Letters to the Editor
The Declaration of Independence was illegal. Well, at least until now. That’s because Thomas Jefferson wrote it on paper made of hemp, a common crop in colonial America, grown by both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
In 1937, hemp was placed under the Controlled Substances Act, the main federal drug law. A provision in the 2014 farm bill signed by President Obama removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. And farmers are rejoicing.
Hemp is a cousin of the marijuana plant, but has a lower content of the chemical that makes marijuana desirable for some people. People cannot get “high” on hemp.
For Canadian farmers, hemp is worth $1 billion a year. It’s a major crop in France and other places. In WWII, parachutes used a hemp webbing to strengthen them. A fiber of hemp is stronger than the same size of steel. Hemp is used in making strong rope. Hemp requires half the water that wheat does and provides four times the income. Canadian farmers have been clearing $250 per acre by growing hemp. By comparison, soybeans, a major crop in the U.S., clear $71 per acre.
Hemp seed is a rich source of oil that has been analyzed to have a high content of omega-3 fatty acid, which helps prevent coronary heart disease. It contains sterols that lower cholesterol. It contains elements that are also found in spinach, beans, raw vegetables, and asparagus. It has a substance that is known to be useful against degenerative diseases, such as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s. The list goes on, making oil from hemp seed almost sound like a miracle drug.
Hemp fiber is used in making Mercedes door panels that are stronger than steel. Hemp is used as insulation in buildings, and is better than fiberglass insulation. A utility company in Kentucky will start planting hemp on soil damaged by coal and tobacco as soon as the new law goes into effect. They will use the fiber harvest for clean biomass energy. Plants, through photosynthesis, transform sunlight into chemical energy. This energy can then be converted into gases or liquid fuels that burn cleanly and can power turbines to produce electricity.
The 77-year ban on hemp seems like willful ignorance. How it could have lasted so long, with so many practical reasons against it, is simply unfathomable.
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