Table of Contents ~ Next

Hemp Husbandry

Robert A. NELSON

Chapter 1

The First Crop

1.   Introduction
2.   Hemp & Health
3.   Hemp in America
4.   Hemp Cloth
5.   Hemp Paper
6.   Hemp Products
7.   Hemp Biodiesel
8.   Hemp: A Renewable Resource
9.   Other Fiber Plants
10.  Hempseed & Nutrition
11.  Hempseed Oil
12.  References

1.1 ~ Introduction

The fiber of Cannabis, the "True Hemp", is tightly woven into the tapestry of human life. Since earliest times, this great plant ally has provided people with cordage, cloth, paper, medicine, and inspiration. For all the many benefits it bestows, Cannabis hemp is a friendship well worth cultivating. Hemp is many things to many people, and it is known by hundreds of names. Poets sing its praises, and preachers damn it. Executioners hang condemned men with hemp rope, but sailors and mountaineers hang onto it for dear life. Doctors prescribe it as a medicine, yet prohibitionists proscribe it as a poison. Armies and navies make war with hemp, while lovers use it as an aphrodisiac. The resinous virtue generates real happiness, enlightenment and entertainment, equal in quality and worth to the similar joys of love, freedom, and good health --- and it complements them all, and it comforts those poor souls who are without such blessings. Hemp is a most interesting and paradoxical plant, one that defies control and begs understanding. Hemp is one of mankind's best (and few) friends on Earth, yet it is a prisoner within its own cells, bound in a Gordian Knot of laws. Yet again, hemp is Ariadne's Thread, a guideline out of the labyrinth of bureaucratic tyranny and into a new state of liberty and grace. James Allen expressed the sentiment most passionately in the closing words of The Reign ofLaw (1900):

"O Mystery immortal! which is in the hemp and in our souls, in its bloom and in our passions, by which our poor brief lives are led upward out of the earth for a season, then cut down, rotted, and broken --- for Thy long service!" (1)

1.2 ~ Hemp & Health

Cannabis has been used in medicine since about 2300 B.C., when the legendary Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung prescribed chu-ma (female hemp) for the treatment of constipation, gout, beri-beri, malaria, rheumatism, and menstrual problems. He classified chu-ma as one of the Superior Elixirs of Immortality. (2)

Figure 1.1
Emperor Shen-Nung
(by Waves Forest)

Ayurvedic physicians regularly use bhang to treat dozens of diseases and other medical problems including diarrhea, epilepsy, delirium and insanity, colic, rheumatism, gastritis, anorexia, consumption, fistula, nausea, fever, jaundice, bronchitis, leprosy, spleen disorders, diabetes, cold, anemia, menstrual pain, tuberculosis, elephantiasis, asthma, gout, constipation, and malaria. Other folk medicine applications of cannabis include its use as a stimulant, sedative, analgesic and antispasmodic, to induce sleep, as a diuretic, and against hydrophobia, blood in the urine, arthritis, rheumatism, hay fever, asthma, skin diseases, and stomach disorders, and to treat hemorrhoids and burns. (3)

Cannabis has been widely used in Asia to treat the diseases of animals. It is commonly fed to elephants and oxen to relieve their fatigue and give them greater endurance and strength. Wild hemp leaves are burned in heaps to disinfect stables and barns, and to treat respiratory problems. A bolus of hemp flowers, sugar and grain is fed to livestock to treat colic, constipation, diarrhea, worms, and rinderpest (a form of diptheria). The leaves are fed to cattle before they mate, and to increase lactation.

In the second half of the 19th century, after Dr. William O'Shaughnessy reported from India on the medical uses of cannabis, it became an official member of the pharmaceutical repetoire in Europe and America. Cannabis was commonly used as a specific to alleviate the symptoms of tetanus, typhus, and hydrophobia. It was employed with varying degrees of success in the treatment of alcoholism, asthma, bronchitis, constipation, dropsy, dysentery, dysmenorrhea and uterine haemorrhage, epilepsy, insanity, migraine, palsy, rheumatism, anthrax, blood poisoning, incontinence, leprosy, malaria, snakebite, tonsilitis, parasites, and a legion of other maladies. (4)

Dozens of medical uses have been demonstrated for the major cannabinoids (THC, CBN, and CBD) and other unique chemicals in Cannabis. The cannabinoids find therapeutic applications in cases of glaucoma, asthma, alcoholism, opiate addiction, insomnia, herpes, migraines, and ulcers. Cannabis is used as a diuretic, an anti-asthmatic, anti-convulsant, anti-inflamatory and anti-tumor agent, anti-biotic, anti-emetic, anti-depressant, and it has applications as an analgesic, anesthetic, and in gynecology. (5-10)

The public health effects of cannabis consumption, particularly as relates to crime and insanity, have been examined repeatedly by several official panels, beginning with the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission in 1893. None of the studies have found reason to proscribe cannabis, and a few have recommended its legalization: The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission (11-13); The Canal Zone Studies (14, 15); The LaGuardia Committee Report (16); The Wooton Report (17, 18); The Schafer Commission (19); The Jamaica Study (20-22); The Costa Rica Study (23-26); The Greek Study (27-29); The Coptic Study (30); The Expert Group (31); and The Relman Committee. (32)

Cannabis is non-toxic. No deaths from an overdose of cannabis have ever been verified. A few poorly documented reports have given cannabis as the cause of death, but closer examination has shown the accusations to be untenable. It has been estimated that it would be necessary to smoke about 800 marijuana cigarettes to kill a human; even then one would probably receive a lethal dose of carbon monoxide first. In comparison, only 60 mg of nicotine or 300 ml of alcohol can kill a person. The LD50 for THC in animals is between 20-40 mg/kg/iv, or 800-1,400 mg/kg orally. (33)

Driving performance is impaired by marijuana. Judgment, concentration, and car- handling skills are affected, and the influence may persist for a full day afterwards.(34)

Marijuana has been a complicating factor in the emergency treatment of diabetes. Plasma glucose and insulin levels increase after its use. Marijuana should not be used by children or pubescent youths, by pregnant or nursing women, by people with chronic heart, lung, or liver disease, or by diabetics, epileptics, or psychotics. Do not use cannabis with penicillin drugs.

