Is Kentucky Close To Growing Hemp Again?


Hemp in Kentucky

My friend Alan Tracy sent me a link this afternoon, with the comment, “Big News!” (A great followup to yesterday’s post!)

This is from the website of Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (http://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=f0db455a-2152-4e7a-9ccd-358fb7f2f9bd)

Here is what it says

Jan 31 2013

Industrialized Hemp Will Help Spur Economic Growth and Create Jobs in Kentucky

Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement today regarding industrialized hemp and its impact on Kentucky:

“After long discussions with Senator Rand Paul and Commissioner James Comer on the economic benefits of industrialized hemp, I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy. Commissioner Comer has assured me that his office is committed to pursuing industrialized hemp production in a way that does not compromise Kentucky law enforcement’s marijuana eradication efforts or in any way promote illegal drug use. The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times that sounds like a good thing to me.”

A commitment to pursue a crop that can help our economy, our planet, and our health – that IS great news!

Let’s hope that Kentucky can get BACK to growing hemp, as it did 150 years ago.  It looks as if it is going in the right direction – again!

photo credit: jimmywayne via photopin cc

Washington State Passes Cannabis Legalization Initiative 502


November 6 2012 – a day that will go down in history. Not only was it a very close presidential election (following one of the most aggressive campaigns I can ever remember), but it was also an opportunity for 4 states to approve Marriage Equality (my sister can now marry in our home state!) AND Colorado and Washington approved the legalization of cannabis.

Colorado and Washington have each defined cannabis in their own way, but they basically make the same point. In Washington State, there will be a 1 year period in which to decide on the rules and regulations.

Almost 40 years ago a group called Blossom Seattle was able to put the cannabis issue on a ballot.  20 years after Blossom Seattle we saw the inception of Seattle Hempfest, the world’s largest 3-day hemp rally, with over a quarter million attendees each year – and growing.  Our progressive state is making strides and making history – we have legalized a plant that helps many patients, even those with cancer; we have not given up in decriminalizing one of the safest medicines on the planet.

Now, why is this so important to industrial hemp lovers like myself? Initiative 502 opens the door wider toward the next progressive step – allowing industrial hemp farming. Will it happen overnight? No. Because this plant will be heavily regulated, it will take time, and hopefully much ‘adult conversation’ and the realization that this is what we need for our planet, to heal the soil, to provide healthy, organic foods, and to slow down or reverse global warming. Big oil, pharma, and the chemical industries will fight it…but the will of the people is strong. And the need for clean energy and clean products is strong.

How will the federal government respond? Well, technically, the federal level still overrides the state level decisions as far as cannabis is concerned. It remains to be seen if they will take this to the Supreme Court. But for now, we’ve taken an important step on the path to full cannabis and hemp legalization.

Next step – hemp farms? Let’s hope so.

How HEMP Built America


Early this morning, on my routine act of browsing the net, I came across a link about a new 3-episode show hosted by (my favorite!) Mike Rowe – yes, he’s the Dirty Jobs host – and the title of the show is, “How Booze Built America.”  It appears to be very interesting, with lots of historical content. Here is a blurb about the show:

“Did you know that the Puritans landed the Mayflower early on Plymouth Rock … because they ran out of beer? Or that Johnny Appleseed was actually creating farms to sell hard apple cider? Mike Rowe does, and he’ll walk you through all of this and more. He’s proven that dirty jobs can be fun. He’s ready to do the same for history.” ~ Discovery.com

Now, this caused me to fire off some neurons…booze was only ONE aspect in the history of our fine country. What about HEMP?

Hemp was a critical component of our history, agriculture, economy, and environment.  It was used for food, clothing, shelter, fuel, and so on.

Let’s look again at this phrase: “Did you know the Puritans landed the Mayflower early on Plymouth Rock … because they ran out of beer?”

Do you know HOW they were able to sail to Plymouth Rock? HEMP! It was used for the ship’s rigging and sails, because hemp was stronger and more hardy than other materials.  AND….how did hemp arrive in America?

Hemp arrived in Colonial America with the Puritans in the form of seed for planting and as fiber in the lines, sails and caulking of the Mayflower. British sailing vessels were never without a store of hemp seed, and Britain’s colonies were compelled by law to grow hemp.

Hemp was the fiber of choice for maritime uses because of its natural decay resistance and its adaptability to cultivation. Each warship and merchant vessel required miles of hempen line and tons of hempen canvas, which meant the Crown’s hunger for the commodity was great. Ship captains were ordered to disseminate hemp seed widely to provide fiber wherever repairs might be needed in distant lands.” ~ farmcollector.com

An interesting side note: Some of the early colonists came to American in the hopes of finding their wealth with silver and gold, then returning home with their riches. They did not arrive with the intent of growing hemp. However, English rule served a proclamation that they were to farm hemp.

By the mid-1600s, hemp had become an important part of the economy in New England, and south to Maryland and Virginia. The Colonies produced cordage, cloth, canvas, sacks and paper from hemp during the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. Most of the fiber was then destined for British consumption, although at least some was used for domestic purposes. Ironically, the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were penned on hemp paper.

Hemp fiber was so important to the young Republic that farmers were compelled by patriotic duty to grow it, and were allowed to pay taxes with it. George Washington grew hemp and encouraged all citizens to sow hemp widely. Thomas Jefferson bred improved hemp varieties, and invented a special brake for crushing the plant’s stems during fiber processing.” ~ farmcollector.com

Later on in our history hemp was used for fuel, as well as in automobile components, thanks to the genius of Henry Ford (who also grew his own hemp).
Today we see hemp in many more applications – plastics, paper products, construction, shoes, infant clothing…the list is almost unlimited as to how hemp can be used.
So you see, this wonderful plant was an integral part of our colorful history, and continues to be an important component for industry, health, environment, and economy.

It’s Hemp History Week!


Yes, it’s that time of the year – when we celebrate the history of the wonderful plant we know as hemp.

This is the third annual Hemp History Week, and this week is dedicated to education, awareness, health and wellness, and the  movement to let our farmers grow hemp again – which would benefit (of course) the farmers, our economy, our health, and our environment.

So, to kick off Hemp History Week, here is a 10,000 year timeline that showcases the history of hemp!

8000 B.C. – Hemp textiles are crafted in Asia and Europe.

3700 or 2700 B.C. – It is said that the first medical text, Pen Ts’ao, was written – which showcased the medicinal properties of hemp.

1500 B.C. – Scythians were harvesters of hemp. Scythia was located in Eurasia; it is said that the Scythians were the people who invented the scythe.

500 B.C. – During his 6-year travels and path to enlightenment, Buddha survived by eating hempseed.

450 B.C. – Herodotus records that the Scythians are making fine linens from hemp (at this time it is believed that he was writing about the Scythians living near Persia).

300 B.C. – Carthage and Rome fight for commercial and political power over the spice and hemp trade routes in the Mediterranean.

100 B.C. – China makes hemp paper.

100 A.D. – Pliny the Younger, a Roman official and historian and  writes a manual about the uses of hemp and how to grow and harvest hemp.

600 A.D. – Hemp fiber is popular and used widely by Germans, Franks, and the Vikings.

700 A.D. – Muslims adopted the Chinese process of making hemp paper.

850 A.D. – Africa saw its first paper mill built in Egypt.

(from this point onward, until around the 1800s, it was common to make paper from hemp).

1492 A.D. – Hemp sails, ropes, and caulking are used on the ships Columbus used to sail to America.

1545 A.D. – Hemp agriculture makes its way to Chile and other parts of South America.

1564 A.D. – King Philip of Spain follows the lead of Queen Elizabeth, and orders Cannabis to be grown throughout his empire, from modern-day Argentina to Oregon. Here is a bit of interesting history: The Spanish Empire included the West Coast of the United States, including Oregon, Washington, and parts of British Columbia, Canada, and down to South America.

16th and 17th centuries – Cannabis is a widespread commerce for the Dutch.

1619 A.D. – Virginia makes hemp cultivation mandatory.

1630 A.D. – Hemp used as currency throughout the American colonies.

1776 A.D. – The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.

1791 A.D. – George Washington encourages domestic hemp industries; Thomas Jefferson urges farmers to replace tobacco with hemp, calling hemp a ‘necessity’.

1800’s – Australia survives 2 famines by eating hempseeds and hemp leaves.

1850’s – Petrochemicals are processed and toxic processes are used to manufacture wood pulp and paper.

1930’s and 1940’s – New machines are constructed to process hemp hurds and fiber, for use in textiles, paper, and fuel. Henry Ford built a hemp car, powered with hemp fuel, grown with hemp on his own farm. Popular Mechanics magazine (1938) touted hemp as the new ‘Billion Dollar Crop’. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Hemp was a threat to those who had investments in timber, oil, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. There was rampant propaganda against hemp; hemp farming was subsequently outlawed (illegal to farm hemp without the proper permits from the DEA.

1943 – Hemp For Victory – the government allows hemp farming to aid in the war effort and creates a film showing the uses of hemp.  After the war, hemp was banned again.

1998 – The Canadian government legalizes commercial farming of industrial hemp.  U.S. imports hempseed and hempseed oil (mainly from Canada and China).

