From its mysterious origins and importance in colonial times thru today, this controversial plant’s roots run deep in America.
This showed aired for the 1st time last night and is available to watch anytime for free online at the link below. The show will also be airing several more times this month, check out the website for the additional dates.
An overall overview:
The cut to chase answer is: the difference is in its use. The two are related through the same species of plant, both are forms of the plant Cannabis Sativa L. They are essentially weeds that will grow in a wide variety of conditions, climates, and soil types. Over the years both plants have been used for a wide variety of uses. However, they are not the same.
While industrial-grade hemp is a rather helpful resource in the world, it lacks the stimulating power of the substance known as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or for short, THC. It is this active chemical of THC that brings about the “high” associated with marijuana. The term ‘Hemp‘ commonly refers to the industrial/commercial use of the cannabis stalk and seed for textiles, foods, papers, body care products, detergents, plastics and building materials. The term ‘marijuana’ refers to the medicinal, recreational or spiritual use involving the smoking of cannabis flowers.
According to US law, hemp is the stalks, stems and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa, and marijuana is the leaves, flowers and viable seeds of cannabis sativa. Male or female cannabis has no differentiation by law or science, beyond sex.
What Makes Marijuana a Drug?
No matter how you feel about marijuana, whether you would classify it as a medicine, a drug, a recreational tool, or a narcotic doesn’t really matter. What makes it this way is its THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)content. It takes at least 3% THC in order to get high and higher quality marijuana (used for drug consumption) will have 10-15% THC.
How Much THC Does Hemp Have?
Due to the way hemp is grown and its separation from marijuana, hemp has a much lower THC content. Industrial hemp contains only about 0.01% – 1.5% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinoids, the intoxicating ingredients that make you high) while marijuana contains about 5% – 10% or more THC. The low amount of THC is what makes hemp worthless for getting high. It has been estimated by some researchers of hemp that it would take an acre of hemp to get high. In one acre of hemp there is about 10-20 tons of plant material grown. Think about that.
Do they grow together? How can you tell them apart?
Often it is argued by those who know there is a difference between hemp and marijuana that they could be grown together thereby deceiving authorities and passerby while effectively providing marijuana for those who wish to use it. This isn’t an option however. Hemp is grown in rows one to two inches apart. The plants are grown very close together and shoot up toward the sky till they are taller then full grown men. They have a woody core and are stiff and hard to walk through. Marijuana on the other hand is grown with lots of room to bush out. You want 18″ or more worth of space between the marijuana bushes. You want them to have lots of low branches (something that doesn’t happen on hemp), leaves, and soft flexible stems. These growing methods encourage THC development making it better for use as a drug.
Growing hemp and marijuana together isn’t an option. By doing that you get cross pollination which leaves both plants infertile. When they cross pollinate you loose the buds of the flowers and the seeds. With hemp these parts are very useful for a wide variety of uses (oil, food, seed for the following year). With marijuana the bud is the part of the plant that has the most THC, if this doesn’t fully develop due to cross pollination then you loose a lot of the material that can be smoked.
The difference in THC levels make hemp and marijuana a lot different. There are thousands of products that can be made from hemp, but it must be set aside that hemp and marijuana are the same thing. It must be understood that hemp can not be smoked for a high, marijuana can not be grown in place of hemp and fool authorities, and marijuana and hemp can not be grown together (or even with in a mile radius of one another).
Compared to cannabis sativa indica, cannabis sativa sativa (industrial hemp variety) has a much stronger fiber. This fiber can be used in anything from rope and blankets to paper. Marijuana fiber has a low tensile strength and will break or shred easily, making it a poor fibrous plant when compared to industrial hemp.
Industrial hemp also grows differently than THC-containing cannabis ( Marijuana). Hemp is typically grown up, not out, because the focus is not on producing buds but on producing length of stalk. In this way, hemp is a very similar crop to bamboo. The stalk contains the fiber and hard, woody core material that can be used for a variety of purposes, even carpentry. Generally, THC-producing marijuana plants are grown to an average of five feet in height. Industrial hemp on the other hand is grown to a height of ten to fifteen feet before harvest. Also, it is fairly difficult to grow concealed marijuana within industrial hemp crops as the DEA alleges. Since industrial hemp is grown so close together and is generally a very narrow, vertical growth crop, any THC-producing marijuana would stick out like a sore thumb. Its wide growth would require a large amount of space to itself in order to get adequate sunlight from beyond the tops of the competing industrial hemp plants.
The two also differ in the areas that they can be effectively grown. THC-producing Marijuana must be grown in generally warm and humid environments in order to produce the desired quantity and quality of THC-containing buds. However, since industrial hemp does not contain these buds, and the hardy parts of the plant are the more desired, it can be grown in a wider range of areas. Generally, industrial hemp grows best on fields that provide high yields for corn crops, which includes most of the Southwest, Southeast, and Northeast United States. Furthermore, since industrial hemp can use male plants as well as female plants (since the object is not THC production), higher crop yields can result.
