Hemp is a remarkable plant. So remarkable that instead of listing it under food, medicine, transportation, clothing, industrial or any of a number of other categories, as it could rightfully be, we've given it its own page.
Hemp vs. Marijuana Similarities
As HempFood.ca says
"There is an answer to world hunger, to overfertilization, to global warming, to the overuse of fossil fuels, to the obesity issue, to poor health and weak cardiovascular systems. The answer is hemp and hemp seed food."
Hemp seed is a highly nutritious source of protein and essential fatty oils. The protein in hemp seed closely resembles protein as it is found in the human blood. It is extremely easy to digest. The essential fatty acids that hemp seed provides contain almost no saturated fat. As a diet supplement, they can reduce the risk of heart disease. One handful of hemp seed per day will supply adequate protein and essential oils for an adult.
Hemp requires little fertilizer and water, and grows well almost everywhere. It also resists pests, so it uses few if any pesticides. Hemp puts down deep roots, which prevents topsoil erosion, and when the leaves drop off the hemp plant, minerals and nitrogen are returned to the soil. Hemp has been grown on the same soil for twenty years in a row without any noticeable depletion of the soil.
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of both soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. They are an excellent way to gently cleanse the intestinal system and are a welcome addition of heavy fiber to anyone's diet. Hemp can also be a valuable, and highly productive, source of biodiesel fuel.
But nutrition is just one of the many benefits of hemp.
Other Uses of Hemp
Hemp grows quickly, maturing in less than four months. It grows in most climates and naturally resist disease, therefore pesticides are not necessary. Hemp removes weeds from the area where it grows and produces up to four times the amount of mass than would the same acreage of trees. Once harvested, the soil remains fertile.
Hemp has strong fibers, the paper it produces is naturally acid-free (no "yellow journalism" since it does not turn yellow or brittle with age). Hemp paper can be recycled more than twice as many times as wood pulp paper, and it can be bleached with environmentally safe hydrogen peroxide rather than the toxic chlorine bleach (which results in dioxin) used to make new wood pulp paper.
The pulp can be used to make fuel or produce acid-free paper, makes an excellent cloth, its fiber can be used to make rope or twine, the seed is high in protein and essential fatty acids and can be eaten by both humans and animals, the oil from the seed can be used as a base for paints and varnishes, a tincture of the resin in the blossoms and leaves can be used as medicine; the pulp can be burned as fuel or processed to produce methanol or ethanol; it can be used in the construction industry to make composite board, it can be used to make lubricants or plastics,
Hemp can be used to treat multiple sclerosis, cancer treatment, AIDS (and AIDS treatment side effects), glaucoma, depression, epilepsy, migraine headaches, asthma and severe pain, among many other ailments and diseases.
Hemp has been used successfully in the world for more than 3,000 years. In the 1930s, markets in the United States for the use of hemp in paper, textiles and medicine were well established. New harvesting technology had made hemp more economical than ever. But there was one problem. Hemp threatened other interests. And they fought back.
The Attack on Hemp
In 1937 the Marihuana Tax Act prohibited production of hemp in the United States. The campaign against hemp had been led by Harry Anslinger, head of the Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics (predecessor to today's Drug Enforcement Agency—DEA). Anslinger hated African-Americans and black jazz musicians in particular. (Incidentally, this was at the time when J. Edgar Hoover, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was prancing around in cocktail dresses and high-heeled pumps.)
Anslinger convinced Congress that hemp (which he referred to as marijuana in order to associate it with Mexicans, whom he also hated) was more dangerous than cocaine, heroin or opium, and that it caused Mexicans to become lazy and blacks to become crazed and aggressive, commiting violent crimes (particularly against white women) too horrible even to describe—but he described them anyhow in his "Gore File". (When he again appeared before Congress in the 1950s, he said that marijuana made people listless and apathetic and was a Communist plot to destroy the moral fiber of American youth.)
It was not a coincidence that Anslinger's uncle-in-law got him his job. Nor that that uncle-in-law, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, was the primary financial mover behind the DuPont company's multimillion dollar project with newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. The project? Use DuPont's new chemical pulping process to cheaply produce pulp in Hearst-owned pulp mills from trees in Hearst-owned forests to create newsprint and other paper much more cheaply than the newsprint that Hearst's newspaper competitors could buy. (DuPont was also worried about competitors who were beginning to use hemp to create products heretofore made from petroleum.)
The only threat to DuPont and Hearst's potential hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from paper and other products? Cheap pulp from hemp, now possible with recently invented mechanical hemp pulping machines. With Anslinger as the point man and the Hearst newspapers creating the marijuana scare, Congressional passed legislation putting an end to the hemp/marijuana "threat", leaving DuPont and Hearst to make mammoth fortunes from their mutual cooperation.
Incidentally, Hearst, too, hated minorities. Mexicans in particular held a special place in his heart. His newspapers portrayed them as lazy, degenerate, and violent, and as marijuana smokers and job stealers. (His prejudice was likely exacerbated by the fact that he had lost 800,000 acres of forest in Sonora when it was confiscated by Pancho Villa in a move to return control of natural resources back to the Mexican people.)
