It just doesn’t make sense that you can walk into a store and buy a hemp t-shirt or hemp protein but it is not legal for most American farmers to grow and sell the hemp crop. The U.S. is the only developed nation in the world without an industrial hemp crop grown for economic reasons.
What is hemp, actually?
Industrial hemp, aka “hemp,” is one of the varieties of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant species. Cannabis Sativa L. also includes marijuana and although they come from the same species, it’s important to note that they are distinct plants. The easiest way to understand the difference is to think about how both oranges and lemons are part of the citrus family, even though they are distinct plants. What distinguishes them most is that hemp contains very little (or no) THC, the compound found in Cannabis that is responsible for the plant’s mind-altering effects.
Why it matters if hemp is grown domestically
Hemp provides a ton of valuable resources from all parts of the plant. You may already be familiar with those rope necklaces and shirts that were so popular in the 90’s—those items were made with hemp fibers and stalks. Out of the fibers and stalks can be made plastic composites, paper, clothes, and even biofuel. It’s not just hippie shirts, though, that can be made. The flowers and seeds from the plant are what product hemp powder and hemp seeds that you can find at health food stores and in hemp beauty products.
Hemp is a great crop from the perspective of farmers and environmentalists alike. For those of you reading this article from draught-afflicted California, you know what a precious resource water is. Hemp requires significantly less water than plants like cotton and it doesn’t require any pesticides. It also detoxifies soil, generates CO2 in the soil, and prevents potential soil erosion. All of this adds up to the fact that hemp is a farmer friendly crop.
So, why isn’t it grown in the US?
The short answer is that current regulation in the US prohibits the cultivation and sale of cannabis—wehther we’re talking about marijuana or hemp. Fortunately, we’re starting to move in the right direction on this issue. There are a few states that are piloting programs to grow industrial hemp, including Colorado, Kentucky, and Oregon, however, in most of the country, most farmers are still not allowed to grow the crop.
What can I do to change this?
Promisingly, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in Congress in 2015. This act would allow for industrial hemp to be cultivated throughout the US if it passes. For all of the aforementioned reasons, Sagely supports the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. You can too by signing this petition.