Hemp also has little potential to produce high-content THC when pollinated. As long as industrial hemp plants are pollinated by members of their own crop, then the genetics will remain similar with low levels of THC. One would have to place several marijuana plants in close vicinity in over several generations order to alter the genetics substantially of the offspring.
Since there are so many differences between low-THC industrial hemp and high-THC marijuana, it seems to make sense that it would be a fostered, rather than demonized crop. Although technically hemp is not illegal to grow, it requires obtaining a special permit from the DEA. These permits are rarely given out and require that the crop be surrounded by security measures such as fences, razor wire, security guards, or dogs. Industrial hemp could transform the economy of the United States in a positive and beneficial way, and therefore should be utilized to its full potential.by MaryJanesGirl™
Hemp History Week is next month (May) and now is a good time to start brainstorming and solidify how you want to contribute to HHW 2013. Taking a picture and adding your words ( or someone else’s, just remember to give credit ) to spread the message and get people talking may be one of the easiest ways to be an activist online.
Right now images speak volumes. Make it count!by MaryJanesGirl™
free poster by a dope artist. check out their website and help spread the thought, the idea, the message.
The hemp plant was one of humankind’s first cultivated plants and there is quite a lot to educate oneself about this greatly historical plant. With the help of the hemp plant we, as a society could eliminate smog from current fuels, create a cleaner energy source that can replace nuclear power, remove radioactive waste from the soil, and eliminate smog from our skies in more industrialized areas. The hemp plant could assist in eliminating non-biodegradable plastics and cars by reintroducing Henry Ford’s 100 year old dream of building cars made from hemp with a plastic hemp car body that can withstand a blow 10 times as great as steel without denting, weighs 1 thousand pounds less than steel, hence improving gas mileage, can run on a vegetable oil based all natural hemp fuel, and has a completely biodegradable body. Nationwide hemp production could eliminate deforestation by converting current paper to hemp paper which can be recycled up to 8 times where as our current wood pulp is only recyclable up to 3 times, and we could thrive from eating hemp seeds and feeding it to our animals and livestock.
Industrial hemp can make our future roads, highways and freeways from hemp based concrete, which lasts for centuries. Society can benefit from the hemp plant’s attributes such as oxygen production, hemp’s dense root structure, and hemp’s nutrient and nitrogen production back into the soil. Chemicals in cannabis can be used in medicines and are estimated to treat around 250 diseases and illnesses, from which studies have shown inhibits the growth of cancer cells in rats, as well as a long list of other ailments. Finally, we could make an estimated 50,000 products ranging from building composites, cellophane, dynamite to shampoo, textiles, twine and yarn. If the US grew industrial hemp it could stop wars, save the environment, boost our economy, improve general health and well being, virtually end our reliance on any foreign entity, and save humankind from itself. But wait, wait, wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.
Studies have shown that 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.
An article from Montana State University states, “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.” The hemp grown through government farming and regulation is called “industrialized hemp” and contains no more than 0.03 percent THC content, which is not a high enough percentage for drug use. Canada, China, and England are examples of countries who have never prohibited, but instead have responsibly grown, produced, and thrived off of industrialized hemp [Hemp].
Imagine being able to dump our nuclear waste somewhere that wouldn’t have any adverse effects on the surrounding environment. The hemp plant can help with that as well. A nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Russia had a meltdown April 1986 and experiments have shown that the hemp plant can help remove the toxicity in 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].
Henry Ford had a dream of “cars made from the soil” and created the first bio-fueled car and also, a car made from hemp. The body of the car was made out of veggie-plastics made from flax, wheat, hemp, and spruce pulp.[Davis, Richard M] As an experiment, Ford struck the door with an ax in the dead of winter and it didn’t leave a dent. The material was “ten times” stronger than steel and yet one-third the weight, hence saving on gas mileage. “Popular Mechanics Magazine, Vol. 76, No. 6, December,1941. Title: Auto Body Made of Plastics Resists Denting Under Hard Blows.“[Carver, George Washington] Henry Ford’s dream was saving American lives, human lives. The car was completely bio-degradable and so with that Henry Ford achieved his dream of “a car made from the soil.”[Malmo-Levine, David] Fords cars were in my definition: the poor person’s car. A car you could sustain on your own, distilling your own alcohol, or hemp and creating your own fuel in your own backyard while saving your family thousands of dollars per year. Hemp oil was even used, as grease to lubricate parts within the car’s engine. [Malmo-Levine, David]
Ford’s dream materialized before me, as I learned how he made a car grown from the soil, a car made out of and run off of hemp, and a plastic that is scientifically documented to be ten times stronger than steel and one thousand pounds less in weight. If this were our implemented into current day driving would be like bumper cars and getting into a crash might no longer be such an intensive insurance matter. If all the cars on the road were made with hemp the injuries and deaths would become considerably less. Industrial Hemp must again become our main crop producer and be used in the making of every single car produced in America. The hemp plant could saves millions of American lives. “Car accidents involving other moving vehicles accounted for the large majority of accident deaths in California in 2004 with 1,336 deaths due to collisions with other vehicles. This accounts for about 35% of all fatal car wrecks throughout the state. Telephone poles, palm trees, street signs and other stationary objects accounted for another 1,072 auto accident deaths in 2004.” [Resource 4 Accidents]
Despite Industrial Hemp having 50,000 uses, Dupont, Rockefeller, Hearst, Mellon and their constituents cornered the industrial and medicinal market with political propaganda. Dupont created Nylon, owned General Motors and was “one of the top ten U.S. based petroleum and natural gas producers and refiners.”[DuPont] Rockefeller owned Standard Oil and was soon known as the “richest man in modern history.”[Rockefeller] This is a political science paper and can be viewed at one of my Blogs here at http://marijuana-tax-act-1937.blogspot.com/. But lets not get off topic, so big business and capitalistic politics thrived and outlawed the hemp plant that had sustained the United States of America, since the days of our founding fathers and all for someone else’s selfish monopolistic goals.[Malmo-Levine, David] Henry Ford achieved his dream, but he was denied any true public recognition and any further industrial hemp progression. Every citizen of America was denied Henry Ford’s hemp dream of a car made from the soil.
