Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Today's Guardian (27 Oct. 2006) has a full page article about hemp. In contrast to so many pieces, it is not another hit and run with clever remarks about cannabis, this one is researched, with a clear effort made to get at the facts. The first source is Bobby Pugh, who one might say is the father of the recent hemp industry revival in the UK, having founded Mother Hemp, The Hemp Shop and Hempiness. He was at one time also a hemp farmer. He is quoted at one point in the article as saying: "It's tragic when you think of the waste of natural resources - the thousands of trees that have been cut down to make paper when hemp could have been used, the tonnes of carbon released into the air, the economies crippled by the cotton industry. All this could have been avoided by using hemp."
The article goes on to discuss the issue with BioRegional, a UK based development company, where Sue Riddlestone, who has been writing on hemp since the mid-1990s, asserts that: "We need to find an alternative to cotton that we can produce in volume and, with the right technology, hemp could provide the answer, as well as being far kinder to the environment."
These comments are backed up with research from the Stockholm Institute, which concludes that the ecological footprint of hemp is half that of cotton.
Any article on UK hemp is bound to mention Hemcore, which this does, as that is the company supplying seeds (from a small list of approved low THC varieties) and processing fibre. Hemcore sees construction material as the next big move for hemp, citing the use of hemp bricks in the Adnams brewery in Southwold, Suffolk.
Ian Squire, one of the farmers to whom Hemcore has supplied seed, and who has also worked with BioRegional, talks about the changes in attitude over the last few years, noting that people have mostly wisened up and realise that this is a profitable crop, for which he need only notify the local police station about his field. Some members of the general public, however, perhaps misinformed by a barrage of second rate journalism, still equate hemp with marijuana, of which Squire states: "It's ludicrous that people actually think that large-scale professional farmers are openly growing fields of marijuana, but it's amazing how uneducated people are."
The article lists several facts about hemp, such as the use of it in the British navy, the use of hemp fabric dating back to 8000 BC, its use as a cure for tuberculosis in the 1920 and '30s, the nutritional value of the seed (as promoted by Gillian McKeith), Henry Ford's use of hemp ethanol for cars, its use in art both as oil and canvas, and the fact that the US Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.
Good articles on hemp are few and far between, and as we draw near to the dealine for Gov. Schwarzennegger to sign or veto the hemp bill in California, it is high time for an in-depth one on the hemp industry in that state, where such businesses as Minawear Hemp Clothing and Nutiva
have been operating for years. California's pending legislation is not the only reason to write about hemp however, it is my hope that this issue will be picked up by better journalists all over the globe. Any journalists wishing to get information on the world's most useful plant are invited to contact me at

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