Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hemp article in Your True Colours

This is the article I wrote that appeared in the latest issue of Your True Colours Magazine:

Hemp is today a hard to get item. The consumer that once purchased items made from it now can get  clothes made from cotton, paper made from trees, medicine  made from manmade chemicals, and oil sourced from fish livers. Textiles, paper, medicine and edible oils are but a few of the products that hemp provides; it is a simple-to-grow plant that can be cultivated on all continents save the Antarctic. Part of the whole enigma is that hemp is a plant of great varietal variability, lending itself even to experimentation as the great Russian plant geneticist Vavilov proclaimed. Thus it can produce tall slender stems with high cellulose fibre, or it can grow short and branched with many flowers which can contain high levels of THC and other cannabinoids. These compounds make some strains valuable to medicine and also appealing to marijuana smokers; most strains do not provide much in the way of medicine of drugs, but there is such a volume of literature on the marijuana culture that the general public at times associates all hemp with marijuana. There is also a large body of literature on hemp as an industrial plant, spanning centuries.
In the not too distant past, entire nations, empires to wit, depended on its availability; Russia, the chief supplier in the 17th-19th centuries, sold to both the British and the American navies.  Britain and America themselves grew at that time no small amount, and both nation's legislators expressed alarm at the rate of expenditure on foreign hemp for their military. The superior quality and price of Russian hemp, however, ensured that Western powers relied on Russia's. Thus it was once the world's most traded commodity and cultivated nearly worldwide not only for its commercial value, but for the fact that many of its products, in addition to rope and sails, were necessary to survival; Thomas Jefferson, for instance, exhorted it be grown for the wealth and defense of the colonies. Over a century after his advice, the United States was eager to cultivate this crop and produced a film in WWII titled "Hemp for Victory." The threat to rope supplies in the Pacific prompted the legislature to make sure that American farmers were able and willing to plant hemp.

With the advent of metal ships running on steam and petroleum sails became almost obsolete, and abaca from the Philippines replaced hempen cordage on modern ships. Despite a dramatic downturn in demand in the maritime industry, this plant continued to be grown into the 20th century, providing a range of products from paper to food. It excelled in both of these categories, as its long and strong fibres interlocked perfectly for long lasting paper (the oldest existing fragment of paper is 2,000 years old and contains hemp) and its Omega 3,6 & 9 rich seeds full of all essential amino acids were excellent for food. Farmers also found the plant not only easy to grow in most countries of the world, but it acted as a natural pesticide (with one US cotton farmer sowing it on one third of his land at a time to rid the soil of pests).

Many changes in the law, however, in the 1930s to the 1960s in the US and other nations made hemp illegal, as these laws mistakenly lumped all forms of Cannabis sativa
in with high THC producing strains known as marijuana. A few nations continued to cultivate hemp; mainly China, which today profits from its policy. Western nations have
had a reawakening due to activists who struggled to make hemp not only legal but in some countries a subsidized species. These efforts have largely paid off, and there is presently a thriving hemp textile and hemp oil industry.

All of which might bode well for the US, as hemp, which was such a part of its history that the first US flag was made of it, can be grown in all 50 states. However, the present status of hemp is prohibitive, even with the recent ruling at the federal level that states may decide for themselves whether to allow its cultivation. So far, only two states have made cultivation legal: Colorado and Kentucky. Both were largely responsible for the change in the federal law, with farmers in the former sowing 60 acres of hemp in a field before the change; thus challenged, Washington lawmakers saw the gauntlet on the ground and  conceded. Soon afterwards, a complex battle in the Kentucky House ensued, perhaps an epic note  in American history, with both  Republican senators, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, supporting the hemp issue in Washington, while a Democrat  worked hard to keep it illegal. The governor promptly signed the bill, allowing the Bluegrass state, which was in the 19th and into the 20th century the hemp-basket of America, to regain  its heritage. 
While hemp is still illegal to cultivate in 48 states, and not yet produced in any quantity in Colorado or Kentucky, many American businesses manufacture hemp items, the largest sector being the hempseed oil industry, which sources its oil mainly from Canada, where farmers are profiting greatly from America's ban. A number of  other firms manufacture hemp clothing, such as Minawear in Texas, which started in 1998 in California when the hemp movement was still rather small. The years of manufacturing hempen apparel by this and other companies has brought hemp to the awareness of the general public and has helped to restore the crop to legality in the US.
Another outfit in the same state  working in this field is Canvasland, which makes artist's canvas - which are not only archival quality but true to original material; the use of hemp for canvas is of such  longstanding practice that the very word 'canvas' derives from 'cannabis'; canape in Italian, chanvre in French. Hemp was a major crop in many Renaissance countries, including Italy and the Netherlands. Not only was the textile used in art, but also the oil, which is clear and long-lasting. This last mentioned use of hemp is one that is not yet available on a commercial level, but is being researched by artists with a view to only bottling hemp oil as an art supply but also in finding the best variety among the thousands of varieties of hemp for this purpose, with the possibility that in the future it will replace linseed and safflower oils, both of which are prone to some degree of yellowing. 
From the innovative to the well established, hemp has many uses, making it  an essential part of the economy, as well as being a top choice ecologically, given the fact that it needs less water than cotton and also far less pesticides. Since there  is no real reason not to cultivate it, and every reason to do so, it is the challenge of this present generation to reverse the mistakes of our predecessors  and restore hemp to its place in our fields and the marketplace, hopefully succeeding and earning the respect of future generations.
Kenyon Gibson
Author of "Hemp for Victory: History & Qualities of the World's Most Useful Plant"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Progress for hemp in North Carolina