In 100 BC, hemp paper was invented in China using hemp and mulberry. Since 100 AD, when the Romans wrote a guide to farming hemp it has since been farmed all over the known world. From the Germans, Franks, Vikings, Chinese (who have never prohibited the use of hemp all-throughout history), English, Canadians, Egyptians, and even Americans all grew, produced, and thrived off of hemp. In 1150 AD, Muslims created the first paper mill and for the next 700 years hemp paper was what most civilizations wrote upon.[Schaffer, C.] Civilizations around the world and for example; during the Napaleonic Era, ship’s sails, ropes, and sailor’s clothing were made from hemp.
Hemp paper can be recycled up to eight times while the current pulp wood fiber can only be recycled three times. By farming hemp throughout the United States and even the world it could assist in reducing deforestation by 50 percent, or more.[Hemphasis] George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were two examples of historical spokespersons for growing hemp and in 1619 the Virginia Company made hemp cultivation mandatory, which increased commerce with England and helped the American economy thrive. Our Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper and our first American Flag was made out of hemp. [Schaffer, C.] These historical economical and industrial concepts and examples can easily be applied to present day.
“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 digest-able protein.[Earth Friendly Network] Canadian Hemp seed exports surged 300 percent a few years back and China, and other eastern countries have to this day never prohibited hemps cultivation and use it extensively. [Hemp]
“Only 1 acre of hemp is said to produce more oxygen than 25 acres of current forest.” [Bryon, Alan D.] Theoretically, if our cities had greenhouses on top of all the office buildings, like in Los Angeles, filled with hemp then the massive output of oxygen would be a massive intake of carbon dioxide. This in turn should make our cities skies once again blue, healthy and smog free. Methane is one of the main producers of green house gases and one of the many major causes for dramatic global climate change. [Hopwood, Nick, and Jordan Cohen] Therefore, our farmers can grow hemp in our cow pastures, so the hemp plants can have first hand absorption of methane gases via 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.[Earth Friendly Network]
Hemp has a superior connection with the earth compared to other plants. When you plant hemp in an area that is infested with Canadian Thwack Grass, or Canadian Thistle Grass, the hemp plant’s dense root structure will smother out these invasive weeds and make that land again arable.[West, D.P.] Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Congress back when the colonies were first founded that requested that the government grow hemp instead of tobacco.[Hemp] Tobacco drains all nitrogen and nutrients from the soil, which leaves the land less arable, or harder to farm upon. Hemp restores nutrients and nitrogen back into the soil. [Davis, Richard M.] Another attribute is that hemp is drought and disease resistance, which gives hemp the added advantage of being able to be grown in even the most dry to wet climates and has little-to-no need for pesticides, because the hemp plant is highly resistant to plant diseases, illnesses, and pests. Hemp’s dense root structure helps prevent mudslides, erosion, and natural catastrophes. The hemp plant is one of the only plants that can be harvested year-around in states like California, or Florida for example, due to the harsh climates in those regions.[Davis, Richard M.]
In France there are bridges centuries old made out of a mixture of hemp and lime. This process is called Iso’Chanvre and is another great example of possible industrial innovations regarding the hemp plant.[Rawganique] Society could build roads and bridges that wouldn’t require continuous repairs and wouldn’t require endless tax payer dollars each year. Clothes, pottery, shoes, jewelry, shampoos, pies and so much more can be made from hemp and no part of the plant would go unused. From hemp’s roots, stems, leaves, and even what might be considered waste from the hemp plant can be produced into any of the estimated 50,000 products.
