Hemp Is Outlawed In The US, But The Plant Could Be Key In Combating Global Warming
Commercial hemp is a plant that scientists tout as having wonderful capabilities to combat climate change. The plant is outlawed in most countries including the US, but the EU subsidizes industrially grown hemp.
Commercially grown hemp has less than 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THD), the psychedelic substance in ‘real’ cannabis. Most countries that shy away from growing it say they are fearful that farmers will also start growing the THD rich cannabis. Other than in the EU, the crop is grown in Canada, China, Russia and Australia.
Hemp takes in more carbon dioxide than any other plant and what’s more, hemp grows at an amazingly rapid speed. Wood made from hemp has 3-4 times the productivity of trees for paper manufacturing. And because it grows so fast, hemp can be used to solve the large-scale clearing of land and forests around the globe.
Various activists in the US are lobbying to get the crop reinstated. It was outlawed in the 1950s but Henry Ford ran his first car on hemp based fuel. Perhaps soon the activists will have their way. Already, the controlled substances act was amended last year to exclude industrial hemp from the legal definition of marihuana. The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp informs farmers and interested parties about the positive effects hemp has.
The applications of the crop for the energy industry are manifold and hemp is a way more powerful crop than rapeseed and other ethanol producing crops, without producing any harmful effects for the environment. Only one acre of hemp yields 1,000 gallons of methanol. Also, hemp can be used to create alternatives to coal, fuel oil, acetone, ethyl, tar pitch and creosote.
In the food sector hemp is also in strong demand. In 2004, the US alone imported $12 million worth of the stuff for the food sector. And the US healthcare market used $30 million worth of hemp.