Hemp is being rediscovered by thousands of people each day thanks to the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Farmers around the nation quickly jumped at the opportunity to be some of the first to grow one of mankind’s most useful crops in over 70+ years. The result of this Farming Act of 2018 being passed is seen through the massive resurgence of hemp products found in today’s market. Although it may seem like an exciting new cash crop for many, our nation has seen a similar spike in demand for hemp products during World War II.
The US government released this short film in 1942 to encourage the cultivation and production of industrial hemp for wartime efforts. Prior to the release of Hemp For Victory, the government had prohibited hemp production within our borders, restricting all hemp access to be imported from countries such as the Philippines and East Asia. When Japan’s military took over these regions, the U.S. government flipped their take on hemp in order to encourage farmers to provide our military with the strongest natural fiber on Earth.
The black and white film begins by touching on the rich history of hemp and goes on to explain how it’s grown from seed and processed into rope, textiles, and cloth for soldiers. This lead to patriotic farmers growing an estimated 150,000+ acres of industrial hemp, a vital resource which surely helped us obtain the victory. After World War II the US government buried the film and went back to its old stance on hemp as a dangerous substance. The last hemp farms in the US were planted in Wisconsin in the year 1957. 50 years later, the hemp boom we see today was sparked when the government granted two North Dakota farmers the right to grow industrial hemp.
Although the major demand for hemp is rooted in society’s recent CBD boom, there has also been a resurgence for the fibers contained in the crop’s stem. The industrial hemp plant commonly grown today is made up of two fibers found in the stem. The outer fiber is called the bast, and the inner is labeled as the hurd.
The bast fiber is what gives the hemp plant strength, growing thicker and longer as the plant resists winds during its developmental growth stage. The inner hurd fibers are short and less useful than bast fibers in an industrial sense, although the hurd fiber is said to still be more durable and just as useful as cotton by many farmers.
Hemp fiber uses
You may be wondering what exactly makes hemp fibers superior to other natural fibers. The past century’s dominant cotton industry was threatened by industrial hemp, so they resorted to slandering hemp plants via association with marijuana. I’ll touch on the history of the hemp plant more in a future post, but essentially the heads of the cotton tycoon started the war on hemp in order to maintain their position at the top of the fiber industry. The main reasons why hemp is the superior fiber can be broken down into three factors; it requires 50% less water to grow, hemp naturally fights off bacteria, plus it won’t ever shrink such as cotton does. Beyond those factors, hemp is also used to strengthen concrete and it can be converted into a bio-fuel which is much more efficient than ethanol. Furthermore, paper created from hemp fiber is one of the most durable papers on the planet. I hope you learned something from this post, check back in next week for more hemp content!
My name is Sam Higginbotham and welcome to The Industrial Hemp Blog! I’m currently a senior studying Electronic Media and Advertising at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Alongside finishing my education, I’m also focused towards the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp.
“Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?” ~ Henry Ford
Before we take the dive into more specific news and details of this industry, I figured it’d be best to start by clarifying the most common misconception surrounding industrial hemp;
Although both plants are a part of the cannabis family, the two are drastically different on chemical and industrial levels. While marijuana (right) plants are grown in a manner to grow to average height and focus towards higher flower yields, industrial hemp (left) plants are grown taller and skinnier in order to maximize stalk yields during harvest.
Asides from physical appearance and cultivation techniques, these plants also differ on a chemical level. The majority of marijuana grown is cultivated with high THC percentage as the main focus. THC is the psychoactive component found in marijuana buds, which is why people catch a buzz when smoked. Industrial hemp contains minuscule amounts of THC, generally below 0.3%. This is not nearly enough to get psychoactive effects. Furthermore, the flower that hemp does produce is usually high in CBD, a chemical which has been shown to naturally calm your mind, promote relaxation, and ease pain caused by a multitude of health issues. I hope this provides some clarity on this hot topic, and feel free to post any questions you may have in the comments section. Thanks for reading and stop by again soon!
Traditional mediums used to construct buildings most often include the carbon-heavy substance concrete. While it’s safe to say that cement is a time-tested, durable foundation, its production comes at a serious environmental price. Worldwide, it’s estimated that cement production accounts for roughly 7% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Thankfully, the demand for alternative building materials such as hempcrete is on the rise.
When the light, strong, inner core of hemp stalk is ground up and mixed with lime and water, the mixture gets poured into brick molds, creating blocks of hempcrete. Not only is hempcrete stronger, lighter, and the most earthquake-resistant of all materials, but it’s also the healthiest! The leftover hemp stalk found in the bricks continues to breath excess carbon out of the environment for decades after being made. Furthermore, the production is 100% natural, allowing for those who build with hempcrete clean, petrochemical-free air to breath in their homes.
“The most sustainable building material isn’t concrete or steel — it’s fast-growing hemp. Hemp structures date to Roman times. A hemp mortar bridge was constructed back in the 6th century, when France was still Gaul.”
Popescu, A. (2018, January 27). There’s No Place Like Home, Especially if It’s Made of Hemp. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/science/hemp-homes-cannabis.html.