The dust inhaled by soft hemp workers (hacklers and scutchers) can cause byssinosis or cannabosis, and otherwise causes more chronic lung disease and lower forced expiratory volume (FEV) than controls of the same age. A study of 100 Spanish hemp hacklers showed the average age of death to be 39.6 years, compared to regular farm workers whose average lifespan was 67.6 years. (35)

1.3 ~ Hemp in America

Cannabis hemp probably evolved in northern China. It was the first fiber plant to be cultivated there at the dawn of human society. Cotton from India and Mediterranean flax were not introduced until thousands of years later. An abundance of archaeological evidence proves the continuous cultivation of hemp from prehistoric times, beginning with a 12,000 year old Neolithic site at Yuan-shan in Taiwan. (36, 37)

After a long and illustrious career in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, cannabis hemp officially arrived in North America. Cannabis had already arrived in prehistoric times, perhaps borne by Chinese explorers, birds or storms. The Vikings and other ancient seafarers also brought seeds of hemp and other vegetables, to be planted in the event of shipwreck. The prehistoric Mound-Builders also utilized cannabis. (38, 39)

Hemp was so important to the colonists that it was deemed mandatory to cultivate the crop. For many years, taxes could be paid with clean hemp fiber, and it was a strategic war crop during the Revolution. George Washington farmed hemp, and he mentioned the plant several times in his writings. In letters to his foreman, Washington urged him to "Make the most of the hempseed", and "Plant hemp everywhere." Thomas Jefferson also grew hemp, and he kept a record of his enterprises and thoughts on the subject in his account books, Notes on Tobacco, and other writings.(40-44)

The Civil War later ruined the hemp industry that had developed by then. A brief resurgence of hemp cultivation occurred in the 1870s and 80s, when it was widely grown, especially in Illinois, Nebraska, and California. The increasing use of wire cables on ships, and the introduction of steamships and metal hulls, greatly reduced the demand for hemp rope, sails, and caulking. By the turn of the century, the market for hemp was limited to cordage, twine and thread. (45, 46)

Hundreds of hemp-processing machines have been patented since Thomas Jefferson recorded his improvements on the mechanized hemp-break. Only the design perfected by George W. Schlichten worked with the high efficiency required to meet the demands of the market. The Schlichten Decorticator promised to revolutionize the industry by completely eliminating the need to "ret" (rot) hemp.

It was explained thus to the American public in Popular Mechanics Magazine (February 1938), wherein hemp was declared to be "The New Billion Dollar Crop":

"American farmers are promised a new cash crop with an annual value of several hundred million dollars, all because a machine has been invented which solves a problem more than 6,000 years old. It is hemp, a crop which will not compete with other American products. Instead, it will displace imports of raw material and manufactured products produced by underpaid coolie and peasant labor and it will provide thousands of jobs for American workers throughout the land.

"The machine which makes this possible is designed for removing the fiber-bearing cortex from the rest of the stalk, making hemp fiber available for use without a prohibitive amount of human labor.

"Under old methods, hemp was cut and allowed to lie in the fields for weeks until it "retted" enough so the fibers could be pulled off by hand. Retting is simply rotting as a result of dew, rain and bacterial action. Machines were developed to separate the fibers mechanically after retting was complete, but the cost was high, the loss of fiber great, and the quality of fiber comparatively low. With the new machine, known as a decorticator, hemp is cut with a slightly modified grain binder. It is delivered to the machine where an automatic chain conveyer feeds it to the breaking arms at the rate of two or three tons per hour. The hurds are broken into fine pieces that drop into the hopper, from where they are delivered by blower to a baler or to a truck or freight car for loose shipment. The fiber comes from the other end of the machine, ready for baling.

"From this point on almost anything can happen. The raw fiber can be used to produce strong twine or rope, woven into burlap, used for carpet warp or linoleum backing or it may be bleached and refined, with resinous by-products of high commercial value. It can, in fact, be used to replace the foreign fibers which now flood our markets... The natural materials in hemp make it an economical source of pulp for any grade of paper manufactured, and the high percentage of alpha-cellulose promises an unlimited supply of raw material for the thousands of cellulose products our chemists have developed.

"It is generally believed that all linen is produced from flax. Actually, the majority comes from hemp --- authorities estimate that more than half of our imported linen fabrics are manufactured from hemp fiber. Another misconception is that burlap is made from hemp. Actually, its source is usually jute, and practically all of the burlap we use is woven by laborers in India who receive only four cents a day. Binder twine is usually made from sisal which comes from Yucatan and East Africa.

"All of these products, now imported, can be produced from home-grown hemp. Fish nets, bow strings, canvas, strong rope, overalls, damask tablecloths, fine linen garments, towels, bed linen and thousands of other everyday items can be grown on American farms... The paper industry offers even greater possibilities... Hemp will produce every grade of paper, and government figures estimate that 10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average pulpland.

