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Uses of Hemp

Ships & Sailors

   Ninety percent of all ships’ sails (since before the Phoenicians, from at least the the 5th Century B.C.E. until long after the invention and commercialization of steam ships - mid to late 19th century) were made from hemp.

   The world “canvas” is the Dutch pronunciation (twice removed, from French and Latin) of the Greek word “Kannabis.”

   In addition to canvas sails, until this century, virtually all of the rigging, anchor ropes, cargo nets, fishing nets, flags, shrouds, and oakum (the main protection for ships against salt water, used as a sealant between loose or green beams) were made from the stalk of the marijuana plant.

   Even the sailors’ clothing, right down to the stitching in the seamen’s rope-soled and (sometimes) “canvas” shoes were crafted from cannabis.

   Additionally, the ships’ charts, maps, logs, and Bibles were made from paper containing hemp fiber from the time of Columbus (15th Century) until the early 1900s in the Western European/American World, and by the Chinese from 1st Century A.D. on. Hemp paper lasted 50 to 100 times longer than most preparations of papyrus, and was a hundred times easier and cheaper to make.

   Incredibly, it cost more for a ship’s hempen sails, ropes, etc. than it did to build the wooden parts.

Textiles & Fabrics

   Until the 1820s in American (and until the 20th Century in most of the rest of the world), 80% of all textiles and fabrics used for clothing, tents, bed sheets and linens, rugs, drapes, quilts, towels, diapers, etc. - and even our flag, “Old Glory”, were principally made from the fibers of cannabis.

   For hundreds, if not thousands of years (until the 1830s) Ireland made the finest linens and Italy made the world’s finest cloth for clothing with hemp.

   Although these facts have been almost forgotten, our forebears were well aware that hemp is softer than cotton, warmer than cotton, more water absorbent than cotton, has three times the tensile strength of cotton and is many times more durable than cotton.

   In fact, when the patriotic, real-life, 1776 mothers of our present day blue-blood “Daughters of the American Revolution” (the DAR of Boston and New England) organized “spinning bees” to clothe Washington’s soldiers, the majority of the thread was spun from hemp fibers. Were it not for the historically forgotten (or censored) and currently disparaged marijuana plant, the Continental Army would have frozen to death at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

   The common use of hemp in the economy of the early republic was important enough to occupy the time and thoughts of our first U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who wrote in a Treasury notice from the 1790s, “Flax and Hemp: Manufacturers of these articles have so much affinity to each other, and they are so often blended, that they may with advantage be considered in conjunction. Sailcloth should have 10% duty...”

   The covered wagons went west (to Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, and California) covered with sturdy hemp canvas tarpaulins, while ships sailed around the “Horn” to San Francisco on hemp sails and ropes.

   Homespun cloth was almost always spun, by people all over the world, from fibers grown in the “family hemp patch.” In America, this tradition lasted from the Pilgrims (1620s) until hemp’s prohibition in the 1930s.

   The age and density of the hemp patch influences fiber quality. If a farmer wanted soft linen quality fibers he would plant his cannabis close together.

   As a rule of thumb, if you plant for medical or recreational use, you plant one seed per five square yards. When planted for seed: four to five feet apart.

   One-hundred-twenty to one-hundred-eighty seeds to the square yard are planted for rough cordage or coarse cloth. Finest linen or lace is grown up to 400 plants to the square yard and harvested between 80 to 100 days.

   By the late 1820s, the new American hand cotton gins (invented by Eli Whitney in 1793) were largely replaced by European-made “industrial” looms and cotton gins, because of Europe’s primary equipment-machinery-technology (tool and die making) lead over America.

   For the first time, light cotton clothing could be produced at less cost than hand retting (rotting) and hand separated hemp fibers to be handspun on spinning wheels and jennys.

   However, because of its strength, softness, warmth and long-lasting qualities, hemp continued to be the second most-used natural fiber until the 1930s.

