Advantages of growing hemp outweigh association with its shady, ‘weedy’ cousin

Hemp has a bad name, but it’s a misguided label because it has caused Americans to pass up on a viable commercial product with many benefits. Many authority figures or federal officials will say it’s the same drug as the one known to give users a buzz for an hour or two. In fact, hemp is a very different plant, or resource, than its near-cousin marijuana. Mislabeled as a weed, hemp is a plant that has many seven-fingered leaves and a stalk. Hemp is related to marijuana, but what most people don’t know is that for those who try smoke a hemp leaf, all they will get is a massive headache. It contains little or no Tetrahydrocannabinal (THC). THC is the chemical in marijuana that actually gets users high.

Instead of drug use, hemp can be used for a lot of different things that people need. Hemp can make paper, fast. While it would take 30 years for some trees to grow to the point needed for paper, hemp only takes months. Hemp produces more biomass faster than most other commercially grown plants, and it requires few pesticides and no herbicides. Paper makers also wouldn’t have to bleach it as they do now with tree paper, which turns brown while in the cooking process. The pulp from hemp already produces white paper. The constitution of the United States was written on hemp paper. In fact, hemp fiber is also useful in making cloth and ropes. The first American flag ever made was woven with hemp cloth, yet now it’s illegal to grow hemp in the United States.

Another hemp benefit is that the seeds are very healthy and good tasting. They can spice up a salad or make an all natural shampoo, which is fantastic for your hair. They can also serve the same purpose that corn or soybeans currently do for animal food. These can all be done at a low cost.

Strangely, Americans can buy all of these products as imports from other countries that grow hemp legally, but Americans are banned from growing hemp to make the products themselves.

Now some people would counter with the argument that, “Well, if you grow hemp, you could just grow marijuana in the fields, and no one could tell the difference.” While in theory that seems like a plausible idea for drug dealers, the truth is the pollen for hemp is much more powerful than the pollen for marijuana. If the two are grown close to each other, hemp acts as a natural weed killer for the marijuana strain of cannabis.

So if hemp is a commercially viable commercial product, why is hemp illegal? Well, in the 1930s, there was a campaign against its growth by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the precedent to the  current DEA. They equated its use to the hysteria against marijuana and asserted that it would pacify consumers to the point where they could accept communism. Of course, these assertions are ridiculous. In fact, during World War II, hemp use was promoted again in a “Hemp For Victory” campaign to grow materials for war such as the cloth for troop uniforms, but after the war, it was once again labeled a devil weed.

Even today, the DEA is spending large sums to eliminate “marijuana,” when in fact they’re getting rid of ditchweed. Ditchweed is just hemp left over from the days when it was legal. The DEA gets near half a billion dollars every year to get rid of it. There are spots in the country where drug dealers are growing marijuana — especially on federal and state lands — but many times DEA is misdirecting its efforts at hemp. Instead, it could better spend these funds to get rid of meth, heroin, crack, cocaine or any other drug that’s more dangerous than the alleged drug that doesn’t even get you high and outcompetes marijuana in the wild.

Hemp is grown legally in many countries across the world including Spain, China, Japan, Korea, France, North Africa and Ireland. Some states have voted to authorize its use, but they are overruled by the DEA. Hemp is an extremely valuable resource that can reduce our need for trees and more chemical-dependant crops like cotton. It can make lotions that are healthy and all natural instead of using chemicals and animal testing.

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