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r ranson
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Hemp is a pretty amazing plant that can do some fantastic stuff.  One little plant provides medicine, clothing, oil, paper, fuel, and food.  Like anything in this world, there are some things hemp does really well and many things it doesn't do well at all.  With all the political noise around it, it's difficult to sort through the mythology. 

The information in this post is taken from reading, talking with people who have first-hand experience and my own personal experience working with the fibre.


Image from A tip for American farmers: Grow hemp, make money

What is Hemp?  There are many plants that hold the name 'hemp' but most often in North America, we usually mean the non-medicinal relative of the marijuana.  In the book The Practical Spinner's Guide to Cotton, Flax, Hemp, Stephenie Gaustad describes hemp (Cannabis sativa) as "tall and lithe with few branches and containing little of the controversial chemistry of C. indica"  Gaustad goes on to explain to grow tall, it needs rich and moist soils.  It grows shorter and bushier in arid climes which doesn't produce a good fibre. 

Manatoba Harvest describes hemp as...

...a super plant! There are hundreds, if not thousands, of uses for hemp including food, textiles like rope and clothing, construction material, plastics, fuel, animal bedding, and more. At Manitoba Harvest we’re focused exclusively on the seed, which we use to make delicious hemp foods.


Legal aspects:  Sorry guys, this is the boring bit.  But it's going to come up, so let us get it out of the way so we can talk about what hemp is good for.  In some places in the world, it is illegal to grow hemp.  One needs to know their local laws and make their own choices.  Where I live, it is still illegal to grow hemp without a licence (but soon legal to grow pot for personal use - go figure).  The stupidity/benevolence of the legal system doesn't interest me at all.  I think there are already threads about that if it catches your fancy.  I do know, if this new grow-your-own-pot legislation comes in, it would be tempting to grow hemp and pretend it's pot... but probably too much effort for reasons I explain in this next paragraph.

Growing Hemp: Hemp grows really well in some climates.  In the right conditions, it requires minimal inputs but grows better with fertile soil and the right moisture conditions (just like any plant).  In Ontario, I'm told, it thrives in the hedgerows and can still be wild crafted.  However, in my part of the world, hemp won't thrive in wild conditions.  It requires many extra resources.  Our soil is too acidic for a start, so we need to do something about that.  It's also very dry during the growing season, so we need to irrigate.  Very few places have the right soil structure and these are already dedicated to growing food crops, and the rest require additives (manure or chemical) to create the right soil fertility.  Then of course, hemp doesn't like a wet start to the growing season which we have here.  There are much better fibre, food and oil crops suited to our conditions like flax that don't require extra effort and resources.

This shows us that hemp grows great in some parts of the world but isn't ideally suited to every situation.  To know if hemp will (theoretically) grow well in your conditions, one can check out historical examples, or have a look at this description

Soil Conditions:
iHemp responds to a well drained, loam soil with pH (acidity) above 6.0. Neutral to slightly alkaline (pH7.0 - 7.5) is preferred. The higher the clay content of the soil the lower the yield of grain or fibre. Clay soils are easily compacted and iHemp is very sensitive to soil compaction. Young plants are very sensitive to wet soils or flooding during the first 3 weeks or until growth reaches the fourth internode (approx. 30 cm or 12” tall). Water damaged plants will remain stunted, resulting in a weedy, uneven and poor crop.

Poorly structured, drought-prone sandy soils provide very little natural fertility or support for the iHemp plant. Extra nutrients and water will be required to achieve maximum yields on these soils, hence the extra costs make production uneconomical.

Climate for Growing:
iHemp requires lots of moisture; approx. 3-400mm (10-13”) of rainfall equivalent. If that amount of rainfall does not occur during the growing season it is important to make use of early soil moisture and to get early ground cover to reduce surface evaporation, as well as maintain good weed control. About ½ of this moisture is required during flowering and seed set in order to produce maximum grain yields. Drought during this stage produces poorly developed grain heads and continued drought results in low yields of light grain. During the vegetative growth period iHemp responds to daytime high temperatures with increased growth and water needs. After the 3rd pair of leaves develop iHemp can survive daily low temperatures as low as -0.5 degrees Celsius for 4-5 days.

Fertility:
iHemp requires approximately the same fertility as a high-yielding crop of wheat. Apply up to 110kg/hectare of nitrogen, depending on soil fertility and past cropping history. Research also supports the application of 40-90kg/hectare of potash for fibre hemp. Base your phosphorus (P205) and potash (K20) applications on a recent soil test. To interpret soil test information, follow the nitrogen, phosphate and potash recommendations for winter wheat in OMAFRA publication 811, “Agronomy Guide for Field Crops”.