"One obstacle in the onward march of hemp is the reluctance of farmers to try new crops. The problem is complicated by the need for proper equipment a reasonable distance from the farm. The machine cannot be operated profitably unless there is enough acreage within driving range and farmers cannot find a profitable market unless there is machinery to handle the crop... This new crop can add immeasurably to American agriculture and industry."(47)

An article by George A. Lower in Mechanical Engineering Magazine (26 February 1937), also heralded hemp as "the most profitable and desireable crop that can be grown". Because of publishing schedules, however, the articles had been written several months before the passage of the infamous Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively destroyed the hemp industry, so the promise was not fulfilled. (48, 49)

Hemp enjoyed a brief comeback as a vital war crop during World War Two after the Japanese invaded the Philippines and cut off America's supply of abaca. The Nazi invasion of Europe also eliminated that source of hemp. The federal government therefore sponsored a crash program to produce enough hemp fiber to meet America's needs. Farmers received the booklet Hemp: A War Crop (1942), which brought them up to date:

"In normal times rope and twine made from Manila fibers (abaca) imported from the Philippines constituted a large portion of the supply... Hemp imported from Italy, Russia, France, and Holland, together with a small amount grown in Wisconsin and Kentucky, was used for medium grade wrapping twine and rope. Because we do not have climatic conditions conducive to the growing of Manila or jute, it is necessary to increase greatly the production of hemp. Thousands of acres in the Midwest will be planted and new factories built to handle the crop." (50)

Thanks to the perseverance of hemp activist and author Jack Herer and associates, the unique USDA film Hemp For Victory! (1942) was rescued from oblivion and represented on video in modern times. The inspiring instructional film was shown to groups of farmers across the land, from sea to bounding sea. The narrator said:

"But now, with Philippine and East Indian sources of hemp in the hands of the Japanese, and shipment from India curtailed, American hemp must meet the needs of our Army and Navy as well as of our industry. In 1942, patriotic farmers at the government's request planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp, an increase of several thousand percent. The goal of 1943 is 50,000 acres of hemp seed... Plans are afoot for a great expansion of a hemp industry as a part of the war program. This film is designed to tell farmers how to handle this ancient crop now little known outside Kentucky and Wisconsin..." (51)

Hempseed was supplied to some 20,000 contracted farmers, with further instructions for cultivation from the federally-financed War Hemp Industries, Inc. 42 processing mills were built and equipped at a cost of $360,000 each by the Defense Plant Corporation.

In 1943, the Commodity Credit Corporation contracted for 168,000 acres of hemp straw, and paid $30 to $50 a ton. In January 1944, the CCC scaled down abruptly to only 60,000 acres. Nor did the CCC contract for any hempseed. The CCC had garnered some 500,000 bushels of hempseed in 1943, and the War Production Board was confident that Italy could provide for America's needs. The surplus hempseed was fed to canaries, who sang its praises. The farmers were left holding the bags.(52)

Since then, the cultivation of cannabis has been severely suppressed in the USA. Fortunately, hemp still is welcome at home in China, which is the world's biggest supplier of the vital fiber and seed. Cultivars have been developed that produce less than the legal limit of 0.3% THC, thus enabling the development of a fiber market without diversions for drug use. The crop also is cultivated for its fiber in France, England, Canada, Russia, Romania, Hungary, and some two dozen other countries. Over 300,000 hectares of hemp are being planted each year. The French strains Fedora, Felina, Ferimon, Fibrimon, and Futura are the only registered low-THC hemp cultivars that are eligible for farm subsidies from the EU. (53)

Britain lifted the ban on industrial hemp cultivation in February 1993 "to allow UK farmers to gain a share of the market currently occupied by our EC partners." A coalition of farmers calling themselves Hemcore, Ltd. (Felsted, Essex), immediately and successfully grew 600 hectares (1,500 acres) of hemp in East Anglia. They have grown over 2,000 hectares since then. The primary local use of the fiber is for livestock bedding, because the shives are extremely absorbent and they compost easily. Any surplus has a ready market.

In Spring, 1994, Canadian farmers began to plant hemp for fiber for the first time since 1937. Alexander Sumach of the Hemp Futures Study Group congratulated the nation in the Globe and Mail:

"We are delighted to learn of the rebirth of the Canadian Hemp Industry. Farmer Joe Stroebel and engineer Geof Kime planted 20 hectares... with plump, innocent government-approved hempseed from the finest European pedigree... It arrived not a minute too soon.

"The real treat is that Canadians actually beat Americans to this great prize. As the [NAFTA] pretty well wiped out the last of a once-thriving Canadian textile industry, we should be glad that hemp is being planted... There is nothing in NAFTA or [GATT] about hemp. There is nothing to stop a great industry from taking off from Canadian soil... The Americans will never get it together within the decade to grow hemp. Their laws will never admit that cannabis has any redeeming quality..." (54)

In 1999, Canadian farmers grew 18,000 acres of hemp --- a manyfold increase over the 600 acres grown only a year before. Some 750 farmers applied for permits to grow the crop.In April, 1999, North Dakota became the frst state to legalize the cultivation of hemp when Gov. Ed Schafer signed House Bill 1428; the House and Senate had approved the measure with an overwhelming majority vote. Hawaii followed suit soon after, then Minnesota.