Our current education doesn’t teach us that Columbus sailed across the Atlantic with the rope on his ships, the caulking and rigging, and yes the sails, all were made from hemp.[Schaffer, C.] There was also no mention in our history books of the endless crates of hemp seeds Columbus and the other ships brought with them. Not only did they survive by eating the hemp seeds, but they planted the seeds in America and overtime, hemp now creates an estimated 50,000 products.[Carver, George Washington] The hemp plant’s most common product is it’s fiber, especially the bast fibers which are extremely strong and durable.
Hemp can also be used in building composite material such as beams, studs, fire resistant building materials, fiberboard and even such things as paint, varnish, ink and carpet. There seems to be a consensus that hemp building composite materials are stronger, more durable and flexible than our currently used wood pulp composite building material. “In 1935, two years before being outlawed, 116 million pounds of hemp seed were used in the United States to produce paint and varnish.”[Robbins Pet Care] Is there anything hemp can’t be made out of? Hemp wood composite is fire durable, which would benefit those who lived in fire sensitive areas.
Regarding marijuana: You can avoid the whole problem of growing hemps psychoactive counterpart cannabis aka marijuana by growing the plants in a controlled environment and exposing the female plants to male plants. When the female plants are pollinated by the male plants their (THC) or Tetra-hydra-cannibanol level begins to drop. The longer the plants are held in these pollinating and harsh conditions, the THC level will continue to drop and you can maintain the THC percentage to stay below 0.03 percent making it impossible to use the plant as a drug.[Innvista] If other countries can responsibly produce and cultivate hemp for industrial uses then there is no reason why America cannot responsibly produce and cultivate the hemp plant too. Unless we aren’t a responsible nation?
Archaeologists have found evidence linking hemp and its psychoactive counterpart marijuana back to 8,000 BC when agriculture and hemp textile industries began in Europe and Asia [Medical Cannabis]. By 3725 BC, Shen Nung Pen Ts’ao of China wrote of cannabis in the world’s first medical text and Ts’ao declared cannabis as “a superior herb.”[Schaffer, C.] Cannabis sativa have been used for medicinal purposes for 4,800 years and has been prescribed for over 250 illnesses and diseases, for example: Asthma, insomnia, often used to treat pain in childbirth, migraines, used for AIDS and Cancer patients allowing them to have an appetite, glaucoma, relieves anorexia in Alzheimer’s patients, mental health, it can be used as suppositories for relieving the pain of hemorrhoids, and depression are just a few examples of the many conditions that cannabis alleviates.[Medical Cannabis] Recent studies in Italy have shown that a chemical found in marijuana, inhibits the growth of cancer cells in rats. THC pills, or Marinol, synthetic THC, are made with the ingredients necessary for the specific treatment of those disease, or illness, but some patients cannot swallow these pills, due to their condition and that is when smoking the plant is applied. There are countless other examples of marijuana’s beneficial medicinal properties, but here are two final and thought provoking examples to contemplate over: Medicinal marijuana is used to treat alcohol addiction and other drugs such as heroin and is used to treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in war veterans.
With the facts and knowledge acquired, it is apparent that hemp is humankind’s savior and that hemp must be re-implemented into our countries way of life. General George Washington stated, “Grow it everywhere, hemp is greatly viable for winning the war and sustaining a future fantastic for America.”
Are we at war with nature, or perhaps is nature at war with us? Hemp is grown by almost every civilized country and hemp benefits those countries economies and their countries citizen’s health. To not take the scientific approach in making the decision to legalize and produce industrial hemp is dooming humankind to more needless sufferings and perhaps even another Ice Age. Our current dramatic, devastatingly, unpredictable weather breaks records each year and these violent weather patterns are the first signs of nature’s end means. If the icebergs of the world melt, the sea level will raise by 20 feet, or more and force extinction upon millions of animal and plant species, and kill and displace millions of human beings worldwide. The Philippines, Hawaii, Florida and countless other countries, cities and homes will all be underwater if this were to occur.[Climatecrisis.net] Can you imagine watching the sunset with your child and as the low tide rolls out it reveals the rooftops of houses now underwater.
Only by the legalization of Industrial Hemp and its removal from Schedule 1 of The Controlled Substance Act, can we start working immediately towards the one thing that can save humankind from itself.[110th Congress] America would have a cleaner fuel and energy source, we would dispose of nuclear waste more efficiently, we’d create cars that could reduce traffic fatalities and are completely biodegradable, we’d have a paper product that can be recycled up to 8 times, instead of just 3 times, we’d reduce deforestation by 50 percent nationwide and eventually, worldwide, we’d have an endless supply of food products, livestock bedding, livestock feed and the benefits of the endless nutritional facts backing hemp. imagine roads, freeways and highways that wouldn’t require monthly repairs and endless taxpayer dollars, preventing landslides and improving our farming industry by using hem, as a crop rotator, having an estimated 50,000 industrial bio-degradable products, and regarding medicinal marijuana, having over 250 medicinal uses that could ease the suffering of so many people who simply can’t afford the proper care, or treatment.
