By Anthony Johnson
Hemp–an environmentally friendly, sustainable crop with aplethora of uses–is legal to grow in several countries, including Canada and China. However, for some reason the United States is missing out on the agricultural rewards and has to rely on imports for our hemp products–raising costs and denying our farmers a great economic opportunity. It is estimated that the retail market for hemp exceeds $300 million in the U.S. and the Congressional Research Serviceconcluded that, “markets for a wide array of industrial and consumer products, commercial hemp industry in the United States could provide opportunities as an economically viable alternative crop for some U.S. growers.”
Unfortunately, as the Congressional Research Service notes, the main obstacle to American farmers’ ability to grow hemp comes from our nation’s drug policy. For some reason, the Drug Enforcement Agency argues with a straight face that industrial hemp farmers would jeopardize their freedom and property to hide cannabis plots within their hemp fields (and don’t forget that cannabis growers would want to keep hemp from pollinating their cannabis, causing it to lose potency).
The downfall of the plant started early last century in the US. Ironically, it was illegal NOT to grow hemp in a few states in the early part of US history. Even George Washington grew it. Its uses were many — as fiber for ropes and sails, to make paper, its seeds are high in proteins, it makes for a stronger, longer lasting material to make clothes with, than cotton. It was possibly the first agricultural crop. It can be grown in most climates, is drought resistant, requires little fertiliser, pesticides and herbicides. Its seeds can be used to make hemp oil.
A little known fact is that it can also be used to produce fuel! Henry Ford’s first Model-T (the people’s car) was even constructed from hemp! He said it was “grown from the soil” and its impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel! Hemp fuel is also biodegradable, does not contribute sulphur dioxide to the atmosphere and is non-toxic. Farmers around the world would greatly benefit from growing it. But alas, we live in a market driven economy and I personally have come to believe that the market is driven by scarcity.
If upon further research it is proved that hemp can provide us with so many alternatives, it would drive many companies out of business. Think about it, it can replace trees for paper, that would not be good for companies who make profit from cutting down trees. Being a weed, it grows really fast and outcompetes other weeds. Hemp strains produce their own resins that make the crop naturally pest free. Not good for companies that make pesticides! It can be used as a fuel! This is one of the major threats! Oil companies are some of the biggest giants in the corporate world. Both Henry Ford and Rudolf Diesel designed cars that ran on vegetable oils and hemp oil. This was a century ago!
Prohibition of hemp is certainly one of the more nonsensical policies enacted by our federal government. The decision to deny farmers the ability to cultivate a crop that can produce up to four times as much paper per acre than an acre of timber, saving our nation’s forests, while also creating jobs and generating revenue is simply a travesty that must end. It is time to end hemp prohibition so that we can better utilize hemp for fiber, fuel and food. As our federal government once proclaimed, “Hemp for Victory!”
Article from National Cannabis Coalition and republished with special permission