Hemp: The Billion Dollar Crop

Hemp Field in Canada

Popular Science - Hemp, The Billion Dollar CropIn February 1938, Popular Mechanics Magazine called hemp the “New Billion Dollar Crop”. This allows us to peer into the realm of “what could have been” and steal a taste of just how close we were to saving ourselves decades of unnecessary pollution and money. Hemp seemed to be on the precipice of achieving greatness, before ultimately being unjustly banned sometime later.

For thousands of years industrial hemp has been used for all sorts products and materials including paper, food, rope, textiles, and canvas. As a matter of fact, the word “canvas” comes from the Dutch word meaning “cannabis”, and was the staple resource for hundreds of goods until the banning of the substance not all that long ago. This has put a proverbial fork in the industrial hemp farming industry. For now.

But just how resourceful is this material? Just how useful can industrial hemp be? Well aside from a few current hemp news articles and a small dollop of information floating around the internet, one can’t exactly grasp just how amazing industrial hemp actually is. The potential that hemp has for paper production is astronomical, and you really couldn’t find a bigger gap between comparing two resources economic and practical functionality if you try. According to the US Department of Agriculture, just 1 acre of farmed hemp can produce 4 times more than 1 acre of the standard tree used for the paper we use today. As a matter of fact, there isn’t a single grown plant on the planet that would produce as much paper per acre as hemp does. That in itself is enough to make your jaw drop.

Now consider the sheer economic convenience of farming industrial hemp for making paper products; we would completely eliminate the need to cut down entire forests just to have paper. The hemp stalk grows up to 20 feet just 4 months after being planted, while an average tree takes 50 or more years to grow before it’s ready to be cut down and shredded into paper products. Hemp paper could also eliminate the pollution we throw into the atmosphere by running saw mills and logging industries. It takes far less land, effort, resources, and man power to grow industrial hemp. Imagine how much wildlife would flourish if we could save billions of trees a year and how much oxygen those trees would be producing for out Earth, instead of being wiped out. It’s rather stunning to think about how much industrial hemp could help our planet. Yet hemp farming still remains illegal in most states across the US, but has the very real possibility of making a comeback in the near future.

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