My blog is dedicated to the exploration of industrial hemp in America including the rich history of all forms of cannabis, the evolving law and politics of hemp and marijuana, the many products made from cannabis and the capacity, real or imagined, of hemp to re-industrialize rural America and revitalize the American family farm.
As hemp steps into the spotlight, more people are asking important questions about exactly what it is and why there’s so much conflict around such a harmless and useful plant. If you’re looking to grow your knowledge about hemp, take a look at some of these facts and spread them far and wide.
1. Hemp cultivation dates back more than 10,000 years
Many civilizations throughout time have grown hemp and utilized the plant for a number of items from food to fiber. The ancient use of hemp has been traced to many countries including China, Egypt, Russia, Greece and Italy.
2. It used to be illegal to not grow hemp
There was once a time in American history when farmers could actually be fined or jailed for not growing hemp. Because it was such a valuable crop in Virginia, the Assembly of Jamestown Colony passed legislation in 1619 making it mandatory for every farmer to grow Indian hempseed.
3. Hemp was hailed as a billion dollar crop before the government banned it
In an article written in 1938, “Popular Mechanics” declared hemp a new cash crop. It was touted as the standard fiber of the world that was easy to grow and poised to replace imported materials and manufactured products.
4. Hemp can restore unhealthy soil
Thanks to its botanical properties, hemp can actually leave soil better off than when it started by rejuvenating the dirt with nutrients and nitrogen. This helps clean up toxins, heavy metals and other pollutants from the ground through a process called phytoremediation.
5. Hemp oil is good for you
For people looking to reduce bad cholesterol levels, neutralize free radicals and improve nervous system function, the abundance of nutrients found in hemp oil can help. It’s packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including magnesium, calcium, vitamin E and carotene. When it comes to oils, hemp oil also has the highest level of polyunsaturated fats (healthy fats) at 80 percent, with flax seed oil coming in second.
6. Many early artists made art on hemp
The word “canvas” is derived from the word cannapaceus, a latin adjective that literally means “made from hemp.” For centuries, painters used hemp canvases from the Renaissance artists to 17th century masters like Van Gogh and Rembrandt.
7. Twenty one states can legally grow hemp
According to agricultural reports, hemp can be grown legally in California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.
8. Planes can be made from hemp
Earlier this year, Derek Kesek, the founder of Hempearth, announced that he would produce the very first airplane made almost entirely of hemp that will run on hemp-based biodiesel. Though the project has yet to take flight, many have high hopes about what its successful execution could mean for the future.
9. Annual retail sales for hemp grew 21 percent last year
People are really starting to give hemp a chance by incorporating the plant into their lives in a big way. In 2014, there was $620 million worth of hemp products sold in the U.S. alone, with food and personal care items totaling about $200 million.
10. Hemp is used in over 25,000 products
Although it may seem like hemp has been hiding out, the multifaceted fiber is actually used in everything from suits by Giorgio Armani to interior car parts by BMW. Hemp can also be found in everyday items like yarn, paper, carpeting, cosmetics, nutritional supplements and body care products.