1.4 ~ Hemp Cloth

The oldest known samples of cloth, found in China and in Asia Minor, were made of hemp. Throughout history, the masses of Chinese people have worn hempen clothes. The earliest archaeological discovery of hemp cloth and rope in Europe, dating to the pre-Roman period (600-400 BC), was found near Stuttgart, Germany. More recently, the original Levi Strauss "jeans" were made of hemp cloth imported from the French city of Nimes, from which is derived the word "denim" ("of Nimes").

Even Harry Anslinger, the reprobate director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, acknowledged the excellence of hemp fiber in one of his speeches:

"Now, this hemp is the finest fiber known to mankind. My God, if you ever have a shirt made out of it, your grandchildren would never see it wear out. You take Polish families. We used to see marijuana in the yards of Polish families. We'd go in and start to tear it up and the man came out with his shotgun, yelling: "These are my clothes for next winter!"

Hemp fiber is half as strong as silk, one-third stronger than flax, and three times stronger than cotton. Hemp cloth wrinkles less than linen, irons easily, and it can withstand higher temperatures than linen. Hemp cloth is attractive in appearance and drape, and it washes well. Hemp cloth shrinks 7-9% with the first washing, and it stretches only slightly thereafter. Its fineness (85 tex) is lower than flax (32 tex), but extremely fine hemp yarn (33 tex) is produced in China.

The industrial value of the plant is determined by the proportion of the primary and secondary fractions of bast fiber, and by the length and diameter of the xylem fiber. The quality of fiber is determined by the cultivar, weather and other growth conditions, harvesting methods, and the particular process used for fiber extraction.

The relatively high levels of lignin, calcium, and magnesium in hemp make it difficult to dye and finish by conventional methods. The particular qualities of fabric, such as anti-shrinking, anti-pilling, crease recovery, and soft handling, are produced by pretreatments with toxic chemicals. Fortunately, the innovative VUTZ/INOTEX process, developed by the Czeck Textile Finishing Research Institute, meets all criteria for the eco-labeling of hemp fiber.

The ultrasonic process developed by ECCO Gleittechnic Gmbh produces such fine fiber that many new applications now are possible. In addition, a steam explosion method of preparing high-purity hemp fibers has been optimized by the Dutch Institute for Applied Research.

Since 1995, several large fashion design houses have introduced new hemp products. For example, Adidas offers hempen sneakers for skateboarders, and Converse and Vans are manufacturing hemp sneakers. Calvin Klein offers hemp bed spreads. Hemp textiles are now used in all manner of apparel, from baby diapers to work clothes, socks and shoes, and high fashion creations. The industrial textile applications include rope, twine, nets, canvas, tarpaulins, and geotextiles.

1.5 ~ Hemp Paper

The invention of vegetable fiber paper emerged in China during the Han Dynasty when people became frustrated with the bulk and weight of wooden and bamboo tablets and the expensive rarity of zhi (silk proto-paper). The dynastic history Hou-Han Shu attributes the invention of paper in 205 A.D. to Marquis Cai Lun, who was Prefect of the masters of techniques during the reign of Emperor He Di. Archaeologists, however, have recovered older specimens of hemp paper from the Western and Eastern Han periods in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Shaanxi. Apparently, Cai Lun actually supervised the art of papermaking by craftsmen, although he also worked to promote its use in the imperial bureaucracy.

Perhaps the oldest specimens of paper extant, dating more than a century earlier than Cai Lun, were discovered in a tomb near Xian in Shensi province. The pieces were found under three bronze mirrors which were wrapped in hemp cloth. The date of the tomb is no later than the reign of Wu Di of the Western Han Dynasty (140-87 BC).

In 1916, the USDA published Bulletin # 404: "Hemp Hurds As Paper-Making Material" by Lyster Dewey and Jason Merrill. It was printed on hemp paper that they produced:

"Experienced paper makers commented very favorably on the running of this furnish and the quality of the paper produced...

"In regard to furnish, there is such a diversity of practice that it is difficult to make a comparison, but if the hurd stock can be produced as cheaply as soda-poplar stock, the furnish used in these... tests should be regarded as satisfactory to the book and printing paper industries...

"Calculations on the raw material and acreage for a permanent supply for a pulp mill producing 25 tons of fiber a day for 300 days per annum, or 7,500 tons per annum, give the comparison between hurds and wood:

[Table 1.1]
 Comparison of Wood and Hemp Hurds

The most important point derived from this calculation is in regard to areas required for a sustained supply, which are in the ratio of 4 to 1. Every tract of 10,000 acres which is devoted to hemp raising year by year is equivalent to a sustained pulp-producing capacity of 40,500 acres of average pulp-wood lands. In other words, in order to secure additional raw material for the production of 25 tons of fiber per day there exists the possibility of utilizing the agricultural waste already produced on 10,000 acres of hemp lands instead of securing, holding, reforesting, and protecting 40,500 acres of pulp-wood land...
There appears to be little doubt that under the present system of forest use and consumption the present supply cannot withstand the demands placed upon it. By the time improved methods of forestry have established an equilibrium between production and consumption, the price ofwood pulp may be such that a knowledge of other available raw materials may be imperative...

Semi-commercial paper-making tests were conducted... on hemp hurds, in cooperation with a paper manufacturer.... Paper was produced which received very favorable comment both from investigators and from the trade and which according to official tests would be classed as a No. 1 machine-finish printing paper. (55)

In the "Digest of Conversation of Mr. G.W. Schlichten with Mr. M.A. McRae..." (3 August 1917), Schlichten (inventor of the decorticator) said:

"The time will come when wood cannot be used for paper any more. It will be too expensive or forbidden... Now I tell you, that with the production of an annual, with my by-product, every acre that I produce in hemp... will preserve 5 acres of forest...

