Hemp the Miracle Fiber

Hemp, the fiber of the cannabis species of plant is making a comeback after years of being ignored
for synthetic substitutes. Entrepreneurs are beginning to look at the benefits of marketing it. Governments
are starting to see the advantage of allowing it to be grown. but the United States, in all likelihood, will
miss the boat.
Hemp is after all, another name for marijuana and here in the United States growing and
marketing this type of vegetation can get a farmer in serious trouble. But are hemp and marijuana truly the
same thing? Yes and no. Genetically, hemp and marijuana are the same plant. Hemp, however, is bred for
fiber production and usually contains only negligible amounts of T.H.C. (tetrahydrocannabinol). Marijuana
is bred for smoking and is usually poor in fiber. To call the plants the same thing outside a biological
context is stretching it. (Dewey 283)
Could the United States legalize the production of hemp without facilitating the production of the
smoking stuff? I think so. Hemp deserves it\'s day on the market, however not as a drug but as a raw
substitute to future advances. The United States government must wake up to the advantage hemp will
give us as an alternate fiber. As the law is stated presently, hemp is illegal to grow in any shape or form.
This law is wrong and must be repealed.
Hemp has been used in different parts of the world for thousands of years. The earliest use of the
plant began in 1500-1200 BC., in china, where it was used as an analgesic. (Walton 1938). As people
started discovering the many uses hemp provides, the cultivation of it in many civilizations flourished.
People from the Romans to the Huns embraced hemp for it\'s many useful properties. The cultivation of
hemp endured into colonial America. Such founding fathers as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson
grew hemp on their plantations. Hemp has had an important place in American history from the very start.
Benjamin Franklin used hemp to produce paper that the first draft of the Declaration of independence was
written on. Betsy Ross used hemp cloth to fashion the first United States flag. Even the first pair of Levis
jeans was woven from Hemp cloth. (Guy and Baerg 11) Hemp was recognized to be a prized plant and it\'s
cultivation was widespread. Such states as Kentucky!
and Alabama grew hemp by the hectare.
This continued until 1937 when out of fear and ignorance, a campaign against marijuana was
waged. This "reefer madness" scare resulted in the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act. This bill prohibited
the sale, growth and possession of marijuana. After this bill it was still legal to possess hemp (meaning the
roots, stalk, and stems of the cannabis plant). The flowers buds or leaves were now outlawed. Since it was
not possible to grow the hemp plant without being in possession of marijuana, this act ended the cultivation
of the cannabis species in America.
Hemp when growing relatively takes care of itself. Hemp requires little fertilizer and grows well
almost everywhere in the fifty states. It also resists bugs, so it uses little pesticides. Hemp puts down deep
roots, which is good for the soil, and when the leaves drop off the hemp plant, minerals and nitrogen are
returned to the soil. Hemp has been grown on the same soil for twenty years in a row without any
noticeable depletion of the soil. (Dewey 284)
Hemp has many different uses. The first to be discussed is in paper production. The potential of
hemp for paper production is enormous. According to the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, one acre of hemp can
produce four times more paper than one acre of trees. (Young 17) All types of paper products can be
produced from hemp: newsprint, computer paper, stationary, cardboard, envelops, toilet paper, even
tampons. In fact there is no tree or plant species on Earth capable of producing as much paper per acre as
hemp. Hemp is number one. If paper was produced from hemp, it would eliminate the need to chop down
thousands of acres of forest each year and Wildlife habitat would be preserved. Trees must grow for
twenty to fifty years after planting before they can be harvested for commercial