Put That in your Pipe and Smoke it
Let’s just get this out of the way first. Hemp fabric is NOT marijuana and no you can’t smoke your t-shirt after you’re done wearing it. It is a long standing myth that the fibrous hemp plant is the same as the marijuana plant. They are two different plants producing two different results, only one of which is drug related. Phew, now that we’ve said that, onto Hemp fabric!
Hemp fabric is a lovely, soft and durable fabric (x4 more durable than cotton!). It can be made into 25,000-50,000 products including fabric, food, paper, paint, linoleum and biodegradable plastic. It is illegal to grow in this country, though it can be grown in climates and all 50 states. It is not illegal to import the fabric in, so it is available to all of us. Why you ask is it illegal to grow? Well as most things in this country it is important to follow the paper trail back to money and power. In the 1920’s and 1930’s Henry Ford along with some big US companies were on the brink of a Hemp revolution, creating huge quantities of products from hemp. When the petro-chemical and pulp paper industry got wind of this they were not too happy about it. They, including Randolph Hearst launched a huge negative publicity campaign against hemp complete with coverage in Mr. Hearst’s own newspaper.
Here are some quick facts about hemp that will make your head spin (not in the marijuana way though)
*Hemp has been used for thousands of years; archeologists have unearthed hemp fibers in China over 10,000 years old.
*Betsy Ross made the first American flag out of hemp
*The Founding Fathers were hemp farmers
*1st and 2nd draft of the Constitution were drafted on hemp
*Levi Strauss made the first pair of jeans out of hemp canvas
*Hemp is anti-microbial
*Can be grown in all climates and in all 50 states
*Cultivating hemp is illegal in the United States
*Hemp fabric is soft and durable
Hemp also has huge environmental benefits as well. Because the plant is resistant to insects they require no pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. This helps reduce the runoff of chemicals into our waterways and into the soil. And unlike conventionally grown (non-organic) cotton, hemp does not deplete the soil of rich nutrients. Just to make this point hit home, ½ of all agricultural chemicals sprayed in this country are on conventionally grown cotton. Enough said.