Automotive


October 8, 2009 – If Hemp was discovered today it would be hailed a miracle for mankind as there are so many environmentally friendly products the plant and its byproducts can provide. If consumers want to contribute to a better planet, they need look no further than to choose products made with hemp. This post explores the huge potential impact of hemp – if only it were legal for farmers to grow and process in the United States.

Hunger and Starvation

The world is going through great suffering at present, with millions of people starving and millions more struggling to cope with the high cost of living. Most of these problems can be traced back to agriculturehunger and oil. Current unnatural farming methods require large amounts of money to be spent on pesticides and herbicides, making farming practices economically and environmentally unsustainable.

At the same time, the world’s population is increasing and the global community is desperate for a solution to meet the food requirements of all countries. Fortunately, there is a solution available – Hemp. Growing the hemp plant and using it to create thousands of products ranging from food, textiles, building materials, plastics etc. is a highly sustainable way to address hunger and a myriad of economic and social issues our world currently faces. (A more comprehensive discussion of this potential can be found here: Hemp: Africa’s Solution to Hunger and Poverty )

70 Years of Propaganda

The media portrayal of marijuana and drugs is largely responsible for the negative perception of hemp, Picture 37but most people fail to realize that commercial hemp is actually unfit for use as an intoxicant. THC, the active ingredient of regular cannabis responsible for producing the ‘high’ effect in drug users, is typically found in quantities of up to 20% or more. Industrial hemp on the other hand, generally contains less than 0.3% THC content, which is not enough to cause any physical or psychological effects. Smoking industrial hemp to get high is akin to trying to get drunk from non-alcoholic beer.

Hemp has a lengthy history of being a productive crop, even in the USA. Early presidents Washington and Jefferson used to grow the crop personally, and during a few different periods Americans were actually legally bound to grow hemp. The US government even produced a short movie in 1942 entitled Hemp for Victory to help encourage farmers to grow hemp.

Big Business Bans Hemp

Hemp was effectively banned with the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, but a chronic oil and material shortage during the Second World War meant the government desperately needed hemp again. It was1232477-TaxStamp re-legalized in 1942 and promoted with the Hemp for Victory movie. The original ban was at the request of big industry and after the shortages subsided it didn’t take long before they once again made sure that hemp wasn’t able to compete with their business interests.

The problem is that hemp is a naturally occurring solution to many of the world’s problems, and therefore can’t be patented and controlled by individuals. DuPont was one of the main companies behind the ban of hemp, which they pushed for shortly after patenting a nylon rope made from synthetic petrochemicals. In addition to the petrochemical industries, it also threatened the cotton, oil and timber industries, who formed an alliance to make sure hemp was outlawed.

Simply the Best

As well as being one of the earliest known domesticated plants, hemp is one of the fastest growing bio-masses known. The bark of the stalk contains possibly the longest natural soft fibers in the world. John+Deere+-+Hemp+FarmingThese two properties provide tremendous advantages over other crops in terms of practicality and uses.

Hemp is also very environmentally friendly. It grows well in a number of different soil types and climates, and is naturally resilient to weeds and pests. Some farmers even use it as a natural weed suppressor. The use of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides and are widely unnecessary, with the plant rarely being attacked and strong enough to ward off the few pests which are attracted to it. They don’t call it ‘Weed’ without a reason, as it is able to grow strong like a weed without any assistance.

Wide Variety of Uses

The practical uses for hemp never seem to end, ranging from replacements for many of our current energy, clothing and building material sources to more simple uses such as fishing bait, cooking products and paints.

Food

Hemp seeds are possibly the most easily digestible source of complete proteins; contain high levels of Picture 39dietary fiber and B-vitamins, as well as containing all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids in the most appropriate ratios for human consumption. Their profile is so complete that if a human was to eat one thing for the rest of their life, they would live the longest on hemp seeds. Since they can be eaten raw, ground, sprouted or made into milk; hemp seeds can be used as a replacement for flour, butter, protein powder, milk and ice-cream. By the way, the seed is not psychoactive and will not act as a drug.

Fuel and Plastics

Biofuels such as biodiesel can be produced from the oil in hemp seeds and stalks. The fermentation of the whole plant can also produce alcohol fuel. Hemp can produce ten times more methanol than is possible from corn and seems an ideal substitute for the massive amounts corn crops around the world planted to provide fuel for vehicles. The hemp fibers are perfect for producing plastic moulded products, rather than relying on oil for their production. They are also well suited for the creation of biodegradable plastic products.

Construction

Similar to the way ancient cultures added straw to clay to reinforce bricks, hemp fibers added to hemp_house_lm190609concrete increase tensile strength, as well as reducing shrinkage and cracking. It can also be mixed with gypsum to produce light panels, or lime to make plaster. A combination mixture can be used for foundations, walls and ceilings, which is lighter than cement and has better sound and heat insulating properties. There has even been a ceramic tile equivalent produced. The quality of building materials is such that whole houses have been made based on hemp fiber.

Insulation

The actual building structure is not the only thing that can benefit from hemp’s insulating properties. semi-rigid-hemp-insulation-panel-140000The production of thermal insulation products is one of the most important sectors of the hemp industry. Hemp hurds are perfect to use due to their high silica content, and can be mixed with lime to produce a material which can be blown into areas requiring insulation. Since it is naturally renewable, it is better for the environment and can help to reduce heating costs for existing households.