"You see, it takes 12 years before you have an acre grown into spruce; in 12 months I have a harvest of 50 tons produced... But as far as paper is concerned, it is actually a crime to chop down trees to get a small percentage of paper...

"Another thing is, at the present time you have to locate your mill near... the supply in the out of the way country. There are long hauls, and then your paper in the roll is shipped from there; now here we only need the digester right on the land where the hemp is produced...

"Wood must have the bark, knots, &c, removed. It must then be cut into small chips, and sieved. Then it is ready for the digester. The preparing of the wood for the digester is a considerable part of the total paper making cost. The hurds are ready for the digester when, as a by-product, they leave the Schlichten machine..." (56)

Several small hemp paper companies have been established in the USA and Canada in the 1990s, i.e.: Tree-Free EcoPaper, Ecosource Paper Co., Living Tree Paper Co., Green Man Paper Mill, and Earth Pulp & Paper.Their products are free of chlorine, acid and ink, and contain no wood. As shown by the archaeological and historical record, hemp paper can last for 2,000 years. Acidic wood-pulp paper must be neutralized to improve its shelf-life to a maximum of about 100 years. Recycled paper does little to benefit the environment, except to spare trees (temporarily): 100 tons of recycled paper generates about 40 tons of toxic sludge.

In the 1990s, only two dozen paper mills, mostly in China and India, with a few in Europe, use hemp as a fiber source. The estimated volume of world production of hemp paper is about 120,000 tons/year, increasing annually. By comparison, a typical single wood pulp mill produces at least 250,000 tons/year. Most hemp fiber pulp is used for cigarette papers, filter papers, tea bags, art papers, and paper money.

1.6 ~ Other Hemp Products

After more than 60 years of suppression by the USA and other governments since 1937, the hemp industry is enjoying a renaissance in the 1990s. A study conducted in 1999 by six researchers at North Dakota University showed that imports of industrial hemp have increased 215% since 1995, when it was first available in the USA. Sales of hemp were $5M worldwide in 1993, increasing to $75M in 1995. Hemptech has estimated that sales will exceed $600M by 2001.

The growth and establishment of cannabis among the world's major fiber crops demands a detailed understanding of the parameters and conditions and techniques for its optimal cultivation and processing. Increased coordination is required amongst breeders, universities, industries, merchants, financiers, and governments. Integrated management of the industry will shorten the chain of value-adding middlemen between the farms and markets.

The industrial development of hemp products depends on a guaranteed supply of standard quality raw fiber. The market needs governmental subsidization, private investment, certified quality control, database management of all parameters of the industry (seed, fertilizer, equipment, labor, transportation, storage, fiber processing, and the economics --- costs, investments, subsidies, and market prices). A logistics support system is required to integrate, optimize, stabilize and control the industry from the farm to the end product. The novel fiber products must be introduced and promoted in new markets. Public education about the benefits of cannabis hemp also is imperative.

The International Hemp Association (IHA) was created in 1992 to facilitate the communication of factual information about cannabis and to promote the use of hemp-based products.

The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), founded in 1994, agreed that finished goods must contain 55% hemp to qualify as True Hemp products. Food, cosmetics, and medical products must contain at least 10% hemp seed or oil to meet HIA Certification Standards. Paper products should contain at least 10% hemp fiber to qualify as hemp paper.

Modern research has developed several excellent new hemp products in addition to the traditional uses of hemp for cloth, rope and paper. One of the most promising new products, called Isochanvre (iso-hemp), is a petrified form of hemp hurds mixed with lime and water. The resulting material is fireproof and waterproof. Isochanvre improves over time, and it will last for centuries. In evidence of this, a bridge dating from the Merovingian period (500-751 AD) was found in southern France, built with hemp fiber in a manner similar to Isochanvre. This unique product supports French agriculture, preserves forests, uses no synthetic chemicals, produces no pollution or waste, and it is easy to manufacture and use. Isochanvre is 5 to 7 times lighter than concrete, has high strength and flexibility, does not crack, and requires no maintenance. In fact, it continues to petrify, and it becomes stronger as it mineralizes. Isochanvre also breathes, thus preventing thecondensation of moisture in buildings, and it is self-draining. It is not eaten by termites or rodents, does not rot, and it has fungicidal and anti-bacterial properties. It does not require painting or other finishes. The high thermal inertia of Isochanvre makes it a superior insulating material. Attics insulated with Isochanvre maintain summer temperatures about 30o cooler than conventional insulation.

The French company La Chanvriere also produces Canosmose, Canobiote, and Mehabit hemp hurd building materials, plus Aubiose horse bedding and Biochat cat litter, which absorbs 250% of its weight.

The German company ECCO Gleittechnic Gmbh has developed Iso-Hanf, which is hemp fleece impregnated with sodium silicate and borate for fire resistance. The use of Iso-Hanf to reinforce concrete increases the flexibility by 30%. The drying characteristics and strength of mortar also is improved by Iso-Hanf. The viscosity of paint and its resistance to detergents is increased by Iso-Hanf, and the number of micro-fissures is reduced. ECCO also produces the Setralit product line including several automotive applications for hemp fiber, such as seat covers, brake lining, and insulation.

