That is pretty darn important when it comes to advocacy because it’s a different plant. It doesn’t have the THC, that’s the intoxicate that is found in marijuana.
A person from a couple hundred years ago in the U S government said “the best hemp and the best tobacco grow on the same kind of soil”. Thomas Jefferson. We have a founding father as a wing man.
One of the reasons that hemp has become such a big part of the industrial supply chain in these other countries is because there are so many products that can be made from it and that can be manufactured and sold at scale. And that is because the entire plant can be used in the supply chain.
With the United States being the worlds 4th biggest producer of wheat, hemp can be planted and harvested using equipment that farmers already use to plant and harvest wheat.
I did not quite understand the modern economics of a hemp crop, so I researched some more and it turns out that not only does hemp thrive in the same soil and climate that tobacco does, the cash per acre economics are actually equal or better.
There are effectively three parts to a hemp plant. The outer fibers, which are called bast, the inner fibers, which are the hurd, and the seeds. All of these pieces can be used and thousands of products can be made from them. Some of those products include paper.
The image of the $10 bill is from 1910. It’s printed on hemp paper because that was the paper used for our currency for over a hundred years. In the scene on the back of the bill is a hemp harvest in a farmer’s field in the U S.
So one acre of hemp creates the equivalent pulp of four acres of trees, except we can grow hemp in 20 weeks. It takes 20 years to grow trees. If we turn 1% of our farmland, which is 20 million acres into hemp planting just for paper pulp, we could stop cutting down trees for paper.
Biofuels are a huge opportunity with industrial hemp. Currently ethanol is primarily made from corn and about 340 gallons can be extracted from an acre of corn. Hemp yields about double the amount of ethanol per acre, as corn. More importantly, it’s not a food stock crop, and it requires only one third the water.
There is another biofuel that can be made from hemp. That is biodiesel. It’s this beautiful clear green oil. The University of Connecticut has converted hemp seeds into 97% biodiesel. It doesn’t emit sulfur dioxide and it can be grown on infertile, non crop land soil.
The oil from the hemp seeds can make very high quality plastic, which is biodegradable. So again, we’re not displacing food stock crops to create our biofuels plastics. 3,680,000 tons per year of bioplastic are used currently. During the 1940s, Ford designed and built a car made almost entirely of hemp plastic, while the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Volkswagen today make use of it in door panels, dashboards, and other interior components. Most don’t realize it, but the Mercedes C class car currently contains 20 kilograms of hemp fiber, and plastic.
Everyone knows hemp from the rope analogy I’m sure, but it has a long history as a textile fiber. You can actually get three times the fiber per acre from hemp versus cotton, with half the water requirement, again, really important.
It’s not just canvas fabric anymore. Very fine hand fabrics can be made from hemp fiber. It’s actually softer than cotton when it’s completely extracted.
Hemp is a real superfood. The seeds can be eaten raw or roasted. They are 33% protein, 33% essential fatty acids, including Omega 6, which is hard to find in the plant kingdom. Hemp seeds contain nine amino acids and six times more Omega 3 than raw tuna.
And it’s high in dietary fiber. It checks every box. Actually, it is a superfood. I understand superfood is an overused word, but hemp seeds are a superfood.
Pharmacology applications are very exciting. Hemp has a significant advantage for medical and pharmacology development. The CBD oil and hemp seeds, unlike THC in medical marijuana does not have an intoxicant, but it has most of the medicinal properties.
In 2013 the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology did some research and concluded that the CBD oil and hemp seeds contain anticonvulsant. anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-cancer, and antidepressant properties.
The Federal US Department of Health and Human Services filed for a patent on CBD oil and the early 2000’s and it was granted for treatments around neurogenic, degenerative, and inflammatory disorders, including Alzheimer’s. Which they still have this patent.
That’s not only just a few products, but a staggering array of applications. But there’s more hemp in the environment. The industrial hemp plant because it grows so densely and so tall is the best carbon trap per acre in the green plant family.
A metric ton of hemp actually traps one and a half metric tons of carbon. And this has big implications for the carbon tax credit offset market. Many trucking companies now are investing in solar farms out West and using the tax credits to offset their carbon emission levels for their trucking fleets.
Hemp offers the opportunity to do that at a much higher scale and would be a fourth revenue stream for the farmer growing the hemp.
The responses with this information we typically get are:
Why are we not doing this already?
It’s hemp, Isn’t that radical?
It’s actually not. If you look at the history of hemp, It started in China thousands of years ago in terms of its use. It was a integral part of the Chinese economy. It migrated to Western Europe. And then with the exploration of South America and North America, it came over our way.
Our colonial history around hemp is extremely strong. It was the bulk of the supply chain for most of the raw materials manufacturing in the 1700’s, including fabric lighting oil, paper, medicines, and food.
It was a key part of the economy. If you did not farm hemp and you had a farm, you were fined. In the state of North Carolina, you were required to grow 10 acres. There is even stronger history. We were the beneficiary of the Naval Stores Act passed by England in 1705. They were requiring the colonies again to produce hemp fiber, pine pitch, and tar for Naval stores.
They were paying
They were paying growers six pounds per ton on hemp alone. By 1768, North Carolina was producing 60% of the Naval stores in the entire 13 colonies. So it was a very powerful part of the supply chain. It continued to be so into the 1800’s and the early 1900’s.
In this country, in the ’30s the history came to a screeching halt with the end of prohibition. There were some government regulatory agencies that didn’t have anything to regulate anymore. So they went looking and they grabbed everything they could find and threw it into one pile. And unfortunately, industrial hemp was put in that pile.
Except magically for World War II. They made it legal again in 1941 for four years, even produced a movie called Hemp for America to encourage farmers to grow it. At the end of the war, it was immediately made illegal. And then we saw the reefer madness film strips of the 1950’s
Fast forward to a couple of years ago
A few tenacious folks figured out and said, we’ve got to do something to replace tobacco throughout the national economy, as it was obviously winding down. So they were able to get some language inserted into the 2014 Federal Farm Bill that said if each state would individually enable researcher pilot programs, industrial hemp, the non THC version could be grown.
The first legal cultivation started in 2015 and 27 states by 2016 have approved pilot programs. There is federal legislation in the Farm Bill and now individual states are passed legislation to enable research and pilot programs.
Upon seeing this information, some people ask, “How can I help? And there really are ways. One way is to contact every center of influence you know, whether it be an elected representative or someone in your community or a charitable foundation. Share this information with them. It is extremely powerful.