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Sustainable Wonder Crop: Why Everyone’s Getting High on Hemp

Why Everyone’s Getting High on Hemp

People are now getting high on hemp. And it’s not for the reason you think.

Hemp is closely associated with marijuana because both came from the same cannabis plant. However, know that hemp does not bring about the “marijuana high.”

Leaf Science, a website dedicated to providing information on the cannabis plant, reports that hemp contains very little tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive chemical that makes marijuana use a health risk. What is interesting is that hemp contains high amounts of the cannabidiol or CBD, reported to counteract the marijuana high and to have a wide range of medical benefits. In fact, in the United States, there are currently several legislations on cannabis that are pending in Congress. These include the Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2017 or S.1008 and the Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act of 2017 or H.R.2273.

It is vital to note that aside from the ongoing debate on hemp’s medical uses, it has been dubbed as the sustainable wonder crop.

Marijuana plant

And this is the very reason why this crop is making a resurgence. Listed below are five of the best reasons that showcases the sustainability potential of the hemp crop:

1. Hemp is undoubtedly an environment-saver.

Did you know that hemp “eats” radiation and regenerates the soil? It has been used as a soil decontaminant in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster using a process called phytoremediation. According to research, hemp can absorb radiation, heavy metals, other toxins and carbon dioxide. In fact, reports noted that farmers in Apulia, a region in Italy, used hemp to protect against a toxin that has ruined their pasture.

Another important thing to consider – because hemp regenerates the soil, it allows for the immediate planting of food crops, making it very farmer-friendly.

Hemp nourishes the soil, adding nutrients back in

2. It was once dubbed as a billion dollar crop and it still is.

In 1938, the U.S. magazine Popular Mechanics declared hemp as a billion dollar crop due to the income-earning potential from its fibers. The magazine noted that hemp fibers can be used to generate more than 5,000 textile products, ranging from rope to fine laces, and the woody “hurds” remaining… can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to cellophane. However, these potentials have not been realized as the U.S. government banned hemp farming in 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act was passed. The argument was that it was difficult to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana.

It must be stressed that the potentials of hemp as an industry is huge. In 2015, it has been reported that over $500 million in hemp products – food, cosmetics, fabrics, paper, construction materials, insulation, among others – have been consumed in the U.S. Salon reports that Canada’s modern hemp industry is raking in a billion dollars annually.

Rope made from hemp

3. It can render unsustainable cotton obsolete.

Let’s face it, hemp is simply a more sustainable crop as opposed to cotton. According to Collective Evolution, to grow cotton that will result in a pound of textile, you will need 1400 gallons of water. With hemp, you only need about half of the same amount. That is a lot of water saved. Plus, hemp can be grown in a relatively smaller territory as opposed to cotton. Another cotton drawback, you will need a lot of pesticides to grow it as compared to absolutely zero in hemp farming.

The good thing about the plant is its durability. It doesn’t wear out as quickly as cotton and is even anti-bacterial. So why do you need cotton when hemp is a lot more sustainable and infinitely better?

Related Post: Just How Sustainable Is Organic Cotton?

Clothing made from hemp fibre - hemp fabric

4. It has an array of sustainable uses.

Dubbing this plant a sustainable wonder crop is definitely not an empty platitude. In the 1940’s, Henry Ford built a car made from hemp. It even featured hemp plastic panels that were ten times stronger than steel. This just goes to show that hemp can also replace plastics and can be used as a strong material for cars and even buildings.

What’s more, hemp can even be used for the production of biodiesel. A 2009 study of the University of Connecticut’s Biofuel Consortium has found that hemp seed oil can produce high-efficiency biodiesel.

Huffington Post also reports that hemp fiber is the building material from “hempcrete” which us a carbon-neutral building supply for insulation, walls and flooring. It has been found to be just as strong as concrete.

To save trees, hemp pulp can be used as a substitute for wood pulp to create paper. Did you know that the U.S. Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper?

Industrial hemp farm

5. It can be used as food and food supplements.

Dr. Andrew Weil, a healthy living advocate, recommends eating whole hemp seeds for protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. According to him, hemp seeds have high levels of vitamins A, C and E and beta-carotene and are rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals and fiber. In fact, it has been named by Huffington Post as a “superfood” as it is used in a variety of food such as hemp seed butters, hemp seed energy bars, hemp oil and even hemp seed milks.

With these many benefits associated with hemp, supporting its use and the wider industry is crucial for a sustainable future.

Have you ever used any hemp products? Would you consider products made with hemp as an alternative to plastics, cotton etc.? We’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to comment below.

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About the author

Polly Michelle Cunanan

Polly Michelle Cunanan

Polly Michelle Cunanan is a results-driven media and communication expert with over 15 years of experience and proven track record in working with the Philippine Government and donor agencies such as the USAID, World Bank, UN-FAO, ADB, European Union (EU) and media. Political and strategic communication, messaging and campaigns are among her expertise. She spearheaded the communication program on the Bangsamoro peace process which led to a conducive environment for the signing of the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. She is a graduate of BA Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines and has completed the academic requirements for MA Communication Research from the same university. She is a UK Chevening scholar currently studying MA International Public Relations and Global Communications Management at Cardiff University.

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