   After the 1937 Marijuana Tax law, new DuPont “plastic fibers,” under license since 1936 from the German company I.G. Farben (patent surrenders were part of Germany’s World War I reparation payments to America), replaced natural hempen fibers. (Some 30% of I.G. Farben, under Hitler, was owned and financed by America’s DuPont.) DuPont also introduced Nylon (invented in 1935) to the market after they’d patented it in 1938.

 

   Finally, it must be noted that approximately 50% of all chemicals used in American agriculture today are used in cotton growing. Hemp needs no chemicals and has few weed or insect enemies - except for the U.S. government and the DEA.

 

Fiber & Pulp Paper

   Until 1883, from 75-90% of all paper in the world was made with cannabis hemp fiber including that for books, Bibles, maps, paper money, stocks and bonds, newspapers, etc. The Gutenberg Bible (in the 15th Century); Pantagruel and the Herb pantagruelion, Rabelais (16th Century); King James Bible (17th Century); Thomas Paine’s pamphlets, “The Rights of Man,” “Common Sense,” “The Age of Reason” (18th Century); the works of Fitz Hugh Ludlow, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” (19th Century); and just about everything else was printed on hemp paper.

   The first draft of the Declaration of Independence (June 28, 1776) was written on Dutch (hemp) paper, as was the second draft completed on July 2, 1776. This was the document actually agreed to on that day and announced and released on July 4, 1776. On July 19, 1776, Congress ordered the Declaration be copied and engrossed on parchment (a prepared animal skin) and this was the document actually signed by the delegates on August 2, 1776.

   What we (the colonial Americans) and the rest of the world used to make all our paper from was the discarded sails and ropes sold by ship owners as scrap for recycling into paper.

   The rest of our paper came from our worn out clothes, sheets, diapers, curtains and rags sold to scrap dealers, made primarily from hemp and sometimes flax.

   Our ancestors were too thrifty to just throw anything away, so, until the 1880s, any remaining scraps and clothes were mixed together and recycled into paper.

   Rag paper, containing hemp fiber, is the highest quality and longest lasting paper ever made. It can be torn when wet, but returns to its full strength when dry. Barring extreme conditions, rag paper remains stable for centuries. It will almost never wear out. Many U.S. government papers were written, by law, on hempen “rag paper” until the 1920s.

   It is generally believed by scholars that the early Chinese knowledge, or art, of hemp paper making (1st Century A.D. - 800 years before Islam discovered how, and 1,200 to 1,400 years before Europe) was one of the two chief reasons that Oriental knowledge and science were vastly superior to that of the West for 1,400 years. Thus, the art of long-lasting hemp papermaking allowed the Orientals’ accumulated knowledge to be passed on, built upon, investigated, refined, challenged and changed, for generation after generation (in other words, cumulative and comprehensive scholarship.)

   The other reason that Oriental knowledge and science sustained superiority to that of the West for 1,400 years was that the Roman Catholic Church forbade reading and writing for 95% of Europe’s people; in addition, they burned, hunted down, or prohibited all foreign or domestic books - including their own Bible! - for over 1,200 years under the penalty and often-used punishment of death. Hence, many historians term this period “The Dark Ages” (476 A.D. - 1000 A.D., or even until the Renaissance).

Rope, Twine & Cordage

   Virtually every city and town (since the beginning of time) in the world had an industry making hemp rope. Russia, however, was the world’s largest producer and best-quality manufacturer, supplying 80% of the Western world’s hemp from 1740 until 1940.

   Thomas Paine outlined four essential natural resources for the new nation in Common Sense (1776): “cordage, iron, timber and tar.”

   Chief among these was hemp for cordage. He wrote, “Hemp flourishes even to rankness, we do not want for cordage.” Then he went on to list the other essentials necessary for war with the British navy: cannons, gunpowder, etc.

   From 70-90% of all rope, twine, and cordage was made from hemp until 1937. It was then replaced mostly by petrochemical fibers (owned principally by DuPont under license from Germany’s I.G. Corporation patents) and by Manila (Abaca) Hemp, with steel cables often intertwined for strength - brought in from our “new” far-western Pacific Philippines possession, seized from Spain as reparations for the Spanish American War in 1898.

