Hemp and the Economy
Hemp has well over 50,000 industrial uses; most of which are discussed on various sites on the worldwide web. We believe that if hemp were legal to grow in America, it would have a positive ripple effect on the economics of this country. Hemp has an estimated $500 billion annual potential worldwide market, because anything made from trees, cotton or petroleum can be made from hemp, and usually better than from what it's made from now.
Reader's Digest and Popular Mechanics in 1938 hailed hemp as the first billion-dollar crop. In America alone, the hemp industry has grown from $5 million in 1990, to $50 million in 1995, to about half a billion dollars in 2002. The clothing industry has picked up on the usefulness of hemp cloth. Walt Disney Co, Esprit, Calvin Klein, Adidas, and Vans are all importing hemp for clothing and shoes. Many designers are calling hemp the "fabric of the decade".
Hundreds of businesses are selling imported hemp products in the U.S. Why should all the profits go overseas, when hemp can be grown and processed right here in America?
Because raw hemp is heavy and bulky, its first processing must be processed within about 50 miles of harvest to be cost-effective, which would create thousands of processing, transportation, and manufacturing jobs, including jobs in local further-processing centers, i.e. small weaving factories, seed pressing facilities, and pulp mills. This is exactly what is needed as globalization has swept over America and sent all the labor opportunities overseas, and American farmers are left with weak topsoil, polluted waterways, and clear-cut forests.
Industrial hemp could help save South Dakota family farms (and farms elsewhere, too), slowing corporate takeovers and the continued shrinkage of family farm numbers. Industrial hemp could bring rural production of food, clothing, shelter, and energy back to local populations and micro-industries.
Capitalism is defined as the freedom to exchange value for value. If an industry producing a product in demand can't deliver the product at affordable prices, another producer may come along and replace it freely without interference. How free are we in this country when we cannot even grow and trade the most useful plant on Earth, while nearly every other industrialized nation on earth can?
America gives huge subsidies to oil and logging industries, which encourages wastefulness and discourages conservation. We say, no more subsidies. Allow farms and manufacturers to compete for business, and may the best products win. Why not grow hemp, which is versatile, agronomical, and which encourages local processing? Why not maintain resources and distribute wealth along the most idealistic lines of capitalism?
Hemp farming would lessen pollution and overuse of land. Ideal hemp farming is not aimed at maximum output for short-term production at the expense of long term viability. Hemp provides quality, durability, and productivity. This is the kind of responsible economics which is needed to see us to a new tomorrow.
By buying natural organic foods and products which can help stop the destruction of our world, our ozone, our waters, our forests, our air, and our soil, individuals can make a difference. Since hemp products are the most environmentally-friendly products available, it makes sense that the market for these items will grow. You can do your part, too. Buy products from eco-friendly sellers.
There are niches for hemp in the following applications:
Absorbents: Animal bedding, cat litter, hydrocarbon absorbent, manure-nitrogen absorbent. The Queen of England and practically every thoroughbred race horse stable in Kentucky uses hemp hurds for bedding, because they are more absorbent than wood shavings and compost faster, and the horses prefer it. Hemp is also used in oil spill cleanup.
Oil: Paints, varnishes lubricating oil, sealants, industrial cleaner which removes oil from textiles, detergent, solvent, and printing inks.
Fuel: Bio-diesel, methanol, ethanol, gasoline, coal; for heating, cooking, industry, automobiles, and electricity. Hemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least-specialized growing and processing procedures of all hemp products. Hemp-based methanol and ethanol could compete with petroleum-based fuels because hemp yields so much biomass. The United States Department of Energy predicts that by 2010, over 13,000 megawatts of biomass power could be installed, with over 40% of the fuel supplied from 4 million acres of energy crops (like hemp) and the remainder from biomass residues.
It's estimated that around 80% of living expenses go toward energy, including transportation, heating, cooking, lighting, etc. Millions of new clean jobs could be created using hemp biomass instead of our constantly dwindling and environmentally dangerous petroleum. Industrial hemp just wants a piece of the 80% energy pie. It's unfair not to include the most cost-effective and environmentally-safe energy source. It is downright stupid, costly and dangerous for industrial hemp to be illegal.
Accessories: Back packs, beanies, bags, belts, briefcases, caps, checkbook covers, gloves, guitar straps, hair ties, jewelry, luggage, scarves, shoe laces, shoes, cots, ties, wallets, change bags, dog leashes, ect.
