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Hemp History Week: Bring Back a National Treasure

5/3/2011 12:00:00 AM


Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailThis week is Hemp History Week. Because I so strongly believe that allowing American farmers to grow this incredibly versatile plant could make a huge difference for our planet and for all of us, I will post a blog each day in celebration.

This week Wonder Knack, whose beautiful images I encouraged everyone to download and spread like wildseed yesterday, offers a great synopsis of the many reasons we should legalize the cultivation of hemp in the United States on the Food Freedom blog. I hope everyone will spread these facts around like wildseed—this week and beyond--as well.

• Humans have been cultivating and using hemp industrially for about 10,000 years.

• Hemp was used as legal tender in America from 1631 until the early 1800s; you could pay your taxes with hemp.

• The first hemp laws in America were “must grow laws” and required colonists to grow hemp.

• Until the 1800s most textile and paper products were made from hemp.

• Hemp produces the strongest, most durable natural soft-fiber on earth.

• Hemp’s relatively drought-resistant, high protein seed has been relied upon several times through history during drought-induced famine.

• More than 20,000 products can be made from hemp.

• Hemp produces four times as much ethanol per acre as corn.

• Plastics made from hemp are biodegradable.

• Hemp is the world’s No. 1 producer of biomass per acre, with up to 10 tons per acre in four months.

• 1 acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fiber pulp as 4 acres of trees.

• The waste product from making canvas, rope and linen from cannabis hemp (known as the hurd fiber) is more than 4 times more productive than trees for paper and building materials, according to the USDA.

• Hemp seed is the most complete food source containing all eight essential amino acids, the essential fatty acids, as well as fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

• Most industrialized countries legally grow hemp.

• The United States imports all the hemp used in American consumed products, an industry worth more than $300 million in retail sales annually.

• The DEA spends more than $10 million annually to eradicate feral “ditchweed”—strong heirloom crops grown for the war effort during World War II that were once protected by armed military guards and considered a national treasure.

• Hemp stabilizes and enriches soil, and reduces weeds without chemical applications.

• Hemp was planted around Chernobyl to remove toxins and heal the soil.


This film produced by the USDA for the war effort during World War II is about 10 minutes long and well worth watching.

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