Textiles

Hemp is a major competitor to the cotton industry. It produces 250% more fibers than cotton and hempconversedoesn’t require the same cocktail of chemicals cotton needs to grow successfully. It is said that around half of the world’s pesticides are used on cotton crops. Hemp is also far stronger, durable, absorbent, insulative and resistant to UV light and mold than cotton. Although it is generally coarse, advancements in processing have enabled a softening of hemp fibers to a comfortable level. Apart from shoes and clothing, hemp can also be used to produce coarse textiles such as upholstery and carpets.

Paper

The United States Constitution was drafted on hemp paper. uc06330Hemp can produce more than four times the dry weight of fiber in comparison to the average forest on the same size land. Additionally, trees will take approximately twenty years to regrow, where hemp can reach maturity in around four months. Apart from being far more practical to produce paper in terms of growth times and production levels, hemp paper is of a far superior quality to tree paper. Wood pulp paper may be lucky to last 50 years, whereas hemp pulp paper has been known to last centuries or even millennia. It can also be recycled many more times than traditional paper.

Personal Care Products

Hempseed oil has a wide variety of uses, especially in the personal care product range. It is widely used in creams as a moisturizing agent and is excellent for skin care. It is also present in a number of leading brand’s lotions, moisturizers, lip balms and perfumes. Bathroom products containing hemp are also popular, with soaps, shampoos and bubble baths being sold having a hemp component.

Motor vehicles

Today, many car parts are manufactured using hemp products. Their history dates back to 1941, where Henry Ford produced a car with a plastic body which was made from approximately 70% hemp fibers. picture-10Although the idea came about partly due to a steel shortage, tremendous benefits were revealed. The car could withstand blows ten times greater than steel without denting. It was so powerful that Ford used to swing an axe at the vehicle to show it would not be damaged. Unfortunately, the Marijuana Tax Act made production unviable and although some car parts are produced today, the full potential of hemp cars has never been realized.

THE PERFECT SOLUTION

Never has a more perfect solution been available to solve so many of the world’s problems. But the sad fact is that unless we rise up as a people and demand a change, we are unlikely to ever see the full benefits of hemp around the globe. This is because there are so many well established interest groups in the many sectors of the economy where hemp can provide benefit – interest groups who do not want to see it succeed. The potential benefits to mankind though are just too large to ignore – and we must work together to see that hemp is once again returned to a revered status in our economy.

Source.<

Please also see:
Hemp: Africa’s Solution to Hunger and Poverty
Canada – Hemp Bringing Highs to Farmers’ Lows

September 17, 2009 – Talk about a visionary! Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company over 100 years ago, but even back then; his main object was to build cars that were sensibly priced, yet dependable and 09_018efficient. Yet over the years, it seems as if cars have become less reliable and less affordable. Not to mention the price of gas jumping in the past decade.

To bring his dream to fruition, Ford envisioned cars that ran on hemp ethanol. In fact, Ford was all for using materials like hemp and vegetable matter to run vehicles. He once said, “There’s enough alcohol in one year’s yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for one hundred years.” Can you imagine?

In 1925, he told the New York Times that he thought the fuel of the future would be made of such things as apples, sawdust, weeds, etc. At the time, most others in the car industry agreed. In fact, I read online that government officials had even contacted Ford engineers about coming up with alternatives to leaded gas. Ford felt that growing crops like hemp to make fuel could also help turn around the existing economic crisis that would later become the Great Depression.

By 1941, Ford had created a car whose body was made from hemp, sisal, and wheat straw. Guess what that car ran on? Yes, it ran on hemp ethanol. It seems obvious that gas wasn’t the best fuel for cars. It is toxic, can be dangerous, and has a lower octane rating then ethanol.

If ethanol is better than gas, why aren’t we using it? I’ve read that some people think the auto industry was built around gas powered automobiles and it would be too costly to change. Others think that politics played a hand in the auto industry staying dependent on gasoline.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that the automobile forefathers were thinking of automobiles that ran on something other than gasoline. This idea has been around for almost 100 years and yet we are still oil dependent.

Do you think we will see a viable alternative to gasoline any time soon? by Libby Pelham. http://green-living.families.com/blog/henry-ford-and-his-hemp-car

September 10, 2009 – The modern day car owes much of its history to Henry Ford, who dreamed of “producing an automobile that was reasonably priced, Picture 10reliable, and efficient…” Many of Ford’s dreams have not come to fruition since Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903. It is debatable how affordable and reliable today’s autos are, and the average car’s fuel efficiency leaves much to be desired. Today’s auto industry is not what Ford envisioned, especially considering he predicted cars would be constructed of hemp and run on biofuels.

In fact, in 1941 Ford constructed a vehicle made from biodegradable cellulose fibers derived from hemp, sisal, and wheat straw. The car was even fueled by hemp ethanol. In 1925, Ford told the New York Times:

The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit like that sumach out by the road, or from apples, weeds, sawdust — almost anything. There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There’s enough alcohol in one year’s yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for a hundred years.

