There is a lot of negative press about using any form of cannabis in the United States, even for logical solutions. When considering the many benefits this plant offers, it is important to reconsider its populous image. Hopefully, with the power of this information, the face of hemp will change.
First, it is important to point out the family genus, cannabis, has different species and subspecies strains. The crucial distinction is determining the rope variety from the dope. Cannabis sativa sativa was cultivated for its long fibrous qualities where as cannabis sativa indica gained popularity for its THC content. For purposes of clarity, hemp is often used when referring to the fibrous plant whereas cannabis is more popular for the other plants and preferred over the derogatory term, marijuana.
In fashion, hemp is making a real splash. The long fibers from the stalk of the plant can be woven into durable and comfortable fabrics. Depending on the process, this utilitarian fabric can be made to feel like linen, jean or silk. In fact, you may already have been wearing hemp unknowingly. In the June 1995 Issue of The New York Times, designer Ralph Lauren revealed that he has been using hemp fiber in his clothing since 1984. In the same article, Calvin Klein admitted, “I believe that hemp is going to be the fiber of choice in home furnishings and fashion.”* This incredible statement is attributed to the functional strength of hemp over cotton. Hemp bundle fibers are up to fifteen feet long, whereas cotton fibers are merely three-quarters of an inch, which makes hemp 8 times the tensile strength and 4 times the durability of cotton.
What about paper? Well, looking at it historically, paper has come from trees for only 160 years. Before the mid 1800s, paper came from cloth rags and crops of papyrus and hemp. Going back to that method could in effect make huge strides in healing the earth; the crisis of deforestation, soil erosion and environmental changes is no longer a casual issue on the back burner for future generations. If the prohibition on hemp is lifted, the economic advantage in using hemp would force manufacturers to go green with hemp plus allow for nature’s other resources to rejuvenate.
Perhaps the most exciting area that hemp can help is in manufacturing and building. The possibilities are mind boggling, like a car made out of hemp (except for the steel frame), a house made of hemp, and super strong composite board. It’s amazing! There’s a patented non-toxic process that turns stalk into insulation, called Isochanvre. And then there’s the colossus of potential, bio-degradable plastics and bio-fuels can be made from hemp. Considering the implications on the world’s consumption of oil and plastics, this is an amazing application! One I hope to see soon even though the technology is largely novel.
So far, the uses of hemp have been based on the “rope” strain of the cannabis plant. The plentiful uses continue into food and medicine. Now let’s dive into the application of the cannabis “rope” and cannabis “dope” strains. The nutritive value of sterilized hemp seed powder and oil could rock the agricultural industry. Can you think of another bio-available, balanced, plant protein source with all the amino acids and essential fatty acids that’s energetically neutral and healthy and that is drought resistant and pest resistant? There is no other. It’s hemp. All vegetarians and vegans should have stock in hemp seed protein to balance out their diet. It’s no wonder why so many supplements, like ShenTrition, are using hemp seed protein powder in their formulations. There are even stories of famine survivors mixing hemp seed and rice for a meal. Talk about saving lives; hemp can help.*
The medicinal uses are overwhelming. The references of cannabis treatments go back to 2300 B.C.E when Emperor Shen Nung prescribed female cannabis for the treatment of constipation, gout, malaria, rheumatism and menstrual problems.* Female cannabis was even regarded by Nung as one of the superior elixirs of immortality.* In ancient Ayuruveda and Indian Medicine, there are many noted cannabis cures.* Depending on the preparation method and ailment, the narcotic effects can be neutralized. The therapeutic powers of cannabis reportedly help for cases of diarrhea, constipation, epilepsy, delirium, gastritis, anorexia, consumption, fistula, nausea, fever, diabetes, anemia, menstrual pain, tuberculosis, asthma, gout, malaria, rabies, hemorrhoids, and skin diseases.* Of course there is the use for pain, arthritis, glaucoma, depression, headaches and convulsions or spasms (as in cases of muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and varieties of paralysis). With that kind of effect, it’s no wonder that the AMA and FDA are concerned. The economic impact of shifting patients from pain killers and anti-depressants to cannabis could cripple the pharmaceutical industry. Anyone interested in the applications of medicinal cannabis should consult their physician and state law. Some states, like Montana, allow for non-residents to get a “green card” when an appropriate medical condition exists.
Whether Federal lawmakers will listen to the individual states by repealing the prohibition remains unclear; however, it is ironic that the original drafts of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper, and that until the 1800s hemp paper was used for printing money. In fact, the US Government encouraged farmers to grow hemp to help win World War II. Clearly the plant has not changed in the last 80 years; only the public’s perception is that fickle. Shifting the public image of hemp requires individuals re-branding this amazing plant in their minds and communication. This may be one of the best approaches to helping hemp’s resurgence. Make a difference and educate others on the benefits of rope and dope.