Hemp: Wave of the future?

I’ve talked in this blog repeatedly about hemp and what an impressive plant it is. Unfortunately, because it’s a distant cousin to marijuana, and even though it’s not psychoactive nor used the same as marijuana, it was banned from our agriculture in the 1900s.

In a nutshell, around the early 1900s, Du Pont and other companies developed chemicals to process paper, as well as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers used to produce cotton. Around that same time, William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, invested in forests and mills to make paper for his newspaper. Do you see where this is going?

Finally, The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury at that time was Andrew Mellon, who also owned Mellon Bank (and was one of the backers for DuPont.) His niece was married to Harry Anslinger who, connected to the alcohol prohibition campaign, was out of a job after the alcohol prohibition ended. To keep his family employed, Mellon created a new division of the federal government, the Bureau of Narcotics, and made Harry Anslinger the head of the program. Anslinger decided hemp and marijuana were narcotics, and reefer madness was born. A sad legacy for our country.

I was recently given an article about hemp that offers some insight I thought I’d share. First, the United States is the only industrialized nation that bans this plant. Why? Well, as noted above, the rationalization is based in fear, greed, and all the wrong reasons. Again, my opinion, but a valid one, I think.

In 2014, hemp got a bit of a reprieve when then President Obama signed the Farm Bill that allowed state universities and departments to research and implement pilot programs for industrial hemp. Since then, 34 states have come on board with industrial hemp laws—with 19 of those states allowing commercial production. Again. See when Thomas Jefferson was president, farmers were encouraged to grow hemp. Then came reefer madness and it all went to hell in a handbasket, so to speak.

Why is this a big deal? First, let me point out that the pilot programs are heavily regulated with oversight by the Drug Enforcement Administration to ensure the researchers don’t slip in some THC, because then it’s no longer hemp.

Now let’s get to why this is an important step in opening the door to a hemp revolution.

You see, in addition to requiring little in the way of pesticides, hemp can grow in almost any soil, replenishing it as it grows. So, it’s a real cost-effective boon to agriculture as well as being eco-friendly.

How can you use hemp? Let me count the ways.

Food: Chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, proteins, amino acids and essential fatty acids, hemp can generally be consumed without fear of allergic reactions.

Personal care: Hemp, nontoxic, can be used in all kind of products, but most notably skin care. Its fatty acid profile promotes skin elasticity and strength.

Plastic: May I just say, hemp plastics are biodegradable? Think about it. Also, they’re so strong they’re used to make cars and boats, among other products.

Paper and textiles: Durable and versatile, hemp is resistant to weather and uses almost no pesticides. For fabric, it is biodegradable and fashionable.

Construction materials: Strong, lightweight, breathable, hemp is energy efficient, providing excellent insulation and is water and flame resistant. Used as lumber and hempcrete, it doesn’t take as long to grow as trees do nor is it as toxic as concrete.

"US CBD sales alone are projected to reach $2.1 billion by 2020/ This segment will continue to grow as consumers better understand and experience the benefits of CBD, much of which is derived from hemp," according to the article.

This list above is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, and the beginning of a market evolution. Watch for it.