Ending the failed war on drugs could significantly reduce deforestation and rebuild our manufacturing sector. The non-psychoactive strains of cannabis called hemp produces more than four times the usable short fiber pulp for superior paper products than the currently used softwood tree farm pulp. It takes only a fraction of the expensive and caustic chemicals to finish hemp paper from hemp short fiber pulp than it does in breaking down forest softwood tree farm pulp into finished paper products. An acre of hemp produces 4.1 times the usable paper pulp in a short 100 day growing cycle than a tree farm could in over a decade. If the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 had not passed which effectively taxed and regulated hemp out of domestic production, we would now most likely have twice the wild old growth forest acreage as we do now.
The cannabis plant is an uniquely useful commodity, every part of the plant can be used. Many of the products made from forest softwoods can be produced from hemp. Hemp is four times more efficient in converting solar energy into usable biomass energy than any other commercially viable crop. Hemp can be grown year round throughout most of America producing more than 3 harvests a year. A single harvest of hemp produces twice the ethanol of corn produces in an entire growing season. Cannabis has been a useful commodity for fuel, food, shelter, clothing and medicine since the dawn of mankind, it was one of the first plants domesticated by humans more than 10,000 years ago. It is still a uniquely valuable commodity today.
The hemp plant is 85% energy rich cellulose and the abundant hemp seeds produces a biodiesel oil that contains just as much energy as etroleum but without the sulfur and with 85% less CO2 emissions. A ton of hemp seeds yields about 15 gallons of hemp seed oil and about 28% of the weight of dry hemp biomass is seeds. An acre of hemp produces about ten tons of dry hemp biomass in as little as 100 days. A ton of dry hemp biomass can produce 100 gallons of ethanol/methanol using modern enzyme extraction methods or the cellulose can be converted into the energy equivalent in methane gas. The dry hemp biomass can be mixed with other crop and wood cellulose waste to be burnt directly for electrical generation or it can be digested to produce gas or liquid fuels along with valuable compost fertilizer as a byproduct. A gasoline equivalent can be easily produced in small factories all across America by mixing the ethanol/methanol from the enzyme digested hemp with a small amount of hemp seed oil and then refining/reforming the mixture with natural gas. Allowing American farmers to once again grow hemp as a normal commodity crop would break the grip the oil cartels have on our economy.
Hemp can be grown on marginal soils and is very drought resistant requiring only the equivalent of 10 inches of annual rainfall to grow a crop to maturity. But, hemp is also an excellent rotation crop to revitalize played out farming soils. The long strong tap root of the hemp plant draws nutrients up from deep in the soil and breaks up hard pan that develops from operating modern farm equipment over the fields. Soils are left more fertile after harvesting hemp than they were before planting. Around 15% of all American farmland is left bare of crops every year for one reason or another. If our farmers planted hemp on just the lands they would normally leave bare the soil would not be exposed to erosion and allow weeds to take hold in the fields requiring costly herbicides for weed abatement. Hemp does not require chemical fertilizers and pesticides like most commodity crops, grows faster and uses less water. Growing hemp as a normal rotation crop would give farmers a valuable commodity crop along with a valuable soil conditioning crop while still being able to comply with federal crop price supports.
Hemp does not just produce superior paper products and biomass energy the hemp seeds are a nutritious source of foods that are high in Omega fatty acids and easily digested simple proteins. In fact, hemp seed food products are close to a perfect food source. You could live a very healthy lifestyle by eating only foods made from hemp seeds. Hemp seeds effectively replaces meat protein in a strict vegan diet. Hemp seed foods are high in fiber and low in fat with a lite nutty flavor and hemp seed oil is a healthier choice than Extra Virgin Olive Oil for salad dressing and cooking.
More than 25,000 products can be made better, stronger, more durable, liter weight and less expensive from hemp. Paper products made from hemp are stronger and more recyclable than current paper products. Hemp composites are ten times stronger per pound than steel when used to produce dent resistant automotive body parts which are also far less expensive to produce than carbon fiber and fiberglass while being safer in a collision. Plastics can be made from hemp that are strong, durable and biodegradable. A wide range of mold, heat and pest resistant building materials can be produced from the strong hemp fiber. A home made from hempen materials would not need protection from termites, they won't touch it. Thousands of business and manufacturing opportunities will grow along side the hemp in the fields all across America producing millions of good living wage manufacturing jobs in a greener and less centralized domestic economy once this ridiculous prohibition ends. For source and links visit my website http://www.rmforbes.net