The facts and history of hemp show boldly how important it is to humankind that we should all support hemps production and usage for our countries economical and health related benefits. With the debate of global warming over and as I like to call it, “dramatic global climate change” fast approaching we need someone, or something to save us from humankind’s destination. There are many facts and products that haven’t been discussed here and there is so much more relating to the history and benefits of the hemp plant for humankind. Only with relentless and patient education and constant communication can society overcome the propaganda and misperception surrounding the hemp plant. These fallacies have masked the history and extraordinary uses and benefits of the hemp plant. We, as a society, must continue learning and teaching others about the hemp plant and we must always network what we learn to others. If you’ve learned something from reading this article that you hadn’t known before you can help by spreading this knowledge of hemp to anyone and everyone. Can you imagine the gold mine waiting in everyone’s backyards, or empty fields, or, those thousands of acres of unused land nationwide, or along the sides of our freeways and highways?
The hemp plant is humankind’s savior and the more society knows, the sooner we can put into action what we have learned and the better off our future generations will be. There are an estimated 50,000 industrial uses that can benefit every aspect of our daily lives from this one humble and misunderstood plant, and the facts can’t be denied any longer. I think I see a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.
So remember to Seek the facts, Confront the truth, and Pass it on.by MaryJanesGirl™
An explosion at a nuclear reactor on April 26th, 1986 in Chernobyl, Ukraine created the world’s worst nuclear disaster – so far.
The blast heavily contaminated agricultural lands in a 30 km radius around the reactor. The few people still living there must monitor their food and water for radiation. However the combination of a new technology (phytoremediation) and an old crop (industrial hemp) may offer the Ukraine a way to decontaminate it’s radioactive soil.
In 1998, Consolidated Growers and Processors (CGP), PHYTOTECH, and the Ukraine’s Institute of Bast Crops began what may be one of the most important projects in history – the planting of industrial hemp for the removal of contaminants in the soil near Chernobyl.
CGP is an ecologically-minded multinational corporation which finances the growing and processing of sustainable industrial crops such as flax, kenaf, and industrial hemp. CGP operates in North America, Europe and the Ukraine.
PHYTOTECH (see webpage: www.phytotech.com ) specializes in phytoremediation, the general term for using phyto (plants) to remediate (clean up) polluted sites. Phytoremediation can be used to remove radioactive elements from soil and water at former weapons producing facilaties. It can also be used to clean up metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and toxins leaching from landfills.
Plants break down or degrade organic pollutants and stabilize metal contaminants by acting as filters or traps. PHYTOTECH is conducting feild trials to improve the phytoextraction of lead, uranium, cesium-137, and strontium-90 from soils and also from water.
Founded in 1931, the Institute of Bast Crops is now the leading research institution in the Ukraine working on seed-breeding, seed-growing, cultivating, harvesting and processing hemp and flax.
The Bast Institute has a genetic bank including 400 varieties of hemp from various regions of the world.
“Hemp is proving to be one of the best phyto-remediative plants we have been able to find,” said Slavik Dushenkov, a research scienst with PHYTOTECH. Test results have been promising and CGP, PHYOTECH and the Bast Institute plan full scale trials in the Chernobyl region in the spring of 1999.
Industrial hemp is not a drug. Unlike its cousin marijuana, industrial hemp has only trace amounts of THC – the chemical that produces the high. In 1973, the Department of the Interior and Department of Health and Agriculture of the former USSR issued an ultimatim to the Institute of Bast Crops – either create non-psycoactive varities of hemp or stop cultivating hemp. So, scientists at the institute created an industrial hemp plant containing only minute traces of THC. Modern testing in Canada confirmed the low THC content of the Bast Institute’s hemp.
New technologies in hemp harvesting and processing are also being developed at the Institute whose library contains more than 55,000 volumes mainly on hemp-growing and flax-growing.
Chernobyl may seem distant, but the EPA estimates that there are more than 30,000 sites requiring hazardous waste treatment throughout the U.S. including Hanford and Three Mile Island.
Phytoremediation with industrial hemp could be used at many of these sites. Unfortunantly, the U.S. government refuses to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp and clings to the obsolete myth that it is a drug.
© Central Oregon Green Pages
by Elaine Charkowski
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 and The Berne Convention on Literary and Artistic Works, Article 10, news clippings are made available without profit for research and educational purposes.by MaryJanesGirl™
There aren’t many things upon which long-haired radical Ben Masel, state Department of Agriculture official Erwin “Bud” Sholts, agronomy researcher Pat LeMahieu and corporate head George Tyson can be expected to agree. Among them: kicking puppies is mean, Drano should not be taken internally, and hemp – commonly known as marijuana – could become a major cash crop for Wisconsin.
