Saturday, February 16, 2008

Still illegal in the US is the crop that was once the most traded commodity in the world. Farmers are forced to grow more water intensive crops such as cotton and use lots of chemicals on it and other pesticide loving plants.
Cross the border and you will find lots of hemp, and plates like the one in the photo. Business is booming! For instance, Roger Snow of Rocky Mountain Grain Products is doing so much he sent me a whole box, with 7 bins of hemp hearts and 14 hemp chocolate bars. He has some 10,000 acres under cultivation. He and others, such as Nick Smirnow of Still Eagle, are also selling copies of Hemp for Victory, part of which is printed on hemp paper (with a nice hemp leaf watermark to boot, and a foreword by Woody Harrelson).
Cannabis sativa is legal all over the EU, and in Australia and New Zealand. In fact, just about all of the English speaking world! China has just about a monopoly on hemp textiles though, as it is where the infrastructure exists for retting and milling, but Canadians have been quietly researching a way to develop this for themselves in the future. If they do, they will join China, Romania, Italy, Korea and Nepal as hemp textile producers. Romanian and Nepalese hemp is usually rough in comparison to Chinese, but recently some Korean hemp was brought to the UK that was, as Bobby Pugh notes, as fine as silk. However, it is only exported in large quantities, and not made into clothing in Korea. Italian hemp may be the finest available, used by both Girgio Armani and Jilly Cholmondeley; the latter sells 100% hemp bedsheets, currently in stock at Eco in Chiswick. But even the Armani could be finer; hemp was once spun as fine lace.
The improvement in quality is a challenge to the hemp world, and it may well be the Canadians who crack it. Something for Bush to think about.

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