The Lowdown On… Hemp: The Miracle Natural Resource

Many uses of Hemp

Hemp is probably the most useful crop we could grow along with other plant foods.

I use hemp oil in salad dressing & as a skin lotion. Hempnuts (shelled seed) are very healthy and tasty additions to just about anything.

“If all fossil fuels…as well as the deforestation of trees for paper and agriculture, are banned from use in order to save the planet and reverse the greenhouse effect….then there is only one known renewable natural resource able to provide the overall majority of our paper, textiles and food, meet all the world’s transportation, home and industrial energy needs, reduce pollution, rebuild the soil, and clean the atmosphere all at the same time – Cannabis Hemp!”

uses of industrial hemp
Hemp can be used for almost everything!

So begins the bible of hemp legalization, the late Jack Herer’s classic work, The Emperor Wears No Clothes. You can, of course, choose whether to believe every word, but the book is a veritable library of information on the uses of the cannabis plant. It offers example after example of how hemp can alleviate or even cure a plethora of ills – ranging from those suffered on the individual level (like cancer, asthma, glaucoma, epilepsy and arthritis, amongst others) all the way up to those afflicting the entire globe. Hemp is renewable, affordable and easy to grow without chemicals.

There’s simply no getting away from the fact that in order to survive, humans must find ecologically stable sources of raw materials and energy while drastically reducing waste and pollution. Hemp, a truly amazing plant (which was actually the first crop cultivated by humankind), can be used as a superior ecological alternative to other substances currently being used to fulfill our human needs.

The vast majority of the basic materials used for industry and households today come from drilling, mining and cutting trees. Hemp has thousands of commercial uses including paper, food, fuel, rope, oils, textiles, medicines, building panels, plastics, paint, sealants, disposable diapers, coffee filters, etc. Anything now derived from wood or oil can be made more ecologically with hemp:

Hemp is an extremely hearty, soil-building plant with strong roots that help control erosion. Furthermore, hemp is a drought-resistant alternative that is perfect in crop rotation. Unlike say, corn or cotton, hemp doesn’t require vast quantities of water, pesticide use, or heavy fertilization; quite the opposite, in fact, since an organic pesticide is actually made from hemp. All these qualities and more make hemp an important factor in weed eradication, reforestation, air cleansing and wildlife habitat.

As far as the important realm of energy is concerned, hemp can meet all of our oil and fuel needs. Instead of…stripping our land so we can drive our cherished automobiles, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that widespread hemp utilization (in addition to continuing to explore other benign sources of energy) is the best energy alternative we have.

• Unlike petroleum, hemp is grown as a crop. Since it can be farmed virtually anywhere, control of energy and the profits derived from it will be more evenly distributed.

• While it’s true that all fuels produce carbon dioxide when burned, fast-growing hemp also efficiently converts it back to oxygen in this process, removing greenhouse gases that cause drastic climatic changes.

• Hemp does not contain sulphur, a major factor in acid rain.

• Hemp is the number one biomass producer on Earth: ten tons/acre in approximately four months.

• Averaged over a 20-year period, one acre of hemp produces as much usable pulp as 4.1 acres of forest. Thus, hemp farming could reduce deforestation by 50% or more worldwide.

• Paper made from hemp uses only 10-20% of the toxic sulphur chemicals needed to process wood, and lasts much longer than paper made from wood.

• Hemp pulp and fibre offer a totally biodegradable alternative to plastic.

• Hemp leaves drop throughout the growing season, adding fertile humus and helping retain soil moisture.

• Hemp seeds can be used for fuel or cooking oil. It’s as nutritious as soya and more digestible, gives higher yields and is easier to harvest.

• Hemp is probably the most versatile crop in the world. It is also one of the safest to cultivate and can actually help us clean our badly-damaged environment. Hemp is now subject to legal barriers that are a transparent pretext to protect oil and timber interests from competition that would drastically limit their power and their ability to collect obscene amounts of today’s non-hemp paper money.

Source: Collingwood Collegiate Institute/

Adapted from: How the Cannabis Plant Can Save the World, Russ Weis

Hemp trivia

• George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew cannabis on their plantations (the U.S. money with their images was once made from hemp!).

• The Chinese Mandarins so valued their hemp that they made exporting the seeds a capital offence.

• The American Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

• In the 15th century, the Gutenberg Bible was printed on hemp paper.

Adapted from: Hemp: From Food to Fiber, Paul Benhaim

Canada’s Hemp Industry
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Oct. 20, 2008

Hemp has a long history. The world’s premier renewable resource, hemp has been a source of food and fibre for thousands of years. Popular in Canada in the 18th and 19th centuries, the crop became illegal in 1938. Today, however, hemp is enjoying a renaissance and the 15-year-old global hemp market is a thriving commercial success.

Since its legalization for research and commercial purposes in 1998…the Government of Canada has been supportive of Canada’s re-emerging hemp industry through changes in legislation and regulations, and through market development funding.

The Canadian hemp industry is still small and relatively new, but is a pioneer in the sector of hemp food. Food products derived from hemp seed include flour, nutritional bars, pasta, cookies and lactose-free milk.

According to Health Canada, there was 6,130 hectares of land licensed for hemp cultivation in 2007 of which 95% is concentrated in Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan…Canadian exports of hemp fibre, seed and oil have grown 18-fold since 2005 to reach $3.5 million in 2007. This also represents an increase of 63% compared to the previous year. [Exports are primarily to the] United States (close to 60% of 2007 shipments). Other destinations include Ireland, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Hemp oil, which is extracted from hemp seed, is considered one of the most nutritious oils for humans as it contains the essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6 that the human body does not synthesize by itself, as well as amino acids and antioxidants. It can be used as cooking oil, in salad dressings, spreads and dips. In addition to having a pleasant nutty flavor, hemp seed oil may have potential health benefits for diabetes, cancer, lupus, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, depression and hypertension. The potential role of essential fatty acids in growth and development as well as diseases like coronary heart disease is a fast growing area of research.

In an effort to be perceived as “green”, well-known European companies such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW now use hemp for interior components, including door panels and dashboards. Some manufacturers in the U.S. automobile industry…have started to use hemp to make stronger, lighter and relatively less-expensive composite panels.

A potential growth sector for hemp seed oil is the body care product market. The essential fatty acid (EFA) content of hemp oil makes it ideal as an ingredient in…body care products. The EFAs help soothe and restore skin in lotions and creams and acts as an emollient and provides a smooth after-feel to lotions, lip balms, conditioners, shampoos, soaps and shaving products.

With cosmetic companies taking advantage of the moisture-retention qualities of hemp oils, the functionality and marketability of industrial hemp oil has the potential to increase. Growing consumer awareness and product availability may also help expand the market.

I take advantage of hemp’s qualities in my hemp oil soap and shampoo bar (Update October 2018: I no longer have my shop. I’ve retired!)

hemp oil soap and shampoo bar

2 Replies to “The Lowdown On… Hemp: The Miracle Natural Resource”

  1. Wayne Bruce Allbin, J.D. says: Reply

    Well written.

    1. Thank-you, Wayne. I’m amazed that companies/entrepreneurs aren’t falling all over themselves to produce hemp products.

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