According to these and other participants in a, ahem, budding scientific discussion, the hemp plant could be cultivated not just for such traditional uses as rope and fabric, but also as a readily renewable resource for making paper, construction materials, high protein food, and safe, clean fuel.
Masel, director of the Wisconsin Chapter of NORML, (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), in 1990 spoke in more than 50 US cities on the potential uses of the pot plant. Scientific American last December published an item on the nascent “grass-roots” movement in support of hemp; Masel was just interviewed by the Wall Street Journal for an upcoming article on the same.
A primary organizer of Madison’s annual “marijuana harvest” festival, the oft jailed Masel says his goal is “to relegalize this useful plant for its paper, fiber, fuel, food, medical and recreational value.”
Sholts, director of the state ag department’s development and diversification program, affirms part of Masel’s message: that hemp grows well in Wisconsin, even on soil not good for much else.
“My father raised it on his farm,” Sholts recalls of the time during WWII when farmers were encouraged to grow hemp for the war effort. (Masel, citing old US Department of Agriculture reports, says Wisconsin was once the nations leading producer of hemp, in some years accounting for more than half the nation’s total crop.)
Because hemp grows quickly and has a high per-acre yield, Sholts says “It’s a very, very prime product for biomass” -organic material that can be converted to fuel. Hemp is also seen by “people with expertise” as preferable to kenaf, (aka ambry) a warm weather fibrous plant, for making paper and other products.
But alas, Sholts points out, hemp has one big problem: With its current properties its illegal.”
LeMahieu, director of operations for Agrecol, the Agricultural research division of Madison-based W. T. Rogers Co., has a solution in mind: the development of a strain of hemp that is “socially acceptable.” In other words, hemp that has been genetically engineered to remove the alkaloids that get people high.
“It’s feasible,” insists LeMahieu, formerly a leading agricultural researcher at the UW-Madison. “Any trait can be bred out of a plant with recombinant DNA.” Engineering a strain of hemp with the desired traits for mass cultivation will require “massive amounts” of money and commitment, says LeMahieu, who thinks Wisconsin- which has “the top plant-genetics research groups in the nation, maybe in the world” – is ideally suited for the task.
“It truly is an amazing plant” says LeMahieu of hemp. “If you look at all the possible products that could be made from the hemp plant, it makes you wonder why we haven’t pursued this.”
Tyson, chairman of the board of Xylan Inc., a biomass research firm in the University Research park, takes the point beyond wonder to rage. “We have the technology now to convert biomass into the fuel we’re fighting for in the Persian Gulf,” he says, asserting that the United States could eliminate its dependence on foreign oil simply by growing high-biomass crops like hemp on the acreage it now pays farmers to keep fallow.
“It just seems silly to be paying farmers $26 billion a year not to produce something that would replace something that we are importing at the cost of over $100 billion a year.
“This,” Tyson asserts, “is a national disgrace.”
Throughout most of U.S. -and indeed human- history, hemp has been domestically cultivated for a variety of uses, including textiles, rope, and paper. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their farms; the rigging and sails of the U.S. Constitution were all made from hemp (some 60 tons worth; Betsy Ross used hemp cloth to make the first U.S. flag; hemp canvas (the word “canvass” comes from cannabis, Latin for hemp) covered the pioneers’ wagons and prairie schooners; Abraham Lincoln used a hemp-oil lamp to study law.
Hemp was also used to make fine linen and underwear. Masel has a friend in Hungary [actually Germany] who still uses his family’s hemp tablecloth – made in 1820. According to Jack Herer’s pro-hemp manifesto, The Emperor Wears No New Clothes, the word “towel” comes from its original material-hemp tow, a silk-like textile professedly four times as absorbent as cotton.
There is little historical record of people smoking hemp grown for rope or fabric. Masel, who testified as a marijuana expert in a 1988 court case, says plants used for such purposes would be harvest before flowering, and thus be more likely to cause headaches than highs, Still, some hemp grown for seed was smoked for its psychoactive and medicinal properties-a use no one seemed too bothered by until the plant became a threat to U.S. petrochemical companies.
As outlined in Herer’s history of hemp, super-efficient fiber- stripping machines invented in the in the 1930s promised to do for hemp what the cotton gin did for cotton, Corporations like Du Pont and industrialists like William Randolph Hearst feared hemp would compete with their pulpwood paper and synthetic products.
The Hearst chain of newspapers declared hemp and other drugs Public Enemy No.1. Hemp, renamed “marihuana,.” was blamed for crime and car accidents and linked to black jazz musicians and Mexican revolutionaries. “Marihuana makes fiends of boys in 30 days,” screamed the headlines of one Hearst story, which claimed that hemp “goads users to blood lust.”
Du Pont, which had just patented a new process for making pulpwood paper and was at work on a petroleum-based synthetic it later named nylon, behaved similarly. Banker Andrew Mellon, Du Pont’s chief financial backer and President Herbert Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury, tapped his nephew-to-be, Harry Anslinger, to head the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Anslinger, backed by the Hearst papers, crusaded for pot prohibition. (Among his favorite slogans, “If the hideous monster Frankenstein came face to face with the monster marihuana, he would drop dead of fright.”) Such efforts resulted in the “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937”-the apparent death knell of legal hemp.
