Hemp & Sustainability

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

Today is Earth Day, the day where we celebrate our planet Earth and evaluate what we can do to take best care of her. Guest author Robert Railis from Ministry of Hemp shares some of the many great ways hemp can have a positive impact on our environment and the planet as a whole!

Hemp and the Earth

Each year on April 22 marks the anniversary of the environmental movement started in 1970 by founder, Gaylord Nelson. The idea came to him after witnessing the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA.

What started as a vision quickly rose to a global event celebrated by over 1 billion people in 192 countries every year! What’s more, this Earth Day offers even more to celebrate with the legalization of industrial hemp.

Why is this important? Well, the purpose of Earth Day is to celebrate our environment and to take positive steps towards a greener future. This means recycling goods, replacing plastics with something more sustainable, saving our natural resources, and being aware of our carbon and environmental footprint. Industrial hemp may the answer to a brighter and greener future for everyone.

Nicknamed the plant of 25,000 uses, industrial hemp is strong, durable, naturally resistant to mold, and very sustainable. Although hemp has been used for thousands of years, it’s been banned, unbanned, and banned again by the government since the 30’s.

Recently, hemp has steadily been making a comeback. So much so that industrial hemp was officially removed from schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA 1970) and been made legal again. This time it seems everybody’s taking note. From how we look at medicine and our carbon footprint to creating new jobs and business opportunities, hemp seems to be the answer. People are now realizing it’s time to start putting these 25,000 uses into practice.

So read on while we uncover the many lives of hemp and open your eyes to the wonder of this versatile, durable and sustainable plant!

History and Key Timelines

Hemp is one of the oldest crops and industries in the world. Dating back more than 10,000 years (some experts say more than 12,000 years), and was one of the first agricultural crops used for food (seed and oil) and pottery.

Over time hemp gradually made its way through the continents and arrived in North America around the 1600’s. For the next two centuries hemp was a staple crop used for a variety of products including paper, lamp, fuels and ropes. Both President Washington and Jefferson grew hemp, and Benjamin Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper.

However, in 1937 Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act, which effectively began the era of hemp prohibition. The tax and licensing regulations of the act made hemp cultivation difficult for American farmers. Even with hemp being declared “The Most Profitable and Desirable Crop That Can Be Grown” by Mechanical Engineering, February 26, 1937 and “New Billion Dollar Crop” by Popular Mechanics in February 1938, there was effectively no hemp farming in the United States.

In the early 40’s hemp began a resurgence when, despite the Marijuana Tax Act and the official federal government’s stance on hemp and marijuana, the U.S. Army and Department of Agriculture joined forces and produces the 1942 film titles “Hemp for Victory”, which encouraged farmers to grow hemp for the country’s effort in World War II – particularly for textiles and rope, since imports of these products were cut off by the war. Over 100, 000 acres of hemp were growing in the U.S., but all permits were cancelled when the WW II ended in 1945.

From 1937 through the 1960’s it was understood and acknowledged by the government that hemp and marijuana were different varieties of the cannabis plant. However, after the passage of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA of 1970) hemp was no longer recognized as a distinct variety, but rather lumped in the same classification as marijuana, even though a specific exemption-for-hemp was included in the CSA under the definition of marijuana.

As of December 2018 under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was removed from the list of controlled substances and legalized the production of hemp as an agricultural commodity.

To learn more about the history of hemp and the world timeline of hemp, there are two great reads: Ministry of Hemp and Hemp Industries Association.

Let’s look at the sustainability of hemp.

Nothing Goes to Waste

The first thing to note about hemp’s sustainability is that all parts of the plant are utilized, nothing goes to waste, and each of the plants parts have multiple uses. For example, the whole plant can be used at one time for boiler fuel, pyrolysis feedstock and CBD oils. At the same time, the bast fibers from the hemp stalk are used in textile, paper, and building material products and the seeds going to use for food and personal hygiene products. This is the reason it’s found in over 25,000 products!

Hemp is fairly low maintenance to farm. It doesn’t require a lot of sunlight to grow. It’s durable like a weed, so pesticides and herbicides are needed.