Art Canvas

   Hemp is the perfect archival medium.

   The paintings of Van Gogh, Gainsborough, Rembrandt, etc., were primarily painted on hemp canvas, as were practically all canvas paintings.

   A strong, lustrous fiber, hemp withstands heat, mildew, insects and is not damaged by light. Oil paintings on hemp and/or flax canvas have stayed in fine condition for centuries.

Paints & Varnishes

   For thousands of years, virtually all good paints and varnishes were made with hemp seed oil and/or linseed oil.

   For instances, in 1935 alone, 116 million pounds (58,000 tons) of hemp seed were used in American just for paint and varnish. The hemp drying oil business went principally to DuPont petrochemicals.

   Congress and the Treasury Department were assured through secret testimony given by DuPont in 1935-37 directly to Herman Oliphant, Chief Counsel for the Treasury Department, that hemp seed oil could be replaced with synthetic petrochemical oils made principally by DuPont.

   Oliphant was solely responsible for drafting the Marijuana Tax Act that was submitted to Congress.

Lighting Oil

   Until about 1800, hemp seed oil was the most consumed lighting oil in American and the world. From then until the 1870s, it was the second most consumed lighting oil, exceeded only by whale oil.

   Hemp seed oil lit the lamps of the legendary Aladdin, Abraham the Prophet, and in real life, Abraham Lincoln. It was the brightest lamp oil.

   Hemp seed oil for lamps was replaced by petroleum, kerosene, etc., after the 1859 Pennsylvania oil discovery and John D. Rockefeller’s 1870-on national petroleum stewardship.

   In fact, the celebrated botanist Luther Burbank stated, “The seed [of cannabis] is prized in other countries for its oil, and its neglect here illustrates the same wasteful use of our agricultural resources.”

Biomass Energy

   In the early 1900s, Henry Ford and other futuristic, organic, engineering geniuses recognized (as their intellectual, scientific heirs still do today) an important point - that up to 90% of all fossil fuel used in the world today (coal, oil, natural gas, etc., should long ago have been replaced with biomass such as: cornstalks, cannabis, waste paper and the like.

   Biomass can be converted to methane, methanol or gasoline at a fraction of the current cost of oil, coal, or nuclear energy - especially when environmental costs are factored in - and its mandated use would end acid rain, end sulfur-based smog and reverse the Greenhouse Effect on our planet - right now!

   This can be accomplished if hemp is grown for biomass and then converted through pyrolysis (charcoalizing) or biochemical composting into fuels to replace fossil fuels energy products.

   One product of pyrolysis, methanol, is today used by most race cars and was used by American farmers and auto drivers routinely with petroleum/methanol options starting in the 1920s, through the 1930s, and even into the mid-1940s to run tens of thousands of auto, farm and military vehicles until the end of World War II.

   Methanol can even be converted to a high-octane lead-free gasoline using a catalytic process developed by Georgia Tech University in conjunction with Mobil Oil Corporation.

Medicine

   From 1842, through the 1980s, extremely strong marijuana (then known as cannabis extractums) and hashish extracts, tinctures and elixirs were routinely the second and third most-used medicines in America for humans (from birth, through childhood, to old age) and in veterinary medicine until the 1920s and longer.

   As stated earlier, for at least 3,000 years, prior to 1842, widely varying marijuana extracts (bud, leaves, roots, etc.) were the most commonly used real medicines in the world for the majority of mankind’s illnesses.

   However, in Western Europe, the Roman Catholic Church forbade use of cannabis or any medical treatment, except for alcohol or blood letting, for 1200-plus years.

   The U.S. Pharmacopoeia indicated cannabis should be used for treating such ailments as: fatigue, fits of coughing, rheumatism, asthma, delirium tremens, migraine headaches and the cramps and depressions associated with menstruation.

   Queen Victoria used cannabis resins for her menstruation cramps and PMS, and her reign (1837-1901) paralleled the enormous growth of the use of Indian cannabis medicine in the English-speaking world.

