Hemp: a potentially sustainable resource hampered by myths

Holly Rillovick

Hemp is not only a sustainable resource for clothing, paper, and other materials, but it is also very good for our bodies. Still, it is illegal to grow hemp in the United States, and there are many myths surrounding it.

MYTH: Hemp is the same thing as marijuana. People who are pro-hemp only want to get high.

Industrial hemp has a THC content of 1% or less, and Marijuana has a THC content of 3% to 20%, according to the North American Industrial Hemp Council (NAIHC).

NAIHC says, “To receive a standard psychoactive dose would require a person to power-smoke 10-12 hemp cigarettes over an extremely short period of time.” Or, as presidential candidate Ron Paul put it, “you would need a [joint] as big as a telephone pole.” The council explains further: “The large volume and high temperature of vapor, gas and smoke would be almost impossible for a person to withstand.” According to the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM), hemp has shown anti-psychotic activity, and even “reduces the psychoactive effects of THC.”

Even if hemp could make you high, there are still many other uses for it. Nothing in a hemp stalk needs to be wasted during production, as every part of it can be used for something. The seeds can produce oils, milk, and other food supplements. In fact, you could almost eat nothing but hemp seeds for the rest of your life and live healthfully.

“Hemp seeds contain almost every [nutrient] we need,” said Zach Gresser, a pro-hemp Prescott resident.

For example, according to the Vote Hemp organization,  hemp seeds have an “exceptional fatty acid composition … which makes up 30 percent of the whole seed and 44 percent of the nut.” Consuming these fatty acids in the right Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) ratio “has impressive [health] benefits.”

Hemp stalks are used for their fibers to make “construction products such as medium density fiber board, oriented strand board, and even beams, studs and posts,” says NAIHC. “Because of hemp’s long fibers, the products will be stronger and/or lighter than those made from wood.” The council says that hemp fibers are also stronger and more mildew-resistant than cotton, so hemp would make better clothing.

“The products that can be made with hemp number over 25,000,” says NAIHC.

MYTH: People might grow hemp to hide their marijuana.

While hemp may look a lot like marijuana, it is doubtful that anyone would try this, because it could result in lower-grade marijuana.

“If hemp does pollinate any nearby marijuana, genetically, the result will always be lower-THC marijuana,” says NAIHC.

FACT: The legalization of hemp would likely eliminate many other industries.

Hemp’s very usefulness might be the reason it was prohibited in the first place; its legalization would create serious competition for many established and power industries.

For example, we do not need wood if we have hempcrete, which is lighter than concrete and more durable than both wood and concrete, according to NAIHC. Hemp is also of lower cost than the other two because it is not man-made, and it is a renewable resource. The NAIHC says that a hemp stalk is fully grown in about six months. Plastics and tree paper, along with many other unsustainable materials that we use today, may not be around to harm the environment because hemp would be in their current place.

While the US DEA classifies all cannabis sativa, a class that hemp is part of, as “marijuana,” “over 30 industrialized democracies do distinguish hemp from marijuana,” according NAIHC. If we educate ourselves about the industrial, medical, and environmental benefits of hemp, the United States could join the list.

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Comments
One Response to “Hemp: a potentially sustainable resource hampered by myths”
  1. It’s illegal to grow hemp in the US. the UK government has sponsored projects that use hemp as a sustainable raw material. One of the results is in my blog…
    http://woolblog.com/2012/03/28/wool-hemp/

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