Max Feist

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Hemp is one of the most promising resources out there, and we are doing virtually nothing with it.

The United States congress still does not recognize the difference between marijuana and hemp, a fact which is keeping the plant from reaching it's true potential. One acre of hemp can produce as much paper as four acres of trees. It takes 6 months for a hemp plant to grow back while it takes a lifetime for a tree to grow. Hemp could replace petroleum for hundreds of plastic products and oils, and is also a very promising biofuel. So then why aren't we using it?

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    Mar 11 2011: Hey! There are no hemp-lobbyists. No vested hemp-interests. I think they don't have anything in particular against hemp - the plant. It's just that there's no big corporations involved in cultivating the crop.

    When an oil major wants to make ethanol, it makes a deal with an agribizz major who says: "use corn". And both contact the senators. And voilà, corn it will be. Everybody happy. Everybody cashes in.

    Not so with hemp. There is no agro-industrial-military-petroleum-hemp-complex. :-)

    Let the hemp companies first build some skills, products and profit to prove themselves -- in Canada, or Belgium or France, where it's legal. Then, bit by bit, they may find the leverage to influence things to their benefit in the U.S.

    But in American politics you cannot ask reason to function 100%. That's just too high a standard. Settle with 50%. It's something, right?
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    Mar 18 2011: So what exactly are we waiting for?
  • Mar 11 2011: There may be issues with governments conflating hemp with marijuana, but I think a bigger reason is the cost of processing hemp. Hemp-based paper is three or more times as expensive as pulp-based paper. Hemp food products are still a niche market, like tofu.

    But I agree that it could be far more widely used and has some significant environmental benefits.
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    Mar 10 2011: Because your government (and ours to a slightly lesser extent) is afraid they won't be able to control it and people will use it to mask growing THC-richer variations.

    In addition to your points: hemp rope is also highly resistant to rotting, the oil from the seeds is high in essential fatty acids, and it's showing potential as feedstock.
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      Mar 11 2011: I dont think thats what the government is actually worried about. They use that as an excuse to control it. Hemp and marijuana look very different and if they are grown in the same area as each other the marijuana loses it's potency because it becomes pollinated. It would not be that hard to control.
      I think the government is just protecting the pulp, tobacco, and oil industry. Hemp has the potential to replace many products made by those industries.