Photo by dok1Ford predicted cars would be made from hemp and powered by ethanol.

Ford predicted cars would be made from hemp and powered by ethanol.

Why has it taken us so long to return to Ford’s dreams? There are many factors involved, especially politics, as Bill Kovarik, Ph.D. writes in “Henry Ford, Charles Kettering and the ‘Fuel of the Future’“:

In this case, fuel technology developed in a direction that was a matter of policy choice and not predetermined by any clear advantage of one technology over another. For different reasons, Henry Ford and Charles Kettering both saw the fuel of the future as a blend of ethyl alcohol and gasoline leading to pure alcohol from cellulose. A dedicated agrarian, Ford thought new markets for fuel feedstocks would help create a rural renaissance. On the other hand, Kettering, as a scientist, was worried about the long term problem of the automotive industry’s need for oil, a resource with rapidly declining domestic reserves. Clearly, the shortage of domestic oil that was feared in the 1920s has occurred in the late 20th century, although it has hardly been noticed because of the abundance of foreign oil. Whether the oil substitute envisioned by the scientists and agrarians of the first half of the century would be appropriate in the latter half remains an open question.

Although the merits of ethanol are debatable, its share of the fuel market has grown from one to seven percent in recent years. In addition, Ford’s biomaterials team have invented seats made from hemp and soy. Almost 75 years later, Ford Motor Company may actually be moving in the direction its founding father predicted. by Jennifer Lance. Source.

September 7, 2009 – Henry Ford believed in using Hemp products to make cars. He was green 50 years before GREEN was cool.Picture 6

Henry Ford predicted back in 1925 that the future fuels used to power automobiles, trucks, planes, and power boat engines would come from sustainable and more eco-friendly resources than fossil fuels. He even aggressively supported the use of hemp products to create bio-degradable auto parts.

With so many changes happening in the auto industry, companies like Fisker and Tesla working on electric models, motorsports competitors participating in Formula 3 Racing looking closely at bio-fuels, big name exotics company leaders like Ferrari — who participate in Formula 1 and are planning to release hybrid exotics on the market soon as alternative power source vehicles, sportscar companies like BMW releasing Hydrogen cars, and luxury car companies like Lexus promoting hybrid model daily drivers are finally beginning to provide consumers that are making life more green while keeping owners on the go.

Fuel of the Future
When Henry Ford told a New York Times reporter that ethyl alcohol was “the fuel of the future” in 1925, he was expressing an opinion that was widely shared in the automotive industry. “The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit like that sumach out by the road, or from apples, weeds, sawdust — almost anything,” he said. “There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There’s enough alcohol in one year’s yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for a hundred years.”

Ford recognized the utility of the hemp plant. He constructed a car of resin stiffened hemp fiber, and even ran the car on ethanol made from hemp. Ford knew that hemp could produce vast economic resources if widely cultivated.

Ford’s optimistic appraisal of cellulose and crop based ethyl alcohol fuel can be read in several ways.

First, it can be seen as an oblique jab at a competitor. General Motors had come to considerable grief that summer of 1925 over another octane boosting fuel called tetra-ethyl lead, and government officials had been quietly in touch with Ford engineers about alternatives to leaded gasoline additives.

Secondly, by 1925 the American farms that Ford loved were facing an economic crisis that would later intensify with the depression. Although the causes of the crisis were complex, one possible solution was seen in creating new markets for farm products. With Ford’s financial and political backing, the idea of opening up industrial markets for farmers would be translated into a broad movement for scientific research in agriculture that would be labelled “Farm Chemurgy.”

Why Henry’s plans were delayed for more than a half century
Ethanol has been known as a fuel for many decades. Indeed, when Henry Ford designed the Model T, it was his expectation that ethanol, made from renewable biological materials, would be a major automobile fuel. However, gasoline emerged as the dominant transportation fuel in the early twentieth century because of the ease of operation of gasoline engines with the materials then available for engine construction, a growing supply of cheaper petroleum from oil field discoveries, and intense lobbying by petroleum companies for the federal government to maintain steep alcohol taxes.

Many bills proposing a National energy program that made use of Americas vast agricultural resources (for fuel production) were killed by smear campaigns launched by vested petroleum interests. One noteworthy claim put forth by petrol companies was that the U.S. government’s plans “robbed taxpayers to make farmers rich”.

Gasoline had many disadvantages as an automotive resource. The “new” fuel had a lower octane rating than ethanol, was much more toxic (particularly when blended with tetra-ethyl lead and other compounds to enhance octane), generally more dangerous, and contained threatening air pollutants.

Petroleum was more likely to explode and burn accidentally, gum would form on storage surfaces and carbon deposits would form in combustion chambers of engines. Pipelines were needed for distribution from “area found” to “area needed”. Petroleum was much more physically and chemically diverse than ethanol, necessitating complex refining procedures to ensure the manufacture of a consistent “gasoline” product.

However, despite these environmental flaws, fuels made from petroleum have dominated automobile transportation for the past three-quarters of a century. There are two key reasons: First, cost per kilometer of travel has been virtually the sole selection criteria. Second, the large investments made by the oil and auto industries in physical capital, human skills and technology make the entry of a new cost-competitive industry difficult.

