10 Great Reasons to Kill Our Absurd Ban on Growing Hemp
Continued from previous page
4. Hemp is green. As any naturalist or historian will tell you, the uses for hemp -- from paper, textiles and clothing to health products, biodegradable plastics and biofuels -- are diverse and widely documented. But it's a much more sustainable crop than most: It needs less fertilizer than King Corn, can be grown in several consecutive years in the same fields (monocultural!), rarely needs pesticides (if at all), and, irony of ironies, it's a weed killer. Thanks to its fibrous density, it's a construction material just begging for an increased American market. Wyden claimed that North Carolina builders are using hemp to make their structures stronger and greener, while Minnesota's Original Green Distribution promotes it as the "perfect building material" -- non-toxic, non-flammable, mold and mildew resistant, and cash-positive. The argument against local hemp production? A house of cards.
5. Hemp is patriotic. Our lionized Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew it, and they helped create the nation. Hemp has been cultivated and consumed across the planet for millennia, from China's Neolithic Age to New England's Puritans and Virginian farmers -- who were instructed by a House of Burgesses' Act to sow it on their plantations. Americans even created a World War II propaganda film called Hemp For Victory, despite the destructive, embarrassing Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which criminalized commercial use of hemp or cannabis. Whether that legislation, supported by progressive hero and president Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a back-door favor to the competing and eventually triumphant industries of his friends and sponsors Mellon, Hearst and DuPont, or just post-Mexican Revolution immigrant xenophobia, is ancient history now. This is a new century. We're past it.
6. Hemp has carbon-negative promise. Those remaining hemp naysayers will eventually change their minds when global warming starts downsizing the planet's arable land. Because it has significant climate change upside, whether you're talking renewable energy, carbon sequestration or just food. (Yes, you can eat hemp.) According to the Hemp Industries Association , the U.S. Department of Energy considers hemp a biomass fuel alternative that could ameliorate our addiction to fossil fuels, as well as an alternative to toxic petrochemicals involved in plastic production. In fact, there are over two millions cars on the road right now -- from Ford, GM and Chrysler to Mercedes, BMW and beyond -- housing hemp in their interiors. And it's a naturally occurring carbon sink too. Unlike more traditional concrete, Hempcrete is carbon-negative, storing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. The HIA also claims that hemp proper produces more pulp per acreage than wood pulp, which is great because we really need to stop cutting down forests so they can continue to suck all the carbon dioxide we're pumping into the air before the world as we know it ends before we know it.
7. Nuclear apocalypse? Hemp has an app for that. Even if we jump back onto hemp's historical bandwagon and dodge catastrophic climate change with the help of other green alternatives, we still might nuke ourselves like idiots. But hemp can even give us a hand with that irradiated lunacy. Thanks to its sprawling canopy, it's already a powerhouse weed suppressor, as well an impressive mop crop capable of sopping up contaminants and even radiation. The Princeton-based company Phytotech and others even planted hemp in Chernobyl alongside sunflowers and other impressively extractive plants. It's logical that planting more phytoremediation-friendly crops will help us clean up proliferating chemical and nuclear dumps. Hemp is a phytoremediator just waiting for the innovation that repealing a lame ban on industrial cultivation can bring.