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Hemp: The Hero in the Spotlight

Written By: A. Coffin

Every good movie must have a hero, even with hemp. Now that we have a better idea of what happened in the hemp, the movie of our lives, it's time to look to the future and the multitude of uses this product offers. So what are the advantages of hemp in today’s world? Let’s put hemp in the spotlight:

Hemp Instead of Cotton

  • On an annual basis, 1 acre of land will produce as much fiber as 2 to 3 acres of cotton.
    • It is stronger and softer than cotton
    • It will last twice as long as cotton
    • It will not mildew
  • Hemp requires much less water to grow than cotton
    • Hemp can be grown in all 50 states
    • Hemp can tolerate frost
  • Hemp requires no pesticides or herbicides
    • Fifty-percent of the world’s pesticides/herbicides are used for cotton
    • Only modest amounts of fertilizer is required by hemp

Hemp Instead of Trees

  • On an annual basis, 1 acre of land will produce as much paper as 2-4 acres of trees
    • All types of paper products can be made from hemp
    • Hemp paper is superior to tree based paper; it can last hundreds of years and be recycled many more times than tree based paper
    • Hemp requires less toxic chemicals during the manufacturing process
    • Fiberboard can be produced as well, decreasing the need for harvesting trees
      • Hemp can be used for many home-building and insulation products and stands the test of time
    • Trees can take years to be ready for harvest; hemp takes 120 days

Hemp Instead of Plastic

  • Hemp can be used to produce strong, environmentally sound plastic substitutes

Hemp Instead of Soybeans

  • Hemp seeds contain a protein that is more nutritious and economical to produce than soybeans
    • Foods hemp can be used in:
      • Tofu
      • Veggie
      • Burgers
      • Butter
      • Cheese
      • Salad Oil
      • Ice Cream
      • Milk
      • Flour
      • Pasta
      • Cookies
      • Breads

Hemp Instead of Toxic Substances

  • Hemp can be used for non-toxic:
    • Diesel fuel
    • Paint
    • Varnish
    • Detergent
    • Ink
    • Lubricating Oil
    • Ethanol Fuel

As one can see, hemp plays the starring role, with many different costumes.

In The Actor’s Studio: The Farm

What does it take to produce industrial hemp? Much like the scenes from Hemp for Victory, farming is quite similar to any type of industrial farming.

Once it is time to harvest the product, the fields must be cut, and then retting must take place. Retting is the microbial process of breaking the fibers apart from the stalks. This is normally done in the field. During this process, the stalks must be turned over, either manually or by machine, for even retting to occur. The process usually takes between two and five weeks.

After retting, the dried stalks are broken between fluted rollers and separated into long fibers and hurds, which are short portions of stalk. Commercial machinery, typically used for flax, is available for this process, and after this step, the hemp can be further processed.

Mass hemp does require protection from the elements at this point, and can be bulky to store. As with any industrial farming endeavor, there is a substantial capital investment needed in machinery and storage facilities.

The Ultimate Review: Will it Be Profitable?

If the story of hemp is a movie, then everyone is waiting to read the reviews. We know it’s ecologically sound, and it has potential for many uses, but can it and will it be profitable?

Whenever there is a new market, there is uncertainty regarding infrastructure as well as how to market and sell the products. The uncertainty regarding hemp markets is mostly brought on by the fact that the product is not legal to produce, according to the federal government.

Currently most of the hemp products in the United States are imported from Canada. In 2011, even with America’s low use of hemp, over $11 million dollars’ worth came from there. Some is imported from China. All of it could theoretically be grown and processed here. It is hard to understand why it is illegal to produce here, but still legal to import here.

As one by one, the states try to make economically and environmentally sound decisions for themselves, the possibilities and the markets grow, much like the many uses for hemp.

The villain used to be certain corporations, or certain billionaires, or racism. One would think we would have grown beyond that. But right now, the villain in this show seems to be the federal government.

It will be interesting to see if these grass roots movements help change that. If so, maybe we’ll get to see our government and hemp be environmentally sound and massively profitable. Maybe they’ll ride off into the sunset, wearing white hats.

"Hemp: The Movie of Our Lives "Hemp: The Movie of Our Lives"
"Hemp: The Plot Thickens, aka "What the Hell Happene"
"Hemp: The Hero in the Spotlight" Stay tuned because there will be much more to come!

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