For some, hearing the word, hemp, sends them into imagery of a bohemian-clad, dreadlock-wearing, patchouli smelling commune member. While all of those things are all fine and dandy hemp is coming into the modern world in a big way. Dare I say, it could save our remaining nature with it's 50,000+ uses if we can push for it's growth.
If only we could find a crop that grows like a "weed" (hence it's nickname), nourishes the soil as it grows, can tolerate a variety of climates, be organically pest-proof, provide a plant-based source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, help thousands beat cancer, provide an organic source for our clothing, generate bio-fuels for our cars, make houses, replace plastic altogether, and generate income for the nation to retain our superpower status... Phew... That's a lot of requirements, there is no way one crop could do all of that. If it did, certainly we'd subsidize it like we have corn and soybeans which yields us crap like high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, corn starch, soy lectin, and the like.
Hemp, the sober cousin of marijuana (cannabis sativa), does all this and more. I knew hemp was one of a million new sources of protein and milk (almond, cashew, rice, coconut, etc) because I'd seen it all over Wholefoods, but I had no idea Henry Ford and Lotus had made cars from the stuff! I read about hemp construction materials and the countless other uses for it and my mind was blown. I could not believe I wasn't surrounded by hemp products. Hemp has been around forever! Why haven't we capitalized on it yet? Let me break down some of what I've learned.
Nutrition & Health
Hemp is one of the only plant based sources of nutrition that provides all the essential fatty acids and amino acids the human body requires! It's also high in fiber, protein, and minerals.
Hemp's medicinal cousin (same plant different part), Cannabis is an important medicine. It's been used for numerous years as the primary medicine to treat hundreds of illnesses. It just recently reemerged to treat seizures, cancers, and a variety of other ailments. However, the federal government and the state government have been in a squabble over the legality of each state's marijuana laws. I know two people personally who were prescribed horrid barbiturates for their seizures, much stronger stuff than cannabis and it didn't work. Their seizures continued on the daily. After they switched to medical cannabis they have one seizure a month. I also know a wonderful German Shepard, Bella, who had the exact same story. Horrible barbiturates were prescribed, they didn't work and the owners found doggie cannabis. The dog takes one capsule a day and went from having about 5 seizures a day to once a month.
I was a paramedic for 10 years and can attest to some brutal dependence on opioids and barbiturates. Cannabis is a much more humane treatment, and provide for a better quality of life, for many of the patients I came across. Cannabis doesn't have the side effects that opioids have as well. No constipation, in fact, it helps the patient's appetite. So all of those chemo patients who have chronic nausea and no appetite are treated much more appropriately with cannabis.
Looking for a sustainable and organic solution for your clothing? Look no further. Hemp clothing is no longer just made for those rocking the bohemian flair. It's entered the mainstream market and style. Made in the US, you can support our economy instead of China's (who produces over 50% of the US cotton clothing's cotton) and without the need for pesticides since hemp is organically pest proof!
Two Italian men, Giovanni Milazzo and Antonio Caruso, are looking to bring hemp filament into the 3D printing market. Their company, Kanèsis will sell hemp as a feedstock for 3D printing products. This could create practically anything from household items to hempcrete blocks.
Hemp can be used to create hemp-crete, an environmentally safe concrete that is stronger and more energy efficient while reducing the carbon footprint of the home along with a plethora of other building products to insulate and support the home.
Hemp is a great source for organic and sustainable beauty products. There are soaps, face washes, oils, wash cloths, cleansers, lotions, hair gel, exfoliation treatments, shampoos, and conditioners to name a few.
Cars & Fuel
Can you believe that hemp can even make a car?? I could't believe it until I saw the picture of the Lotus hemp car. A hemp plastic is made for the outside shell. Since hemp is stronger and cheaper to make than plastic and fiberglass it makes a lot of sense to replace all plastics and fiberglass with this environmentally friendly superior product.
After you have your hemp car you can fuel it with hemp based bio fuel! Hemp can provide two types of fuel.
1. Hemp biodiesel – made from the oil of the (pressed) hemp seed.
2. Hemp ethanol/methanol – made from the fermented stalk.
The fuel doesn't require any modifications to your modern car. When burned in a diesel engine, biodiesel replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with the pleasant smell of hemp, popcorn or french fries. The use of biodiesel can extend the life of your diesel engine, because it is more lubricating than petroleum diesel fuel. Happy car, happy driver, happy environment. The only sad people would be in the oil industry who, today, have lined the pockets of enough politicians to keep hemp at bay.
Hemp produces 4x the pulp per acre than traditional timber/trees. This means wiping your bum with hemp paper and writing on hemp products could save our trees and our lungs. Hemp could save that really bad habit we all have of breathing 12-30 times a minute.
Stimulate the Economy
Due to our silly laws that protect Americans from a medicine and life crop America imports most of its hemp seed and hemp oil from China and Canada. In 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products, up from $1.4 million in 2000. As the laws change, the U.S. can bolster our economy, create domestic jobs, and capitalize on the growing market. Canada’s hemp industry is going to break a billion dollars this year. It's time to get onboard.