We have been following on this site states' progress in making hemp legal; there has been little progress, despite the federal ban being lifted. Mainly a handful of southern and western states are fighting for their rights. This just in from North Carolina:           
Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2014 12:27 am | Updated: 12:29 am, Thu Oct 23, 2014.
NC State students are advocating for the legalization of hemp, arguing that the misunderstood dichotomy between hemp and marijuana has inhibited the U.S.A. from receiving the benefits from mass-producing hemp. 
The Raleigh Hemp Society screened the award-winning documentary, “Bringing It Home,” which emphasizes the benefits that hemp can have on our society and the struggle to get it legalized in the US on Sunday in the Witherspoon Student Cinema.
About 30 students attended the screening to hear the film’s message that hemp’s benefits are being ignored by American society due to the fundamental mischaracterization that the hemp plant is the same as recreational marijuana. 
“You can smoke a field of hemp, and you would die of CO2 poisoning before you got high,” said Andrew Klein, a senior in natural resources policy and administration and founder of the Raleigh Hemp Society. “Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis sativa, but the point is that they are completely different. It’s like comparing a house cat to a lion.” 
The documentary presented one of the Drug Enforcement Administration’a (DEA), arguments against hemp, stating recreational marijuana can be hidden among hemp stalks because the plants look similar.
Hemp supporters, however, argue this is unlikely due to the special, climate-controlled conditions needed to produce “smoker’s” marijuana.
Hemp is widely produced in 31 other industrial countries including France, China and the U.K. 
The THC content of industrial hemp is 0.3 percent or lower, which, according to the documentary, is too low a level to be psychoactive in the body. It is significantly less than the THC content found in recreational cannabis, which stands at about 40 percent.
Historically, this misconception has been a major factor in hemp’s illegal status in the U.S., dating back to 1970 when President Richard Nixon first declared it a Class I drug along with recreational marijuana and heroin, among others.
While interning for the Virginia Hemp Company this past summer, Klein said he spent a significant amount of time lobbying in Washington D.C. where he ran into the problems with this misconception frequently. 
“I talked mostly with staffers, but most agriculture reps said that [the politicians they represent] are anti-marijuana,” Klein said. “This shows that, for many politicians, the fear of politically associating with marijuana keeps them from seeing the benefits of hemp.”
Before it was declared illegal, the U.S. government promoted hemp to help the U.S. win WWII with the “Hemp for Victory” propaganda campaign, which encouraged farmers to produce hemp to make rope, cloth and cordage for military use. Hemp was also the first material ever used to make cloth in 800 B.C. China, according to the documentary. 
Klein and his staff members set up a table showing off some of the varied ways that hemp can not only provide a greener alternative to common products but even improve on them. The table had hemp cooking oil, which has more omega-3 than traditional oil, hemp paper, which can be produced four times more efficiently than paper from trees, the different hemp fibers used in clothing, which can be produced with less water than cotton, and raw hemp, which can be made into a concrete substitute. 
The use of hemp to make concrete, or “hempcrete,” has particularly interesting prospects for the U.S. as a whole, according to the documentary. 
Not only could it provide thousands of new jobs due to building renovations and new building construction, but it can improve quality of life for homeowners. 
According to the documentary, hempcrete is a carbon negative material, which means that it actually absorbs CO2 in the air as well as filters out other pollutants. The construction process could also made safer by the use of hempcrete, as it does not require workers to wear masks or gloves because it is nontoxic. Power tools would also be unnecessary when using hemp, which would eliminate loud noise and wires on construction sites. 
“Hempcrete wall construction is not complicated, but there is a learning curve in working with low temperatures and wet conditions,” Linda Booker said, co-producer, director and editor of “Bringing It Home.”
When Booker and her co-producer Blaire Johnson began filming in November 2010, Booker was new to the history of hemp.
In 2011, Booker and Johnson attended the Hemp Building Symposium in Granada, Spain where they were able to meet with global hemp business leaders which changed her perspective on this issue. 
“I was skeptical like a lot of people,” Booker said. “I realized that we need a good film to educate people about this.” 
President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill in February, which made hemp legal for research and academic uses, which is a step towards legalization. However, hemp is still illegal to grow without a DEA issued permit. 
The DEA has only issued three of these permits since 1970, according to the documentary released in 2013.
“Until we take hemp out of the substance one narcotic classification, the DEA will still have jurisdiction over seed imports for research,” Booker said. 
Booker said DEA pressure forces higher prices for legal hemp products because they have to be imported. 
Andrew Klein said he is working to inform people about hemp close to home. 
“The future is working with businesses, farmers and political leaders to formulate policy to help legalize hemp in NC,” Klein said. “The long-term future of the hemp society is to get passionate, intelligent students jobs in the hemp markets.”  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hemp canvas

