Above Photo: From world5.org
The Empire doesn’t understand yet what has happened. Legalizing hemp farming and hemp industries will have a profound impact on our local communities, our soil, our ecosystems and our culture at large. They don’t understand that legalizing hemp, part of the new Farm Bill enacted in December, is a tremendous catalyst for change. But we do.
Hemp was the first plant under human cultivation, some 10,000 years ago. Hemp farming and production was a staple of Europe and much of the world 1,000 years ago. Without hemp, Europeans could not have colonized so much of the world, as hemp sails are durable and don’t rot. So we have some history with the plant.
William Hearst, the yellow news publisher from 100 years ago was quite the racist. He hated people of color, and while it was quite clear that hemp was a staple for poor folk, he intentionally confused hemp and marijuana, a favorite high of these minorities. He demonized both incessantly in his papers until Congress took the step of making production of hemp and manufacture of hemp products illegal, along with its cousin, ‘the heathen devil weed’. But why go after hemp?
Hearst happened to own millions of acres of forest that he wanted to leverage as paper for his ‘news’ empire. That would never happen as long as hemp was readily available and clearly a much wiser option. He removed that as a legal option, and caused unspeakable damage to our culture and country for nearly a century.
So that’s how we got here, and with this new Farm Bill, we reverse this travesty. And again, The Empire doesn’t yet know what it has allowed to happen.
First, a little clarity. There are hundreds of major strains of cannabis, the family’s Latin name. They all share the ability to grow in less than ideal soils with minimal pesticide use. They have edible, oil rich seeds. Their stalks contain strong, durable fibers. They absorb heavy metals and radiation. Hemp has less than .03% of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Yet each strain has its unique characteristics. Hemp grown for fiber is planted closely together, with large, spindly patterns than can reach 15 feet. Hemp grown for oil has more widely-spaced plants, with far more side branches to encourage bud and seed growth.
Cannibus varieties grown for THC also prefer wide spacing, to allow as many buds to form and develop as possible.
So why the big deal? Let’s start at 30,000 feet. Much of our current malaise is due to corporate globalism, a trade system developed for profit, not to fulfill human need. Shoes from China, shirts from the Philippines or Indonesia, food from South America, fossil fuels from the Middle East – we’ve been globalized, without really seeing the problem even as us older folk watched this process take place over decades. Here’s a good reference on our oldest cultivated plant.
With legal hemp we begin to reverse this trend, we start strengthening local production and hence our local communities. This will be tightly-coupled with the local food movement, which is already gaining influence in many areas. A great blow against The Empire.
How? Here’s a bit of a list…
Hempcrete – the Roman Coliseum and viaducts were built with hempcrete, the hemp fibers adding centuries to the viable ‘life’ of the concrete. As we begin the huge task of rebuilding US infrastructure, hempcrete can be invaluable.
Fuel – biodiesel and ethanol/methanol – the seeds are pressed and processed for biodiesel, the stalks fermented to create ethanol/methanol fuels. Both are efficient and renewable.
Food – hemp seeds have a refreshing, nutty taste. They are a great addition to soups, salads, burgers and more. Hemp oil can be used in food as well.
Clothing – hemp fibers are strong and durable, and through processing can become quite soft. The material takes color dyes well too!
Shoes – slippers and sandals are easily fashioned. Heavy duty work boots will require more processed forms of help.
Composites – Any number of composites can be created from hemp parts. Indeed, many cars now have composites with a hemp base for dashboards and interior molds, just like the first Ford’s did 100 years ago.
Plastics – While our abusive relationship with disposable plastics requires a cultural shift, bioplastics made from hemp are far less damaging to our environments and oceans.
Medicines – CBDs (cannabinoids) are the current rage, able to help treat PTSD, arthritis and other conditions. The plant contains over a hundred cannabinoids, many with medicinal properties. CBDs are not psychoactive.
Even if you’re not stoned, this is an impressive list. Your mission, should you choose to join us, is to aid in our transition to local, hemp based products. Farming, processing, distribution, new products, education and networking – there are tremendous opportunities. Fire logs, furniture, we don’t even know yet what we’re capable of being reunited with our old friend.
With hemp, we gain a valuable resource for reducing the destruction of our already degraded home planet, Earth. We immediately reduce logging and its destructive footprint. The bleaching process to make paper from wood is eliminated as well. Imagine the boost we can bring to our communities with locally made clothes, fuel oils and food. Composites for the new 3D printing tech. It’s going to get wild folks!
Curiously, the corrupt Trump administration has enabled the most substantial farm bill in decades. Now, the new Congress can further policies which support hemp, which will surely support us.
Embracing hemp carries deeper overtones. Such work is healing and has us in intimate touch with the Earth and its natural cycles. It encourages us to embrace a radical new relationship with our natural world. It encourages us to be present to Life itself.
Now that the government is out of he way, the speed with which we reintroduce ourselves to our oldest plant friend is up to us. It will take a few years to re-find the knowledge and machinery used in the past, and to find our way forward with new ideas and technology. But the time when hemp is again pervasive in our culture is coming soon.
Looking for work or a new enterprise? Think hemp.