Macro detail of hemp fiber twine and hemp leaf
by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News
Nevada has made a legal statement many are calling “revolutionary.” It defied the USA federal ban of industrial hemp agriculture with Nevada governor Brian Sandoval’s signing into law SB 396, which was passed overwhelmingly in both the Nevada State Assembly and Senate. This allows Nevada to raise hemp for commercial use, not merely for research, within its borders.
Hemp and marijuana are of the same species. They are related. According to George Blankenbaker, president of Realhemp, Inc, hemp is the most misunderstood and underappreciated crop there is in the world. The apparent confusion between marijuana or cannabis and hemp has made growing industrial hemp without THC illegal in the USA only.
This demonstrates the incredible nonsensical irony of reluctantly allowing hemp imports from China, Canada, and parts of Europe and elsewhere to be sold anywhere in the USA, but banning them from being grown commercially in the United States.
What’s the Difference and Why the Apparent Confusion?
Both industrial hemp and marijuana belong to the Cannabis sativa L species. The differences are created by breeding to create hybrids (not GMO) for specific functions. Marijuana is bred to produce THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which creates the taboo high, along with 60 to 80 other cannabinoids, among which CBD, (cannabidiol) is present. CBD with its vast medicinal qualities and almost no THC can be extracted from industrial hemp. More on that here.
Medicinal cannabis or marijuana demands a little more attention and care than industrial hemp, which is always grown outdoors. Marijuana is often grown indoors in small shrub-like plants. This is to control the environment sufficiently for creating predictable THC/CBD (cannabidiol) quantities and cannabinoid/terpene combinations for the entourage effect appropriate for medical and recreational purposes.
Industrial hemp, on the other hand, is grown outdoors and reaches seven to ten feet tall. Its sturdy stalks exhibit fewer leaves and less flowers than marijuana.
There’s no need for herbicides. Hemp plants mature rapidly and are ready for harvesting within four to six months from planting. It’s a rugged plant that can thrive without toxic phosphate fertilizers, which are seeping into inland waterways and spoiling ocean coastal water ecology.
As a pure cash crop, one can grow and harvest hemp twice a year in the right climates. Since hemp tends to actually rejuvenate rather than deplete topsoil without synthetic fertilizers, it makes a great rotational crop for farmers, especially organic farmers, and would also provide needed cash flow for farmers.
Industrial Hemp Can Reverse Industry’s Damage to Earth
Widespread industrial hemp cultivation would curb deforestation while supplying more oxygen into the atmosphere through its photosynthesis process of absorbing CO2 and emitting O2. One activist group even recommended growing small hemp plots on top of city buildings to help eliminate crowded urban pollution.
It’s estimated that one acre of hemp uses more CO2 and creates more oxygen than 25 acres of tree forest, and there are many other direct applications of hemp that would benefit the planet. (Source)
Using hemp to produce paper, something that was common before milling timber for paper goods, not only saves the trees, it eliminates another major contributor to inland waterway pollution from timber milling. The USDA knew as early as 1916 that one acre of hemp can produce as much paper as 4 to 10 acres of trees over a 20-year cycle, the average time it takes for trees to mature enough for milling paper.
Hemp could help reduce toxic cotton growing, which uses a ton of pesticides and herbicides. A lot of cotton is now GMO, thus contaminating considerable amounts of cotton clothing with carcinogenic glyphosate that can be absorbed by our skin. Organic cotton is getting less accessible for clothing since it costs more because it isn’t subsidized by the government the way non-organic farming is.
Our oceans are getting more and more contaminated with clusters of plastic refuse that makes its way there through our inland waterways or is dumped from barges to preserve landfill space. Hemp plastics are just as durable and flexible, and they are biodegradable. This also helps curb so called fossil fuel (oil) dependency.
Here’s an excerpt from the compilation of recent articles published in the Library of Congress which you can view here:
Comparisons of industrial hemp to hydrocarbon or other conventional industrial feedstocks show that, generally, hemp requires substantially less energy for manufacturing, often is suited to less-toxic means of processing, and provides competitive product performance (especially in terms of durability, light weight, and strength), greater recyclability and/or biodegradability, and a number of value-added applications for byproducts and waste materials at either end of the product life cycle.
