and LSD (Kim). He is also quoted as saying, “ The Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies are greatly out of touch with the American public in enforcing their medieval rules regarding industrial hemp.” With this kind of thinking from some government officials like Mr. Nader, maybe the officials that are elected will look at this in a more serious and mature manner. With hemp being legalized, we could also find a few good uses for it.
Believe it or not, hemp has thousands of uses. I have already talked about how it can be used to replace wood to make paper. Industrial hemp can also be used as a form of concrete, which is called “hempcrete.” The Sioux Indians in South Dakota have started using a formula, which was developed in France. This mixture is created when the hurds from the hemp are mix with limestone, water, sand, and Portland cement; this mixture causes the cellulose in the hurds to petrify. The Sioux use this mixture to build houses for them. In addition, short lengths of hemp fiber can be used in place of nylon as an ingredient in the houses stucco. Last, the fiberglass insulation is replaced with hemp fibers. They estimated that the houses are made of approximately sixty percent hemp (Sustainable). You may ask, “ I thought hemp was illegal in the U.S.?” The answer is yes it is. However, since U.S. law does not govern Native Americans, they have passed an ordinance, which distinguishes the difference between hemp and marijuana. Even though hemp is still illegal in the U.S., one U.S. Company has started using hemp in its product.
Johnson Controls Inc. has introduced a new biocomposite plastic. They are using this plastic as a substrate in door trim panels for Daimler Chrysler in their 2001 Sebring convertible. The panels are made of fifty percent polypropylene, twenty five percent kenaf, and twenty five percent hemp. The fibers from the hemp provide extra strength and decrease the weight of structural plastic parts. Since hemp is so much stronger than kenaf, it will help stand up to deep cavities in a mold, such as an armrest in a door panel ( Miel ). I do not know how they are able to experiment with this in the U.S. since hemp is illegal, but they do import the hemp from Canada, where it is legal to cultivate.
The hemp seed can produce many everyday products that we use today. The hemp seed is broken down from the whole seed to the hulled seed, then hemp oil, and finally hemp meal (note). “The seed better tasting and more digestible than the soybean.
Whole hemp seeds can be toasted for snack food or ground into flour. Hulled hemp seed are a healthful component of baked goods, snack and protein bars, granola, sauces and dips. Very versatile, hulled hemp seeds can even be processed into milk, cheese, ice cream, margarine and other foods. Most bird seed contains hemp seed and it makes an excellent ingredient in many pet and animal foods.”(Note). Hemp oil can be produced to make many body care products, lubricants and paints (note). The meal from produced from hemp remains a very appropriate food ingredient and nutritional supplement for people and animals. Also the oil from hemp can be used to make high-grade diesel fuel and aircraft engine oil. The hemp seed is the second most complete source of protein with eight. Soybeans alone have a bit more protein. However, hemp seed is many times cheaper and the human body more efficiently utilizes its protein potential than soybean. In fact, the hemp seed is the highest in content of enzymes, edistins, and overall amino acids of any food on our planet, including the soybean (note).