Hemp For Victory: From Past Failings to a Promising Future
The Marijuana Tax Act, which took effect in 1937, outlawed the sale of all forms of cannabis, which included a ban on hemp's use an industrial material. For several months preceding hemp’s prohibition, our government had worked to promote hemp with their "Hemp for Victory" campaign. This movement emphasized the resources hemp had to offer during the widespread sparsity of World War II. The conservative populace was nevertheless wary of anything related to cannabis. This fear was underscored by the aggressive policing of farmers by the era's law enforcement. The Controlled Substances Act passed in 1970 later categorized all cannabis derivatives as Schedule I substances, outlawing farmers from the growth of hemp on American soil.
As a renewable, raw material with maximum THC levels of 0.3% or less, hemp has been effectively used to create thousands of popular products. Advocates for hemp have argued in favor of its potential in the field of sustainable design. By the summer of 2018, hemp had been legalized for commercial production and sale in seventeen states, including Colorado. While these states allowed hemp within their borders, it was still listed as a schedule I substance under federal law as per the 1970 ruling. Residents of prohibition states lacked many of the textiles and other locally-made hemp products that Coloradoans have access to. Restrictions on hemp production has limited developers from incorporating hemp into a wide range of products over the past several decades.
Onward and Upward
The Congressional Farm Bill was signed into effect last November after gaining support from political leaders across the aisle by a majority of 87 to 13. While he’s a vocal opponent of THC, Senator Mitch McConnel voiced his support of hemp, and a desire to "empower American farmers to explore this promising new market." Under the Farm Bill’s provisions, hemp will be regarded as an agricultural commodity (like wheat or corn). The Drug Enforcement Agency has officially revoked hemp's schedule I status. States will now be able to further regulate hemp on an individualized basis, allowing each to cater to the needs of its own citizens as they see fit. Farmers now have the option to profit from the sale of hemp, which can be affordably grown and sold. With overrun markets for other popular farm-grown products like corn and soy, hemp’s legalization could bring a much-needed boon to farming communities throughout the nation. Current hemp farmers report respectable profits of $10,000-$50,000 per acre.
Plastic made from hemp is simultaneously biofuel can be made from hemp, which is 86% more eco-friendly than gasoline and can safely be used in existing vehicles. Hemp can also be grown more efficiently than other standard crops. Cotton takes up 25% of the world's pesticides, and needs fifty percent more water than hemp to grow. An acre of hemp can produce four times more paper as an acre of trees per growing season. In addition to its merits in the realm of sustainability, hemp seeds have research-backed benefits as healthy part of a balanced diet. Hemp seeds are a complete protein source, offering a full supply of recommended amino acids. They are also more readily digestible than many other protein sources, including most other legumes, nuts and grains. Hemp seeds are especially rich in arginine, an amino acid responsible for nitrous oxide production in the body.
Hemp’s parent plant, cannabis sativa, has been used as a fiber in clothing and other textiles for more than 10,000 years. Colorado has remained a leader in our nation's hemp production rates in recent history. According toMarijuana Business Daily, "the number of acres licensed for hemp cultivation in the top 10 hemp-growing states grew by 140%" from 2016 to 2017, "while the number of hemp producers doubled over the same one-year period." Now that’s some radical growth!
An estimated $820 million in hemp products were sold in the United States in 2017. This figure precedes the Farm Bill passage in November 2017, and most of the profit went to foreign importers as such. With our new freedom to produce hemp coast to coast, American farmers can reap that reward at long last. Jacob Policzer, director of science and strategy at the Cannabis Conservatory, believes that consumer sales rates of hemp will soon be skyrocketing. “The hemp market is slowly growing. It’s been in a bit of a gray area for a while and is now set to, I would say, explode in the US, with the passing of the new Farm Bill that has legalized hemp production across the United States,” Policzer stated. Increasing the usage of hemp and other sustainable materials as alternatives to ecologically destructive options could profoundly benefit our environment.
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