Home / Observatory / News / Why Is Nobody Talking About The Environmental And Economic Benefits Of Hemp?


Hemp is the same plant species as a Marijuana plant, it's just a different breed. One is used to make thousands of useful products whereas the other is psychoactive if ingested – leaving you as high as a kite. For thousands of years, hemp was used to make dozens of commercial products such as paper, rope, canvas, and textiles, to name a few. Did you know that the very name “canvas” comes from the Dutch word meaning Cannabis? Original canvases were made from marijuana and, in fact, the Dutch painters Rembrandt Harmenzoon Van Rijn and Vincent Willem Van Gogh are both famous historical artists who are known to have done most of their paintings on hemp-based canvas.

However, years ago, hemp was banned in many countries and states around the world. That is until hemp was recently rediscovered as a plant that has enormous environmental, economic and commercial potential.

Hemp has the potential for paper production on a huge scale, According to the U.S Dept. of Agriculture, one acre of hemp can produce four times more paper than one acre of trees, and hemp paper can be used for newspapers, magazines, computer paper, stationery, cardboard, envelopes, toilet paper and even ladies sanitary items. In fact, there are no other tree or plant species on this earth capable of producing as much paper per acre as hemp trees. In the paper production process, hemp also reduces the caustic and toxic chemicals that are used when making paper from trees – which ultimately results in less pollution.

Usually, trees must grow for 20-50 years after planting before they can be harvested for commercial use. However, a hemp plant only needs to grow for four months to reach between 10 and 20 feet before it's ready for harvesting. Substituting hemp for trees would save wildlife habitats and eliminate erosion of topsoil due to logging. With that said, less topsoil erosion would also reduce pollution of lakes, rivers, and streams.

Hemp fibre is also capable of making cotton, in fact, hemp fibre is 10 times stronger and can be used to make all types of clothing. Cotton grows only in warm climates and requires massive amounts of water, hemp requires little water and can grow in more diverse environments. Hemp produces twice as much fibre per acre than cotton too.

Unfortunately, for herbicide and pesticide companies, hemp naturally repels weed growth and has few insect enemies – so these companies won’t be needed as much. But, for now, cotton requires enormous pesticide use – a gross 50% of all pesticides applied in the US are used on cotton, think about that when next you wear your 100% cotton clothing items.

Wood materials can be substituted with hemp too. A little-known fact is that they are stronger than wood and can be manufactured for cheaper. Using these hemp derived building materials, we would reduce building costs and save even more trees.

For all the vegans out there who are constantly being told they need meat for their source of protein, you can let them know that hemp seeds are a source of nutritious, high protein. Hemp oil uses a less expensive protein extraction process than soybeans and, as there is no other difference between them, you can use it exactly the way you would with soybean protein. For food, hemp oil can be used to make highly nutritious tofu, butter, cheese, salad oils, homemade mayonnaise, pesto, hummus and more. Non-edibles that hemp oil can be used for is to produce paint, varnish, ink, lubricating oils and – a big one – plastic substitutes. These hemp-derived products are non-toxic, biodegradable and renewable.

Hemp produces a massive amount of biomass, more than any other plant, and this biomass can be converted to fuel in the form of clean-burning alcohol, or non-sulphur man-made coal. This means that hemp has more potential as a clean and renewable energy resource than any crop on earth. It has the potential to power 100% of all our expanding energy needs.

And last but definitely not least, marijuana has many proven medicinal uses. It's more effective, less toxic and not as expensive as the alternate synthetic medicines we mostly use. People who suffer from arthritis, AIDS, rheumatism, leukaemia, multiple sclerosis, cancer, glaucoma and other ailments can benefit from marijuana as medicine – and doctors would be prescribing it if it was legal. In fact, marijuana is widely accepted in the medical community as having numerous, proven medical uses and is not as dangerous a drug as most governments would like you to believe.

So why are we not living sustainably and taking advantage of this miracle tree? Because hemp was banned for being a competitive threat to wood products, synthetic fibres, and the multi-trillion dollar medical industry. If these industries aren’t making money, our governments aren’t making money. So, even though we know of 30,000 commercial, economic and environmentally-friendly potential hemp products, we choose to be inefficient, unsustainable and counterproductive in the name of money.

“Make the most of the hemp seed, sow it everywhere” – George Washington, first president of the U.S and Hemp advocate.

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