Many feel that Hemp is illegal to grow in the U.S. mainly as a result of influence by wealthy newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. Hearst launched a propaganda campaign against Hemp in the early 1900’s as part of what was called Yellow Journalism. Ironically, it was called this because the newspaper made from tree fibers was inferior and turned yellow prematurely. This was the case until Dupont came up with a chemical process to correct the yellowing. If Hearst had used Hemp fiber in the making of his paper, there would have been no yellowing, nor a need for whitening chemicals. Hemp fiber has been used for thousands of years to make paper. In fact, the original Declaration of Independence, which gave rise to this nation, was drafted on Hemp Paper. The fact is Hemp produces 4 times as much paper per acre per year than timber.
Many of the founding Fathers of this country, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, grew Hemp on their plantations. Benjamin Franklin owned one of the first paper mills in America and it processed Hemp fiber. Along with Tobacco, Hemp was one of the first cash crops in the colonies. During the revolutionary war it was common for soldiers to have uniforms made of Hemp.
Hemp plants grow as tall as ten feet high and can be planted so tightly together that almost no sunlight can reach the ground and because of this, no herbicides are needed in the cultivation of Hemp. In fact, no chemicals are needed for Hemp farming as Hemp is hearty enough not to require pesticides.
Hemp was a main source of fiber for textiles and clothing up until the early to mid 1900’s. Then it was slowly replaced by cotton and synthetic fibers made from fossil fuels. What is ironic here is not only is Hemp far more durable and versatile than cotton, but cotton is the most chemically laden agricultural crop and the farming of Hemp needs no chemicals. Hemp provides not only fibers for making clothing it also produces oils from a renewable resource that can be used to make synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon in place of fossil fuels.
During the age of sailing ships Hemp fiber was used around the world to make ropes and canvas sails. In fact, the word Canvas is derived from the Latin word Cannabis.
Hemp produces more fuel per acre than corn. Henry Ford was known to be a major advocate of Hemp and had Hemp plantations. Ford actually designed his first Model T to run on fuels that included a gasoline derivative from Hemp. He also made plastic components for the car from Hemp oil. Rudolph Diesel designed his first diesel engine to run on Hemp oil. Most all modern car manufacturers are now using components from fabrics to plastics that are made from hemp.
Hemp is quite literally the wonder weed. Just about anything that can be made from fossil fuels can be made from Hemp. Hemp can be used to make anything from clothing to plastics. In addition, Hemp seeds are an extraordinary food source. The fact is, if Hemp were grown, harvested and processed using modern technology it would likely be the single largest and most versatile cash crop in the U.S.
Written by DMK of Seven Grains