Hemp (Cannabis Sativa) has been a valuable commodity throughout the history of man. Far more important than the mild euphoric aspect of cannabis flowers which is commonly called by the Mexican slang term Marijuana are the economic and biofuel aspect of the cannabis plant. View Short Video One acre of hemp can produce the same amount of paper pulp as 4 acres of old growth forest. Hemp fibers are already being used in Europe as a lower cost strong lightweight safer substitute for fiberglass and carbon fiber in the construction of body panels for cars and trucks. Hemp seed oil is a biodiesel, it was the first fuel used by Henry Ford. Hemp produces 40% more ethanol per acre than corn and grows on marginal lands without any pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers required.
Growing hemp actually improves soil conditions which if rotated properly would add millions of acres of marginal farmlands into food production. Hemp makes very good quality paper and cloth, producing more than twice the usable fiber for textiles as cotton which consumes much of the chemical pesticides and fertilizers used in America, only slightly less than corn and soy. We could actually move away from foreign petrochemical dependence if we ended this unrealistic prohibition on a plant that has throughout the history of man one of the most valuable commodities.
Every part of the plant is useful. The stalk produces a long strong fiber for cordage and textiles. The branches and leaves are excellent high cellulose biomass for energy production. Hemp seeds are as close as you can get to a perfect sustenance food with highly digestible simple proteins and a perfect balance of Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids which makes hemp seed oil even healthier than extra virgin olive oil or it can be used directly as biodiesel. Learn more by watching the Story of Jack Herer the unlikely Emperor of Hemp.
Industrial Hemp Can Save America
If we planted industrial hemp on just 6% of American lands we could regenerate our industrial base and create 100% of our energy needs here in local factories that would employ millions of Americans producing advanced biofuels, biomass electrical energy, hemp cordage and textiles, hemp fiber building materials, hemp paper and card stock, hempcrete and hemp biodegradable plastics to list of few of the more than 50,000 things that can be made from the cannabis hemp plant. We don't need to use nearly the amount of petroleum as we currently consume. As hemp grows it sequesters carbon out of the atmosphere and releases it back when the hemp is burnt but petroleum carbon was sequestered millions of years ago and when it is burnt that carbon is also released into our environment. Using hemp to replace wood for paper and building materials would significantly reduce deforestation and further reduce green house gases in our atmosphere. Yes, Jack Herer was right, Cannabis can save the world.
We don't need one drop of stinking fossil fuels. Hemp seed oil is an excellent biodiesel which produces far less harmful pollution into our atmosphere, 80% less carbon dioxide and almost no sulfur emissions. Hemp produces 40% more ethanol than corn per acre and it grows in marginal soils actually improving soil quality when used as a rotation crop. Hemp requires almost no fertilizer and absolutely no pesticides compared to corn which is the top consumer of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in American agriculture. Industrial hemp grows quickly, maturing in as little as 100 days and produces 3 times a year, enough biomass to produce all our surface transportation fuels and electrical generation needs with far less pollution and with industry creating additional beneficial byproducts.
The University of Missouri estimates that an average-size metropolitan area production of 100 million gallons of biodiesel fuel could generate $8.34 million in personal income and 6000 temporary and permanent jobs. (Ref: National Biodiesel Board)
Until 1883, 75-90% of all paper in America was made with hemp.
Hemp seed was the # 1-selling bird feed; 4 million pounds were sold in the U.S. in 1937.
In the mid-to-late 1800's the 2nd & 3rd most commonly used medications were concentrated cannabis extracts and resins (a.k.a. hashish).
A bridge in the south of France dated at 500-700 A.D. was built with a mixture of hemp.
In 1941 Henry Ford built a car with a composite plastic made from hemp and wheat straw.
Until 1937 70-90% of all rope and twine was made with hemp.
Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their plantations.
In 1850 the U.S. Census reported 8,327 hemp plantation of at least 2000 acres in size. Not counted were thousands of smaller crops.
The original Levi Strauss jeans were made from hemp.
In 1942 the U.S. government strongly encouraged hemp cultivation to help with the war effort, going so far as to produce a film entitled Hemp For Victory.
