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Hemp: The Green Alternative

Updated on February 17, 2009

Hemp=Mary Jane?

When many people think of hemp they automatically think of marijuana. Though the two plants are kissing cousins, industrial hemp does not contain THC, the good little chemicals that help alter a human's state of mind. I personally have never tried the stuff; the closest I've come is smelling the wafts that drifted out of the boy's bathroom in high school. I don't need a drug that makes me hungry and mellow, that's my natural state of being anyhow. But I tell you what, we in the United States are a bunch of dummies for not growing hemp for industrial purposes. Let's look into some reasons why, shall we?

Hemp is Beneficial to the Land

Growing hemp is far less destructive to the environment that growing cotton or logging timber for paper. Hemp requires little to no pesticides, returns nitrogen to the soil, controls erosion, and is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet. Hemp can also be used to replace many crops that are detrimental to the environment such as cotton which requires a ton of pesticides to grow and is hard on the land.

Hemp's Uses

Hemp has many uses in everyday life, from cloth to food even to fuel. Perhaps hemp is most well known as a fiber used to make rope and rough bags. Hemp can also be blended with cotton or flax however to make a relatively soft and very strong piece of clothing with lovely drape. The part of the plant that the fiber comes from is called the bast which are the fibers that grow on the outside of the woody stalk. These fibers are very strong, and are prepared much the same as flax (linen) is. Once prepared the fibers can be spun, and then woven, knitted, or turned into rope. Hemp produces 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than flax. It's a little production machine!

Hemp is also useful as a food as well. Hemp leaves can be eaten in a mixed salad, while the seeds can be used in a myriad of ways. Rich in linoleic acid, hemp seeds can be eaten raw, cooked, or used to make "milk" (much like soy milk). They can also be processed to create hemp seed oil, which rivals the famous flax oil for nutrition. The only downside to hemp seed oil is that it can go rancid very quickly because of the presence of unsaturated fats in the oil. Hemp seeds account for a bout 50% of the weight of a female plant, so producing these hemp food products can be a lot cheaper than similiar products created with soy or almonds.

Finally, and this is the use that excites me the most, hemp can be used to create biodiesel! Biodiesel is a product I have been losing faith in for a while, especially because corn (what we use to make biodiesel in the US) is not the most efficient biomatter to make the fuel. But hemp can be used, in parts or as a whole, in the fermentation process to create biodiesel. Hemp is lighter than say corn or sugar, but because it grows so extraordinarily fast and is better for the soil, it is a far more viable option to create biodiesel.

Conclusion

Hemp is really a crop worthy of our support. It was grown for thousands of years by our ancestors and only in recent times has it been phased out by other products with richer backers. I honestly suspect this is why hemp is not a legal crop in the US, lobbyists can't risk their industries losing money. It's too bad really because I think hemp is a great crop that could help lead us to a greener future. Here's hoping that you'll consider asking your lawmakers to make hemp a legitimate crop!

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    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 

      8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      I don't remember reading anywhere that Hemp is the Male, Marijuana is the Female.As far as I know they are two seperate varities of Hemp.When grown together the varity that produces T.H.C. is inhibited from producing the chemical when they are grown together.It could be that's why it's illegal to grow the non T.H.C. varity.It's presence can inhibit the T.H.C. of Marijuana.Not only that,but it could concievably reduce the production of Marijuana's addictive qualities.

      The ilegal drug trade wouldn't like that.

      If they made it legal the price would come down like a lead ball.

      Seems to me someone in the government has a vested interest in keeping it illegal for the Money involved in it's illegal trafficing.Seeing as the forfeiture laws allow the conficated money as well as property from the sale of drugs is an incentive to continue it's illegal trafficing.

    • Youngcurves19 profile image

      Youngcurves19 

      9 years ago from Hawaii

      Let's just face it it doesn't matter what we think America is no longer "We the People" And if they cant Patten it with extra chemicals they don't care for it. but when i get sick i get prescribed like 12 different "medicines" that don't even work. and later on will give me problems that are 10 times worse than what i was talking the meds for!

    • profile image

      mouse 

      9 years ago

      Actually hemp is illegal more because of the cotton and paper industries than it's connection to pot. If you look into the history of both hemp and pot you'll find that the biggest lobbies to have them outlawed came from their competitors, tobacco, cotton and paper manufacturers and growers.

    • Joni Solis profile image

      Joni Solis 

      10 years ago from Kentwood, Louisiana

      New news article on hemp:

      Health: North Dakota Farmers Sue to Overturn U.S. Ban on Industrial Hemp (NaturalNews) A pair of North Dakota hemp farmers have filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn a federal ban on the production of commercial hemp. North Dakota is the only state that allows the cultivation of industrial hemp, and the state... http://www.naturalnews.com/023637.html

    • hoodia diet pills profile image

      hoodia diet pills 

      10 years ago

      Thanks CennyWendy for imparting this knowledge on us. I am in favor of both plants growing side by side in our own gardens. Hemp is the Male, Marijuana is the Female. You can't have one without the other can you, for one pollenates the other? I'm sure high science could think of way to just grow hemp. The government wants everything for themselves, along with our minds to go with it. Don't do something natural that is going to benefit the earth or take your mind to a more spiritual healing place. Do precscription drugs at marinol.com. This is the sick government's way of legalizing marijuana? Forgive my tangent, Hemp Power.

    • Joni Solis profile image

      Joni Solis 

      10 years ago from Kentwood, Louisiana

      Our groverment needs an overhaul! They are all nuts. It is OK for the drug companies to have the groverment blessings to kill people with thousands of prescription drugs, but one can not grow a usefull and healthy all natural plant.

      I would love to grown hemp to eat and use. And hemp paper is acid free so books would last so much longer.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      10 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Bob, hemp IS a good cash crop for farmers, for all the reasons Cenny states above. But....it's not allowed to be grown in the U.S. because its kissing cousin, pot, is a Controlled Substance. No amount of evidence that industrial hemp has no THC can convince the DEA to think otherwise. A tribe in (North? South?) Dakota has been trying to do so for years, because hemp not only flourishes on their land which is good for nothing else, they already have a market for all the hemp they can grow. Oddly enough, the DEA won't allow them or other Americans to grow it, but places NO restrictions on raw hemp or hemp products imported from other countries. GO FIGURE.

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 

      10 years ago from New Brunswick

      Hemp would make a great cash crop for farmers, could help regional economies revive.

    • desert blondie profile image

      desert blondie 

      10 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      I've got a friend whose extremely "green" daughter found a beautiful hemp (blended with a bit of silk) wedding dress! Good Hub!

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