Canvasland is the industry leader in Hemp Artist Canvas - we're working to return the original canvas to the artist's easel! Get started with our Slim line - thinner and lighter than our Premium line, Slims are a great way to experience the Canvasland difference! Go to
I just saw this on the facebook site - something I was waiting for quite a while -
as an artist, I am well aware that hemp was used as canvas - in fact, the word canvas comes from the Latin - vd. French: chanvre
                  Italian: cannape
                  Spanish: canamo ( pronounced kanyamo - tilde on the n) - in Rembrandt van Rijn's land, hemp was grown extensively; not only are the fibres used for canvas - but the oil, a permanent drying oil, was used; today, better artists use hemp oil as it dries more clearly than linseed (see previous posts on this blog, I have extensive analysis of the process of  linoleic acid/linolenic acid oxidation and notes on specific brands of hemp oil that I am making swatches of to find the best).

So I welcome this new product and will be using it in the near future.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Article on hemp in Virginia

Last year the Virginia legislature started to vote on the law to allow Virginians their constitutional right to grow hemp - as did so many of its famous sons, some of them former US presidents. Today this article appears in the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, VA, titled "Will Hemp be a cash crop again for Virginia?"


Hemp is not marijuana.

It looks like marijuana.

It’s related to marijuana.

But it’s not marijuana.

It’s a plant fiber so useful that it can be used in making things from auto parts to yarn. Not quite A to Z, but close enough.
A hemp car? Really? Apparently so. “Hemp fibers have higher strength to weight ratios than steel and can also be considerably cheaper to manufacture,” reports Alan Crosky of the School of Material Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales in Australia. He and other researchers are working on using hemp fiber to replace plastic in some car parts. The result could be a car that has more fuel efficiency because it weighs so much less, but is still just as strong.
So why aren’t American farmers rushing out to plant hemp and cash in on this miracle plant?
Umm, because it’s kind of illegal.
In Colonial times, Virginia required farmers to plant hemp because it was deemed so useful. Rope, clothes, sails for ships — all could be made from hemp. Thomas Jefferson penned the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. In World War II, the federal government promoted “Hemp for Victory!” Growing hemp for use in making industrial fiber was considered patriotic.
Then came another war — the War on Drugs. Hemp got lumped in with marijuana (same cannabis species, but different genetics and vastly different psychotropic potential) and was effectively banned.
The feds do allow hemp farming, as long as your state has a law allowing it and regulating it. Lately, there’s been a campaign to do just that.
However, the push to legalize hemp isn’t coming from drug-addled hippies. It’s coming from people who see hemp as a potential cash crop to replace tobacco — or no crops at all. At the national level, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is pro-hemp, and he’d never be mistaken for a pot smoker.
In Virginia, one of the main hemp advocates is Jim Politis, a former Republican member of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. He sees it as a pro-economic development measure for struggling rural areas. Another Republican, Del. Joseph Yost of Pearisburg, has already filed a bill for next year’s General Assembly to create the Virginia Industrial Hemp Farming Act.
The main objections to hemp come from law enforcement, which argues that it’s easy to confuse the two plants. The counter-argument is that alcohol looks pretty much the same but authorities do a good job of distinguishing between a craft brewery and a moonshine still.
So let’s say again: Hemp is not marijuana.
But if Yost’s bill passes, it could be a cash crop again.
Adapted from the Roanoke Times.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Hemp string bags for New York City; a solution to economic problems in the US