The version of the Declaration of Independence released on July 4, 1776 was written on hemp. (Ref: Hemp.com)
The entire hemp plant is useful and could replace the need to deforest our nation for wood pulp to create paper and building materials. Hemp produces better quality paper than wood pulp and can be combined into recycled wood pulp to increase the strength and durability of new paper products. The long strong hemp fiber can be pressed into fiberboard and studs for construction materials that are heat, mildew, pest, light, and rot resistant. Termites will not eat durable hemp fibers. One acre of hemp produces 4 times the usable paper pulp than an acre of old growth forest which takes 50 to 100 times long to replenish. Hemp produces twice the usable fiber than cotton per acre and textiles made with hemp last longer are lighter in weight and warmer than cotton.
Hemp seeds contain natures perfect balance of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and easily digested simple proteins needed by our bodies, making hemp seeds the closest to a perfect sustenance food source. Hemp seed oil has a light nutty flavor that is an even healthier cooking choice than extra virgin olive oil. Hemp seed oil also produces excellent and healthy soaps, cosmetics, shampoos and lotions. There are many of these products already available in Americans stores but they are now mostly imported from Europe and Canada which do not have ridiculous laws prohibiting growing this most valuable commodity.
Textiles produced with hemp fiber are even softer, stronger, last longer and are more absorbent than cotton. Cotton production uses only slightly less chemical fertilizers and pesticides than the top consumers corn and soy. Hemp produces twice the usable fiber per acre than cotton without the heavy dependence on petrochemicals. A fine linen like cloth can easily be made with hemp fiber that wears 3 times as long as cotton with the feel of cotton fleece.
Hemp, like flax (linen) is one of the best fibers. When weaving with hemp yarns, you can treat it like a linen yarn, using similar setts. It improves and softens with age. Hemp is also mildew resistant, making it an excellent yarn for towels, bath linens and carpet warp as well as in fine table linens and clothing. I hope that you will give it a try. (source: Hemp.com)
If our congress critters were actually serious about job creation in the private sector they would remove all the arcane barriers to production of this most valuable commodity which would very easily end our dependence to foreign oil.
Total Land Area in the Continental United States is 2,263,994,361 acres [3,536,294 square miles] 6% of this total land area is 135,659,662 acres. Hemp yields up to ten tons per acre every 100 days to 120 day or 1,356,596,620 tons of total hemp biomass produced at least twice a year, 3 times a year in southern climates.
There are several ways to convert biomass into usable energy including direct combustion to create steam. Assuming that most of the biomass is converted to cleaner fuels first and we subtract the weight from the total biomass for all the other uses before converting we are still talking close to a billion and a half tons of hemp for fuel conversion. Ethanol conversion rates vary from low of 25 gallons a ton to as much as 100 gallons a ton with modern conversion techniques. Lets use 50 gallon a ton as an educated estimate, that's around 750 billion gallons of ethanol a year which is more than all the gasoline used in 2010 which was just over 125 billion gallons. Ethanol is not as energy concentrated as gasoline so the ethanol would require reforming and concentrating to yield fuel mileage rates like gasoline. Still enough hemp fuel could be created and still have enough hemp biomass left to produce methane for electrical generation.
Taking all the hemp seed oil which yields about 15 gallons per ton of hemp seed and hemp seeds account for 28% of the hemp total biomass weight then converting hemp oil only into biodiesel would produce about 12 billion gallons of high quality biodiesel a year. Significant amounts indeed but hemp seed oil can also be used as heating oil without conversion into biodiesel too. The great thing about hemp is it's totally biodegradable, if you spill hemp biodiesel or heating oil, it does not become a hazardous waste indecent. It's just like spilling cooking oil.
Comment Posted on Thom Hartmann Listener's Blog 03/24/2012
Ending the failed war on drugs could significantly reduce deforestation and rebuild our manufacturing sector. The non-psychoactive strains of cannabis called hemp produces more than four times the usable short fiber pulp for superior paper products than the currently used softwood tree farm pulp. It takes only a fraction of the expensive and caustic chemicals to finish hemp paper from hemp short fiber pulp than it does in breaking down forest softwood tree farm pulp into finished paper products. An acre of hemp produces 4.1 times the usable paper pulp in a short 100 day growing cycle than a tree farm could in over a decade. If the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 had not passed which effectively taxed and regulated hemp out of domestic production, we would now most likely have twice the wild old growth forest acreage as we do now.