As early as 1929, the Ford Motor Company investigated the possibility of using hemp in cars. Officials were sent to visit the successful hemp farm of Albert Fraleigh in Alberta, Canada before cultivating a 200-acre crop. In 1941, after 12 years of research, Henry Ford proudly displayed the first automobile "grown from the soil" with a plastic body made from 70% wheat straw, hemp and sisal with 30% resin binder. The plastic reportedly could withstand a blow 10 times better than steel without bending. The only steel in the car was its welded tubular frame.

Estimates range as high as 50,000 for the number of products that could be made from hemp fiber and its component cellulose. The cannabinoid group of biochemicals offers hundreds of medical products. Furthermore, hemp can serve well as a biomass fuel. The present and potential industrial uses of hemp are limited only by the suppression imposed by the USA and the United Nations. The market also is hindered by the lack of a domestic supply and by shortages on the international market. Despite the relentless recidivistic obstruction imposed by the degenerate federal regime, a hemp products industry based on imports has begun to develop inthe USA.

C&S Specialty Builder's Supply (Harrisburg, OR) produces a superlative composite fiber-board from hemp. The medium-density fiber (MDF) composite boards (CB) are 250% stronger than wood MDF-CB, and 300% more elastic.David Seber and William Conde, the company's founders, have stated:

"The composite board industry is one of the fastest growing segments of the wood products industry in the United States, with annual sales of over one billion dollars, and one whose primary raw material is becoming scarce... During the past 20 years we have seen the misuse and mismanagement of our native forests on such a widespread basis that it has caused an industry-wide crisis in the lack of raw materials (namely wood) that now is destroying this industry... We now believe that wood will become a rare commodity that should be used only where it can be directly seen or touched, and an alternative product must be developed for all other construction type products currently made from wood. After a lengthy and detailed survey of the plant kingdom and an extensive historical search of the uses of plants in civilization, we at C&S have come to the conclusion that the absolute best alternative to wood in construction products is hemp (Cannabis sativa). In fact, as far as we can tell, hemp has the potential to be vastly superior to wood for everything from lumber to plywood to particle board or any other composite construction material... Hemp hurds have great potential to make glues for composite construction products..."(57)

Conservative estimates of novel industrial markets for cellulose fibers exceeds 100 kilotons/year --- several times more than is produced at present. Another 100 KT/yr could be used in reinforced concrete and composite materials, and in all types of cardboard, pulp, and paper products. Hemp fiber can be used in the production of Compression Molded Parts (CMP), caulking and stuffing, and in gaskets, brakes, and clutch linings for the transportation industry. The construction industry can consume all the hempen fiberboard and insulation that can be produced. The fiber also can serve to strengthen cement, stucco, bricks, plaster, mortar, and tarboard. Hemp fiber can substitute for many non-renewable (and toxic) materials such as asbestos. The strength and biodegradability of hemp fiber also makes it well-suited for use in geotextiles.

1.7 ~ Hemp Biodiesel

Hemp yields about 0.4 tons of seed/acre, which yields about 300 gallons of oil. The oil can be used alone or with methanol to serve as bio-diesel fuel, or it can be mixed with petro-diesel. Bio-diesel fuel produces full engine power with much lower emissions (and no sulfur) than does petro-diesel. The latter has a cetane rating (CR) of about 40. The CR of hempseed oil is 60 to 100. Sunflower, safflower, and rapeseed yield only up to about 110 gallons oil/acre.

Biodiesel is easily produced by reacting methanol with sodium hydroxide to produce sodium methoxide. Use 200 ml methanol and 3.5 gr NaOH per liter of vegetable oil. The mixture is stirred for one hour, then left to settle for several hours. The products are biodiesel (upper layer) and glycerine soap. Filter the biodiesel (5 microns) before using it. Another method is even simpler: blend 10-40% kerosene with vegetable oil; 20% kerosene produces a reliable mixture throughout a wide range of ambient temperatures. Unadulterated or unreacted vegetable oil also can be used, but the engine must be started and cooled down using diesel or biodiesel. Therefore a two-tank system and switch valve is required. Go to for more information.

Hemp stalks can be converted to ethanol (with about 20% efficiency by fermentation of hydrolyzed cellulose), into methane (by digestion of the stalks, with 50% efficiency), into producer gas (by thermal gasification at 85% efficiency) and into methanol (by pyrolysis of the stalks, or from producer gas). It is estimated that hemp biomass can yield an equivalent of 1,300 gal/acre of vehicle fuel. Chopped stalks also can be used directly as a boiler fuel.

1.8 ~ Hemp: A Renewable Resource

Sustainable, ecological agriculture requires a revival of traditional multiple-crop cultivation utilizing modern equipment and methods of harvesting and processing in order to reverse the trend of global environmental degradation now in effect. Cannabis hemp is arguably if not obviously the best choice for the purpose. The environmental benefits of hemp husbandry are manifold. The use of hemp as a substitute for wood reduces the extent of deforestation. Hemp is easily biodegradable, so its disposal presents no problems of waste management. The plant requires relatively little fertilizer in comparison to other fiber crops, and it needs little or no treatment with pesticides. Hemp benefits the environment and the rural economy while providing a sustainable alternative source of fiber for paper, textiles, and other purposes. (58)

America uses as much wood, by weight, as all metals, plastics, and cement combined. Much of what little is left of American lumber, including old growth, now goes to Japan. About 40% of the trees destroyed in America are used to make paper products, most of which are not recycled. Soon we will have no choice but to use hemp and to recycle as much as possible. David Seber and William Conde (founders of C&S Builder's Supply, manufacturers of hemp fiberboard) have stated:

"If we don't [grow hemp] there is a good chance that in 10 years there will be no forests left on the temperate region of the Earth. I think it's the most important issue of our time. And it has to be done, because the over-riding issue about the forests is not about trees, and it's not even about wood; it's about fiber, and how our culture uses fiber... Not only do we have the solution to the forests, we have the only really viable concept of what sustainability is about...

