More than a decade ago, Calvin Klein predicted that hemp would become “the fiber of choice in both home furnishings and fashion industries.” Hemp is a viable—and desirable—alternative to cotton, which requires pounds of pesticides to grow. This miraculous weed produces a sturdy, absorbent, anti-microbial fiber that’s three times stronger than cotton and naturally resistant to UV light. It’s rapidly renewable and can be grown without pesticides or herbicides—something of a miracle plant.
Sadly, it’s illegal to grow hemp in the United States.
Hemp is a cousin to marijuana, a different breed of the Cannabis sativa plant—but with only minute levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets users high. According to a recent article on Alternet.org, “to get high you’d have to smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole.” The U.S. legal system has, however, lumped hemp with pot, and the last legal hemp crop was harvested in 1957. Seven states have introduced legislation to legalize hemp cultivation, but the federal government has refused to grant them the licenses they need under current drug laws. That’s a shame.
Products made from hemp grown in Canada, China and Eastern Europe (where it’s legal) amounted to $300 million in annual retail sales in North America last year. These include wonderful items for the home, including dish and bath towels, curtains and drapes, rugs and blankets.
Hemp fiber is strong and durable. Photo By Mike Wade/Courtesy Flickr.
Hemp is getting more attention these days as tough economic times force Americans to look toward new growth industries. “We’re in the midst of a dark economic transition, but I believe hemp is an important facet and has tremendous economic potential,” Patrick Gogin, a board member on the California Council for Vote Hemp, told Alternet.
Hemp could help provide the economic stimulus and green jobs we need. Let’s tell Congress and President Obama to take another look.