Hemp Uses & Facts
Hemp is often confused with the marijuana plant. Both come from the plant family Cannabis sativa, but from very different varieties. The fiber-bearing plant has been bred for thousands of years for its long, fine fibers. The fiber plant has no drug value and the drug plant has no fiber value.
Humans have cultivated hemp longer than any other textile fiber. Archaeologists have unearthed hemp fabric in China that is over 10,000 years old. Its history is rich and varied throughout the world. In ancient Japan, it symbolized purity and was worn by Shinto priests. Many of the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance were painted on hempen canvas. Britannia ruled the sea for centuries under power of hempen sails.
Hemp played a key role in the early days of the United States. The Puritans grew high quality hemp in the 1600's. By the time of the revolutionary war, its cultivation was considered the patriotic duty of American farmers!
Betsy Ross made the first American flag from hemp fabric.
The Founding Fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were hemp farmers. The first U.S. patent was issued to Thomas Jefferson for his hemp threshing machine.
The first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were written on hemp paper. The final drafts are written on animal parchment.
Levi Strauss made the first pair of jeans from lightweight hemp canvas.
Until the late 1800's, virtually all of our cloth and paper were made from hemp.
In the late 1920's and 1930's Henry Ford and other U.S. companies were developing a wide variety of synthetic products from renewable biomass resources, notably hemp, and were promising to make every product that was currently being made from petroleum hydrocarbons from cannabis carbohydrates. The petro-chemical and pulp-paper industries in particular stood to lose billions of dollars if the commercial potential of hemp was fully realized. Randolph Hearst together with Lammont DuPont and other industrialists (backed by Andrew Mellon, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and owner of Gulf Oil) mounted a negative publicity campaign against hemp in Hearst-owned newspapers, trumping up charges of marijuana use, to illegalize its cultivation. This paved the way for the world's largest privately owned timber holdings (forests owned by Hearst) to be harvested for the paper industry, which required petroleum products and chemicals developed by Du Pont.
Hemp is anti-microbial and highly resistant to insects. It NEVER requires the use of herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
Hemp, unlike cotton, does not deplete the soil of nutrients. This makes it cheaper to produce, eliminates groundwater pollution due to pesticide run-off, and curtails farming community exposure to toxic and cancer-causing products.
Growing hemp reduces our dependence on petroleum products such as petrochemical fertilizers.
Currently 15,000 lakes in the US are so contaminated by toxic agricultural runoff that NOTHING can live in them.
Hemp is an adaptable annual grass that can be grown in 85-150 days in most environments (all 50 states).
Growing hemp produces an estimated $800.00 profit per acre of land. Soybeans, the next most profitable American crop, produce $200.00 profit per acre and require irrigation, pesticides, and herbicides. Timber produces $40.00 profit per acre, and requires many years to mature and replenish.
Deforestation is one of the most serious threats to the long-term health of the planet. America uses as much wood, by weight, as it uses metals, plastics, and cement combined. In North America alone, we have already destroyed 97% of the mature forests that existed in colonial times.
Currently 40% of the global timber harvest is used for paper products. If hemp is cultivated on only 12% of the European landmass, it will meet the ENTIRE WORLD DEMAND for paper and completely eradicate the need to cut trees for paper. One acre of hemp produces as much pulp for paper as four acres of trees. The average tree grows for 30-40 years before it can be harvested for paper products, compared to hemp, which can be harvested in 3-4 months.
Hemp paper requires less chemical processing and can be whitened without producing dioxins. Unlike wood pulp paper, hemp does not harden, yellow, or crack with age.
If hemp replaced cotton globally, the increased fiber yield would free up an area of farmland the size of Florida. The reduction in toxic pesticides would be 94,080 tons.
In the USA approximately 1.4 billion cotton t-shirts are sold annually. If they were replaced by hemp t-shirts the energy savings would be 3486 million GJ (that's the household power for one whole year for 92,300 people) and the water savings would be 1339 BILLION gallons (that would satisfy the household water consumption for more than half the population of the USA for ONE YEAR).
Hemp fabric is nature's most durable natural fiber. It is four times more durable than cotton, and is naturally UV resistant, offering more protection than other natural fibers.
Hemp can be used to produce 25,000 - 50,000 kinds of domestic and industrial products, including paper products of all kinds, efficient biofuels, biodegradable plastics, food, non-toxic building materials such as fibreboard, paints, and linoleum.
Plastic was originally invented using natural plant cellulose, which was then replaced by petroleum products. Hemp has the highest level of natural cellulose. Hemp fiberboard is stronger than fiberboard made of wood products.
Twenty U.S. states are researching and preparing legislation to legalize industrial hemp. Canada legalized hemp cultivation in 1994 and is quickly becoming the global leader in hemp research and product development.
Hemp production in the United States would create new farming opportunities and create THOUSANDS of new jobs in industries such as textiles, paper, plastics, energy, construction and food.
Currently hemp cultivation is treated as a FELONY offense in the United States.