Hemp helps with green movement

Cannabis lowers greenhouse emissions

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

As environmental consciousness increases, a plant with great potential to accommodate our generation’s awareness has re-emerged, but its negative associations leave some obstacles to overcome.

Hemp, which is too often associated with marijuana, does come from the same family of plants, but yields a fraction of the active ingredient, THC.

Hemp has the uncanny ability to help in solving many of the world’s major dilemmas from nutrition problems to the greenhouse effect.

In 1938, Popular Mechanics named hemp the first “billion dollar crop” for the U.S., which it could use to produce everything from fuel, paper and oil to medicine and dynamite. According to Jack Herer in his book The Emperor Wears No Clothes, if we still used the same process being used in 1916 to produce hemp paper today, it could replace 40 to 70 per cent of all pulp paper.

Today, hemp will produce 4.1 times more pulp for paper over a 20-year rotation compared to trees. For example, supermarket paper bags from trees and chemical-based plastic bags would be replaced with a biodegradable, more durable paper that’s acquired from an annually renewable source: cannabis hemp.

In the U.S., 82 per cent of spending goes towards energy to maintain a home or to produce its products. Development in biomass energy has exploded in the last few years, and cellulose from things like corn and sugar cane can be converted to methanol and then to a high-octane lead-free gasoline.

Hemp prevails again, as it produces the most net biomass, and has from four to 100 times more cellulose than other products currently in use. This variation is due to inadequate research, but suggests hemp’s equivalent potential to corn and sugar. This idea is not as novel as it seems; Ford Motor Co. was operating this process in the 1930s using tree cellulose, and Henry Ford himself partially constructed a car using hemp.

Both paper and fuel show major benefits for combating the greenhouse effect, as we would keep trees alive and allow them to grow and keep 10 times more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Hemp is an annually renewable resource, such that the carbon dioxide it emits when used as gasoline is recycled to keep the plant alive during its next generation. In the ground it expels oxygen and recycles the carbon for our energy uses.

The seed of the hemp plant also offers critical support to humanity, as it is one of the most complete sources of nutrition. It provides all the essential amino acids that provide support for our immune system, skin, hair and thought processes. It can also be made into butter, much like peanut butter. As Udo Erasmus, a PhD nutritionist and lecturer, said, “Hemp butter puts our peanut butter to shame for nutritional value.”

Since hemp can grow in virtually any climate including northern and dessert climates, it offers nutritional support and protein for developing countries.

These are only a few of the countless benefits of hemp. It’s about time we opened our minds and implemented some thoughtful solutions to secure humanity’s future on mother earth.

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