As it happened, however, the government was unable to keep a good weed down. Hemp was still needed for a variety of uses, especially naval ones (hemp being the only natural fiber that can withstand saltwater for long). When World War II began and Japan blocked U.S. imports of Indian hemp, the government called on the nation’s “patriotic farmers” to resume growing the monster marihuana.
A 1942 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) film entitled “Hemp for Victory” evoked hemp’s historical usefulness (“For the sailor, no less than the hangman hemp was indispensable,”), noting that the plant – “now little known outside of Kentucky and Wisconsin” was sorely needed for war items ranging from tow lines to the webbing of parachutes.
“In 1942, 14,00 acres of fiber hemp were harvested in the United States,” the narrator proclaimed amid strains of patriotic music. “The goal for 1943 is 300,000 acres. “The film also touted hemp’s agronomical virtues: “A dense and shady crop, hemp tends to choke out weeds. Here’s a Canada Thistle that couldn’t stand the competition, dead as a dodo. Thus hemp leaves the ground in good condition for the following crop.”
When Asian markets reopened after the war, domestic hemp production again came to a halt. Well, sort of: State agriculture official Sholts notes that, as a result of its erstwhile cultivation, hemp still grows wild over much of Wisconsin – including on his father’s farm, 11 miles south of Madison.
Observes Sholts, “It’s a very prolific plant.”
At this point, no one knows just how prolific or useful hemp may be-because, unlike such crops as corn, hemp has not benefited from modern agricultural techniques, including plant genetics.
Although Agrecol (the company’s name, like its mission, blends agriculture and ecology) has had impressive results test-planting kenaf, division head LeMahieu says hemp has higher-quality fiber, more potential uses, the ability to withstand cold better, and possibly higher yields: “If it weren’t for the alkaloids [psychoactive ingredients] in hemp, we wouldn’t even be talking about kenaf.”
Masel, who last September garnered 11,230 votes in a pro-hemp Primary challenge to Gov. Tommy Thompson, is especially fired up about the potential as a renewable source of paper and other products traditionally made from wood. One advantage of hemp over trees, says Masel, is that it contains significantly less lignin, a natural adhesive whose content must be lowered in the papermaking process.
Roger Faulkner, a UW research specialist who works at the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Products Lab in Madison, adds that annual growth plants including hemp generate four to five times as much biomass yearly as trees. The disadvantage is that trees can be cut and stored until needed, but annuals not immediately processed or properly warehoused will degenerate. A “polymer scientist,” Faulkner is part of a team of Forest Products Lab researchers studying the feasibility of using high-fiber plants to make “structural components.” Within the last year, the group has made high-density construction boards using both kenaf and hemp-the latter from “ditch weed” (low-grade wild marijuana) that Tyson brought in. By blending plant fibers and polymers – compounds of high molecular weight – Faulkner thinks the same techniques can be used to make hemp and kenaf auto-body parts. (Hemp is already being used in some wallboard made in Germany.)
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that hemp’s one of the best fiber crops there is,” says Faulkner, “Certainly, it’s the best-adapted plant for Wisconsin.”
Faulkner further laments that both the Forest Service and private industry seem more interested in timber than annual-growth plants – although the USDA is funding a mill in Texas that will make paper from kenaf. Cultivating fiber on farms, he argues, is ecologically preferable to growing “monocultural” forests for pulp. What’s more, it would allow fallow farmland to be put to use without adding to surpluses of existing crops.
Another potentially useful hemp product is seed, which can account for 50% of the weight of plants grown for this purpose. Hemp seed, Says Masel, is about 16% protein and contains eight amino acids, compared with just four in soybeans. Masel has made cake from imported hemp seeds (legal if sterilized to make them “incapable of germination”) and envisions their use as a high-protein food or animal feed. (In China, hemp-cake was used to feed animals for centuries.)
Hemp-seed oil, at least 35% of seed content by weight, can be used as a lubricant (as it was in World War II fighter-plane engines), a cooking and salad oil, or even as a diesel fuel. Gatewood Galbraith, a Democrat running for governor of Kentucky on a pro-pot platform, last fall campaigned with singer Willie Nelson from Lexington to Louisville in a diesel Mercedes powered with 25% hemp-seed oil. The engine, says Masel, would have run on straight hemp-seed, but Galbraith didn’t have a big enough supply.
Masel, who sells $35 dollar hemp T-shirts and $10.00 hemp product sampler kits through an outfit called Wisconsin Hemp Products Inc. (P.O. Box 3481, Madison 53704), also thinks the hemp plant’s “Styrofoam-like stalk” could be used as an insulator, or to make biodegradable fast-food clamshells. Can Masel see the day when McDonald’s sells hamburgers in containers made from hemp? “I can see the day when they will be paying me royalties on the patent.”
