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Growing The Green Economy: Hemp

Updated on April 24, 2011

nature guides & provides

Are  economic downturns natural and unavoidable? There are many who believe that they are a naturally occurring phenomenon. I disagree.

They take place because we have based our economy on the extraction of natural resources, For example, oil, the cheap and ready flow of this resource has been the main engine of our consumer economy.

We rely on resources that are not renewable; yes, we can grow trees but we cannot readily grow forests and it is dangerous to confuse the trees for a forest.

Fortunately, there are individuals and organizations who understand that our economic and social future relies on us listening to Nature and in developing technology that follows the lessons Nature teaches. Two movements that understand what Nature has to offer are biomimicry and permaculture.

The word biomimicry is derived from bios , meaning life, and mimesis , meaning to imitate. Biomimcry studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems; for example, studying a leaf to invent a better solar cell is an example of this “innovation inspired by nature.”

Permaculture is a holistic, nature-inspired design system that can grow food, create community and build businesses.

Nature gudies and provides. There are natural resources that are renewable , plants as they are better known, hemp is a versatile example of what we can do with these renewable resources.


Both industrial hemp and marijuana are classified as Cannabis sativa which is a species with hundreds of different varieties and is a member of the mulberry family.

The end use of hemp and marijuana is crucial. Marijuana is bred for the high it provides and growers will try to get the highest THC content (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. On the other side of the garden, industrial hemp is bred to maximize fiber, seed and/or oil.

The THC content of industrial hemp ranges of between 0.05 percent and 1 percent; while marijuana has a THC content of 3 percent to 20 percent.

In other words, no one is growing hemp for the buzz so what is the problem?

In 1938, Popular Mechanics magazine called hemp “the new billion dollar crop.” The magazine added that hemp “can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to Cellophane.”

Why is there so much resistance to growing a crop that can provide us with such a variety of products?

Here is one example that is particularly relevant in the presence of global climate change. Researchers at the University of Bath are conducting tests to determine if hemp can be used to build carbon-neutral homes in order to combat climate change and boost the rural economy.

This project is just one example of how hemp is being incorporated into home construction.

Hemp seed oil is another product that has many around for a number of years and is touted for its numerous health benefits.

Hemp clothing is yet another use for this versatile crop. Hats, shirts and pants are just three of the items that can be made.

In 2003, a University of Toronto professor described a way to create a material from hemp that is both strong and lightweight.

"We hope to develop this technology for automotive interior parts like instrument panels, structural applications for buildings and sports equipment and, ultimately, for medical devices such as cardiac devices and blood bags." said Mohini Sain, a professor in the University of Toronto's Faculty of Forestry and Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry.

There is no question that hemp is useful which means that there is a market or that a market could be developed if farmers were allowed to grow industrial hemp. This crop could bring in revenue for the family farm and may encourage future generations to remain in or become farmers. It could also help communities develop a strong local economy because the processing and product development and production must eb done somewhere and why not near where the product is grown.

So, other than some tight-assed, ridiculous objections why are we not growing industrial hemp across North America and elsewhere?

hemp houses


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  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks and thanks for dropping by.

  • profile image

    Nolimits Nana 9 years ago

    Great hub, Bob. Another case of the powers-that-be throwing the baby out with the bathwater!