I hear a lot of squealing about environmentalism these days, just as I have most of my life. What amazes me is how little talk there is about the legalization of hemp in these major political debates about things we can do to preserve our precious environment. It seems they are more interested in promoting ridiculous things like the hybrid cars that get an extra ten miles per gallon when using the battery. Take away the battery and fuel economy has not really improved at all in about the last 40 years. Datsun was making cars that get 40 mpg on the highway back then. I knew that...but on https://www.mpgomatic.com/2007/10/08/super-cheap-high-mpg-cars-1978-1981/ I counted well over 50 cars that were getting more than 40 miles per gallon between 1978 and 1981. The top was a 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit at 56 mpg highway and 42 city, what might be more impressive tho was the 1980 Chevrolet Luv Diesel pickup that got 53 mpg highway and 40 mpg city. While those numbers might be arguable, if you have ever driven one of the old cars from the list, I think you would find some accuracy in it.
My main point with the preceding paragraph is nothing has been done to preserve these precious fossil fuels that they lead us to believe were just on the brink of running out when I was in grade school in the 1980s. If anything we are getting worse fuel economy. Take the 1980 Chevrolet Luv pickup for example, it got 53 mpg highway and my first truck was a 1988 GMC S-15 and the 5 speed like I had was rated at 27 mpg hwy according to https://www.fueleconomy.gov Unfortunately this site only goes back to 1984, but at a quick glance I still found a 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit that got 43 mpg Highway and a 1984 Diesel Ford Escort that got 47 mpg hwy. There were still some good economical cars, but it seems like after the early 1980s fuel economy just went downhill. I am quite sure if we could make a compact pickup that got 53 mpg back in 1980, that if we really wanted to, with today’s technology, we could really do awesome things with fuel economy.
It seems these cars were built to satisfy a market when gasoline prices were extremely high for the time. When gas prices went back down, it seems fuel economy did as well. Throughout history ethanol has been proven a better of fuel for engines than gasoline. The First Model T Ford was fitted with an adjustable carburetor so it could function properly with gas or alcohol, but the interesting part is that it was actually built to run on ethanol, with gasoline as an option. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_alcohol_fuel
Gasoline produced more knocking in the engine than ethanol, so to remedy this lead was added to gasoline in 1921 as a solution to the knocking gasoline produced in engines. I am unsure how anyone thought that was actually a good idea. There was a lot of opposition to lead being mixed into fuels at the time, but I suppose the money involved in the oil industry was enough to overcome that.
Folks, ethanol is not a new thing. Ethanol is not an inferior alternative to gasoline as many would have you believe. Ethanol has a very long history of usage in engines. In 1826, Samuel Morey uses alcohol in the first American internal combustion engine prototype. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_alcohol_fuel#cite_note-3 A brief look at Wikipedia’s Timeline of Alcohol Fuel will show that ethanol is in no way inferior to gasoline. I am not an opponent of gasoline, I am a proponent of the facts. Gasoline has been shown to be very efficient and has many uses, but we should not continue to allow companies as powerful as the oil industry to hinder the production and the usage of ethanol. It is no big task and nothing new for the industry to drop their prices, even to the point of taking a loss, in order to bankrupt alternative fuel sources. As the world population is growing and becoming more developed, I think it is time we take a serious look at ethanol, and lift the unusual ban on hemp being grown in the United States, so we can use it for ethanol.
I do not know how much more ethanol an acre of hemp produces, in comparison to an acre of corn, but I know corn has to be planted a certain distance apart, pesticides and herbicides need to be applied… but with hemp, it grows like weeds. It can grow right close together, no need for herbicides or pesticides. I am no expert in the field of alternative fuels as provided by agriculture, but I think a little common sense will show hemp is a terrific alternative to corn, there are better sources than hemp, but hemp has so many uses… I think it is best we focus on this crop.
One downside of hemp, for those who love marijuana grown outdoors, is that hemp will cross pollinate with marijuana cutting its potency in half. I am also a proponent of medicinal marijuana, so I would not want that to be an issue, but this could be solved by shifting marijuana grow operations indoors, perhaps greenhouses created specifically for the purpose.
I had heard years ago that hemp fuel could be produced for about fifty cents per gallon. I just came across this article that says the same thing, but keep in mind the article is from 2009. https://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2009/09/01/hemp-ethanol-will-only-cost-15-cents-liter-or-50-cents-gallon At this cost for production, we could pay two dollars per gallon for an eco-friendly fuel and leave the companies with a handsome profit.
At one time Hemp was the number one cash crop for Kentucky and then it was made illegal, taking away the income of many. There are now so many large flat areas in Eastern Kentucky that have been strip-mined for coal that seem to be very suitable for growing hemp. I can imagine if we brought back hemp, it would make a lot of folks in that area happy. I have pondered the idea of hemp for a long time and I have not found any downside other than it could affect the oil industry financially, but the oil industry has the money to grow massive amounts of hemp and have control of that as well. I know a lot of people depend on crude oil to make a living but they can make an equally good living producing a renewable fuel. The demand for energy is not going away. If you produce fuel from a plant that makes our cars run perfectly fine, as it has been shown to do, I think most of us will pay an equal price for it as we do gasoline.
Currently corn is subsidized by the government so this makes corn ethanol seem cheaper, but we are paying for it in taxes. As I have stated, I think we can produce a cheaper fuel right here in the United States with hemp, and without the subsidies, which will ultimately save you, the taxpayer money. I am not sure how much the government has budgeted annually for subsidies on corn, but it has made corn seemingly very cheap to grow, that is why you see it in most everything, from gasoline to cola. This is a false concept tho, anytime the government subsidizes anything, it comes from the taxpayer’s pocket. It is past due time for us to cut these subsidies, and either give us a tax break or use the money from the subsidies to help make more healthy crops affordable. I think with a crop like hemp, we can do just fine producing ethanol with less space and no subsidies at an affordable price.