An article in the New York Daily News ("Money in the Plastic Bags" by Corinne Lestch) on 19 July talked about the possibility of the city imposing a fee on plastic bags in an effort to eradicate them; they produce a mess and cost millions to the taxpayer to clean up.
Yet the 'solution' of charging a fee is not a solution; just a way to raise money. So what is the solution? Objectively, it is not right to be simply negative and not offer a positive alternative. So let me step up to the plate and talk from experience; years ago, people in many countries used string bags, 'file' they were called in Istanbul - and they were re-used many times. When it was time to throw them out, they could be recycled easily into paper. And nations that used them were not obligated to source the materials for these bags from other nations; string could be made from many plant fibres, most notably, and easily for the US - from hemp.
So imagine! A patriotic solution (most readers probably know already that the first US flag was made of hemp) - and one that would start an industry in the US using American grown raw materials.
But does the New York Daily News give a damn? The perception exists that for the many years, in fact decades that I have tried, along with others, to get even one little story on hemp for the US economy or the environment in their paper, they do not; it seems they are a bunch of fools spitting on the American dream as they make money off of chopping down trees for paper made, not in America, but in Southeast Asia. And their paper, like the billions of plastic bags in New York, becomes pollution.
What is their solution to my caustic - yet pertinent - remarks? Prove me wrong; write about hemp and help the campaign to grow hemp in America, start a string and string bag industry, and along with it, paper recycling so Americans, not just city slicker reporters working for a billionaire, can have jobs.
Or, they can do nothing; and prove me right.
I implore the reader to contact the New York Daily News and put pressure on them. But only if you want jobs in the US.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tennessee to grow hemp

The years of campaigning by activists in the US has paid off, and now more and more states are welcoming hemp - please continue to support the movement by signing the petition at

Tennessee Governor Signs Law to Legalize Hemp
Activist Post

Yesterday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill which some supporters consider the strongest pro-hemp legislation in the country. House Bill 2445 (HB2445), introduced by Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), would mandate that the state authorize the growing and production of industrial hemp within Tennessee, effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal ban on the same.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 28-0 and the House by a vote of 88-5. It reads, in part:
“The department shall issue licenses to persons who apply to the department for a license to grow industrial hemp.”
Mike Maharrey, communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center, noted that one word strengthened the bill considerably. “By including the word ‘shall’ in this legislation, it has a great deal of impact,” he said. “This means that rather than keeping it open-ended like other states have done, hemp farming will be able to move forward in Tennessee whether the regulatory bureaucrats there want it to or not.”

‘Shall’ is a legal term which creates a specific requirement far stronger than a word like ‘will.’ The former is more closely interchangeable with the word “must,” while the latter allows leeway for the object of the term to delay. In this case, the bill states that the Tennessee department of agriculture will have a mandate to license farmers for growing hemp.

Three other states – Colorado, Oregon and Vermont – have already passed bills to authorize hemp farming, but only in Colorado has the process begun. A similar bill was passed in South Carolina this week and awaits action by Gov. Nikki Haley.

Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013 and the state began issuing licenses on March 1, 2014. In Vermont and Oregon, hemp farming was authorized, but no licensing program was mandated, so implementation has been delayed due to regulatory foot-dragging.

With passage of HB2445, Tennessee will most likely become the 2nd state in the country to actively produce hemp. The legislation also ensures that not only will hemp licenses be issued, but the process for doing so will start quickly. It reads:
The department shall initiate the promulgation of rules … concerning industrial hemp production within one hundred and twenty (120) days of this act becoming law
In other words, now that the bill has become law, the process in Tennessee will start no later than November, 2014.

Maharrey called this “monumental” in comparison to Oregon. That state first legalized hemp farming in 2009 but five years later, farming and production still has not begun.


Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $500 million per year.

But, since the enactment of the unconstitutional federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.

There are as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.

During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!

Even though soil, climate and agricultural capabilities could make the United States a massive producer of industrial hemp, today no hemp is grown for public sale, use and consumption outside of Colorado, which just began production.

