The Amazing Hemp Plant
Hemp (Cannabis Ruderalis, Cannabis Sativa) is a strain of Cannabis specifically bred to have a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, and is non-psychoactive so it won’t get you “high”. Hemp produces some of the strongest natural fibers known to mankind, but Hemp has been around for even longer than has mankind. However, mankind discovered Hemp very early in our history, and we have been using it ever since – except since 1937 when it was effectively outlawed (due to the overall ban on Cannabis) by the U.S. Government. Hemp can be used for so many things, it’s amazing that it has been so-maligned for so long.
Stronger, Non-Yellowing, Environmentally Friendly Paper - One acre of hemp can produce as much paper as up to 10 acres of trees over a 20-year cycle, and hemp only takes four months to mature and can be grown again year after year. Trees take 20 to 80 years to regrow, and require more water and toxic chemicals for the production of paper than does using hemp. Clear cutting our forests to make paper is not necessary if we use hemp instead of trees.
Stronger, Durable Textiles - Hemp can be made into one of the strongest, most durable natural ropes in the world. As canvas (derived from the word cannabis), hemp is used to create exceptionally strong fabrics that can be used for hats, clothing, shoes, tents, and much more. Hemp is naturally resistant to molds and UV light as well, so it is quite durable.
Biodegradable Plastics – Hemp can be manufactured to be 100% biodegradable, and is recyclable. Many other petroleum-based plastics contain BPA (Bisphenol A), which is suspected to cause cancer in humans. Petroleum-based plastics are a non-renewable commodity, giving Hemp a big edge for its sustainability factor. And because petroleum-based plastic does not biodegrade in any reasonable length of time, it is harmful to the environment. Hemp plastic can be made stronger and stiffer than common plastic, and it does not have the health and environmental issues associated with it that otherwise occur with petroleum-based plastics.
Bio-fuel – Hemp seeds can be converted to biodiesel without the intense water and fertilizer requirements common to other products like corn. This leaves food products like corn to be used as actual food. Hemp biodiesel is sustainable made from renewable sources, unlike petroleum oil which has to be drilled from underground.
Construction and Insulation – Hemp can be used to make lighter weight building materials. Hemp made into Hempcrete is not as brittle as concrete, so expansion joints are not required. Hemp is considerably less dense than other building materials, therefore it is lighter. It also may have a better thermal resistance when used as insulation during construction, making it an environmentally friendly material.
Food – Some have called Hemp the most nutritionally complete food on the planet. Hemp’s complete and readily-digested protein contains all 21 known amino acids, including the 9 essential ones adult bodies cannot produce. Additionally, it has an almost perfect ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acid for humans. Hemp Seeds can be eaten raw, ground into flour, made into protein powder, made into milk, and Hemp Oil can be used for making anything that normally uses vegetable oil. Even the leaves can be used for juicing or eating in a salad.
That’s not bad for a crop that isn’t supposed to have any useful purpose!