The cannabis plant is an uniquely useful commodity, every part of the plant can be used. Many of the products made from forest softwoods can be produced from hemp. Hemp is four times more efficient in converting solar energy into usable biomass energy than any other commercially viable crop. Hemp can be grown year round throughout most of America producing more than 3 harvests a year. A single harvest of hemp produces twice the ethanol of corn produces in an entire growing season. Cannabis has been a useful commodity for fuel, food, shelter, clothing and medicine since the dawn of mankind, it was one of the first plants domesticated by humans more than 10,000 years ago. It is still a uniquely valuable commodity today.
The hemp plant is 85% energy rich cellulose and the abundant hemp seeds produces a biodiesel oil that contains just as much energy as petroleum but without the sulfur and with 85% less CO2 emissions. A ton of hemp seeds yields about 15 gallons of hemp seed oil and about 28% of the weight of dry hemp biomass is seeds. An acre of hemp produces about ten tons of dry hemp biomass in as little as 100 days. A ton of dry hemp biomass can produce 100 gallons of ethanol/methanol using modern enzyme extraction methods or the cellulose can be converted into the energy equivalent in methane gas. The dry hemp biomass can be mixed with other crop and wood cellulose waste to be burnt directly for electrical generation or it can be digested to produce gas or liquid fuels along with valuable compost fertilizer as a byproduct. A gasoline equivalent can be easily produced in small factories all across America by mixing the ethanol/methanol from the enzyme digested hemp with a small amount of hemp seed oil and then refining/reforming the mixture with natural gas. Allowing American farmers to once again grow hemp as a normal commodity crop would break the grip the oil cartels have on our economy.
Hemp can be grown on marginal soils and is very drought resistant requiring only the equivalent of 10 inches of annual rainfall to grow a crop to maturity. But, hemp is also an excellent rotation crop to revitalize played out farming soils. The long strong tap root of the hemp plant draws nutrients up from deep in the soil and breaks up hard pan that develops from operating modern farm equipment over the fields. Soils are left more fertile after harvesting hemp than they were before planting. Around 15% of all American farmland is left bare of crops every year for one reason or another. If our farmers planted hemp on just the lands they would normally leave bare the soil would not be exposed to erosion and allow weeds to take hold in the fields requiring costly herbicides for weed abatement. Hemp does not require chemical fertilizers and pesticides like most commodity crops, grows faster and uses less water. Growing hemp as a normal rotation crop would give farmers a valuable commodity crop along with a valuable soil conditioning crop while still being able to comply with federal crop price supports.
Hemp does not just produce superior paper products and biomass energy the hemp seeds are a nutritious source of foods that are high in Omega fatty acids and easily digested simple proteins. In fact, hemp seed food products are close to a perfect food source. You could live a very healthy lifestyle by eating only foods made from hemp seeds. Hemp seeds effectively replaces meat protein in a strict vegan diet. Hemp seed foods are high in fiber and low in fat with a lite nutty flavor and hemp seed oil is a healthier choice than Extra Virgin Olive Oil for salad dressing and cooking.
More than 25,000 products can be made better, stronger, more durable, lighter weight and less expensive from hemp. Paper products made from hemp are stronger and more recyclable than current paper products. Hemp composites are ten times stronger per pound than steel when used to produce dent resistant automotive body parts which are also far less expensive to produce than carbon fiber and fiberglass while being safer in a collision. Plastics can be made from hemp that are strong, durable and biodegradable. A wide range of mold, heat and pest resistant building materials can be produced from the strong hemp fiber. A home made from hempen materials would not need protection from termites, they won't touch it. Thousands of business and manufacturing opportunities will grow along side the hemp in the fields all across America producing millions of good living wage manufacturing jobs in a greener and less centralized domestic economy once this ridiculous prohibition ends.