Hemp is one of the earliest domesticated plants known. It has been cultivated by many civilizations for over 12,000 years Hemp can be used to make paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics and construction materials. It has many agricultural uses and benefits and can even be used as a bio-fuel.
Hemp can also be used as food. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, sprouted, made into hemp milk, prepared as tea, and used in baking. The fresh leaves can also be consumed in salads. Approximately 44% of the weight of hempseed is edible oils, containing about 80% essential fatty acids. Hempseed’s amino acid profile is close to “complete” when compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy. Hemp protein contains all 21 known amino acids, including the 9 essential ones adult bodies cannot produce. Proteins are considered complete when they contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities and ratios to meet the body’s needs. The proportions of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in one tablespoon (15 ml) per day of hemp oil easily provides human daily requirements for EFAs.
Hemp can also be used to purify soil and water and to control weeds.
Hemp can be grown in many geographic and geological areas including areas where the soil is generally poor. In fact it is one of the fastest growing biomasses known yet it has a low ecological footprint and is environmentally friendly in many ways. Increased production of hemp could improve the environment and decrease poverty in the poorest corners of the world and in our own countries. Greater use of hemp as a food-stuff could improve our health and our economy.
So why, oh why aren’t we taking advantage and making greater use of this natural wonder-stuff? Well, because it is cannabis of course, and cannabis is evil and bad and gives you spots!
Yes hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant. These days most legally grown hemp does not contain the intoxicating substance THC, but even so, it is essentially the same plant. However there are so many restrictions placed on it’s cultivation that the environmental and economic benefits are not being realised.
I am sure I have rehearsed the arguments for and against cannabis in my blog before. It will probably come as no surprise that I am in favour of the full legalisation of cannabis for recreational and medicinal use. Medically cannabis has many proven applications. It can be used to relieve pain. Studies have shown cannabis has many well-documented beneficial effects. Among these are: the reduction of nausea and vomiting, stimulation of hunger for chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered intra-ocular eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), and treatment of gastrointestinal illness.
And yes, it can be used recreationally. Just like tobacco and alcohol there are risks as well as benefits to using cannabis and the choice to indulge or not should be made by mature, responsible adults. If only the authorities would let us make that choice in peace instead of beating us with sticks if we make a choice they don’t approve of. I’m not a regular “stoner” but I do use cannabis occasionally for my own enjoyment and I don’t see why I should feel more guilty or be penalised more severely for that than for drinking a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette.
But just for a second let’s imagine a world where cannabis and hemp could be grown legally and without restriction for all the positive benefits mentioned above. A world where there is less threat to the diminishing forests or to the environment in general… A world where we were all a little bit more healthy… A world where the economy was a bit more sustainable and the poor were rather less poor… A world where medical marijuana was more easily available for those who needed it. A world where the huge profits possible in cannabis cultivation went to support our own communities rather than gang-land criminals.
Is it madness that prevents this world from happening or are there more sinister vested interests hiding behind our draconian laws and restrictions?