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Hemp: An Alternative to Oil
6 years ago
| Surprise Me

An older article that still stands true today..


With gas and oil prices at an all-time high, the alternative solution for residents throughout Amherst, Mass., and the country for energy is hemp.

Gas prices recently broke the $3-a-gallon mark for the first time in the region, which has drivers and residents who rely on gas for their cars as well as oil for heat struggling.

The thought of hemp production as a cheap alternative to oil and gas is appealing because it can be converted to "biomass" that is, in turn, converted to energy.

"Biomass can be converted to methane, methanol or gasoline at a fraction of the current cost of oil, coal or nuclear energy," Jack Herer, a longtime hemp activist and author of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," said.

In his book, Herer states, "Hemp stems are 80 percent hurds" (pulp byproduct after the hemp fiber is removed from the plant).

Hemps hurds are 77 percent cellulose - a primary chemical feed stock (industrial raw material) used in the production of chemicals, plastics and fibers ... an acre of full-grown hemp plants can provide from 50 to 100 times the cellulose found in cornstalks, kenaf or sugar cane."

Many people aren't educated about hemp due to the illegal nature of its cultivation and its (strictly legal) association with marijuana.

Bruce Montague, an employee of Amherst's Surner Heating Company, said in an interview last winter in response to the suggestion of using hemp energy, "I don't think there'd be any benefit."

According to Herer's research, "Farming only 6 percent of the continental U.S. acreage with biomass [from hemp] crops would provide all of Americans' gas and oil energy needs, ending dependence upon fossil fuels."

He added, "Each acre of hemp would yield 1,000 gallons of methanol. Fuels from hemp, along with the recycling of paper, etc., would be enough to run America virtually without oil."

Herer explained the versatility of hemp by saying, "It can be grown in virtually any climate or soil condition on Earth, even marginal ones."


Recent marijuana decriminalization laws  have lightened the penalties for possession of the plant.

However, the association hemp has to the drug is possibly one of its biggest roadblocks toward legalization.

With crystal methamphetamine presently the country's largest drug problem, admitted by both state and local law enforcement agencies, the current administration is asking such agencies to focus their efforts on marijuana busts.

"Nearly half of state and local law enforcement agencies identify meth as their greatest drug threat, as more than 1 million Americans use the highly addictive drug, which is linked to violent crime, explosions and fires at meth labs, severe health problems and child and family abuse," Robert Dreyfuss said in the Aug. 11 issue of Rolling Stone.

In a telephone interview Herer, though he endured a stroke just a few years ago, was willing to discuss his views on "big energy."

He said, "All the energy companies bought up the coal rights and when gasoline runs out in our lifetime within the next 40 years, these companies are going to feed us the coal substitute for the next 400 years!"

6 years ago

Hemp has been cultivated for its many uses for the past 12,000 years. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their farms, mostly for the beneficial products provided by its fibers and seeds.

Though one of the most versatile and fastest growing plants in the world, hemp has long endured image problems. It belongs to the cannabis family which also contains the plants which became the recreational and therapeutic drug marijuana. Yet a closer look at hemp reveals that it may provide a large piece of the puzzle in solving our current and future energy and ecological dilemmas.

America Runs on Oil in More Ways than One

The car culture in America has been going strong since the end of World War II and despite financial woes and gas prices north of three dollars per gallon, shows no signs of declining. Crude oil for gasoline represents just one of the ways oil permeates nearly every facet of our lives. Most synthetic clothing fibers are derived from petroleum, for example. Disposable diapers, combs, cosmetics, trash bags and food preservatives form part of a list pages long of everyday products derived from oil. This is why electric cars solve only part of the oil-overconsumption problem.


Mark Whitis, a software engineer and hemp activist, unleashes a powerful argument for the use of hemp fuel in his page on the website ("Hemp as Fuel"). He states that hemp does not require pesticides to grow and that one acre of a hemp crop can produce 1,000 gallons of methanol. Some quick arithmetic reveals that this amount will power a small SUV for a whole year.

Hemp for Energy, Building Materials, and Paper

The mention of the word causes visions of stoned slackers in comedy movies yet hemp may be the ultimate natural resource. According to the website, ("Hemp: The World's Most Beneficial Natural Resource?") hempseed oil can be produced into non-toxic diesel fuel. In addition, hemp cellulose fibers can be fermented and converted into ethanol fuel. Hemp can also be used to produce fiberboard that is lighter than wood, stronger than wood and fire resistant. One acre of hemp produces as much fiber as two to three acres of cotton and clothing from its fibers lasts longer. Finally, hemp from paper is stronger and more recyclable than wood fiber.

