Current U.S. drug laws see hemp in the same light as the illegal Schedule 1 substance, marijuana, despite the significant difference between the two plants--mainly hemp's inability to get you high. Efforts of activists and conscious capitalists continue to bring awareness to this issue in hopes of making it legal to grow industrial hemp in the U.S.
David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, recently made the news when he spent the night in jail for possessing a live hemp plant on the White House lawn. His demonstration, conducted inside a locked cage, included the act of pressing fresh, highly nutritious hemp seeds into oil—just one of the many uses of the hemp plant.
In fact, if you're a numbers person, there are thousands of uses for industrial hemp from foods and personal care items to alternatives to wood, plastic and fuel. It's no wonder there's such resistance to the plant. If legal, it could provide sustainable alternatives in dozens of industries, namely farming.
The hemp plant is incredibly easy to grow, requires little pest control and is well suited for American climates. According to the Hemp Industries Association, there are only about eight known pests out of a hundred that can cause serious problems for hemp. This means that even non-certified organic hemp crops can use significantly fewer—if any—pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.
From the Organic Authority Files
One of the fastest growing plants, hemp's rapid growth also makes it a natural weed suppressor.
That fast growth means quicker time to market: fiber yields between 60-90 days and to grain in just 110-150 days. Plant it early in the season rather than later as hemp is sensitive to day length and will perform better when planted before the summer solstice.
Hemp is similar to wheat in terms of fertility. Hemp.com states: "Research is continuing to define the exact nutrient requirements. Apply up to 110 kg/ha of nitrogen, depending on soil fertility and past cropping history. Research to date supports the application of 40-90 kg/ha of potash for fibre hemp."
And with more than two-thirds of the nation now battling drought conditions and potential food and ethanol shortages as a result, hemp could help farmers recover, fast.
The United States is the only industrialized country not to embrace the economic and environmental benefits of growing hemp. That could soon change, as hopeful Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill (S. 3501) to the Senate as a companion bill to H.R. 1831, which could make growing hemp in the U.S. legal soon enough, and hopefully, you'll be ready to grow your own hemp plants.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger