OK, Now That We’re Getting Over Reefer Madness, Can We Talk About Hemp?

January 19, 2014

Everybody gets the history, right? Make sure you watch the vid above, especially the part starting at 1:19.

assasinofyouthWalter Wink in Religiononline:

John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s domestic policy adviser, later confessed to Dan Baum, author of another trenchant study of drugs, Smoke and Mirrors (1996), that Nixon’s election team was looking for scapegoats. There were two candidates: hippies and blacks. The “silent majority” was frightened of both. And hippies and blacks had something in common: they were publicly perceived to be into drugs.

According to Baum’s report, Ehrlichman acknowledged, “We knew we were lying about the health effects of marijuana. We knew we were lying about the relationship between heroin and crime. But this is what we were doing to win the election. And it worked.”

Brent Duke, Stanford University:

While only 13 percent of those using illegal drugs are African-American (exactly their proportion in the national population), blacks constitute 35 percent of those arrested for simple possession and a staggering 74 percent of those sentenced for drug possession (Wink, 1999).

I’m not part of the “cannabis cures cancer” crowd, but certainly an industrial crop with these kinds of multiple uses and benefits deserves to retake its place in the ag toolbox. Just like I am all about wind energy as a big help to stabilize rural agrarian incomes, I’m also hoping that restarting a fiber and fuel industry based on hemp could be, if not a panacea, a help for our struggling rural economies.

For the last 30 years, the “conservative” solution for rural economies has been to build more prisons. I think we have enough of those. Looking forward to fields of (non subsidized) industrial hemp waving beneath fields of (non subsidized) industrial wind turbines.

sunturbine3small

LiveScience:

Bioenergy is currently the fastest growing source of renewable energy. Cultivating energy crops on arable land can decrease dependency on depleting fossil resources and it can mitigate climate change.

But some biofuel crops have bad environmental effects: they use too much water, displace people and create more emissions than they save. This has led to a demand for high-yielding energy crops with low environmental impact. Industrial hemp is said to be just that.

Enthusiasts have been promoting the use of industrial hemp for producing bioenergy for a long time now. With its potentially high biomass yield and its suitability to fit into existing crop rotations, hemp could not only complement but exceed other available energy crops.

Hemp, Cannabis sativa, originates from western Asia and India and from there spread around the globe. For centuries, fibres were used to make ropes, sails, cloth and paper, while the seeds were used for protein-rich food and feed. Interest in hemp declined when other fibres such as sisal and jute replaced hemp in the 19th century.

Abuse of hemp as a drug led to the prohibition of its cultivation by the United Nations in 1961. When prohibition was revoked in the 1990s in the European Union, Canada and later in Australia, industrially used hemp emerged again.

This time, the car industry’s interest in light, natural fibre promoted its use. For such industrial use, modern varieties with insignificant content of psychoactive compounds are grown. Nonetheless, industrial hemp cultivation is still prohibited in some industrialised countries like Norway and the USA.

Energy use of industrial hemp is today very limited. There are few countries in which hemp has been commercialised as an energy crop. Sweden is one, and has a small commercial production of hemp briquettes. Hemp briquettes are more expensive than wood-based briquettes, but sell reasonably well on regional markets.

Large-scale energy uses of hemp have also been suggested.

Biogas production from hemp could compete with production from maize, especially in cold climate regions such as Northern Europe and Canada. Ethanol production is possible from the whole hemp plant, and biodiesel can be produced from the oil pressed from hemp seeds. Biodiesel production from hemp seed oil has been shown to overall have a much lower environmental impact than fossil diesel.

Indeed, the environmental benefits of hemp have been praised highly, since hemp cultivation requires very limited amounts of pesticide. Few insect pests are known to exist in hemp crops and fungal diseases are rare.

Since hemp plants shade the ground quickly after sowing, they can outgrow weeds, a trait interesting especially for organic farmers. Still, a weed-free seedbed is required. And without nitrogen fertilisation hemp won´t grow as vigorously as is often suggested.

So, as with any other crop, it takes good agricultural practice to grow hemp right.

University of Connecticut:

Researchers at UConn have found that the fiber crop Cannabis sativa, known as industrial hemp, has properties that make it viable and even attractive as a raw material, or feedstock, for producing biodiesel – sustainable diesel fuel made from renewable plant sources.

The plant’s ability to grow in infertile soils also reduces the need to grow it on primary croplands, which can then be reserved for growing food, says Richard Parnas, a professor of chemical, materials, and biomolecular engineering who led the study.

“For sustainable fuels, often it comes down to a question of food versus fuel,” says Parnas, noting that major current biodiesel plants include food crops such as soybeans, olives, peanuts, and rapeseed. “It’s equally important to make fuel from plants that are not food, but also won’t need the high-quality land.”

Industrial hemp is grown across the world, in many parts of Europe and Asia. Fiber from the plant’s stalk is strong, and until the development of synthetic fibers in the 1950s, it was a premier product used worldwide in making rope and clothing.

Today, there are still parts of the world that rely on Cannabis stalks as a primary fiber, mainly because of its ability to grow “like a weed,” without requiring lots of water, fertilizers, or high-grade inputs to flourish. But the seeds, which house the plant’s natural oils, are often discarded. Parnas points out that this apparent waste product could be put to good use by turning it into fuel.

“If someone is already growing hemp,” he says, “they might be able to produce enough fuel to power their whole farm with the oil from the seeds they produce.” The fact that a hemp industry already exists, he continues, means that a hemp biodiesel industry would need little additional investment.

With his graduate student Si-Yu Li and colleagues James Stuart of the Department of Chemistry and Yi Li of the Department of Plant Sciences, Parnas used virgin hemp seed oil to create biodiesel using a standardized process called transesterification. The group then tested the fuel for a suite of characteristics in the Biofuels Testing Laboratory at UConn’s Center for Environmental Science and Engineering.

The hemp biodiesel showed a high efficiency of conversion – 97 percent of the hemp oil was converted to biodiesel – and it passed all the laboratory’s tests, even showing properties that suggest it could be used at lower temperatures than any biodiesel currently on the market.

News Channel 5, Grand Junction, CO:

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – The end of hemp prohibition in America has commenced. Some farmers in Colorado have already begun planting hemp, and all Colorado farmers can officially register to grow the crop come March 1.

Glenwood Springs based company EnviroTextiles, LLC is the manufacturer and importer of more than 100 hemp fabrics world wide. Farmers from across the country have been contacting them daily, asking about machinery, harvesting and processing. They also have many other questions about the budding industry.

Summer Star Haeske, COO and International Sales and Marketing Director of EnviroTextiles, said, “Colorado is leading the nation in being the first state to go forward with allowing our farmers to grow industrial hemp and start to build a viable industry.”

The Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Industrial Hemp Advisory Committee have worked to draft rules and establish registration and inspection protocols. Among them, all registrants are subject to sampling of their industrial hemp crop to verify the THC concentration does not exceed three-tenths of one percent.

President and Lead Product-Developer for EnviroTextiles, Barbara Filippone, said, “The number of inquiries from farmers is unprecedented.” She says she receives a minimum of five calls per day.

25 Responses to “OK, Now That We’re Getting Over Reefer Madness, Can We Talk About Hemp?”

  1. daveburton Says:

    You do realize that promoting cannabis cultivation on a liberal climate-alarmist blog reinforces a certain stereotype, right?

    • fortranprog Says:

      Mr Burton you are utterly wrong to say this is a liberal alarmist blog (that is pure nonsense), if you want to comment on that type of site you want one of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum/Methane – great dying sites, it is not proved that methane caused the abrupt climate change during that time and is fair game for debate and argument (which you appear to delight to take part in). What is not up for debate is the known radiation blocking properties of CO2 (together with others including methane plus water vapour). Suggest you move off here to a truly alarmist site as this site is a highly sensible site that is sensibly recommending a controlled move off fossil fuels to alternate sources, such as Solar, Wind, Marine, Geothermal, Hydro or Nuclear. Thank you

    • climatebob Says:

      Oh no! not you again Dave. Do you make a living on being hopelessly wrong.
      The USA has 3% of its adult population either in jail or on probation. This is not the way to run a free society. Even China does better than that.


    • It’s a bit of stretch to accuse Peter of being a black hippie.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      “You do realize that promoting cannabis cultivation on a liberal climate-alarmist blog reinforces a certain stereotype, right?”

      I do. I thought about that before posting. And I don’t give a God Damn.
      I didn’t get into this to tiptoe around issues based on what stereotypes are held by ignoramuses, – I work too damn hard to get things right and tell it straight.
      Those stereotypes were deliberately created by greedy, dishonest, racist bigots with agendas, and they are now breaking down, as evidenced by polling, the expressed wishes of voters, and now legislators, around the country. As the republican legislator in the above video stated – “we no longer need to be slaves to our misguided past”. Obviously, some will differ.
      Nevertheless, thanks, as always, for once again making the lineage and pedigree of the science denial mindset crystal clear.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Well said, Peter. And a well-done and meaningful article that emphasized how “hemp” could help mitigate AGW. May I suggest a small addition to the last sentence?

        After “…crystal clear.”, add “as well as once again demonstrating that certain science denialists need to seek help from a mental health professional”.

        Mindless conservatism of the variety that Dave is infected with IS a terminal illness. Perhaps Dave will take up “smoking dope” to ease his suffering once the pain of ignorance becomes too great?


        • I already made my comments about ists, and isms, and istas. They are for rigid ideologues with closed minds, an agenda, and an axe to grind. Not for people with unfettered minds. No green is not the new pink. And yes we should consider whether we want 1% billionaires and wage slaves. I have been called names before and if ignoramuses want to call me a socialistic, pinko, commy, dirty hippy, I don’t care. At least my mind is free to think without knee jerk racist, jingoistic claptrap. Stereotypes exist in the minds of idiots and bigots. It’s completely stupid to ask if anyone thinks they should curb their behavior to conform to bigots fetid view. It just proves that ” some want to be slaves to their misguided past”. Count me out.

  2. vierotchka Says:

    I have read that hemp outranks all other plants for removing CO2 from the air. Also, when grown in infertile soils, it enriches the soil. Its seeds have the highest content of assimilable vegetable protein as well as containing high levels of the perfect balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6, they could greatly reduce hunger and malnutrition in third-world countries. The plastics made with hemp are much lighter than steel and much stronger than steel, and they are used by a growing number of automobile makers, including Porsche. Hemp also has a vast number of medical properties, including against cancers of all types. It truly is Nature’s greatest gift to mankind.

  3. vierotchka Says:

    Furthermore, in countries such as Afghanistan and Nepal where they have been growing cannabis for millenia, they never have needed to add nutrients nor had to use much water if any to successfully grow enormous crops every year. Also, I used to regularly visit a large cannabis farm in Switzerland and knew the farmers well – they never used anything to fertilize their crops and only watered them parcimoniously during the hottest and driest period in the summer. They also never used or needed any kind of pesticide or fungicide whatsoever. Their hilly fields looked like Christmas tree farms.


    • Hempseed’s amino acid profile is close to “complete” when compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy.[11] Hemp protein contains all 21 known amino acids, including the 9 essential ones[12] adult bodies cannot produce. Proteins are considered complete when they contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities and ratios to meet the body’s needs. The proportions of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in one tablespoon (15 ml) per day of hemp oil easily provides human daily requirements for EFAs.

  4. vierotchka Says:

    What ever happened to my first response above? I had provided a number of links proving my points.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      wordpress is funny. sometimes it holds things up in moderation, sometimes not, either way, I get the blame or credit.
      in this case, maybe because so many links.
      Normally I would not allow that many if it was just links to garbage denial sites, but in this case will go along.

      • vierotchka Says:

        Actually, what made it disappear was one particular link which I subsequently didn’t include. It was to a geo-something-or-other blog website. I tried posting that link alone in a post, and it didn’t get through. I always seek for links to credible sites, often .gov and .edu sites. 🙂


  5. Nutrition:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp
    Hempseed’s amino acid profile is close to “complete” when compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy.[11] Hemp protein contains all 21 known amino acids, including the 9 essential ones[12] adult bodies cannot produce. Proteins are considered complete when they contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities and ratios to meet the body’s needs. The proportions of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in one tablespoon (15 ml) per day of hemp oil easily provides human daily requirements for EFAs.


  6. […] John Ehrlichman later said, “We knew we were lying about the health effects of marijuana.  We knew we were lying about the relationship between heroin and crime.  But this is what we were doing to win the […]


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