"The way to fix the forest is to use advanced composites from annual fibers like hemp. Anything you can make out of a tree you can make out of hemp. We can leave the forest alone and everyone can go back to work."

In his comments On the Decay of Rents (1670), Sir William Coventry gave some sage advise that holds true today:

"For the changing the use of our land two things occur to me most reasonable and most desirable. The one is to encourage the planting of wood and severely to punish... the destruction of it... The other is to encourage the sowing of hemp and flax, which, besides diverting the ground from corn and cattle, would employ all the poor that can be found."

1.9 ~ Other Fiber Crops

Cannabis is the original and only "True Hemp". In the past century especially, several other fiber plants have assumed the generic name of "hemp". Manila hemp is abaca (Musa textilis) or wild plantain. Sisal hemp is henequen (Agave fourcroydes L.) or century plant (Agave Americana), grown in Central America. New Zealand flax (phormium, P. tenax) is called hemp; Mauritius hemp is furcraea (F. gigantea). Sunn hemp is crotolaria (C. juncea). Jute (Corchorus capsularis L.) also is known as Indian hemp, not to be confused with Cannabis indica, which used to be called Indian hemp, but no longer. A species of hibiscus hemp (H. cannabinus) grows in India.

After decades of research, the USDA conveniently ignored the proven potential of cannabis hemp and declared kenaf to be the best fiber for paper-making. In the USA, however, kenaf can be cultivated in bulk only in the southern states of New Mexico, Texas, California, and Louisiana. The yield is low in cool climates.

Flax grows well in temperate climates, but the yield per acre is less than half that of hemp. Flax exhausts the soil, which requires careful preparation for a good crop. It requires a relatively low mean temperature and rather cold soil with a very regular supply of water; flax does not tolerate drought. Flax has specific requirements for fertilization, and the crop must be rotated with others that specially condition the soil. Flax can be grown only once in 6 to 8 years in the same ground. It is sown late, and it grows and matures slowly. Flax is smothered by fast-growing weeds, and it is easily blown down. Flax is expensive to sow, cultivate, and harvest.

Cotton is adapted to a wide range of uses, and it spins easily, but is not so strong and durable as hemp. Cotton also exhausts the soil.

Ramie (China-grass, Boehmeria) yields only about one-fourth as much per acre, compared to hemp. Ramie is confined to tropical or semi-tropical climates; dry hot spells or cold snaps will kill the crop.

Sisal and Manila hemp are not suitable for spinning fine fabrics, and cannot be grown in American climates.

Jute produces a yield comparable with hemp, but it requires a warm, humid climate, rich loam soil, and lots of rain during the growing season. This would limit its cultivation in the USA to the southern states. Jute also exhausts the soil, and it contains less cellulose than hemp. Jute does not bleach easily, and the bleached fibers soon disintegrate. Jute is cheap and plentiful and easy to spin, but it is the weakest and least durable of the major textile fibers.

Cannabis hemp grows well throughout most of the US, and it requires little fertilizer, insecticides, or attention. None of the competitive fiber plants can grow in so many climates as cannabis, and none of them compare well with hemp.

S.S. Boyce, author of the treatise Hemp (1900), praised the superiority of hemp in no uncertain terms:

"Hemp is the king of fiber-bearing plants --- the standard by which all other fibers are measured; while none but silk is of a finer character, and none other is so universally adapted to a wide soil and climatic conditions and the rude arts of the semi-barbarous husbandman, and the primitive methods and practices attending the preparation of its fiber; yet none is more amenable to the care of exact culture, nor better rewards the skill of fine-art methods of fiber-manipulation. No plant is more susceptible to the processes of producing a fine, white, soft and silky fiber, and there is not one to take its place in the wide and diversified area of its culture and manufacture...

"No plant is more simple of cultivation and manipulation, none more susceptible to the care of the husbandman, none more capable of a widely diversified product, and none is more universally adapted to American soils and climatic conditions, or to supplying raw material of the nature and character required by manufacturers of cordage and fine linen fabrics."

1.10 ~ Hempseed & Nutrition

Legend says that Gautama Buddha ate only one hempseed a day for six years while he waited for nirvana.Hempseed is eaten by many of India's poor people. A mixture called bosa consists of the seeds of Eleusine and hemp, and mura is made with parched wheat, amaranth or rice, and hempseed. The seeds are said to make all vegetables more palatable and complete foods. Sometimes it is an ingredient in chutney. Bhang and ripe hempseed also is used to flavor or strengthen the formulations of some alcohol beverages.

Hempseed has served as a primary famine food in China, Australia, and Europe as recently as World War Two. Medieval Christian monks ate hempseed gruel every day. Even in modern times, mothers of the Sotho tribe in South Africa are known to feed their babies with ground hempseed in pap. (59)

Hempseed now is an ingredient in food products, including flour, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, pudding, milk, spreads, candy, and meat substitutes. Prices are kept high by the cost of shipping, steam sterilization, repackaging, domestic shipping, and old equipment.

