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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Legalized industrial hemp benefits environment

There’s a certain green plant with a reputation for its psychedelic effects and was known to help Bob Marley get through his days. Marijuana gets all the fame, but lesser known is its family member, industrial hemp. This column is about hemp’s gift to us all — the latest material used to make eco-friendly products.

Hemp and marijuana are both members of the cannabis family, but have completely different uses. Industrial hemp has been used for industrial and agricultural purposes as an alternative to everything including wood, gasoline and plastic. Marijuana on the other hand effects the nervous system. It has been used for both medicinal purposes, as a pain killer, and recreationally to alter the senses.

In 1998, a study titled “Environmental Economics” found that hemp is very environmentally friendly and is a carbon negative raw material, limiting harmful carbon footprints. The hemp plant requires little-to-no pesticide and herbicide use, meaning it does not put any more chemicals into the ground.

Hemp is a woody fiber, more fibrous than its munchie inducing cousin, and is commonly mixed with other organic fibers like cotton or silk to make clothing fabric. The oil extracted from hemp seeds can be used in oil-based paints, moisturizers and plastics. Some of the most valuable hemp can produce are paper, textiles, clothing and biodegradable plastics.

China is the leading producer of hemp ahead of Europe, Chile, North Korea and Canada. According to Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, industrial hemp is legal in Canada. In 1994, Canada began doing research on the usefulness of hemp. They discovered that industrial hemp fibers and seeds could be used for various manufacturing purposes, and on March 12, 1998 hemp was legalized in Canada.

According to the North American Industrial Hemp Council, North Dakota, Vermont, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Oregon and West Virginia have individually passed laws that endorse using hemp in their states. However, growing hemp is still illegal under federal law.

Unfortunately, industrial hemp is not legal in the United States because many aren’t aware of the differences between industrial hemp and marijuana. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, it is illegal to grow hemp in the United States without a special DEA permit.

“Many Americans do not know that hemp and marijuana are both parts of the same plant and that hemp cannot be produced without producing marijuana,” DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson said in a statement on the DEA website.

One of the ways hemp is different from marijuana is has little-to-no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it actually contains below 0.3 percent of the psychedelic chemical. This means hemp will not get you high, while marijuana, however, contains anywhere from 2 to 20 percent THC.

Known as “antimarijuana” among its proponents, industrial hemp will actually remove high doses of THC in marijuana plants if planted near them. If smoked, hemp will make the smoker sick due to the lack of THC.

In order to create a more sustainable country, endorsing and legalizing products that are more sustainable is a must. By endorsing and using industrial hemp, the amount of trees, fossil fuels and other unrecyclable products will significantly decrease. The environmental benefits are so great that a distinction between hemp and marijuana must be made.

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  • J

    Jeanette McDougalMay 20, 2013 at 11:29 am

    From: Jeanette McDougal



    Farmers who raise hemp for seed have to contend with the stalks (about 2 tons per acre). (How would farmers deal with the stalks?

    1. ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS – from a Canadian agriculture publication, Ag-West Bio, Inc., November 2005

    EXCERPT: CANADIAN – “Farmers currently treat both hemp and flax residues [stalks/leaves] as waste products. Hemp crops grow to massive heights so handling crop residue is a major headache. Flax residue is so durable and tough that even small amounts can snarl farm machinery for years afterwards. Since flax straw and hemp residues have little economic value, farmers are left with little choice but to burn the residue before planting new crops the following year. This releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributes to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

    2. DEA has a protocol for burning Cannabis (marijuana/hemp) plants. I understand the protocol is rigorous and strict.

    3. California (a state with a hemp legalization bill) has especially strict environmental regulations for burning. In fact, a CA AG department official told me that field burning is essentially banned in CA. Other states have varying rules and regs regarding burning.

    4. A farm must be located within 60 to 100 miles of a fiber processing plant or transporting the stalk would be cost prohibitive.


    Canada – there is only ONE hemp fiber processing plant in Canada – located in ONTARIO. (Hempline – now operating as Stemergy. ONLY 131 acres of hemp were planted in ONTARIO in 2007.$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/econ9631

    Parkland – a farmer’s COOP in MANITOBA, is working toward building a new one. They have been working on it since 1999 and have yet to raise the money. The proposed plant is estimated to cost $14,000,000.

    Avanti – a company in MANITOBA that’s doing a SMALL amount of research & development but the amount of stalks they use is negligible.

    UK – there is only ONE hemp fiber processing plant in the UK. (Hemcore. ) Currently, this lone processing plant, Hemcore, processes 4,500 tonnes of hemp fibre a year. 3,211 acres of hemp were planted in the UK in 2005


    There are a number of seed processing plants in Canada. US companies do NOT process and denature the seed. Rather, they manufacture products from exported seed. Hemp companies in California – where most of the US hemp processing takes place – mainly use the seed/grain, not the fiber. It is illegal in US to possess seed NOT denatured.

    See what’s new at and Make AOL Your Homepage.

  • M

    Malcolm KyleMay 20, 2013 at 1:18 am

    Prohibitionism is intensely, rabidly, frantically, frenetically, hysterically anti-truth, anti-freedom, anti-public-health, ant-public-safety, and anti-economy.

    An important feature of prohibitionism (which it closely shares with fascism) is totalitarianism. That means: A police state apparatus; widespread surveillance, arbitrary imprisonment or even murder of political opponents, mass-incarceration, torture, etc.

    Like despicable, playground bullies, prohibitionists are vicious one moment, then full of self-pity the next. They whine and whinge like lying, spoilt brats, claiming they just want to “save the little children”, but the moment they feel it safe to do so, they use brute force and savage brutality against those they claim to be defending.

    Prohibitionists actually believe that they can transcend human nature and produce a better world. They allow only one doctrine, an impossible-to-obtain drug-free world. All forms of dissent, be they common-sense, scientific, constitutional, or democratic, are simply ignored, and their proponents vehemently persecuted.

    During alcohol prohibition (1919-1933), all profits went to enrich thugs and criminals. While battling over turf, young men died, every day, on inner-city streets. Corruption in Law Enforcement and the Judiciary went clean off the scale. A fortune was wasted on enforcement that could have been far more wisely allocated. On top of the budget-busting prosecution and incarceration costs, billions in taxes were lost. Finally, in 1929, the economy collapsed. Does that sound familiar?

  • D

    DannyMay 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    doesn’t grape juice look like wine?

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Legalized industrial hemp benefits environment