You can buy hemp clothing, hemp paper, hemp milk, and hemp oil; the list goes on. Even an electric car has been built out of hemp by a Canadian company. Advocates talk about the leafy plant like it’s going to reverse global climate change while opponents think it’s merely a Trojan horse packed with “potheads” hoping to get your children stoned.
The major legal problem for hemp is that it’s visually and taxonomically identical to marijuana. Both are classified as Cannabis Sativa, and the only difference between them is the concentration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in cannabis.
Marijuana contains at least 3 percent THC by weight whereas hemp falls way below that threshold. Advocates stress this point, but as far as Uncle Sam is concerned, the only way to distinguish marijuana from hemp is by taking it to the lab, or by rolling it up and smoking it.
The plant is a Schedule 1 controlled substance in the United States, which means you need special permission to grow it regardless of THC content.
Canada and several European countries now allow their farmers to grow hemp with a THC content below 0.3 percent, one-tenth as strong as the weakest marijuana.
The United States has held off from accepting this and has continued to keep the plant a controlled substance. Due to this reason, raw ingredients for all U.S. manufactured hemp products must be imported into the country.
This policy permits us to only be buyers of the raw product, excluding the nation from a huge market that would not only be extremely profitable, but also a great alternative to cotton. Even so, hemp is still a major cash crop in the country right now.
Hemp is extremely versatile due to the fact it can be grown for either seed or fiber. The seeds yield milk, oil and other food products, and are particularly popular among vegans, who have trouble working omega-3 fat into their diets. The fiber is used for paper and clothing, and sailors have been using hemp rope and sails for centuries.
The crop’s abundance has played an important role in American culture. Our first president George Washington was a hemp farmer.
In contrast to hemp, the cotton plant needs about 50 percent more water per season, which can grow with little irrigation. When you add processing into the equation, cotton uses more than four times as much water as hemp. So, to turn toward a more cost-effective resource that is overall better for the environment would seem like the perfunctory decision.
Overall, hemp is easier on the environment than cotton, and considering its superiority as far as water and land requirements, it’s better on energy use.
But do you think that the DEA is going to take these studies into consideration? It’s doubtful