2004 – Ninth Circuit Court decision in Hemp Industries Association vs. DEA permanently protects sales of hemp foods and body care products in the U.S.

2005 – A bill is introduced in the U.S. Congress for the first time to allow states to regulate hemp farming, but to date no committee hearing or floor vote has taken place.

2007 – The first hemp licenses in over 50 years are granted to two North Dakota farmers.

2010 – HIA uncovers diaries and photographs of the USDA’s Chief Botanist Lyster Dewey, who grew 5 varieties of hemp on the current site of the Pentagon. Rep. Ron Paul makes Congressional statement in support of Hemp History Week.

As you can see, hemp has had a rich history on our planet for 10,000 years. No other plant has had such a beneficial, commercial, economical, environmental, and, of course, political impact…than hemp.

Hemp – A Cash Crop For Medicine, Food, And Shelter


The 1938 Edition of Popular Mechanics called hemp The New Billion Dollar Crop. (You can see the article here: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/popmech1.htm)

Unfortunately, the Billion Dollar Crop was not meant to be. Randolph Hearst’s newspapers depended on wood (he owned several sawmills) and his investments in timber would be threatened. DuPont’s chemicals were also a factor, in that they were used with the wood pulp to create the paper. Hemp was a threat to timber, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and oil.

What exactly is a cash crop? A cash crop is a crop grown for direct sale, as opposed to being grown for the farmer’s use (livestock feed, etc.). Before prohibition, hemp WAS  a cash crop. Hemp was used for food, textiles, fuel, medicine, and housing. It was also used as money. People could pay their taxes with hemp!

Hemp can produce ten times the methanol as corn. Crop rotation is not necessary, as the hemp enriches the soil on its own. It does not need pesticides or herbicides.

Up until the 20th century, hemp WAS the largest cash crop in America.

Today there is a movement to get BACK to hemp. Hemp farming is legal in several states, but getting the permits from the DEA is next to impossible. Farmers WANT to grow hemp. With over 50,000 products that can be produce from hemp, it IS the perfect choice.

Hemp fibers are the longest and strongest in the plant kingdom. Hemp fabric lasts longer than cotton and is less chemical and water intensive.

Hempseeds and hempseed oil are an excellent nutrition source, with the perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega fatty acids, easily digestible proteins, and other nutrients needed for optimum health.

Hemp fuel is safe and clean.

Hemp used in construction means cleaner, stronger structures – and structures made from hemp are carbon neutral; in some cases they are carbon negative.

Hemp fabric and clothing are becoming more popular; hemp foods are found in health food stores, food co-ops, and some grocery stores.

Hemp plastics and automobile components are becoming more popular as well.

Most of the hemp imported into the U.S. comes from Canada and China. New figures show that the U.S. spends more than $300,000,000 per year on hemp products – both finished products and raw hemp.

In Kentucky, lawmakers are promoting hemp as a cash crop.

Willie Nelson, in the following video, explains why hemp farming should be restored to the U.S.

The hemp market is GLOBAL. Imagine if the U.S. could put farmers to work, growing cash crops of hemp, and having the ability to be a SUPPLIER of hemp world-wide. It truly WOULD be a billion dollar crop.

Growing Hemp – An Act Of Social Responsibility


Social responsibility is a way of acting that has a positive, ethical result or impact on society.

Throughout history, industrial hemp has had nothing but a positive impact. It is one of the most nutritionally complete food plants, it’s nutritious properties are medicinal, it is used in construction, textiles, and plastics. It is an energy source. During its growing season hemp also heals and nourishes the soil, as well as cleans the air.

The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. The first Levi Strauss jeans were made from hemp. The first Betsy Ross flag was made of hemp fabric. The first Bibles were made from hemp. Hemp was used as legal tender – one could pay their taxes with hemp. Our first presidents grew hemp. Henry Ford grew hemp, processed hemp fuel, and built a hemp car. During WWII farmers were required to grow hemp to aid in the war effort.

Hemp was desirable because of its long, strong fibers; it needed little to no fertilization or pesticide; it was clean food and clean energy.

All of that changed with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and the resulting prohibition of hemp farming without proper permits (which have been impossible to get from the DEA). Hemp was banned because it threatened the investments of oil, timber, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies. Using products that were less healthy for the environment and human health became the norm.

This is where social IRRESPONSIBILITY comes into play.

Fossil fuels – fossil fuels replaced hemp fuel and other biomass. Fossil fuels are dirtier, create more pollution, are non-renewable, and are toxic. The process of extracting and processing fossil fuels is chemical-intensive and causes large amounts of pollution. Look at fracking (hydraulic fracturing,  the process for extracting natural gas) – fracking is the process of extracting natural gas by pumping fracking chemicals into the ground. These chemicals have shown up in drinking water and soil, potentially harming the health of those who are in the vicinity of the fracking projects.