Until very recently, environmental concerns have been largely ignored. All of that is finally changing as consumers demand fuels such as ethanol, which are much better for the environment and human health. By Kae Davis. Source.

More Information on Hemp:

Why Can’t We Grow Hemp in America?
Hemp Facts
The Case for Hemp in America
The Versatility of the Incredible Hemp Plant and How It Can Help Create a More Sustainable Future

August 6, 2009 – Quick: What single plant can you use to build, insulate, and heat a house; help build and run cars; turn into the finest textiles; use to make tortillas, cheese, veggie burgers, perfumes, skin creams, and suntan lotions – and also to get stoned?feat_2

The answer is none. But if you leave out the stoned part, you’re talking about hemp, the non-smokable variety of cannabis sativa, botanical cousin of the cannabis that gets you high. It’s currently grown legally in 30 industrial nations, has a history that dates back to the earliest days of man, was touted by George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, was probably used to make the first American flag, and – if given the chance – might help bring Texas farmers out of troubled times.

Unfortunately, industrial hemp’s association with pot has made it illegal to produce here in the United States for the last seven decades, forcing U.S. manufacturers to import it from China, Eastern Europe, and Canada. For a while during the 1990s it was illegal to import it any form but finished textiles. And even that was suspect under Bill Clinton’s drug czar, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who, in trying to ban hemp importation, once famously announced to a group of high-ranking Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs officials that “kids are boiling down their hemp shirts and mixing the essence with alcohol to make marijuana.”

That would be a pretty wacky comment coming from anyone, but to have national policy hinge on such impossible wrong-headedness set back hemp’s future in this country a long way.

Nobody’s using that rhetoric now, but the unease persists in many places, including at the Texas Farm Bureau. Spokesman Gene Hall told Fort Worth Weekly that while “hemp has Picture 6come up as a possible agricultural crop for Texas, it’s been a controversial subject.” Hall said that neither the Texas Farm Bureau, a nonprofit organization of farmers, ranchers, and rural families, nor the National Farm Bureau have supported industrial hemp as an ag crop “because there are concerns with the farm bureau supporting the raising of a crop that could be used for illicit drug use.”

But times are changing, even in Texas, and not everyone sees it the way Hall and the Farm Bureau do. This week, Oregon became the 16th state to pass some form of industrial hemp legislation, in hopes of making it possible for farmers to grow, own, and sell the nonsmokable but otherwise highly useful forms of hemp, the kinds with very low quantities of THC, the chemical in pot that gets you high.

State laws can’t trump the federal statute, which currently lists cannabis sativa as a controlled substance and prevent its cultivation. But U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Libertarian-leaning Republican from Lake Jackson, Texas, is trying to change that. He’s filed a bill to require the federal government to respect state laws on industrial hemp production. Paul has tried and failed at this before, and even he thinks the bill isn’t likely to pass this time either. But he’s gaining some support among his fellow House members and hoping for a friendlier attitude in the White House.

Individually, there are plenty of Texas farmers who are happy to hear about a potential new cash crop.

“If you tell me that there is a crop out there that could earn $400 an acre” – which is what Canadian farmers can earn with hemp – “well, I would have no problem growing it,” said Ralph Snyder, a farmer in North Central Texas. “Farmers would be lined up to grow it.”

Dan Brown, a North Texas leader of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), figures hemp could thrive easily in Texas. “Remember that it’s one of the fastest, most aggressive- growing biomasses in the world,” he said. “It isn’t called a weed for nothing.”

Hemp wasn’t always a banned crop. In colonial America its cultivation was mandated by British law. Back then it was used to make ropes and sails for ships, in fine art canvas, in paint and varnishes, as lamp oil, to make paper, and in some foods.

But the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that effectively outlawed smoking cannabis also essentially outlawed industrial hemp. The act was passed after publisher William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers waged a protracted and vociferous campaign against “marijuana” – a term he introduced to the American public. He ran stories that suggested that white women who smoked it couldn’t resist the lure of “negroes,” that it would bring out the devil in people and could cause otherwise normal people to become violent to the point of murder. Hollywood jumped on the campaign, releasing films such as Reefer Madness and Marijuana, Assassin of Youth, which showed previously virtuous young women jumping out of windows and becoming prostitutes after their first exposure to the evil weed.

Some saw Hearst’s campaign as a disguise for his real purpose – the elimination of industrial hemp, which was just coming into its own as a major modern crop, thanks to new machinery that allowed the hemp to be harvested and cleaned mechanically, rather than by hand. In 1933, Popular Mechanics magazine called industrial hemp “a billion-dollar crop” and suggested that with mechanization it would be used in making more than 25,000 products, including plastics, nylon, and paper.Picture 8

At about the same time, Hearst had invested in millions of acres of trees for paper pulp, and Dupont, the chemical company, had just received patents for making nylon from coal and plastic from oil. Competition from hemp products might have cost both Hearst and Dupont genuine fortunes. According to Industrial Hemp Now, an organization working to legalize hemp, “As a model of deception and orchestrated media manipulation, the anti-hemp crusade constitutes one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetuated on the American people. Few public relations campaigns in history can match its success in eradicating competition while transforming citizens into unknowing pawns of big business.” Those claims have been echoed by dozens of others.

