Title of Blog: WHAT IS HEMP!?
What is Hemp
Many people first ask the question “What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?” They are both from the cannabis sativa genome of the plant. It is also considered one of the oldest crops in human history for many various uses.
Cannabis sativa has been cultivated throughout human history as a source of fiber, oil and food, and for its medicinal and intoxicating properties. Selective breeding has produced cannabis plants for specific uses, including high-potency marijuana strains and hemp cultivars for fiber and seed production. The molecular biology underlying cannabinoid biosynthesis and other traits of interest is largely unexplored. – Genome Biology
On first appearance, the visual difference between hemp and marijuana are how they grow. Hemp grows long and thin and is low in THC content, while marijuana grows shorter and broader with flowering buds that are higher in THC. Hemp is used for food, oils (edibles, biofuels, and plastics), and fiber (rope and textiles), whereas marijuana plants are used for more medicinal uses.
As a food source, hemp is high in healthy fats and protein, and therefore makes for a great food source. The other advantage is the low sugar and carbohydrates, while being a good source of fiber with little else as a food. One could see why hemp as a food source would be highly useful for early societies and humans.
Source: Nutrition Data
Hemp as a biodiesel fuel is one of the biggest advantages towards addressing climate change. While electric cars are great for the short-term for vehicle fuel, the long term issues would be the disposal of all the lithium ion batteries, from the disposal to the mining. As such, the process leaves harmful wastes in the mining process, as well as the disposal process, and therefore they are not as safe for the environment as we think!
In China, workers dig eight-foot holes and pour ammonium sulfate into them to dissolve the sandy clay. Then they haul out bags of muck and pass it through several acid baths; what’s left is baked in a kiln, leaving behind the rare earths required by everything from our phones to our Teslas. A Tesla battery is big—the pack in the Model S tops half a ton, far bigger than anything most e-recycling outfits take—so coming up with an efficient and cost-effective recycling process will take some work, and only a few companies specialize in recycling lithium batteries right now. “The challenge that we have with recycling these rare metals is enormous,” Abraham says, “because the products that we have now use metals in such a small quantity that it’s not economic to recycle.”– Source: ‘Tesla’s Electric Cars Aren’t as Green as You Might Think’ – Wired
However, in contrast, hemp productions add oxygen to the atmosphere during growth, has a fast growth rate as a crop, and can be both food (seed/oil) source along with a fuel source. 8,000 pounds of hemp seed are yielded per acre, and will create 300 gallons of seed oil and a by product of 6,000 pounds of high protein hemp flour (Source: Fiber Alternatives). While at the same time being more environmentally friendly when burned as fuel.
Textiles & Fibers
One of the huge advantages of hemp as an industrial crop is the ability for it to be a textile and fiber crop. Look at Hemp Clothing Australia, who is changing how we create clothing, and the crops for creating the change.
This new high yield business model meant it was not sustainable for the cotton industry to be grown naturally. The rotation time is too slow and its resistance to pests is not very high compared to hemp which can do just fine with mass production and pests with zero reliance on chemicals. When cotton was taken abroad to countries where it was not native, the problems accelerated with climate, pest control, productivity and a heavy reliance on fresh water.
Hemp as a rope has been known throughout history as one of the strongest ropes in the world. The War of 1812 has hemp rope at the
center of the strength of the British Navy, and part of Napoleon’s plan to defeat the British Navy. Hemp was mainly grown in Russia during this period, and Canada had just begun growing hemp in a healthy crop. As part of his plan to defeat the British blockade of Europe, a ban was created to stop all sales of hemp from Russia to Great Britain, and even resulted in British Ships raiding American ships for their hemp cargo to keep their navy strong. So even as a strategy, the recognition of the great uses of hemp were long standing.
Hemp & Climate Change
While the use of hemp on the grand scale of climate change is only a portion of the process to begin being more aligned with the natural world. Hemp, historically, was a very important crop in the history of mankind. However, power and money changed that in the 1900s as more powerful men started propaganda to stop the use of hemp and marijuana. Henry Ford once created a vehicle made of hemp plastics and ran on hemp biofuel in the 1940s, but those in power of plastics and oils, banned the vehicle, and later got hemp banned through the US Congress and lobbying. As a society, we must remove ourselves from the poor laws and propaganda, and be critical thinkers and look deeper at alternative methods that can help us change. We must be critical thinker and engage in the change.