Plastics – plastics made from fossil fuel products are NOT biodegradable. They are full of chemicals that harm health and body. Plastic made from hemp IS biodegradable and recyclable.

Timber – now, I am not saying cutting forests is ALL bad, (we do need wood for buildings and furniture) but I am saying that some products made from wood can be made from hemp – cardboard, paper products, fiberboard for construction, etc. Forests take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turns it into oxygen. Massive deforestation reduces the cleaning of the air, and also affects animal habitats and causes erosion problems.

Pharmaceuticals – I am not against chemical medication as a whole, there are some instances where medication is needed to save a life or to bring someone’s health back into balance. However, it has become the norm to treat illness and disease with pills and chemicals instead of looking at the CAUSE. Proper nutrition has a big hand in health. So does eating hemp. Hemp treats, cures, slows down the incidence, and prevents many diseases and conditions, and it does so in a healthy way. There are many chemical medications that are extremely dangerous and some of them do more harm than good. We’ve become a pill-popping society, when we should be a hemp-eating, nutrition-conscious society.

Chemicals – hemp rope was replaced with nylon rope. Why was hemp rope desirable? It’s long, strong fibers and UV resistance made it perfect in that it did not break down easily. Natural fabrics were replaced with nylon and polyester, rayon, and orlon – all of which are petrochemical based. (I am not saying that you have to rush out and buy a new wardrobe, but I am saying that we need to be conscious of what we wear and where the fibers come from).

In all of the above products – chemicals, fossil fuels, timber, pharmaceuticals – we see that each one of them in some way does more harm than good. THAT is socially irresponsible.

Allowing farmers to grow hemp, and allowing hemp to take its rightful place BACK in our economy is the socially and economically responsible thing to do.

Hemp – Nature’s ‘Green Gold’


Gold. For as long as time, gold has been sought after for it’s value, beauty, and usefulness.

We’ve heard or read the phrases that reflect gold as important or valuable or honored:

“Gold Standard”

“As Good as Gold”

“Gold is Forever”

“The Golden Rule”

Yes, gold is shiny, gold is precious, gold is respected. However, there is another element that has as much value as gold, if not more. It is green gold. Yes, I am talking about hemp.

For thousands upon thousands of years hemp has been revered, valued, and utilized. It has fed us, clothed us, healed us. Hemp has given us oil, fuel, energy.

As food, hemp is one of the most nutritionally complete plants on earth. It is a complete protein, containing all necessary amino acids needed by the human body. It has the perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega fatty acids; it contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, chlorophyll, calcium, and iron. Because it is so nutrient dense, it can literally be a meal itself.

Hemp fibers produce strong, durable, and yet soft textiles. Hemp textile artifacts have been found from thousands of years ago – still intact! Hemp fabric is UV resistant, is slow to break down under many washings, and can be as soft as cotton. Hemp clothing has been proven to last longer than cotton and some synthetic fibers.

Hemp as medicine – nutrition is one of the foundations for good health. However, we often find ourselves dealing with diseases or conditions – sometimes from injuries, lack of proper nutrients, genetics, or environmental toxins. Hemp is a known anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory plant. It helps with brain disorders (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD), diabetes, cancer, Crohn’s disease, stroke, heart disease, cellular repair, MS, Lupus, skin disorders, vision…the list goes on and on. What other plant on earth can help these conditions (and more)?

Hemp fuel (biomass) can remove or dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels. It can fuel our cars, we can cook with it, we can heat with it. Hemp energy, or carbohydrate energy, is clean, efficient, and does not harm the environment or the air. If spilled,  hemp fuel will not damage the earth or poison the water – it will simply act more like a fertilizer.

Farming hemp would boost our economy; the hemp farms would also have a hand in cleaning our air and soils.

Building with hemp – did you know in France there is a bridge that was built with hemp? It is still there, and it was built in the 6th century. Homes with hemp construction (foundation, baseboards, walls, insulation, roof tiles, pipes, carpets, etc.) leave a NEGATIVE carbon footprint. Hemp insulation helps keep the air in the home clean; hemp is also mold- , insect-, and rodent-repellent.

I can think of no other substance on earth that can feed us with perfect nutrition, clothe us with fibers that are durable and soft, treat and heal our diseases, house us, give us clean renewable energy, (and be used for automobile construction), clean our air and soil, give us paper and plastics…and while doing all this bringing no harm to the earth or the populations.

Hemp – a VALUABLE renewable resource. Hemp IS green gold.