Industrial Hemp has been called the plant with 50,000 uses and is a model eco-material for any sustainable economy. The history of industrial hemp is well documented and goes back thousands of years to . It was used for thousands of years for all manner of applications. It’s versatility is unmatched. It’s ban is a recent phenomena based on false information such being a narcotic. Industrial hemp has trace amounts of its cousin Marijuanas active ingredient THC, rendering it unusable as a drug. Industrialized hemp contains no more than 0.03 percent THC content, which is not a high enough percentage for drug use.
More insidiously, technology patents that would have made it the choice of paper and a household clothing item were bought up by the Hearst family to allow harvesting of trees for paper and eliminate competition with Dupont’s nylon technology. Industralists such as Dupont, Rockefeller, Hearst, Mellon and their constituents cornered the industrial and medicinal market with political propaganda.
With the mess humanity is in, Industrial Hemp is now making a comeback. Canada, China, and England are examples of countries who have never prohibited, but instead have responsibly grown, produced, and thrived off of industrialized hemp. It’s widespread adaption could see hemp products such as:
- cleaner energy source that can replace nuclear power
- natural detoxifier: detoxifies radioactive waste from the soil. “There is an estimated 30,000 sites in the United States are estimated to be needing hazardous waste treatment” and the hemp plant is the answer to this terrible environmental issue.[The McGraw Hill Companies].
- a plastic substitute, eliminating non-biodegradable plastics
- lightweight, high insulation property construction material in buildings
- construction material for building car frames (can withstand a blow 10 times as great as steel without denting, weighs 1 thousand pounds less than steel, hence improving gas mileage,
- all-natural hemp fuel
- clothing with 3 times the strength of cotton
- hemp paper – can be recycled up to 8 times; current wood pulp is only recyclable up to 3 times
- high nutrition from hemp food products: hemp seeds and feeding it to our animals and livestock.
- hemp based concrete for use in roads, bridges and buildings which lasts for centurie
- natural soil enhancer – hemp plant’s attributes such as oxygen production, hemp’s dense root structure, and hemp’s nutrient and nitrogen production back into the soil
- medicine that can treat up to 250 diseases and illnesses
- smog eliminator from current fuels
Other Hemp Facts
Hemp’s biomass can be converted into energy and could replace nuclear power and our current fossil fuels.[Belle, Mika] Just by farming 6 percent of the US’s acreage this could be achieved. “Hemp grown in biomass could fuel a trillion-dollar-per-year industry, while at the same time create more jobs, clean our air, and distribute wealth to our communities and away from centralized power monopolies.” Hemp’s biomass can be converted into gasoline, methanol, and methane at a fraction of the current cost of oil, coal, or nuclear energy.
“When burned in a diesel engine, bio-diesel replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with a smell something akin to french-fries. Bio-diesel is 11 percent oxygen by weight and contains no sulfur, so instead of creating sulfur-based smog and acid rain as by-products, it produces 11 percent oxygen instead. Bio-diesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as hemp.” (Source: Montana State University)
“Hemp seeds contain beneficial omega fatty acids and amino acids, more than any other source.” The seeds can be used in a number of food dishes in baking, prepared as tea, any type of food like ice cream, and milk. Cultures all over the world have consumed hemp seeds in times of famine to prevent starvation which has saved millions of lives.[Saunders, Clare] The nutritional facts astounding, for example; hemp seeds contains 20 percent complete and highly digestable protein…more digestable than soy.(Source: Earth Friendly Network)
“Only 1 acre of hemp is said to produce more oxygen than 25 acres of current forest.” (Source: Bryon, Alan D.)
Farmers can grow hemp in cow pastures, to absorb methane gases produced by cow farts, and burps. The cows can also eat directly from the hemp plants around them, which would eliminate the need to use hormones and steroids, due to hemp’s nutritional facts.
The use of renewable materials in construction promotes carbon savings as most of these products are carbon negative rather than carbon neutral and require less fossil fuel energy to produce. For example, it takes 1.84 tonnes of CO2 to make a tonne of dry hemp. Therefore each tonne of a hemp based construction material has carbon trapped within it equivalent to 330 kg of CO2, thus removing the carbon from the atmosphere for the life of the building. The use of renewable materials can add to the social benefits by improving the health of those in the construction sector working with the materials (natural sheep’s wool or hemp fibre insulation is less toxic than some of the rockwall/fibre glass alternatives) and those living in the homes (i.e. hemp lime blocks are more ‘breathable’ than other materials, can improve the air flow and quality, and help avoid many of the ‘symptoms’ of sick building (Source: A REVIEW OF THE CURRENT STATE OF BIOENERGY DEVELOPMENT IN G8 +5 COUNTRIES, Global Bioenergy Partnership, 2008)
Hemp Market Value Chain & Processing Steps
Fig. 1: Hemp Market Value Chain
Source: A Profile of the South African Hemp Market Value Chain, 2010, South Africa Dept of Agriculture, Forestry & Fishery
- The hemp value chain begins with seed breeding and multiplication followed by seed storage, soil preparation and planting.
- After harvesting hemp, the bast fibers must be separated from the rest of the stalk and this is done through the process called retting.
- Once the stalks are retted, dried and baled, they are taken to a central location for processing.
- With mechanical process called breaking, stalks are pressed between fluted rollers to crush and break the woody core into short pieces (called hurds), separating some of it from the bast fibre.
- The remaining hurds and fibre are separated in a process called decortication with one machine called a decorticator.
- After this process various hemp raw materials are taken to the manufacturers who produce final hemp products such as bags, shoes, socks and cosmetics.
Fig. 3: Hemp Products