World War II changed the federal attitude temporarily. Cut off from vital natural-fiber supplies by the war, the federal government was forced to ask farmers to grow hemp to aid the war effort, even producing the film Hemp For Victory. Afterward, it was back to hemp-is-banned business as usual – except for the millions of leftover wild hemp plants that still grow along roads and highways throughout the Midwest and are the focus of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s “marijuana” eradication efforts, despite the fact that none of the plants have the ability to get anyone high.

In 1970, the newly created DEA developed the Controlled Substances Schedule, which placed drugs in categories according to their medical value and propensity for being abused. Morphine and cocaine, for instance, are in Schedule 2 because they have medical value but are highly likely to be abused. Cannabis, including industrial hemp, was placed in Schedule 1, meaning it has no recognized medical value and is highly likely to be abused. It can’t, under any circumstances, be prescribed by doctors.

The DEA later made an exception for industrial hemp, but those wishing to grow it must have a DEA license. In the past 20 years they’ve given out only a small handful of permits, and the restrictions – including round-the-clock guards on trial plots, exorbitantly expensive fencing, and regular inspections at the licensee’s expense – make it impossible to actually grow anything profitably. Most farmers who have applied for a permit never even receive a response.

Some industrial hemp promoters see a glimmer of hope with the Obama administration in place. “Little birdies have told me that Obama is going to treat hemp as a state’s right, just as his administration is doing with medical marijuana,” said a hemp product manufacturer who asked not to be named. “And if that’s the case, then it’s ‘all systems go’ in a number of states.”

The Obama administration has made enforcement of laws against the medical uses of marijuana the lowest priority for the Department of Justice in states that have passed legislation allowing such use. Farmers in states with laws permitting industrial hemp production are hoping he’ll do at least that much for them. Still, until federal law is changed, farmers are going to be wary about turning over land to a crop that might get pulled out from under them.

Ron Paul, the Houston-area congressman, introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in April, which would require the federal government to respect state laws with regards to hemp production. The bill has 11 co-sponsors.

In introducing the proposal, he noted, “Federal law concedes the safety of industrial hemp by allowing it to be legally imported for use as food.” He also said that the United States is the “only industrialized nation that prohibits industrial hemp cultivation.” Stores in this country already sell hemp seeds, oil, and food products, he pointed out, as well as paper, cloth, cosmetics, and carpet containing hemp. It has been used as an alternative fuel for cars, he said, and, most recently, in the door frames of about 1.5 million cars.

Paul said Tuesday that he holds out little hope for his bill. “If we could bring it to the floor and discuss it and teach people what it is, well, I think it would be passed overwhelmingly,” he said. “But right now, unfortunately, you still have a lot of people who think it’s a drug. And as long as they’re that uninformed, they’re not going to see the real issue.”

Creating a viable hemp industry in this country would take more than legislation, of course. Public awareness of, and demand for, hemp products would have to grow considerably before enough quantities would be needed to make it a profitable crop for large numbers of farmers.

When his country began allowing the production of industrial hemp 10 years ago, said Canadian crop specialist Harry Brook, farmers initially misjudged the market and overproduced. “Our farmers began growing hemp for fiber, and unfortunately, we didn’t have the facilities in place to convert that to paper and textiles and such, and so essentially it was a bust.”Picture 9

But the farmers switched to growing it for seed, used to make oil and food products. “Now that’s where they found a market,” Brook said. “And now there’s talk about reviving the fiber industry because [hemp] grows so fast and tall and produces so much fiber. But that simply won’t get off the ground until someone decides to make the investment in the factories that can utilize it.”

In ideal conditions, he said, hemp can produce about 5 tons of dried biomass per acre in 100 days – considerably more than any other crop. And with its varied uses, its potential is unlimited.

Gordon Scheifele is a retired certified plant breeder with the Canadian Ministry of Agriculture who is currently researching hemp. The stumbling block right now, he said, is that there isn’t a single commercial processor in North America that can produce the fibers in sufficient quantities to sustain various industries.

“We know we can produce it in Canada. We already are [doing so],” he said. “But the next step requires vision, will, determination, and effort. That includes the capital to make it all go.”

In this country, groups such as Hemp Industries of America and VoteHemp.org estimate the current annual sales of hemp products in 2008 totalled about $360 million. Designers such as Donatella Versace, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein have produced everything from hemp-and-cotton-blend jersey knits to hemp-and-silk-blend clothing. Wal-Mart carries a line of hemp suntan lotion and skin creams; Whole Foods and Central Market carry several products from hemp bread and granola to frozen desserts. The Body Shop carries a line of skin-care products.

In San Marcos, Hemp Town Rock – The Hemp Store, has been operating since 1992. And near McKinney, DiaperCo.com sells a line of hemp diapers. But it’s all still just a drop in the bucket compared to what would happen if the crop were legalized.

“What’s being sold now and what can be sold when American farmers are given the green light to produce hemp are worlds apart,” said Oregon State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, who introduced that state’s industrial hemp bill. “We’ve got a hemp food company in Portland, Living Harvest, that currently has $20 million in annual revenues, but they project that in five years they will have revenues of over $100 million annually. That’s exponential growth. And imagine what it could be if they could get their raw products closer to their production sites instead of having to import their seed and oil from Canada? If you bring your prices down, and you’ve got a good product, well, sales climb.

