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Ancient Hemp Snuffed By Polyester

Our ancestors were pretty smart eco-folks. Did you know that hemp is one of the earliest cultivated plants known, and ancient Asians used hemp to make clothes, shoes, ropes, and an early form of paper over 10,000 years ago?

Hemp cloth was more common than linen until the mid 14th century. The word canvas in arabic, actually means Hemp. And, in late medieval Germany and Italy, hemp was employed in cooked dishes, as filing in pies and tortes, or boiled in a soup.

Hemp was the perfect archival medium and painting material. Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Gainsborough used hemp oil paints and hemp canvas for their painting. Hemp paper was also used for the first draft of the American declaration of Independence. The Magna Carta and The King James Bible were also written on hemp paper.

Until 1883, 75-90% of all paper in the world was made from hemp. It is said to last 50 to 100 times longer than paper made from timber. Hemp was used extensively by the United States during WWII. Uniforms, canvas, and rope were among the main textiles created from the hemp plant at this time.

In World War II, farmers were encouraged to grow hemp for cordage. The US government evenproduced a film explaining the uses of hemp called Hemp for Victory.

So what happened?

In 1936, the liquor industry funded the infamous movie titled Reefer Madness. This movie depicts a man going insane from smoking marijuana, and then killing his entire family with an ax. This campaign of lies, as well as other evidence, have led many to believe there may have been a hidden agenda behind Marijuana Prohibition.

Shortly before marijuana was banned by The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, new technologies were developed that made hemp a potential competitor with the newly-founded synthetic fiber and plastics industries.

In the 1930s, Americans knew that hemp was a common, useful, and harmless crop. It is extremely unlikely anyone would have believed hemp was dangerous, or would have believed stories of hemp madness. Thus, the words marijuana and reefer were substituted for the word hemp in order to frighten the public into supporting Hemp Prohibition. Very few people realized that marijuana and hemp came from the same plant species; thus, virtually nobody knew that Marijuana Prohibition would destroy the hemp industry.

Strong opposition to trace amounts of THC, a chemical shown by scientific research to be less addictive and less harmful than nicotine or alcohol, led some of its critics, like Jack Herer in The Emperor Wears No Clothes, to charge ulterior motives such as protection of the synthetic-fibre, wood pulp, petrochemical, and pharmochemical industries.

The US government's position has not been completely constant, as shown by the wide-spread cultivation of industrial hemp in Kentucky and Wisconsin during World War II.

Critics of the HIA, however, argue that the necessities of the war and the unavailability of adequate synthetic substitutes outweighed the (unfounded) social, health, and public safety risks of producing hemp. (Wait, what about the crazy Reefer Madness Axe Weilding Guy?)

For the exception of three US states, hemp is illegal to freely grow in the US and several other countries because the plant is related to marijuana. In such countries, hemp is imported from China and the Philippines. The US is the only industrialized country where hemp is illegal to grow.

Hemp is once again sold alongside organic cotton for clothes and is becoming popular as environmental awareness becomes more prevalent. Hemp laws are being passed around the United States in states such as Kentucky, Vermont and North Dakota, where farmers are now allowed to grow it.

Hemp Plastic is a new technology based on 20-100% hemp fiber-based plastics that can be molded or injection molded. The use of fiber-reinforced composites and other natural plastics are expected to become more popular as oil prices rise and the world becomes more environmentally aware.

The increased demand for health food has stimulated the trade of shelled hemp seed, hemp protein powder and hemp oil as well as finished and ready-to-eat food products (waffles, granola bars, ice cream, and milk for example) using these derivatives as ingredients. The use of hemp oil in the manufacture of body care products has also increased.

Click here to check out some cool HEMP clothing.

To check out some HEMP Beauty products, click here.

& Don't forget nutritious Hemp - Check out the Food Section.

Copyright 2008

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