Industrial hemp can be a major source of bio-fuel, eliminating the need for GMO corn and its destructive use of carcinogenic and ecologically hazardous Roundup herbicides.
A wide variety of construction materials can be cheaply made from industrial hemp. They include concrete replacements and safer insulation materials. These materials have been tested with prototype housing mentioned in the TEDx video below.
Why Passage of the SB 396 Nevada Was Hailed as Revolutionary
Nevada did not go through the bureaucratic loopholes offered by the 2014 Farm Bill section that permits state agricultural departments to conduct research for growing hemp, extracting its fiber and seed, and finally creating products from those extractions.
This research is carried on by individual farmers and hemp handlers who apply to the state’s agricultural department in cooperation with universities involved with research. It is very strictly licensed and monitored, ostensibly to ensure there are no THC levels beyond 0.3 percent by bulk in the Cannabis sativa L plants grown for industrial purposes only.
Even if that THC limit is not exceeded, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), was once the deciding agency for permitting farmers to enjoy the benefits of hemp agriculture. The DEA did everything it could to prevent that until Congress and the Obama Administration’s Farm Act of 2014.
Prior to 2004, the DEA would not even allow hemp product imports from the rest of the world, even from nearby Canada. Several recent Congressional Reports submitted into the Library of Congress contributed to this minor improvement for permitting hemp product imports.
Kentucky was granted federal permission to grow hemp on American soil for research purposes under the auspices of the Kentucky Agricultural Department (KDA) starting in 2014. Each year more hemp acreage has been successfully cultivated and harvested. Under close supervision, limited production of hemp products are allowed as part of the research.
The original seed batches for the KDA’s program were imported by the University of Kentucky’s agricultural college from Italy. Even then, the DEA intervened, grabbing the seeds and creating a legal confrontation that had to be settled with the help of a federal judge before the research could begin.
Finally after the DEA’s legal nonsense was settled, KDA commissioner James Comer declared:
The University of Kentucky’s pilot program will help us recover much of the knowledge about industrial hemp production that has been lost since hemp was last grown in Kentucky. With their help, we will bring industrial hemp back to Kentucky and with it new jobs and new farm income.
But really, how much “research” is necessary? During the USDA sponsored hemp campaign in WWII, “Hemp for Victory,” farmers who wanted a fast, easy cash crop by demonstrating patriotism for the war effort simply went out and created hemp crops, many as they had done just a few years earlier.
Was Hysteria Over Marijuana a Cover Story to Protect Powerful Industrial Interests?
The phrase “apparent confusion” was used earlier in the article to express this reporter’s cynicism toward government food and medical protective agencies.
Many modern historians consider the real motive behind banning hemp cultivation was not to protect citizens from the purported ravages of marijuana. Instead, it was a concerted attempt by industrialists and financial giants to protect their vested interests by influencing the federal government using people in key government positions.
It was probably no coincidence that legislation against hemp, classified as marijuana, began during the late 1930s when cannabis or hemp was being used by AMA doctors for medicinal purposes and a 1938 Popular Science magazine declared hemp as a new billion dollar crop because of increased access to modern more efficient fiber removing decorticating machines.
According to some historians, this threatened the synthetic textile industry of Dupont with its rayon invention, cotton fiber agriculture for clothing, the Hearst publication empire’s wood pulp for paper industry with its connection to the timber industry, and the burgeoning petroleum based plastic industry.
Even though some CBD (cannabidiol) can be raised with cannabis or marijuana plant hybrid to reduce THC to only trace levels, it can also be extracted from industrial hemp. The medicinal effects of CBD from marijuana (cannabis) plants may offer more cannabinoids and terpenes than industrial hemp’s CBD, but industrial hemp CBD is still a powerful medicine for many maladies, serious and minor.
It is easy to assume that current pharmaceutical industry patents for synthetic CBD are protected by not allowing industrial hemp to exist as a domestic agricultural commodity in this nation.
Fortunately, despite ignorant political officials pontificating against hemp and cannabis, it has become apparent that the world is slowly catching on to the need for substituting our toxic commodities and building materials with safe industrial hemp.
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