Life, Liberty, and Minor Complaints: Benefits of Hemp

Hemp is a little-known gem in the agricultural world, but it has unfortunately left the scene in the United States despite its diverse array of uses. These uses include, but are not limited to nutrition, fuel, textiles, building materials, and even certain medical treatments. Most people are unfamiliar with this multipurpose plant as it remains illegal to produce in most of the United States. However, more people are starting to appreciate hemp’s versatility as it slowly makes its way back onto American soil.

The nutritional value of hemp is quite remarkable. Hemp seeds are one of Mother Earth’s best sources of protein. They can be eaten whole, ground up in a meal, made into milk or tea, and can be used in baking. Their functionality makes them an easy way to get your daily dose of protein, and hemp seeds are a non-animal-based protein source, so it’s good news for anyone on a vegetarian diet.

Hemp’s value in the textile industry created a competi-tive market until it was prohibited in 1937. Hemp can be woven in a similar way that flax is woven into linen and other products. The benefit of hemp is that it’s stronger than linen but just as soft and comfortable, so it’s a no-brainer for clothing manufacturers to hop on the hemp bandwagon.

In addition to textiles, but also building materials can be made from hemp. Hemp can be made into products that resemble wood, as well as plastic and even a product called hempcrete which is a mixture of hemp, limestone, and water. This is just as strong as concrete, but it weighs nine times less and acts as insulation. Just about every aspect of a house can be made from a hemp-based material, and hemp provides a cleaner, more practical alternative to many of the products we use every day.

While the criminalization of hemp related plants is still rampant throughout the nation, acts like the Agriculture Act are big steps in the direction of complete legalization for this wonderful, harmless plant.

— Drew Torrance

Hemp also has the power to replace oil as our main fuel source. Through a much simpler and cleaner process than drilling for oil, hemp can be converted into ethanol and methanol. Unfortunately, oil companies see it as a threat to their existence and do whatever they can to make sure that hemp stays as criminalized as possible by lobbying congress to keep hemp out of America.

During the Hoover administration, billionaire tycoons and members of the cabinet Andrew Mellon and Henry Anslinger both saw hemp as a threat to their money-making business models, so they collaborated to create the Marihuana Tax Act. This act banned the production and sale of hemp, but was made to look like it was banning marijuana to garner more support.

Many people are confused when it comes to the differ-ence between hemp and its cousin, cannabis. The largest issue that people are concerned about is the difference in can-nabinoid levels, specifically that of THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes you to get high. Marijuana typically contains anywhere between 15% and 30% THC. Hemp, on the other hand, is only around 0.3% THC, about 75 times less than cannabis. Simply put, you can’t get high on hemp, and its consumption doesn’t result in any of the negative effects that marijuana can potentially produce.

To this day, the criminalization of hemp is based almost completely on its resemblance to cannabis. When the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tries to defend its posi-tion on hemp, they argue that hemp’s subtle similarity to cannabis as well as its trace amounts of THC warrant most hemp products being illegal. Both of these arguments, however, are completely irrelevant because hemp is clearly not dangerous, and even if it did contain a significant amount of THC, most hemp products don’t involve any consumption. Hemp is not dangerous and is not a drug, so there is no legitimate reason as to why hemp deserves to be criminalized.

As time goes on, people are recognizing the many ben-efits hemp has to offer. Hemp’s comeback is slow but steady, with the most recent win coming in the form of the Ag-ricultural Act of 2014. This act gave states the power to decide the hemp policy within in their state, which grew the number of hemp-producing states from nine to over 30, including Minnesota. Some people might be thinking that they can go start their own hemp garden in their backyard, but unfortunately, hemp is still ridiculously regulated by the DEA. The Department of Agriculture has all the control over finding farmers to use as “test pilots” to see how hemp can be used.

While the criminalization of hemp related plants is still rampant throughout the nation, acts like the Agriculture Act are big steps in the direction of complete legalization for this wonderful, harmless plant. Hopefully, the nation can continue to decriminalize hemp and start to embrace its array of benefits. Hemp has the power to become a major economic asset in America, and it’s only a matter of time before millions of Americans reap the benefits of this beautiful gift from God.