What's The Deal With Hemp

Why would we focus on one plant? Because Hemp is absolutely incredible, it has a truly impressive number of applications for us humans and is very environmentally friendly compared to its alternatives across the range of uses.

With a complicated legal, political and social history, it’s important to remember one thing from the outset: HEMP IS NOT A DRUG. Hemp comes from the same plant family as marijuana but you cannot get high from hemp. What you can get is an incredibly strong fibre, textile, food and medicine that humans have been using for over 10,000 years. In fact, hemp was very likely the first crop our species cultivated. It was used extensively on ships for sails and ropes because it’s strong and resistant to salt water and was so critically important that English lords were required by law handed down from King Henry VIII to grow hemp crops. It was that important to the Empire. It’s more modern history is confusing and frankly stupid, with Hemp being incorrectly swept by the War On Drugs and getting an unfair associated with marijuana.

Hemp can be used for textiles, and against cotton it is a MUCH more environmentally friendly alternative because it uses half the amount of water to grow and doesn’t require pesticides or fertilizers to grow. It is also much stronger (three to eight times) and harder-wearing. As a building material, so-called hempcrete has a number of benefits. First it is a carbon negative building. It sucks sequesters carbon when the crop is grown and continues to do sequester carbon while it’s in your house, for decades to come. It removes the need for concrete (which is highly environmentally damaging) and also knocks out the need for insolation like synthetic fiberglass. When it’s time for the house to come down, you can simply bulldoze and bury it.

Links and Resources

Laura Neish’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/opotiki.hemp/

Erkhart Construction: https://www.erkhartconstruction.co.nz/

Hemp is not a drug: https://medium.com/cbd-origin/hemp-vs-marijuana-the-difference-explained-a837c51aa8f7 

We’ve been using hemp for thousands of years: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312634/

Until the 1920s, 80% of clothing was made from hemp: https://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/2/history.html#:~:text=Hemp%2C%20which%20has%20historically%20had,building%20materials%20still%20remains%20banned

The racist history of the cannabis plant: https://journals.openedition.org/echogeo/17650

Hemp’s advantages over cotton: http://www.howstuffcompares.com/doc/h/hemp-vs-cotton.htm

Hemp uses 50% as much water as cotton:

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