In February of this year, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”
…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.
The farming laws in Colorado, Oregon and Vermont go beyond research and into full-scale farming and production, effectively nullifying the federal ban once production begins. Tennessee joins them, and will likely become the 2nd state in the country to actively start an industrial hemp program.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Los Angeles Times article on hemp fashion

This is an old article, but worth posting today as hemp is gaining even more momentum - and legal status in the US - where the federal government has made it legal to grow in states where it is legal - this measure came after many months lobbying by Minawear with thousands of signers to her petition which is still in progress as we are looking to secure wider pro-hemp legislation - check it out and sign on at

Hemp, from hippie to hip

It’s not just for the stoner set. Stella McCartney, Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein are among the designers incorporating hemp textiles into their fashions. It’s a versatile material said to be easy on the environment.

April 18, 2010|By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times
It's durable. It's versatile. And when it's used in textiles, it's easier on the environment than, say, cotton. Yet its cannabis connection has slowed its widespread use. We're talking about hemp, and, by extension, hemp fashion — a concept that seems like an oxymoron but is quietly being embraced by the mainstream as major designers and clothing retailers take on the material that has long been equated with burlap and granola-munching hippies.

Stella McCartney, Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein are among the designers who've seen through the smoke and incorporated hemp textiles into their lines. And Whole Foods, Urban Outfitters, American Rag and Fred Segal are some of the better-known stores selling fashion-forward hemp brands, such as Livity Outernational, Jung Maven, Satori and Hemp Hoodlamb, all of which exploit hemp's various attributes in chic items that run the gamut from technical outerwear to dresses that would hardly be the first choice of the dreadlocks-and-doobie crowd.
"Hemp clothing has definitely come a long way," says Al Espino, the owner of two hemp clothing boutiques called Hempwise in Santa Barbara and Isla Vista. "Ten years ago, a lot of the hemp clothing played on the connection with marijuana with labels saying ‘contains marijuana fabric.' There was a lot of confusion and I think it held back the industry. Now there are a lot of small [fashion-forward] companies. It's gone from a niche market with an illegal drug connection to appealing to the organic and natural crowd."
Hemp is an industrial, nonpsychoactive plant that is part of the cannabis family; the fibers are different and stronger than a marijuana plant, making it suitable for textiles.
What's drawing designers to hemp textiles are their natural performance attributes and their low impact on the environment. Hemp fibers are highly absorbent, UV resistant, antimicrobial and long lasting. Growing it also requires less water and fewer pesticides than does cotton. Growing hemp in the U.S. has been prohibited since the '50s, so most of the hemp used by American clothing designers comes from China. "It's so high value and so much lower impact in every other way that it eclipses the carbon generated through shipping," said Isaac Nichelson, founder of the Santa Monica-based hemp clothing line Livity Outernational.
Eco-chic is a rising tide in the fashion world, and the use of hemp is swelling — aided by technological advances that have produced appealing and increasingly refined hemp textile blends, the most common being hemp and organic cotton and hemp fibers woven with recycled plastic, both of which soften a material that can be coarse.
Still, hemp's illicit image is hard to shed. Two teenage girls read the sign for Hempwise and giggled before walking into the shop on a recent weekday to peruse the women's section, which is stocked with slinky hemp-blend T-shirts and Capri pants, and asymmetrical mini-dresses. All of it was set out in displays that play up the "eco" with only the merest hint of "Rasta." A mint green Vespa was parked inside the doorway on bamboo flooring that led to displays of backpacks and wallets, hats and menswear — all made from hemp.
One of the brands sold at Hempwire is Livity, which Nichelson started after a friend pointed out that the materials he was using as a clothing designer weren't in sync with his environmental beliefs.

"I was using nylon, PVC, Teflon — every toxin known to man wrapped up in a garment that we were putting on ourselves and dropping in a landfill later," said Nichelson, who started to look for alternatives and found one in hemp. Eight years later, he's running a multimillion-dollar business that sells outdoor-wear to Whole Foods and Urban Outfitters. On Thursday — Earth Day — he'll be opening his first branded store on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica, so strong is his belief that hemp is "headed straight to the mainstream. Eventually it won't even be perceptible. Hemp is as high performance and functional and as cool and flashy and sexy as any conventional product, but it doesn't impact the planet in terrible ways. More and more, it's going to be incorporated into things where the end user doesn't even know or care it's there. They're just reaping the benefits."