Gearing Up for the Great American Hemp Industry

The complete legalization of marijuana is on the November ballot in California, which brings about the very real possibility that industrial hemp will once again be harvested across the golden state.  Although much of the debate and press attention has been focused on the mind-altering form of the plant, in the long run it may well be the industrial variety which has the largest impact on California and the rest of us.

Industrial hemp has been used successfully for so many different purposes in the past, critics can actually be forgiven for discarding the seemingly fantastic claims of hemp supporters.  Although, if they call themselves journalists, it might be a good idea to do a little research before dismissing the subject entirely.

Personally, I must admit that I made the same mistake initially and disregarded hemp as being too good to be true; but I was only nineteen at the time, not yet educated as an engineer in a world desperately starved for sustainable resources like those which can be provided by hemp.

Now, I have done more than enough research to realize that hemp is an incredibly versatile crop which will provide the backbone necessary to once again create thriving American industries in automotive manufacturing, fuel production and sustainable construction (just to name a few.)

Anyone interested in learning more about the incredible potential of hemp is encouraged to visit the Hemp Industries Association.  Or just do a simple Google search; the web has no shortage of information and ways to get involved with the re-integration of hemp to our society.

Click here to read a very impressive article on the subject of industrial hemp, titled “The Marijuana Conspiracy” and quoted briefly below:

“..Where did the word ‘marijuana’ come from? In the mid 1930s, the M-word was created to tarnish the good image and phenomenal history of the hemp plant – as you will read. The facts cited here, with references, are generally verifiable in the Encyclopedia Britannica which was printed on hemp paper for 150 years:

✔ All schoolbooks were made from hemp or flax paper until the 1880s. (Jack Frazier. Hemp Paper Reconsidered. 1974.)

✔ It was legal to pay taxes with hemp in America from 1631 until the early 1800s. (LA Times. Aug. 12, 1981.)

Refusing to grow hemp in America during the 17th and 18th centuries was against the law! You could be jailed in Virginia for refusing to grow hemp from 1763 to 1769 (G. M. Herdon. Hemp in Colonial Virginia).

✔ George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers grew hemp. (Washington and Jefferson Diaries. Jefferson smuggled hemp seeds from China to France then to America.)

✔ Benjamin Franklin owned one of the first paper mills in America, and it processed hemp. Also, the War of 1812 was fought over hemp. Napoleon wanted to cut off Moscow’s export to England. (Jack Herer. Emperor Wears No Clothes.)

✔ For thousands of years, 90% of all ships’ sails and rope were made from hemp. The word ‘canvas’ is Dutch for cannabis. (Webster’s New World Dictionary.)

✔ 80% of all textiles, fabrics, clothes, linen, drapes, bed sheets, etc.,were made from hemp until the 1820s, with the introduction of the cotton gin…”

The list goes on to reveal many more startling facts, but I feel it’s worth mentioning that there was a machine invented in 1915 which was set to do for hemp what the cotton gin had done for cotton.  Up until that point, it had been difficult and labor intensive to process the raw hemp stalks.  This was the invention which later encouraged Popular Mechanics magazine to published an article about hemp titled:  “The New Billion Dollar Crop”; but the article did not run until a few months after Congress had quietly passed the infamous Marihuana Tax Act.  Here’s a link to a great article about this topic, called The Machine They Didn’t Want to Be Invented.

The ‘tax act’ effectively banned production of industrial hemp–a move which kept certain people very rich and powerful by eliminating a source of competition that would have eventually put them out of business by providing a superior product for less money.  But now the laws surrounding industrial hemp are changing along the same lines as those surrounding “medical marijuana.”

In my home state of Montana, there is already at least one farmer who has officially been licensed by the state to grow industrial hemp in the upcoming season.  Sadly, there is no telling if the DEA will disregard state law and arrest the farmer anyway, as they have done previously in other states.

Given that the Attorney General’s office has deemed it a waste of taxpayer funds to pursue those who are using medical cannabis in compliance with state laws, then are we not to assume that it is similarly a waste of taxpayer funds to arrest people for growing industrial hemp?  Or will they consider it a federal offense for anyone caught growing over one hundred plants as they are reportedly doing now with respect to “medical marijuana”?

Although it’s completely absurd to think that our own government might attempt to claim that people growing an industrial crop are involved with the ‘drug’ market, in this day and age it remains a very real possibility.

For the time being, industrial hemp production remains a potentially dangerous task–thanks to the efforts of those sworn to protect us.  Yet, if California and Colorado are any indication; it won’t stay that way for much longer.  Now is the time for those of us interested in making a living off of the coming Trillion dollar crop to start gearing up and getting ready.

Even those of us who live in the city and consequently own no arable land can have a stake in the latest agricultural revolution.  Thanks to our failed attempt at prohibiting certain plants, the soil-less growing technologies which now represent this nation’s best shot at generating power (and saving energy) have become highly refined and much more affordable in recent years.

Having gotten into the habit of searching Google News for headlines involving both types of cannabis plants, I’ve noticed a very interesting trend.  Lately, there seems to be a significant increase in the number and size of busts involving residential homes and “sophisticated grow equipment”–as it is usually referred to in press clippings.

Crops worth millions of dollars on the black market are being grown in the suburbs and (more than likely) in an innocent-looking home near you.  Even the cops and some DEA agents are being honest enough to admit that there has been a dramatic rise in the scale and number of indoor grow operations that can easily go undetected in quiet neighborhoods everywhere.

It may seem a bit twisted to take a cue from the black market production of a ‘drug’; but, realistically, the rapid development of advanced grow systems and techniques is due largely to a thriving black market which centers around the growth of a plant.

The only notable exception is aeroponics, which was originally developed by NASA for use in space; a feat possible thanks to the incredible efficiencies of the system.  Below is a quote from a three-year old article found on NASA’s official site, titled Progressive Plant Growing is a Blooming Business:

“..Aeroponics systems can reduce water usage by 98 percent, fertilizer usage by 60 percent, and pesticide usage by 100 percent, all while maximizing crop yields. Plants grown in the aeroponic systems have also been shown to uptake more minerals and vitamins, making the plants healthier and potentially more nutritious.

As an example, let’s talk tomatoes. Tomato growers traditionally start their plants in pots, waiting at least 28 days before transplanting them into the ground. Using an aeroponic system, growers can start the plants in the growing chamber, then transplant them just 10 days later. This advanced technology produces six tomato crop cycles per year, instead of the traditional one to two crop cycles…”


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