You Can’t Grow Hemp in the US But You Can Import It

June 1, 2010 at 5:00 am 11 comments

Hemp is a plant with a long and interesting history, especially in the United States.

Farmers cannot freely grow hemp in the US, but many companies import hemp products for resale, mostly from Canada and the UK.

The problem is that hemp is from the same plant family (genus) as marijuana. But hemp is not a drug, it is a raw material that is used much like cotton. We all know that cotton is great, we use it for making: t-shirts, socks, denim for blue-jeans, fishnets, coffee filters, paper and many other things. Considering everything we use it for, it’s a miracle plant.

But, cotton has some limitations. It can only be grown in areas that get a lot of sunshine, have consistent rainfall and long frost-free periods. Cotton also requires a lot of pesticides: 50% of the world’s pesticides are sprayed on cotton.

Imagine a plant with all the benefits of cotton, but it has even stronger fibers, could be grown anywhere in the country and doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides.

That plant is called hemp.

At the risk of sounding like a huge hippie, hemp is a perfect plant. Frankly, I am not a hippie — I only own one hemp product: hemp protein powder.

Hemp as a food source is one example of why it’s so perfect. The seeds contain all of the essential fatty acids and essential amino acids required for a human to be healthy. It also contains a lot of fiber, another essential part of the human diet.

When used as a textile, hemp is stronger and more mildew resistant than cotton. For that reason, hemp is an excellent material for making canvas boat sails, and it was used for that exact purpose by Christopher Columbus.

In fact, the word “canvas” actually comes from the 13th century Anglo-French word for “cannabis” — the plant family that it stems from.

In 1942, the US government made a short film called Hemp for Victory, promoting hemp growth to farmers. You see, during World War II, hemp was used for military uniforms, canvas, rope and other necessities.

Some great Americans also grew hemp for commerical purposes. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp on their farms. In fact, the Declaration of Independence was originally written on hemp paper (the final copy was written on parchment).

Benjamin Franklin started a paper mill that made paper exclusively from hemp. Henry Ford grew hemp on his estate, combining it with some other substances to create car bodies and fuel for vehicles. He was way ahead of his time since biofuels are now a hot topic for reducing our dependence on oil. Even modern diesel engines of today can run on hemp seed oil.

Then, in 1948, marijuana became a restricted substance. Although hemp is from the same plant family¬† as marijuana, congress exempted industrial hemp growers from this law. I guess they didn’t see a reason to lock up one family member, just because the other family member could cause some trouble. However, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics lumped all cannabis together and the DEA continues to do so today.

It’s not known for sure why hemp was lumped together with cannabis, since you can’t get “high” from hemp. But, according to the 1985 book, The Emporer Wears No Clothes, the author Jack Herer states that DuPont played a key role in the criminalization of hemp. By stopping the growth of hemp, DuPont would have a monopoly on producing plastic and paper under their recently patented processes that used coal, oil and wood pulp respectively.

Today, there are a small number of states that have laws allowing restricted growth of hemp, mostly by government and educational institutions for research purposes. However, because federal laws prohibit hemp growth, they must receive permission from the DEA to do so.

Other countries that produce hemp include: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Great Britain, France, Russia, Spain and about 22 other countries.

I didn’t know much about hemp until researching this article, and I don’t think most other people know much about it either. Now that I understand its benefits, I hope the federal government catches up with most other developed nations and legalizes hemp production. Given the health, environmental and economic benefits of hemp, it hurts the people, our planet and our economy by restricting it.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Wikipedia (Hemp, Cannabis, History of Cannabis), NAIHC

Entry filed under: Be Efficient, Be Green, Food and Drink, Health and Beauty. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Patrick  |  June 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Interesting. Never knew this. I’ve heard people throw around the word “hemp” before and just assumed they were talking about marijuana. Wait, maybe they were. Well this is different and interesting. Keep up the good secrets. :)

    Reply
  • 2. tj  |  June 2, 2010 at 12:31 am

    The problem with Hemp is that it looks just like marijuana. I could grow 500 hemp plants next to the 500 marijuana plants and without testing the plants it would be difficult for the DEA to control if large plots of both were grown together. Growing them together would probably reduce the potency and increase the seed count of the marijuana but it would still get you high.

    Reply
    • 3. Nick Swift  |  October 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm

      Actually, hemp’s desired appearance is opposite of how you’d want your marijuana plant to look. You want a pot plant to be short, bushy with lots of buds because that’s where the THC is – whereas, if you are growing hemp, it’s going to be tall and spindly because you want the fibrous part of the plant. The industrial hemp variety of the cannabis plant can grow to over 20 feet tall. That said, the hemp stalks would choke the pot plants out and cross-pollination would produce such a poor quality marijuana that it wouldn’t be worth it to even try hiding it in your crops.

      Reply
  • 4. Christan  |  June 7, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I’m so happy to have stumbled upon this blog! I love it! Keep it up, man!

    Reply
  • 5. Carl D'Agostino  |  June 18, 2010 at 4:46 am

    The reason hemp/weed got outlawed in US was due to lobbying efforts of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Now they had to make newsprint from trees and he owned all the forests and paper mills. Part of vertical integration used by industrialists. For example Carnegie owns ore fields, railroads, and coal mines and steel mills and there is no middleman to tap your profit.

    Reply
  • 6. Jayson Stave  |  January 30, 2012 at 1:47 am

    So nice to find someone with some original thoughts on this topic. realy thank you for bringing this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, somebody with a little originality. Goodl job for bringing something new to the web!

    Reply
  • 7. Phin  |  April 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Totally two diferent plants man. One flowers, (female) causing flowers to swell and become “noticeable.” Hemp is the male plant, it produces pollen and travels miles to the flowers. If the flowers are pollinated they form seeds. The male in form is lanky and grow stretched. Cannabis is a dieocious plant meaning male or female. Grow a male, use tissue culture or take a cutting and you have a genetic copy being that plant million times over. People are brainwashed, its mind control.

    Reply
  • 8. Is Hemp Gluten Free? | Gluten Free: The Celiac Site  |  June 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    [...] the words ‘hemp’ and ‘marijuana’ were synonymous. Today, it is illegal to grow hemp in the United States but we are welcome to import it. We are not allowed to buy or sell it in raw [...]

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