Fallacies about Hemp

Millions of wild hemp plants currently grow throughout the United States. Unlike cotton, which requires a moderate climate, hemp grows in all fifty states. Yet cultivation of hemp has been largely outlawed in this country since the late 1930s because of its pharmacological properties. Wild hemp, similar to the types grown in other countries for industrial use, contains only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive drug component. Still, marijuana laws prevent farmers from cultivating a plant that already flourishes in nature


Hemp fiber has long been suited for rope. During World War II, the government sanctioned hemp farms for the quick production of sturdy rope fiber. It was long thought that hemp fiber would be too rough and scratchy against delicate human skin, for clothing, yet today's re-engineered fibers produce softer, more comfortable textiles.

Hemp as a Plastic Composite for Cars

The website"Hemp Plastics.") tells of how Henry Ford experimented with hemp-and-sisal cellulose plastic to build car doors and fenders in 1941. Video shows him demonstrating how the hemp fabricated car door stood up to blows from a sledgehammer better than sheet metal. Today Ford, Mercedes Benz and other car manufacturers produce door panels, seatbacks and instrument panels from hemp based cellulose. Beyond the automotive industry, the hemp cellulose composite can be blow molded into any shape for an organic alternative for all types of containers and packaging.

Hemp is the Ultimate Renewable Resource

Unlike fossil fuels, which take thousands of years to form, or trees, which take dozens of years to grow, hemp is ready for harvest in only three to four months. It reaches a height of six to twelve feet, and produces three to six tons of dry fiber per acre. Products made from hemp, because of their organic origin are completely biodegradable, unlike present day plastics, which can last hundreds of years.

Clearly, the time for hemp has come and only legal roadblocks keep it from becoming the best source for America's future biofuel energy needs. Congressman Ron Paul's presidential campaign touted industrial hemp production as a great way to revitalize America's economy and help fuel its future.


6 years ago

Wish the US would get over their problem with hemp.  You can use it like stated above.  You can cook with it and make clothing.  It's a wonderful alternative to corn.




Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance


About Us

Since 1998, Canada has grown industrial hemp for seed and for fibre. Canadian farmers and businesses are interested in the growing business of hemp as it realises its potential to produce healthy food and environmentally-friendly products, including paper, textiles, biocomposites and sustainable building materials.

To tap into the plant's exciting potential for Canada, the industry recognised the need for a common national front. The CHTA/ACCC was formed in 2003: we are a non-profit national group of hemp processors, marketers, farmers and information specialists.





On Marijuana Growing In Canada: New 10 Billion Dollar Cash Crop Puts Vancouver On The Map



6 years ago

Who hates Hemp?


Cotton Industry

Lumber Industry

Petro/Energy Industry

Corn Industry

Chemicals Industry

Medical Industry


Did I leave any out?  I'm sure there are more...



6 years ago

from The Columbia History of the World:

"The first of the major new techniques were probably weaving and pottery making. The earliest known woven fabric was apparently of hemp, which began to be worked in the eighth millenium."

from Merriam Webster's Dictionary:

"Canvas (kan`ves) n. 1. A firm closely-woven cloth usually of linen, hemp, flax or cotton used for clothing and forerly much used for tents sails 2. a. A piece of cloth backed or framed as a surface for a painting b. the background, setting or scope of an historial or fictional account or narrative [< L cannabis hemp]"

from Doubleday Dictionary:

Canvas (kan`ves) n. 1. Strong close-woven cloth of hemp, flax or cotton, used for tents, sails, etc. 2. A piece of such cloth used for a painting [< L cannabis hemp]
from Hemp & the Marijuana Conspiracy:

"In 1619, America’s first marijuana law was enacted at Jamestown Colony, Virginia, ‘ordering’ all farmers to ‘make tryal of’ Indian hemp seed. More mandatory hemp cultivation laws were enacted in Massachusetts in 1631, in Connecticut in 1632 and in the Chesapeake Colonies into the mid-1700’s. Cannabis hemp was legal tender in most of the America's from 1631 until the early 1800’s, and you could pay your taxes with cannabis hemp for over 200 years."

from The Consumers Union Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs:

"There is no record that the pilgrims brought marijuana with them to Plymouth, but the Jamestown settlers did bring the plant to Virginia in1611, and cultivated it for its fiber. Marijuana was introduced into New England in 1629. From then until after the Civil War, the marijuana plant was a major crop in North America, and played an important role in both colonial and national economic policy. In 1762, ‘Virginia awarded bounties for hemp culture and manufacture, and imposed penalties upon those who did not produce it."

from The Encyclopaedia Britannica, VIII Edition:

"But it is not as a narcotic and excitant that the hemp plant is most useful to mankind; it is an advancer rather than a retarder of civilization, that its utility is made most manifest. Its great value as a textile material, particularly for cordage and canvas, has made it eminently useful; we might with justice call it the ‘accelerator of commerce’ and the ‘spreader of wealth and intellect.’ For ages man has been dependent upon hempen cordage and hempen sails for enabling his ships to cross the seas. There is one other useful quality in the hemp plant; it produces an abundance of seed, which not only yields a valuable oil, but the seed is extensively used in feeding singing birds."

from The 1900 Report of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and the USDA Yearbooks 1896-1914:

"Hemp is one of the oldest fiber producing crops and was formerly the most important. Hemp was cultivated for fiber in very early times in China. The history of the distribution of hemp from Asia to other continents indicates its relationships and the development of the best fiber producing types. Hempseed oil is used to a considerable extent in the preparation of paints and varnishes. In the Old World it enters largely in the composition of soaps, an illuminate and food.

There is a reasonable prospect of establishing an extensive hemp industry in the United States on new lines. Hemp improves the physical condition of the soil, destroys weeds, and when retted on the ground, as is the common practice, does not exhaust fertility. Fertilizers are not generally used in growing hemp, but barnyard manure applied to previous crops is recommended. Insects or fungous diseases rarely injure hemp. The price of hemp has been generally increasing over the last 30 years. The market would expand if manufacturers could be assured of larger supplies. The value of hemp for fiber, birdseed and oil would seem to make its cultivation a very profitable one."

6 years ago

from USDA 1942 film Hemp for Victory:

"For thousands of years this plant has been grown for cordage and cloth. For centuries all the ships that sailed the western seas were rigged with hempen ropes and sails. For the sailor, no less than the hangman, hemp was indispensable. A 44-gun frigate like our cherished Old Ironsides took over 60 tons of hemp for rigging, including an anchor cable 25 inches in circumference. The Conestoga wagon and prairie schooners of pioneer days were covered with hempen canvas. Indeed the very word canvas comes from the Arabic word for hemp. When Manila hemp, from the Navy’s rapidly diminishing supply, is gone, American hemp will go on duty again: hemp for mooring ships, hemp for tow lines, hemp for tackle and gear, hemp for countless Naval uses both on ship and shore. Just as the days when Old Ironsides sailed the seas victorious with her hempen shrouds and hempen sails. Hemp for Victory."

from Clinton M. Hester, U.S. Treasury Dept., during the senate hearings that produced the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937 (which made cannabis illegal):

"The purpose of H.R. 6385 is to employ the federal taxing power not only to raise revenue from the marihuana traffic, but to drive the traffic into channels where the plant will be put to valuable industrial, medical and scientific uses.


The form of this bill is such, however, as to not interfere materially with any industrial, medical, or scientific uses which the plant might have. Since hemp fiber and articles manufactured therefrom are obtained from the harmless mature stalk, all such products have been completely eliminated from the purview of the bill by defining ‘marihuana’ in the bill, so as to exclude from it provisions the mature stalk and its compounds or manufactures.


There are also some dealings in marijuana seeds for planting and for use in manufacture of oil that is ultimately employed by the paint and varnish industry. As the seeds, unlike the mature stalk, contain the drug*, the same complete exemption could not be applied in this instance. But this type of transaction, as well as any transfer of completed paints and varnish products, has been exempted from transfer tax. Any medical use which marijuana may have will also be left largely unrestricted by this bill."


*  “It is significant that none of the millions of people who use this drug have ever, since the dawn of civilization, been found using the seed of this plant or using the oil as a drug.” Ralph Loziers, National Oil Seed Institute at the Tax Stamp hearings. The hemp seed produces no observable high for humans or birds. Only the most minute traces of THC are in the seed.

from Popular Mechanics, "Billion Dollar Crop", 1938 (four months after the enactment of The Marihuana Tax Stamp Act):

"Hemp is the standard fiber of the world. It has great tensile strength and durability. It is used to produce more than 5,000 textile products, ranging from rope to fine laces, and the woody "hurds" remaining after the fiber has been removed contain more than seventy-seven per cent cellulose, and can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to Cellophane."
from The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency Publication:


"Cannabis, Cannabis Sativa L, the hemp plant, grows wild throughout most of the tropic and temperate regions of the world. Prior to the advent of synthetic fibers, the cannabis plant was cultivated for the tough fiber of its stem. In the US, cannabis is legitimately grown only for scientific research. In fact, since 1980, the US has been the only* country where cannabis is licitly cultivated for scientific research." *The US is the only industrialized nation in the world that prohibits the licit cultivation of cannabis hemp for industrial purposes.



6 years ago

Great posts Katii!

6 years ago

Thanks, Ex!


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