Animal Care: beds, bedding, feed, leashes, collars, fish bait, treats. Hempseeds have historically been the birdseed of choice for most birds. Birds will pick hempseeds out and eat them first from a pile of mixed seed. Birds in the wild live longer and breed more with hempseed in their diet. Horses, cows, and chickens respond well to hemp based diet, made from crushed hemp seed shells. They require less feed and they digest it more efficiently, unlike corn, which is fed to cattle, even though it causes digestion problems. Then they give the cows antibiotics in such supply that humans who eat the beef slowly become immune to the aid of antibiotics.
Apparel: Bathrobes, dresses, jackets, jeans, lingerie, overalls, pants, shirts, shorts, skirts, suits, sweaters, t-shirts, baby cloths, hats, gloves, socks, etc.
Foods: Nutritional supplements, beer, breads, burgers, cheese, chips, chocolate bars, coffee, cookies, dry mixes: cake, cookie, pancake, pizza dough, energy bars, flour, powder, hummus, ice cream, lollipops, nut butter, oil, paste, pretzels, salad dressings, soda, tea, wine, tortillas. Dozens of new companies are springing up in Canada selling hemp foods, nature's best food source. As it becomes more and more important to be healthy in America, health foods will continue to rise in popularity, and the same is to be expected from the best food source as well, hemp.
Cosmetics: Aromatherapy mists, hair shampoo & conditioners, lip balms, lotions, body creams, massage oils, perfume, salves, soaps, lipstick. Cosmetic sales in hemp have continued to grow since The Body Shop opened their line a few years back. Revlon opened a new line of hemp-based cosmetics in Spring 2002 available at Targets and Wal-marts.
Housewares: Aprons, blankets, curtains, furniture, hammocks, potholders, pillows, placemats, napkins, toilet paper, tablecloths, towels, etc.
Biocomposites: Biodegradable plastics and fibergalss, Hempstone, and PVC pipes.
Building materials: Fiberboard, roofing, flooring, wallboard, caulking, cement, paint, paneling, particleboard, plaster, plywood, reinforced concrete, insulation, insulation panels, spray on insulation, concrete pipes, bricks, etc. The hemp insulation industry has grown because hemp insulation is easier to handle than its fiberglass counterparts, and provides better sound insulation.
Paper: Art papers, bond, bookmarks, books, cigarette papers, corrugated, cardboard, envelopes, invitations, journals, magazines, napkins, paper towels, postcards, posters, stationery, wedding invitations, etc.
Sports Equipment: Frisbees, hackie sacks, skateboards, snowboards, surfboards.
Textiles: Hand woven & mill-loomed fabric, canvas, various weights & textures, colors, patterns, stripes & plaids, knits, furnishing services, non woven fabrics, carpet, twine, cordage, yarn, etc. Hemp rope has been valued throughout history for its superior strength and resistance to mildew and rot.
Other: Fertilizer, soil amendment, dolls, candles, coffee filters, drums, picture frames, teddy bears, toys, motor vehicle brake and clutch pads.
International treaties, such as NAFTA and GATT, recognize hemp as a valid agricultural crop. Isn't it time that the U.S. do the same (and quit violating treaties to which it is a signatory)?
If introduced into third-world nations biomass could drastically cut our overseas aid and reasons for war, while raising the quality of life and providing food, shelter, clothing, and energy to 3rd world peoples. New non-polluting industries will spring up everywhere. The world economy will boom.
Imagine. . . waking up in your hemp foundation home, with hemp shingles, a hemp floor platform, painted with environmentally safe hemp paint, nice and cool on a hot summer day due to the breathability of hemp. Then you walk on your hemp carpet down to the bathroom, insulated with hemp plywood and prepare for your morning shower, using hemp soap, which helps rebuild your cell membranes, then rinsing your hair with hemp shampoo and conditioner, and putting on your hemp lotion to soften and moisturize your skin. Then imagine using hemp toothpaste and hemp composite toothbrush to brush your teeth, a hemp plastic biodegradable hemp comb to brush your hair, and doing the morning laundry with environmentally safe hemp detergent. Then you go and put on your hemp clothes, which are so soft and comfortable. Then you go into the kitchen and have a big bowl of hemp granola with hemp milk. Then you get in your hemp composite car and drive down to the local gas pump where you fill up with hemp ethanol. Then imagine using a hemp paper checkbook, with a hemp plastic cover, and a hemp plastic pen filled with hemp ink to pay for the fuel, a hemp soda and some hemp chips.
All of this --and so much more-- is possible, while benefitting our environment. Let us no longer prohibit the most useful plant from being grown by the strongest country, or we may find that we are no longer the strongest country. Re-legalize industrial hemp; it's simply common sense.
See also: Hemp is a good crop choice for a farmer.