“We’re at a stage now where a lot of the American public recognizes that we were hoodwinked by the DEA and others into demonizing industrial hemp,” he said.

Lawrence Serbin, former national director for the Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp and owner of Hemp Traders, a Los Angeles-based company, said this country is “really in a Catch-22″ regarding hemp. “The reality is that hemp won’t become more popular in the U.S. until the price goes down, and the price won’t go down until it gets more popular. And the only way to make that price go down is to have us produce our own hemp.”

Serbin’s company sells a range of hemp products, from textiles to paper, but what he’s really concentrating on is fiberboard, which he makes from the hurds, the inner woody part of the hemp stalk left after the fiber has been removed. Typically, hurds are burned or left on the ground as mulch after harvest. He has to go to China to get them.

Beginning in 1999, he said, “We came in and collected the hurds and brought them to a factory and had them make up some medium-density fiberboards with it.” It’s taken him several years to come up with the product he’s just put on the market, a hemp fiberboard bound with a product derived from eucalyptus bark.

The advantage to his fiberboard, he said, is that it’s made without wood pulp and doesn’t use formaldehyde, a standard, inexpensive binder that is carcinogenic. The disadvantage is the price: His half-inch-thick, 4′-by-8′ boards go for about $28, nearly double what similar wood composite and particle boards go for in places like the Home Depot. His primary cost, he said, is transportation. The factory in China where part of the manufacturing takes place is far away from where the hemp is grown. And both hurds and boards are bulky, increasing the transit costs.

He hopes to solve part of the problem by building a factory next to the hemp fields in China, which he said could make his fiberboards “instantly competitive with regular wood boards.” If he could get the hurds from U.S. farmers, he said, he could sell his boards far more cheaply than what’s currently on the market.

Hemp boards, he said, could have “a huge impact on the housing market here in the U.S. … The effect on our forests would be immediate; new home prices would drop, and your house wouldn’t be full of formaldehyde.” He too is hoping that the Obama administration will tell federal law enforcement agencies to “leave it [hemp enforcement] to the states and then leave the states alone.”

Dave Seber, owner of Oregon’s Fibre Alternatives, believes industrial hemp is a “critical component” in saving both the economy and the environment in the United States.

“How are we going to stop carbon accumulation if we keep taking the trees down?” he asked. “We can’t, unless we grow hemp.” Hemp products, he said, could reduce the cost of building materials by 30 to 50 percent. “And that’s what we need to get the building industry, and therefore the economy, back on its feet.” He believes hemp could be used for furniture-quality boards. And he’s seen it used in Europe as a base for concrete, as a replacement for fiberglass insulation, and for plastics for everything from countertops to car parts.

Many countries in the European Union have begun levying fines on automakers and car sellers if their vehicles are not made of recyclable materials. That led European car Picture 10manufacturers to begin replacing traditional plastic parts with parts made from hemp, flax, and other natural fibers. In 2007 Lotus introduced its Hemp Eco Elise, a high-end car with a body largely made from hemp fiberglass and seats and other interior parts made largely from hemp/wool/flax materials.

“You’ve got to look at the big picture,” Seber said. “The food and textile industries, as well as paper and such, can definitely benefit from hemp products … but I think you have to look at the major industries if you really want to make the environmental and economic changes that this country and the whole world desperately need. Those are the housing industry, the biofuel industries, the plastics industries, and the automobile industries.”

Thus far, however, that potential revolution is passing Texas by.

Calls to a dozen legislators and agricultural committee members around Texas produced very little feedback and even less knowledge about hemp-based industries. A spokesman for State Rep. Charles Anderson of Waco, vice-chair of the Texas House Agriculture and Livestock Committee, said he’d never heard the issue discussed. The Texas Agricultural Policy Council didn’t respond to e-mail queries. Brian Black, assistant to the commissioner for the Texas Department of Agriculture, said, “I’ve not heard of any discussion of industrial hemp in the agriculture industry in Texas.” Calls to the office of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who sits on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry – three areas that would be affected by hemp production – were not returned.

Even a member of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, who asked not to be named, laughed at the notion of hemp being grown in Texas. “We can’t even get Texas interested in organic food research, so I doubt very much you’re going to find many politicians in Texas willing to discuss hemp research. That’s just not how people think here.”

Right now, there seems to be only one real hemp store left in Texas, out of the healthy crop that flourished here in hippier-dippier times. Rose Phillips’ Hemp Town Rock is still going strong. When she opened the store in 1992, Phillips said, she sold only products made from hemp – clothing, food, paper, twines, and such.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “I’ve had to add other products over the years because hemp is just plain expensive, what with all of it having to be imported. Now if we could grow it here, that would be different. You bring the price down, and everybody would buy hemp because it’s such a nice material and so durable. But as it is, well, with the economy down, except for Christmastime I don’t put out a lot of my better hemp clothes.”

She still carries hemp purses, wallets, t-shirts, and other products but admits they aren’t enough by themselves to keep her in business.