HARVESTING THE SUN
Perhaps the most exciting us of hemp is as biomass fuel. Through process called pyrolysis-the application of intense heat in the absence of air-hemp and other organic material can be efficiently converted to charcoal, oil, gas, or methanol.
Hemp is a favored crop for biomass-organic material-because it grows very rapidly in a variety of climates. Indeed hemp has been called “the world’s champion photosynthesizer,” capable of converting energy from the sun more readily than any other plant.
Biomass boosters further claim that pyrolytic fuels would be good for the environment. Pyrolysis charcoal, said to have the same heating value as coal, is virtually sulfur-free, unlike coal or other fossil fuels, a key cause of acid rain. What’s more, hemp and other high-growth plants produce beneficial oxygen when grown- and take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere equal to the amount they release when burned. Thus, hemp hounds assert, if biomass replaces fossil fuels, the amount of acid rain and smog will be reduced and the trend toward global warming – the so-called greenhouse effect – will have a chance to reverse.
“We’re fighting in the Middle East for the right to pollute ourselves,” hemp guru Herer told Al Giordano of Massachusetts’ Valley Advocate newspaper. “We have a plant that can win a war. We have a plant here that can save the planet.”
James Converse, chairman of the Department of Agricultural Engineering at the UW-Madison, says university researchers hav done some work converting biomass material – corn, primarily – to ethanol. But he thinks the day when it makes sense to talk about biomass fuels replacing fossil fuels is a long way off: “Biomass will hold possibilities only when the price of fuel or the availability of fuel becomes such that you can make a profit with [biomass.]
Tyson, whose company develops and licenses rights to emerging biomass technologies, disagrees. “These people [the UW scientists] are ten years behind. They don’t know the current state of the art,” he says. “We are much closer than that.”
Still, Tyson stresses the need for “a national policy” to develop the technology and build the refineries to convert biomass to fuel. “Bring the troops home and put them to work to build this infrastructure,” he urges. “That will scare the daylights out of that part of the world. When [oil exporting countries] see we don’t need them anymore, oil prices will come down. More importantly, we will not have to go to war for this reason anymore.”
“Let’s harvest the sun through the process of photosynthesis,” continues Tyson in a tone reminiscent of the narrator in Hemp for Victory. “Let’s harvest solar energy into clean, safe fuels.”
The revival of hemp and the development of other promising non food uses for fallow cropland will be discussed at an April 5 conference in Middleton organized by Sholts and other state agricultural officials. Gov. Thompson, outgoing federal Small Business Administration head Susan Engeleiter, and representatives of agribusiness will attend the all-day affair, which is open to the public for a $20 fee.
Tyson, who is now focusing on “demonstration projects” to prove the viability of biomass technology, hopes Wisconsin can get the ball rolling by genetically engineering a strain of hemp that lacks psychoactive properties. “It can be done,” he says unreservedly. “We can make anything we want to now.”
Agronomist LeMahieu agrees, saying the goal should be to create “a whole new plant” that lacks alkaloids and doesn’t look like ordinary marijuana – ostensibly to foil folks who might wish, as Masel puts it, to “sneak a few” smokeable specimens alongside those grown for fiber or biomass.
But LeMahieu frets about the legal roadblocks to any use of hemp. “State laws would have to change, federal laws would have to change, and we have international agreements that prohibit it.,” he says.
Jim Haney, assistant to state Attorney General James Doyle, notes that the state Controlled Substances Board can issue permits allowing possession of otherwise illegal drugs “for purposes of scientific research, instructional activities, chemical analysis, or other special uses.” However, rejoins Masel, the wholesale cultivation of hemp would still be illegal under state and federal laws-which define marijuana in terms of plant parts, not alkaloid content.
Ultimately the psychological obstacles to renewed hemp production may prove more formidable than legal ones. UW researcher Faulkner is uneasy even discussing the plant’s potential, sensing “widespread opposition to and repression of the whole idea that hemp may have other uses.”
Masel is more optimistic. “I think [domestic revival of hemp] could happen surprisingly quickly,” he says. Whenever one state moves the others are going to follow, rather than see that state make all the money.”
Does Wisconsin, which in 1990 seized and eradicated 849,324 domestic marijuana plants, 97% of which were wild plants no self respecting marijuana smoker would want, have the gumption to become that first state? Put it another way: Is making billions of dollars while helping save the environment and achieve domestic energy independence a strong enough incentive for officials like Thompson to let a long-haired radical like Ben Masel say “I told you so”?by MaryJanesGirl™
I came across this during my research on hemp and it’s affects on topsoil, and I must say that I am very impressed, grateful and inspired by the time and detail put into it, on top of the fact that it is offered as a free read. This is the kind of activism that moves me and reminds me of why I do what I do.
Thank you to the authors and contributers!by MaryJanesGirl™