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Hemp Essay

2097 words - 8 pages

Throughout American history our country has come to rely on many different natural resources. With technology and the population increasing, the number of fossil fuel reserves and natural forests are going down. What America needs is a renewable source of fuels and fibers that will meet the growing needs of the future, but will not damage our environment. One of the most promising sources of fiber, fuel, and natural oil is hemp. Hemp, also known as Cannabis Sativa L, has been used in our country since the early 17th century (Schreiber 160). Although hemp is considered an illegal drug, many people forget that it is a part of our country’s history. Despite its negative connotations, hemp has the potential to revolutionize the paper, cotton, and fuel industries. Its long fibers can be weaved with others to make stronger clothing, while its pulp can be used to make stronger paper. It has been known as an important resource for thousands of years, and in the future, perhaps it will be again. Hemp is a plant that originated in Asia several thousand years ago (Schreiber 7). Its genus is called Cannabis, to which there are three sub species, Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. Hemp is of the sativa family, which normally grows to about 4 meters and has a hollow, fibrous stem. When grown industrially, the male plant is used primarily because it grows tall and spindly, producing the most fiber, and allowing the farmer to plant more in a smaller area. The female plant is much shorter, and produces buds. Hemp is often confused with another plant of the same genus, Marijuana. Because of this confusion it is imperative that the differences between these two plants are understood. Although very similar, Marijuana is not the same plant as hemp (Williams 2). Marijuana, also known as pot, hashish, or weed, is grown for its buds and leaves, to produce psychoactive effects when introduced into the human body. Marijuana has high levels of THC (Delta-9 Tetrahydracannibinol), the ingredient that causes the user to be high. Whereas industrial hemp typically has a THC level less than one percent, marijuana can have levels up to twenty percent (Washuk 1). Med Byrd, head paper scientist at NCSU said, "You couldn't get high off hemp even if you smoked a joint the size of a telephone pole." Hemp is also contains a substance called cannibidiol, which actually inhibits THC. Under current U.S. law the hemp plant is considered a narcotic, which makes it illegal to possess the plant, parts of the plant, or live unsterilized seeds. Under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, there was no chemical distinction made between the two substances. Because of this, hemp eventually became illegal when marijuana did. (Williams 4). While industrial hemp has been used for centuries to make rope, clothing, and other materials, it has never been used for smoking due to its lack of THC. Cannabis was used first in about 8000 BC for cloth and textiles, and by 2700 BC it was incorporated into most...

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