“There’s a big market” for hemp products,” she said. “But most people would rather just order it from a web page that can sell it cheaper than I can, what with store overhead. And then every major chain store carries some hemp products, so a store like mine isn’t the only place to get those things anymore.”

One of the local online stores that sells a lot of hemp products is DiaperCo.com. Based in Anna, just north of McKinney, the cloth diaper company has nearly 50 hemp-blend products for sale. Jessica Land, a DiaperCo manager, said the products sell well. “A lot of what we sell are hemp inserts – hemp cloth that goes inside pouches in the diaper. And everybody loves them because the hemp is so absorbent.”

Her client base is interested in environmentally friendly, natural products that are reusable, she said. “And what fits that description better than hemp?”

Has she ever had any clients decide not to buy hemp because of its connection with marijuana? She laughed. “I’ve never heard anyone say that, but our client base is pretty well informed,” she said. “I imagine there would be some people who would think that, though.”

Even if federal law were changed to allow unimpeded hemp production, Scheifele said he’s not sure whether Texas would be a prime growing area.

“Hemp requires moisture. The rule of thumb is that wherever you can grow corn you can grow good hemp,” he said. (Texas now ranks 12th among U.S. states in corn production.) Hemp is drought resistant, though, and winter crops probably would work here, Scheifele said. Beyond that, if it became a legal crop, he said, researchers would develop strains adaptable to a wide variety of conditions. In Australia, he said, scientists report they have developed a more drought-tolerant variety.

Don Wirtshafter, a lawyer and pioneer in the hemp movement who spent years researching hemp varieties in southeast Asia, said he thinks he’s already got seed stock that would work well in much of Texas without irrigation. His stock, brought over from Asia some years ago, is being kept alive in Canada, waiting a change in hemp’s legal status in this country, before he can try test plots all over the state.

He pointed out that in China, hemp is relegated to poorer-quality farmland. “If you’re growing for seed, you definitely need good nutrition, good soil,” he said. “But if you’re growing for fiber you can grow it almost anywhere.”

Wirtshafter called it an “agricultural tragedy” that thousands of varieties of hemp seed were lost when laws outlawing hemp cultivation were passed in this country and copied by much of the world.

Brown, the assistant director of the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of NORML, said that growing industrial hemp in Texas is a no-brainer. “Look at East Texas. There’s plenty of moisture there. It’s ideally suited for hemp cultivation. But with some irrigation you could grow hemp anywhere in the state.”

He pointed to the arid landscape of northern Mexico, home to tens of thousands of acres of low-grade marijuana. “If you can grow marijuana in those near-desert conditions, you could certainly grow hemp in southern Texas,” he said. “And with the ethanol craze going on and our focus on growing our own fuel stocks, it would be entirely possible to grow industrial hemp in quantities to replace American dependence on foreign oil. Hemp produces more than twice the biomass per acre that corn does, so it would be a natural for fuel, and we could grow a lot of it on land not currently utilized for agriculture, rather than using good soil to grow corn for ethanol.”

In fact, he said, traditionally independent Texas farmers could come to see hemp-growing as a right they’re being denied. “Texans don’t like their personal rights abridged,” he said. “And once they understand the difference between marijuana and industrial hemp, your average Texas farmer would probably demand the right to grow it.

Daniel Leshiker, who farms near Ralph Snyder in North Central Texas, agreed with Snyder that hemp sounds intriguing.

“We already need another crop, that’s for certain. I just planted 200 acres of sunflowers for their seed for the first time,” he said. “So while I don’t know much about hemp except they used to make rope with it, well, you tell me I could make money with it, and I’ll grow it. That’s what we are in the business to do.” By PETER GORMAN. Source.

June 16th, 2009 – Industrial hemp varieties of Cannabis, also referred to as industrial hemp, fiber, or non-drug hemp, should not be confused with marijuana. Industrial hemp and marijuana are genetically distinct varieties of Cannabis, much like a St. Bernard and a Chihuahua are very different breeds of dogs. hemp-cultDespite easily discernable and widely accepted differences between the two distinct plant varieties, serious misconceptions continue to persist.

Marijuana THC (the psychoactive ingredient) levels run between 2% and 20% while hemp only has .03%, as a general rule levels of 1% or more must be reached to be considered marijuana.
The only thing you can get from smoking Industrial hemp is a head ache, I have heard one claim you will get diarrhea too.

Another misconception about Industrial hemp is that it is illegal to grow in the United States. Not true, under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) can issue licenses to grow the crop but has been unwilling to do so even for small plots for research purposes. The DEA issued a permit for an experimental plot in Hawaii in the 1990s (now
expired) and finally approved an eight-year-old application from North Dakota State University to conduct research on industrial hemp in November of 2008.

DEA officials express the concern that commercial cultivation would increase the likelihood of covert production of high-THC marijuana, significantly complicate the DEA’s surveillance and enforcement activities, and send the wrong message to the American public concerning the government’s position on drugs.
The DEA omits the fact that hemp is grown quite differently from marijuana. Moreover, cross-pollination between hemp plants and marijuana plants would significantly reduce the potency of the marijuana plant.

In order to understand the misconceptions surrounding Industrial Hemp in America it helps to know some of its history here in the US.

