by Suzanne Rouge
“It’s Not About Dope, It’s About Hope,” was the opening sentiment at the well-attended Hemp Cleans organizational meeting held in Denver on January 12. It was announced that the Medical Marijuana and the Hemp agendas were diverging and organizing around very different goals. It is unlikely that Medical Marijuana would be hidden in hemp fields because cross-pollination with male plants diminishes its value, it is grown differently and harvested on different time tables. Hemp generally has less than one percent THC, the active ingredient with psychoactive properties found in marijuana. Hemp is for rope, not smoke.
The gathering convened with the intention of getting people together to express their skill set and connection with hemp. Engineers shook hands with patent lawyers, agricultural co-op folks met land owners who, in turn, connected with people who had seed vaults. Building material suppliers made deals with trained builders. In attendance were legislative representatives, educators, press, entertainers (Hemp Revival), Mothers for Hemp, retailers of imported foods, body care products and nutritional supplements. Some participants offered spinning lessons and others offered hemp clothing destined to be hung to dry on hemp lines. The potential for connectivity around the emerging American market spans the globe.
American industry has roots in hemp. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp and educated others about its benefits. The colonialists, in fact, deemed it mandatory to cultivate the crop. It was a strategic war crop during the Revolution and made a comeback during WWII. Hemp clothing kept the soldiers warm at Valley Forge. Hemp paper was used in the first and second drafts of our Constitution. It was used as legal tender from 1631 until the early 1800s.
According to Robert A. Nelson in Hemp Husbandry, “In 1941, after 12 years of research, Henry Ford made an automobile with a plastic body made from 70 percent wheat straw, hemp and sisal with 30 percent resin binder. The plastic reportedly could withstand a blow 10 times better than steel without bending.” The original Levi Strauss jeans were made of hemp.
Since it became legal to import hemp in 1995, it has come into vogue. Big name brands such as Adidas, Converse and Vans are manufacturing hemp sneakers and Calvin Klein offers hemp bedspreads. John Deere is considering plans to make farm equipment from hemp plastics that weigh half as much as conventional materials, thus lowering compression on the soil and improving productivity.
Hemp was an important cash crop in the U.S. until the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, when it was essentially squeezed out of the market, perhaps because it posed a threat to the newly developed petroleum-based synthetic fibers, plastics and paper industries. Popular Mechanics Magazine (February 1938) declared it to be “The New Billion Dollar Crop” with products spanning a broad spectrum of uses. Commercial interests lobbied for prohibition made a false connection by associating hemp with the Mexican word for cannabis, Marijuana. The outrageous propaganda spawned hysteria rooted in ignorance and fear.
The U.S. is the only industrial nation upholding bans on hemp. Currently, 30 nations cultivate hemp under the Controlled Substance Act. Since 1990, varieties containing less than 0.3 percent THC have been legalized in Great Brittan, Italy, India, Romania, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and Australia. Russia, Hungary and China never outlawed hemp. Hemp is recognized as a legitimate crop by North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and is regulated by the Integrated Health Association (IHA) and the Healthy Impact Assessment (HIA).
Hemp benefits are astounding. It is estimated that cannabis arrived on planet earth 34 million years ago with archeological evidence from the Neolithic period, dated 12,000 years ago at Yuan-shan in Taiwan. Hempseed is considered to be a complete food containing all the essential amino and fatty acids. Hemp lends itself to medical clothing and masks because of its antimicrobial properties. Cotton saturated with pneumonia virus takes 12 washes to be rendered clean in contrast to one washing with materials made of hemp. As a building material it is waterproof and fireproof as well as enduring. Its deep taproots can be utilized to stop erosion in our fire-damaged forests.
The hemp plant actually binds CO2 and produces oxygen thereby lowering the carbon footprint. It even cleans up toxins from the soil. There is a proposal to use it in a mitigation project to remove heavy metals, including plutonium, from the soil at Rocky Flats.
It is difficult to estimate the potential market for hemp. In the United States, retail sales of imported hemp products exceeded $70 million in 2006. From 2009 to 2010 they increased 35 percent with a 300 percent increase over 10 years. Some estimate that the global market for hemp consists of 25,000 products in nine categories. One of the purposes of the Hemp Cleans meeting was to establish hemp’s potential in Colorado to stimulate economic growth. This information is vital in presenting the case for hemp to the legislature. If you are currently importing hemp, have an interest in cultivating it or participating in the development of hemp industries, please send your estimates and outlooks to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a list of informative websites on hemp, or if you would like to host an educational event, contact Suzanne Rouge at email@example.com.
Suzanne Rouge, BSE, offers: reflexology, aromatherapy, IonCleanse detoxing, Moon Circle events, workshops, ceremonies, presence practice, Ilahinoor energy work, medicine wheel readings, house clearings, Spirit Stone Sculptures and murals.
She can be reached at: www.hummingbirdhorizons.com 970-308-1415