Move Over Cotton!! Say Hello to Hemp, the Forbidden Crop That is Taking the World by Storm
Hemp has long been taboo, given its association with cannabis, but what if that changes? Imagine the possibilities of a world in which hemp production is no longer hampered, but instead encouraged?
As it happens, that day may be coming...
We're referring just to industrial hemp production here - something that's long been legal in Canada, but has been pushed aside in the United States.
Some history, though. Back in 1937, the invention of the decoricator machine could have been for hemp what the gin was to cotton. With the advent of such a machine, hemp could have easily outcompeted other crops for paper, clothing, and other uses - especially as each crop needs only six months from seed to harvest.
According to Popular Mechanics during that time, “10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average [forest] pulp land.” Then a small number of large businesses with competition concerns used high level government connections to push through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
Even before the decoricator, though, hemp was a great cash crop for farmers - including for those who had been recruited to help make hemp rope for the U.S. Navy and other war applications.
Hemp is a great crop, too, in that it doesn't need pesticides or other big agrochemical products to grow well. In fact, it helps boost farmers' soil, as it is a nitrogen-fixer, meaning it adds nitrogen back to the soil, making the soil better for other crops when used in a crop rotation, and, even better, has a growth cycle of only four months - meaning it can be harvested twice each year in mild climates.
And even better, biodegradable plastics can be made from hemp, replacing petroleum-based plastics. Back in 1941, Henry Ford even built a hemp-based automobile - which ran on hemp biodiesel!
Hemp can be used for construction materials, as well - it's astonishingly light, durable, and strong!
Hemp paper is better than wood pulp paper, too - it has a shorter turn-around time (4-6 months per crop, as opposed to years for trees), can be recycled more times (8 against 3), and has higher yields for the same acreage - up to 25 times higher.
So why aren't we using hemp?