The Environmental Benefits of Industrial Hemp
Contrary to popular belief, marijuana differs greatly from its relative hemp. Marijuana contains THC, the psychoactive chemical compound that induces a high, and therefore is an illegal narcotic. Hemp also contains THC, but not enough to give the user a high, even if large quantities are smoked or ingested. Much of that has to do with their cultivation. Hemp plants are grown in close range for tall, thin plants to maximize the stalk, where as marijuana is distanced for short, flowery plants with many leaves for high THC levels. Farmers would not be able to hide marijuana plants among hemp crops for these reasons and because the hemp would cross-pollinate and ruin the marijuana, they probably wouldn’t want to try (Thompson, Berger and Allen, ii).
There are currently over 20,000 known industrial uses for hemp and more and more people in society are yearning for natural products, making it a potential cash crop. Hemp can be used for paper, construction materials, fibers and textiles, among many others. Also, hemp oils can be used for food and personal care products. If the United States legalized industrial hemp production, then it would fulfill many of the environmental and industrial needs being faced today.
Until the early 1800s, hemp was a major papermaking material; especially for important documents, bank notes, cigarette papers and canvas because of its durability against tearing and liquid. Hemp’s long fibers are more recyclable than wood pulp and can be re-used twice as many times in the recycling process (North American Industrial Hemp Council). Toxic chemicals are not necessary when making hemp paper because of its natural brightness, resulting in less waste drained into rivers and streams. Also, using hemp in place of wood for paper, and even lumber, would greatly improve the nation’s deforestation problem and help protect natural resources.
With the climate crisis reaching an apex,...