Producing fuel is just one good reason to grow hemp. We can make paper from hemp and save a lot of trees. Again, this will affect another industry, shift money to another area… but we need to advance as a society. Why cut down forests when it has been shown that deforestation has a strong negative impact on the environment, when we can use renewable crops like hemp for many of the same things we use trees for that take us from twenty to fifty years to grow? Many of us have money invested in companies either directly or indirectly and we do not want to see that industry start to phase out, I get that. I think the biggest problem though is people are resistant to change for the most part. It takes a few innovative people to make a real difference in the world.
How about making clothing from hemp. Many people are wearing hemp clothing, it is mostly associated with the hippie culture currently, but I think we could all do better wearing natural clothes. Things like cotton and hemp that are biodegradable, rather than synthetic materials against our skin, just seems to make more sense.
CannabisReports gives us an impressive list of uses for hemp http://cannabisreports.org/hemp-uses-top-uses-for-hemp/ . CannabisReports tells us that hemp can be used as food, as any of you who have ever been to a health food store know that hemp protein powder is readily available. “Hemp uses include human food. You can use it in quite a few recipes. Because of its health benefits, humans can consume it.”
CannabisReports.org goes on to tell us hemp can be used as pet food and bedding, body oils and lotions, oil based products “Hemp uses include oil for candles, lanterns and paint. The oil from hemp is used to make any oil based products. Paint is one of them. In fact, when used to make paint, you will find that the paint job last much longer. Hemp oil is non-toxic and not harmful to the environment.”
One idea I like most from CannabisReports.org is the use of hemp for plastics. “Plastic products made from hemp are usually biodegradable and can aid in reducing landfills. In the past, hemp uses spanned packing materials and products like CD jewel cases.” I really think having biodegradable plastics, provided they are non toxic is a terrific thing.
CannabisReports.org tells us of uses of hemp in construction materials. “Hemp plant can make strong and durable materials for construction. For example, cement made from hemp uses minerals and core fibers. When hemp is used to make homes, there is stronger resistance to bad weather and less damage incurred during bad weather.”
The following is from Wikipedia.org on: “The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) on April 2, 2009. Also known as H.R.1866, the bill clarifies the differences between marijuana and industrial hemp as well as repeals federal laws that prohibit American farmers from cultivating industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive, low-THC, oilseed and fibers varieties of the cannabis sativa plant. Hemp is a sustainable resource that can be used to create thousands of different products including fuel, fabrics, paper, household products, and food and has been used for hundreds of centuries by civilizations around the world. If H.R.1866 passes American farmers will be permitted to compete in global hemp markets. On March 10, 2009, both Paul and Frank wrote a letter to their Congressional colleagues urging them to support the legislation. This bill was previously introduced in 2005 under the title of Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005.”
“The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 is the beginning of constriction for the growth of marijuana in the United States. An extremely high tax was placed on marijuana; making it nearly impossible to grow industrial hemp. However, congress expected the production of industrial hemp to continue, but the Federal Bureau of Narcotics lumped industrial hemp with marijuana and its successor, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, continued.”
“The United States is the only developed country which still bans the growth of industrial hemp. 16 states have passed pro-hemp legislation.” (citation needed) ????
“National Drug Control Policies oppose this act because they feel that hemp plants could easily be mixed with marijuana plants. They feel that it would be very difficult to detect the difference between the two”
As I have already stated, marihuana (the original spelling) should not be near hemp, as it will cross pollinate and cause the potency of the marihuana to be greatly reduced. No one with any common knowledge of basic agriculture would have marijuana and hemp together. Anyone who is an opponent of marijuana such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, should love it if people are dumb enough to put marijuana with hemp and ruin its potency. I personally think it is simply an excuse to keep it illegal.
Canada and China specifically benefit greatly from us importing so much hemp and I am not sure how much hemp we import from other countries. Here is a bit of info from Congressional Research Service: “...the U.S. market is largely dependent on imports, both
as finished hemp containing products and as ingredients for use in further processing(mostly from Canada and China). Current industry estimates
Report U.S. hemp sales at nearly $600 million annually.”
Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity
Congressional Research Service
“ For centuries, industrial hemp (plant species Cannabis sativa) has been a source of fiber and
oilseed used worldwide to produce a variety of industrial and consumer products. Currently, more than 30 nations grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, which is sold on the world market. In the United States, however, production is strictly controlled under existing drug enforcement laws. Currently there is no large scale commercial production in the United States, and the U.S. market depends on imports.” https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32725.pdf
It seems to me that more people would have shown interest in legalizing industrial hemp before pushing to legalize marijuana. The common people deserve to know hemp and marihuana are two totally different plants. Unfortunately, the push for legalizing marijuana has completely overshadowed the idea of legalizing a plant that can help improve our economy and bring many jobs, especially to rural farming areas. Other than hemp looking like marijuana, the officials seem to have to other argument against it, so why not bring it home? Or we can continue to import it from other countries, and that does not make sense to me. With all the noise the marijuana advocates have made, hemp has just stayed in the shadows. A plant that was once a great commodity in the United States of America is now illegal. Let us think about how much it will change the future by simply passing a bill making industrial hemp growth legal here in the United States. If we can eat it wear it and power our cars with it, I say let us grow it.