The Benefits of Industrial Hemp
review by Jule Klotter

Hemp, Hemp, Hooray! (a video)

by L.B. Johnson, RO. Box 757, Aptos, California 95001 USA
831-688-0162; Email:
58 minutes; $25 (includes shipping)

First, let's get one thing clear: industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) is not the same plant known for its psychoactive properties. Unlike marijuana, hemp contains little of the hallucinogenic chemical THC. As the informative and wellproduced documentary video Hemp, Hemp, Hooray! explains, industrial hemp is a remarkably versatile crop with many environmental benefits for our chemically-inundated society. Producers L.B. Johnson and Paul Gaylon used the lst Annual Santa Cruz Industrial Hemp Expo, which had more than 85 vendors and 40 speakers from 15 states and 6 countries, as a backdrop for introducing the many uses and long history of this remarkable plant.

Historically, hemp was the first plant to be cultivated for its fiber. The fiber makes a very durable cloth that is naturally mold and mildew resistant. Eastern European countries, China, and Canada all produce hemp cloth. Because few agricultural pests bother hemp, it can be easily grown without using pesticides. Hemp has the added advantage of building soil and can be grown in rotation with other crops. The plant, which grows up to 20 feet high, makes a wonderful transitional crop for land that is recovering from conventional farming practices.

In addition to its use by the textile industry, hemp fiber from the plant's stalk can be used to make paper. Seventy percent of the hemp plant consists of cellulose, the material used to make paper. Trees are only 30% cellulose, yet half of all the trees that are cut down today are used to make paper. The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer documents the timber industry's campaign to link industrial hemp with the hemp represents considerable competition to US timber companies. Hemp stalks can also be used for building material such as particle board. In France, hemp hurds are mixed with lime, sand, and a little water to make a 'cement' called 'Isochauvre,' used to make walls. The Romans used a similar mixture to build their aqueducts, which still exist today. The strength of hemp fiber allows it to be used as a fiberglass or thermoplastic replacement to make skateboards, surfboards, and bicycles.

Hemp's seeds also have many uses. Dehulled hemp seed is a food that contains 30% protein and a wide spectrum of essential fatty acids. The first pressed oil from the seeds is used in food and in soaps, cosmetics, creams, and other beauty products. The second press of the seeds delivers oil for paints, dyes, fuels, and lubrication.

The United States is the only 'first world' country that is not planting hemp. During the 2000 pre-primary campaigning, Presidential candidate John McCain was asked about his stand on hemp. He had no opinion until an aide told him that hemp was marijuana. This misrepresentation of industrial hemp does a terrible disservice to farmers who are deprived of a beneficial crop, to businesses that must now import hemp from foreign companies, and to our environment. Hemp, Hemp, Hooray! is a very entertaining, up-beat, and informative video. It spreads awareness of the many benefits of growing industrial hemp and encourages consumers to support this industry with their dollars.

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