It probably also wasn't a coincidence that making marijuana illegal in 1937 gave crime syndicates a replacement product for alcohol, since Prohibition had been repealed in 1933. Profits quickly dropped with the legalization of alcohol, and replacing alcohol with marijuana gave the country a new demon to battle and a new lucrative income for criminals—and crime fighters.
Except for a few years during World War II, when the U.S. government exhorted farmers and schoolchildren to grow hemp so that its fibers could be used for the war effort, cultivation of hemp has remained illegal in the United States. We would suggest, however, that there might come a time when the government no longer cares to keep it illegal—or at least to enforce that law. That time might be soon. Or now.
The Future of Hemp? Here are a few paragraphs of a possible near future, from the book Hemp Horizons by John Roulac:
"So imagine that one day within the next ten years, you wake up in a house whose walls, roof, flooring, insulation, and paint are derived of hemp. You feel great after sleeping on your hemp-stuffed mattress, covered with soft linens spun from hemp fiber. Your feet sink into the hemp carpeting as you get out of bed and open the hemp drapes. It's a beautiful morning.
"You jump into the shower, where you soap, shampoo, and hair conditioner made from hemp. You step out onto the hemp bath mat, drying yourself with a superabsorbent hemp towel. You clean your ears with H-Tips (better than the old cotton swabs), and apply hemp-oil lotion, moisturizer, and lip balm. You make a mental note to buy some more hemp toilet paper, recalling how it wasn't too long ago that we were still cutting down centuries-old trees just to flush them away.
"Opening your closet, you dress in hemp jeans, shirt, and jacket; put on hemp socks and shoes; tie the hemp laces; and grab your hemp wallet, which holds checks and currency printed on hemp paper.
"You're hungry, so you walk into the kitchen with its hemp-based linoleum floor. You make some wheat-and-hemp-flower toast, and pour a glass of fresh, organic hemp milk. After eating, you make a salad with hemp-oil dressing to take to work. Then you wash your dishes, using hemp-oil dish soap and a hemp pot-scrubber, and put the dishes away in a cabinet built of hemp fiberboard. Sitting down on the hemp-framed and upholstered couch, you glance at a newspaper printed with hemp ink on hemp recycled paper, and learn that the hemp industry is now the largest agribusiness and the major job provider in your state. You turn on the stereo, which sits on a hemp fiberboard cabinet, and listen as music vibrates from speakers also made from hemp fiberboard. They contain specialty hemp paper for the speaker cones and are covered with black hempen cloth.
"Leaving the house for work, you open the door of your car, built of strong, lightweight composites that include hemp. Relaxing into the driver's seat, luxuriously upholstered with hemp textiles, you rest your feet on floor mats that look like rubber but are made from hemp. As you drive to your job at the new hemp-fiber processing facility, you pass farmers harvesting some of the locally grown hemp that is revitalizing your community's rural economy."
And an addendum from an Amazon reviewer:
A beautiful morning indeed, but it would be even more beautiful if you knew how environmentally friendly and healthy your new hempen life actually is. The rubber-like mats in your hemp mobile are all natural and 100 per cent biodegradable; the roots of the hemp plants that line the fields of your county help enrich and solidify much-needed topsoil and therefore increase the yield of other rotational crops. You smile while spreading hempseed hummus on your hemp-wheat toast knowing it is the single most complete source of non-animal protein on the planet - and tastes much better than tofu. The smile increases as you pour hemp oil on your salad, knowing it is high in essential fatty acids that help you think better, boost your immune system, decrease your chances of cancer, and reduce the risk of high blood pressure, platelet coagulation, and hardening of the arteries. Lastly, before heading off to work, you opt for your hemp skateboard instead of the hemp mobile, as it is a brilliant, bright and sunny day.
Information on a wide variety of products produced from hemp
Basic Uses of Industrial Hemp
Food, fuel and fiber
Dr. Dave's Hemp Archives
Extensive information from a long time scientific researcher into plant breeding and genetics
Emperor Wears No Clothes, The
Free online version of the classic book (more than 600,000 sold). You can also buy the hardcopy of the book, which contains source material and graphics. The hour-long documentary "The Emperor of Hemp" DVD is also available.
Fueled by hemp
Basic historical information and the current hemp industry worldwide
Manufacturer of shelled hempseed
Hemp Food Canada
Information and health food products
Hemp Industries Association
Non-profit trade group representing hemp companies, researchers and supporters.
Hemp and Marijuana - Myths & Realities
Report by Dr. David West for the North American Industrial Hemp Council
News, books and discussion forums
The Boston Hemp Co-op's digital library and museum
History and Benefits of Hemp, The
From the Earth Times
North American Industrial Hemp Council
Organization formed to reestablish and expand the use of industrial hemp.
Reefer Madness Propaganda
From, and inspired by, the U.S. government