Hempseed contains all the essential amino acids and fatty acids, and is considered to be a complete food. The seed or achene contains 26-31% crude protein, 65% of which is globular edestin and albumin that is about 84% digestible. Lysine (the limiting protein in edestin) and other components are destroyed by the heat generated when hempseed is pressed for its oil. Addition of 1% lysine hydrochloride will restore the nutritional balance of heat-treated edestin. The meal also contains about 6% carbohydrates, 5-10% fat, 12% crude fiber, 10% moisture, and 7% ash. (60-62)

T.B. Osborne studied hemp edestin and reported on its isolation and purification in 1892. Until the passage of the infamous Marihuana Tax Act in 1937, edestin was regarded as a standard example of the seed globulins (the third most abundant protein after collagen and albumin). They are vital to the maintenance of a healthy immune system.(63, 64)

The globulin edestin in hempseed closely resembles that found in human blood plasma, and it is easily digested, absorbed, and utilized. Hemp edestin is so completely compatible with the human digestive system, that the Czechoslovakian Tubercular Nutrition Study (1955) found hempseed to be the only food that can successfully treat the consumptive disease tuberculosis, in which the nutritive processes are impaired. (65)

When hempseed is fed to poultry on a regular basis, the birds do not go "off feed", and they do not require hormones to fatten them. Egg production also is increased. Hempseed meal has an effect analogous to that of grit in chicken diets inasmuch as the gizzard linings are found to be free of corrugations and erosions. (66-69)

John Worlidge commented on this in his Systema Agriculturae (1675):

"Hemp seed is much commended for the feeding of poultry and other fowl, so that where plenty thereof may be had, and a good return for fowl, the use thereof must needs be advantageous."

Curtis Weekes, a crop specialist in Alberta, Canada, conducted silage trials with hemp and barley silage for two groups of heifer in 2000. The found that cattle liked both feeds, and their weight gains were equal. The cattle obviously preferred the hemp silage, because they licked the hemp feed bunk completely clean, but always left some barley silage uneaten. The hemp silage contained about 19% protein, and its acid detergent fiber (the indigestible part of the plant) was nearly 41%; the barley ADF was 28.2%. The hemp also contained more calcium and phosphorus.

1.11 ~ Hempseed Oil

The oil of hempseed is used in paints, varnishes, inks and lubricants. When exposed to air, the fatty acids in hempseed oil form a hard film that makes it very useful in the manufacture of paints. The cellulose and other organic chemicals in cannabis can serve as feedstock for the manufacture of plastics and other synthetic substances. The oil has excellent surfactant properties that are put to use in several new hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, cosmetics and balms. For example, SATIVA Gmbh (Germany) manufactures a detergent from hempseed oil and ruptured yeast; it removes stains with high efficiency, due to its very low surface tension. The detergent is used as an industrial cleaner for engines, and to clean petroleum-contaminated soil. It is completely bio-compatible and uses no phosphates, enzymes, or bleaches.

30-35% of the weight of hempseed is oil containing 80% of the unsaturated essential fatty acids (EFA), LA (55%) and LNA (21-25%). These are not manufactured by the body, and must be supplied by food. The oil also contains about 8% by volume of palmitic, stearic, oleic and arachidic acids. The 80% EFAs in hempseed oil is the highest total percentage amongst the common plants used by man. Flax oil ranks second with 72% EFAs. The EFAs are very sensitive to heat, light and oxygen. For this reason, hempseed oil must be processed and stored carefully (in the cold, dark, and under vacuum) to preserve the potency of the EFAs. The EFA composition (% of total oil) of hempseed oil is: 18:3w3 (20%), 18:2w6 (60%), 18:1w9 (12%), 18:0 (2%), and 16:0 (6%).

EFAs are precursors to the prostaglandin series (PGE 1,2, & 3). PGE 1 inhibits the production of cholesterol and dilates blood vessels, and it prevents the clotting of blood platelets in arteries. A. Kemmoku, et al., found that a diet of hempseed causes the serum levels of total cholesterol to drop dramatically. Blood pressure also decreases after several weeks of eating hempseed, thanks to the steady, adequate supply of EFAs.(70-72)

In the opinion of U. Erasmus, author of Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, the proportions of LA and LNA in hempseed oil are perfectly balanced to meet human requirements for EFAs, including gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). Unlike flax oil and others, hempseed oil can be used continuously without developing a deficiency or other imbalance of EFAs. The peroxide value (PV, the degree of rancidity) of hempseed oil is only 0.1-0.5, which is very low and safe and does not spoil its taste. In comparison, the PV of virgin olive oil is about 20, and the PV of corn oil is about 40-60. (73-76)

A series of studies conducted in 1997 by ARUP Laboratories (Salt Lake City) found that hempseed oil contains enough cannabinoids to produce a positive result with standard urine drug test procedures. The subject felt no psychoactive effects whatsoever. Samples continued to test positive for two days after the subject stopped ingesting the oil. This new development has thoroughly upset the drug-testing industry, which has suggested that hempseed oil be banned. The presence of cannabinoids in hempseed or oil is due to minute bits of inflorescence that are not removed when the seeds are cleaned. (77)

Table 1.2 ~ General Analysis of Hempseed


Table 1.3 ~ Typical Elemental Assay of Hempseed


Table 1.4 ~ Typical Protein Analysis of Hempseed


Table 1.5 ~ Properties of Hempseed Oil

Table 1.6 ~ Fatty Acid Analysis of Hempseed Oil


1.12 References

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