   In this century, cannabis research has demonstrated therapeutic value - and complete safety - in the treatment of many health problems including asthma, glaucoma, nausea, tumors, epilepsy, infection, stress, migraines, anorexia, depression, rheumatism, arthritis and possibly herpes.

See also Chapter 7: Therapeutic Use of Cannabis

Food Oils & Proteins

   Hemp seed was regularly used in porridge, soups and gruels by virtually all the people of the world up until this century. Monks were required to eat hemp seed dishes three times a day, to weave their clothes of it, and to print their Bibles on paper made with its fiber.

   Hemp seed can be pressed for its highly nutritious vegetable oil, which contains the highest amount of essential fatty acids in the plant kingdom. These essential oils are responsible for our immune responses and clear the arteries of cholesterol and plaque.

   The byproduct of pressing the oil from the seed is the highest quality protein seed cake. It can be sprouted (malted) or ground and baked into cakes, breads and casseroles. Marijuana seed protein is one of mankind’s finest, most complete and available-to-the-body vegetable proteins. Hemp seed is the most complete single food source for human nutrition.

   Hemp seed was - until the 1937 prohibition law - the world’s number-one bird seed, for both wild and domestic birds. It was their favorite of any seed food on the planet; four million pounds of hemp seed for songbirds were sold at retail in the U.S. in 1937. Birds will pick hemp seeds out and eat them first from a pile of mixed seed. Birds in the wild live longer and breed more with hemp seed in their diet, using the oil for the feathers and their overall health.

   Hemp seed produces no observable high for humans or birds. Only the most minute traces of THC are in the seed. Hemp seed is also the favorite fish bait in Europe. Anglers buy pecks of hemp seed at bait stores, then throw handfuls into rivers and ponds. Fish come thrashing for the hemp seed and are caught by hook. No other bait is as effective, making hemp seed generally the most desirable and most nutritious food for humans, birds, and fish.

See also Chapter 8: Hempseed as the Basic World Food

Building Materials & Housing

   Because one acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fiber pulp as 4.1 acres of trees, hemp is the perfect material to replace trees for pressed board, particle board and for concrete construction molds.

   Practical, inexpensive fire-resistant construction material, with excellent thermal and sound-insulating qualities, is made by heating and compressing plant fibers to create strong construction paneling, replacing dry wall and plywood. William B. Conde of Conde’s Redwood Lumber, Inc. near Eugene, Oregon, in conjunction with Washington State University (1991-1993), has demonstrated the superior strength, flexibility, and economy of hemp composite building materials compared to wood fiber, even as beams.

   Isochanvre, a rediscovered French building material made from hemp hurds mixed with lime, actually petrifies into a mineral state and lasts for many centuries. Archeologists have found a bridge in the south of France, from the Merovingian period (500-751 A.D.), built with this process.

   Hemp has been used throughout history for carpet backing. Hemp fiber has potential in the manufacture of strong, rot resistant carpeting - eliminating the poisonous fumes of burning synthetic materials in a house or commercial fire, along with allergic reactions associated with new synthetic carpeting.

   Plastic plumbing pipe (PVC pipes) can be manufactured using renewable hemp cellulose as the chemical feed stocks, replacing non-renewable coal or petroleum based chemical feed stocks.

   So we can envision a house of the future built, plumbed, pained, and furnished with the world’s number-one renewable resource - hemp.

Smoking, Leisure & Creativity

   The American Declaration of Independence recognizes the “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Subsequent court decisions have inferred the rights to privacy and choice from this, the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments.

   Many artists and writers have used cannabis for creative stimulation - from the writers of the world’s religious masterpieces to our most irreverent satirists. These include Lewis Carroll and his hookah-smoking caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, plus Victor Hugo and Alexander Dumas; such jazz greats as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Gene Krupa; and the pattern continues right up to modern-day artists and musicians such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Eagles, the Doobie Brothers, Jefferson Airplane, Willie Nelson, Buddy Rich, Country Joe & the Fish, Joe Walsh, David Carradine, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lola Falana, Hunter S. Thompson, Peter Tosh, the Grateful Dead, Cypress Hill, Sinead O’Connor, Black Crowes, etc.