In 1619 Jamestown Colony Virginia, enacted legislation, ordering all farmers to grow hemp. Mandatory hemp cultivation laws were passed in Massachusetts in 1631 and in Connecticut in 1632. From 1631 to 1800 Americans could pay their taxes with hemp.

On June 19, 1812 The United States went to war with Great Britain after being cut off from 80% of its Russian hemp supply.

In 1937 The Marijuana Tax act went into law, Industrial Hemp was to be excluded from this law but due to lobbying efforts by chemical companies, petroleum companies, and the logging industry, that exclusion never took place.

In 1941 Popular Mechanics introduced Henry Ford’s plastic car, manufactured from and fueled by hemp. Hoping to free his company from the grasp of the petroleum industry, Ford illegally grew hemp for years after the federal ban.

In 1942 The Japanese invasion of the Philippines cut off the U.S. supply of Manila hemp. The U.S. government immediately distributed 400,000 pounds of hemp seeds to farmers from Wisconsin to Kentucky. The government required farmers to attend showings of the USDA educational film, Hemp for Victory.

By 1957 prohibitionists reasserted a total ban on hemp production in the United States. That federal ban remains in effect today.

Although American companies still manufacture products with hemp they must import hemp from other countries. The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that prohibits hemp production and we are the largest importer of hemp and hemp products in the world.

The leading exporters of raw and processed hemp fiber to the United States are China, Romania, Hungary, Italy, Canada, and India. The leading exporters of hemp oil and seed are the United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, and China.

Here in Michigan American car companies import parts made of hemp from Canada to build cars. Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, Honda, and Mercedes are currently using hemp composite door panels, trunks, head liners, etc. Hemp composites are less expensive than its fiberglass and carbon counterparts.

Virtually all European car makers are switching to hemp based door panels, columns, seat backs, boot linings, floor consoles, instrument panels, and other external components because the organic hemp based products are lighter, safer in accidents, recyclable, and more durable.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Statistics Canada data show that the quantity of hemp seed exports increased 300% from 2006 to 2007. Hemp oil exports kept pace, with an 85% increase in quantity. Hemp fiber exports showed encouraging progress, with a 65% increase in quantity. According to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance farmers were expected to grow 10,000 to 15,000 acres in 2008.
An update should be available soon.

Hemp is an annual plant that grows from seed, hemp can be grown on a range of soils, but tends to grow best on land that produces high yields of corn. The plant grows without the need of fungicides, herbicides or insecticides. Although it needs some nitrogen fertilizer, its deep roots can improve the soil’s structure.

The plant is harvested for its fibers, seed, seed meal, and seed oil.
Hemp seed is high in omega 3 and omega 6 Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) EFA’s are components of fat that humans need to be healthy, however, our bodies can’t produce them and therefore they must be obtained through the diet.

The long slender primary fibers on the outer portion of the stalk are considered bast fibers. Hemp fiber possesses properties similar to other bast fiber plants such as flax, kenaf, jute and ramie, and excels in fiber length, strength, durability, absorbency, antimildew and antimicrobial properties. Clothing made of hemp fiber is lightweight, absorbent and, has three times the tensile strength of cotton, strong and long-lasting.

The core fiber is derived from the sturdy, wood-like hollow stalk of the hemp plant. Sometimes referred to as “hurds”, it is up to twice as absorbent as wood shavings, making it an excellent animal bedding and garden mulch.

It can be easily blended with lime to create a concrete or plaster, bricks made from hemp are stronger than concrete and are one sixth of the weight

Hemps high cellulose content means it can be applied to the manufacturing of bio degradable plastics. Hemp paper is acid-free and takes less energy and fewer toxic chemicals to produce than wood fiber paper.

Rather then asking what can be made with hemp it might be best to ask what can’t be made with it; a low estimate is twenty five thousand different products and with emerging technologies some estimates now run as high as fifty thousand.

To date 15 States have passed pro Industrial Hemp legislation including, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, North Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Two North Dakota Farmers backed by a state law permitting industrial hemp production and a friendly state Department of Agriculture, Wayne Hauge and David Monson, the latter also a Republican state legislator, applied for licenses from the DEA to grow hemp. When the DEA failed to act on their applications, they sued in federal court.
At this time they are waiting on a decision from the 8th District Federal Court of Appeals. If successful, the decision would allow States rights to regulate the crop.

On the Federal level, HR 1866, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 was introduced on April 5th 2009 and if enacted, the bill would permit industrial hemp production based on state law, without preemption by the federal government under the Controlled Substances Act.

Why Is This Idea Important?
As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1933 “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” And as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Fear always springs from ignorance.” That is why most elected officials and politicians are unaware of Industrial Hemp. Fear of the word cannabis and lack of knowledge on what Industrial Hemp is and is not. I believe once they are educated on this issue they will over come the fear. I know everyone one is looking for a quick fix to the economic challenge we face but there is no magic bullet that is going to do it, to recover we are going to have to think long term as well as short term. Industrial Hemp is by no means a quick fix or the one single answer to the economy but it is something we need to do for our future. Fifteen States have passed pro Industrial Hemp laws so far, We need to stand up tell the Federal Government that we ready to think outside the box and do what needs to be done.

Source.

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