Is hemp our future economic stimulus? A recent article on Alternet.org written by Dara Colwell suggests so.
Industrial hemp has 25,000 known applications. From paper (our Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written on hemp paper ), to clothing (your hemp pants will last forever ), to food products (according to this article, the Wall Street Journal stated that hemp is the fastest growing new food category in North America). Add in construction and automotive materials and you have a very sustainable green economy start-up.
But as most of you know, growing hemp in the United States is still illegal. The Drug Enforcement Administration has grouped this low-THC plant with its relative, marijuana. We are the only industrialized country on earth to prohibit hemp production. Canada even legalized growing hemp in 1997.
An exception to cultivating industrial hemp came during World War II, when the armed forces experienced a fiber shortage and the government encouraged all farmers to grow hemp. But after the war and with the introduction of nylon, hemp production disappeared. The history of hemp is fueled with propaganda and corporate greed. If a farmer in North Dakota chose to grow this incredible crop today, they would be guilty of trafficking and would face a fine of up to 4 million dollars and a prison sentence of 5 – 40 years.
Hemp has enormous benefits as a crop. It is environmentally friendly, requiring no pesticides or herbicides, it is the perfect rotation or rest crop because it detoxifies and regenerates the soil and it grows quickly.
More and more health advocates are realizing that as a food hemp is rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids. The hemp plant’s cellulose level is about three times that of wood and is the ideal raw material for plant-based plastics. Henry Ford himself manufactured a car from hemp-based plastic in 1941 and ran it on clean-burning hemp-based ethanol fuel.
28 states have introduced hemp legislation. Isn’t it time that we seriously look at something that could solve many of today’s problems?