   Of course, smoking marijuana only enhances creativity for some and not for others.

   But throughout history, various prohibition and “temperance” groups have attempted and occasionally succeeded in banning the preferred relaxational substances of others, like alcohol, tobacco or cannabis.

   Abraham Lincoln responded to this kind of repressive mentality in December, 1840, when he said:

   “Prohibition...goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes... A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”

See also Chapter 10: Myth, Magic, & Medicine

Economic Stability, Profit & Free Trade

   We believe that in a competitive market, with all facts known, people will rush to buy long-lasting, biodegradable “Pot Tops” or “Mary Jeans,” etc., made from a plant without pesticides or herbicides. Some of the companies who have led the way with these products are Ecolution, Hempstead, Marie Mills, Ohio Hempery, Two Star Dog, Headcase, and in Germany, HanfHaus, et al.

   It’s time we put capitalism to the test and let the unrestricted market of supply and demand, as well as “Green” ecological consciousness decide the future of the planet.

   A cotton shirt in 1776 cost $100 to $200, while a hemp shirt cost $.50 to $1. By the 1830s, cooler, lighter cotton shirts were on par in price with the warmer, heavier, hempen shirts, providing a competitive choice.

   People were able to choose their garments based upon the particular qualities they wanted in a fabric. Today we have no such choice.

   The role of hemp and other natural fibers should be determined by the market of supply and demand and personal tastes and values, not by the undue influence of prohibition laws, federal subsidies and huge tariffs that keep the natural fabrics from replacing synthetic fibers.

   Sixty years of government suppression of information has resulted in virtually no public knowledge of the incredible potential of the hemp fiber or its uses.

   By using 100% hemp or mixing hemp with cotton, you will be able to pass on your shirts, pants and other clothing to your grandchildren. Intelligent spending could essentially replace the use of petrochemical synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester with tougher, cheaper, cool, absorbent, breathing, biodegradable, natural fibers.

   China, Italy and Eastern European countries such as Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Russia currently make millions of dollars worth of sturdy hemp and hemp/cotton textiles - and could be making billions of dollars - annually.

   These countries build upon their traditional farming and weaving skills, while the U.S. tries to force the extinction of this plant to prop up destructive synthetic technologies.

   Even cannabis/cotton blend textiles were still not cleared for direct sale in the U.S. until 1991. The Chinese, for instance, were forced by tacit agreement - to send us inferior ramie/cottons.

   As the 1990 edition of The Emperor went to press, garments containing at least 55% cannabis hemp arrived from China and Hungary. In 1992 as we went to press, many different grades of 100% hemp fabric had arrived directly from China and Hungary. Now, in 1998, hemp fabric is in booming demand all over the world, arriving from Romania, Poland, Italy, Germany, et al. Hemp has been recognized as the hottest fabric of the 1990s by Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, Paper, Detour, Details, Mademoiselle, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Der Spiegel, ad infinitum. All have run, over and over again, major stories on industrial and nutritional hemp.

   Additionally, hemp grown for biomass could fuel a trillion-dollar per year energy industry, while improving air quality and distributing the wealth to rural areas and their surrounding communities, and away from centralized power monopolies. More than any other plant on Earth, hemp holds the promise of a sustainable ecology and economy.

See also Chapter 9: Economics: Energy, Environment, & Commerce

$100,000 CHALLENGE TO THE WORLD

TO PROVE US WRONG

   If all fossil fuels and their derivatives, as well as trees for paper and construction were banned in order to save the planet, reverse the Greenhouse Effect and stop deforestation;

   Then there is only one known annually renewable natural resource that is capable of providing the overall majority of the world’s paper and textiles; meet all of the world’s transportation, industrial and home energy needs, while simultaneously reducing pollution, rebuilding the soil, and cleaning the atmosphere all at the same time...

   And that substance is - the same one that did it all before - Cannabis Hemp...Marijuana!

Copyright © 1998 Jack Herer

 



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