Hemp growers in some places may benefit from adding sulphur. It is important to balance the nutrients with the crop requirements. For example; excessive nitrogen, combined with inadequate potash, can result in stalk breakage and loss of crop !

Approximately 42% of the plant’s biomass returns to the soil in the form of leaves, roots and tops. These contain over half of the nutrients applied to the crop in the first place and many of these nutrients will be available to help feed the following crop.


Again from Gaustad's book, "Most Hemp is dioecious, meaning it has male and female plants.  The male plants is the fine fibre source.... The female plant produces seed.  Fibre can be harvested from the female plant, but it's coarse and of lower quality."



Hemp as cloth:  Like (but not quite the same) the strings in celery, hemp fibre is found in the stem of the plant.  Traditionally it is removed by retting (a process that partially rots the unwanted part of the stem to make it easy to release the fibres) and processed mechanically like linen.  That's traditional.  In the current age, some producers use harsh chemicals to do the job for them.  Not all, but it is something to think about - not all hemp is processed equally.

Another way to extract the fibres from the hemp stem is a process called "decortication" which scrapes the fibre from the stem.  This is usually done on freshly harvested stems.  Decortication produces a shorter fibre than normal retting, which reduces some of the strength of the final cloth. 

Cloth made from hemp is resistant to rot and salt-water damage which makes it wicked-awesome for sailing ships and... oh look, a textile plant playing a vital role in the Age of Exploration. 

Hemp fibres are strong, but not as strong as linen.  They can be fine, but not as fine as linen or nettle.  Hemp can also be soft, but not as soft as cotton.  It can also soften with use. 

All in all, I think that hemp makes exceptional outerwear like coats and hoodies.  I'm suspicious of it as next to the skin clothing unless I know where it was produced and what process they use.  It is also excellent for tents, outdoor canvas, ropes, bags, rugs, and towels. 

Other uses of hemp. Hemp can be used to make paper, the seeds are edible and can be pressed for oil.  It makes a good addition to cob construction and there is a building material called hempcrete.  I'm sure there are a lot more.



Hemp as protest.
  Hemp can be marvellous, good for the environment.  It's an excellent carbon farming crop; producing massive amounts of organic matter to help feed the soil.  There is work being done with hemp to help repair soil and grow a fibre shed.  Why are fibresheds so important?  The Indians didn't get home rule by calling the Brits funny names, they did it through peaceful process where a big part of that was making cotton clothing at home.  How did the British Empire get so powerful in the first place?  Primarily through textile production.  Their homegrown wool was the best in the world, their linen nearly second best, they took that wealth and grew cotton plantations and developed machines to process it.  Much of Chinas international trade in the Middle Ages was in silk.  Even something as simple as dyes financed empires.  All this is over-simplifying history, but the point is, textiles have always played a pivotal role in social and political change.  If you still doubt this is relevant, have a look at recent events.

Hemp is often worn as a kind of protest against... well, anything.   It has become a symbol of our modern day struggle against oppression. 

In many ways, it is wonderful to have, yet again, a textile plant as a symbol of freedom.  It also has the hazard of being a verboten treasure.  It develops mythical status and the legend surrounding it makes it out to be more than it is.  Hemp grows great in conditions where it grows great - but not everywhere.  Hemp is amazing at all the things it is amazing at - but not everything.  So let's use this thread to celebrate what hemp is good at and sort through the mythology that surrounds it. 
 
r ranson
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Produced by the US Government in 1942.

I like that they are dew retting - it is much easier on the environment than water retting.

a thread all about retting
 
r ranson
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Speaking of the mythology, check out this picture from the first post of the thread.



It says that" Hemp is the only annually renewable plant on earth able to replace all fossil fuels"

All the things listed in that picture can be made from the flax plant.  I suspect there are other annuals that also make these items.

I worry that replacing fossil fuels with just one plant would create a vast monoculture, albeit a renewable one, that would spread across continents.  Some of these products hemp produces easily (oil, food, clothing, fuel) and some it doesn't produce easily.

Would it not be easier on the planet to replace fossil fuels with a variety of different plant sources?  That way, we could choose the plants that grow best in different locations and that are ideal for the kind of resource it is creating.  Many of these plants stack functions - like grains producing food for humans, fodder for animals, straw for building and livestock bedding, and fuel.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have observed some really healthy stands of hemp in Southern Ontario. It seems to thrive wherever conditions are suitable for corn.

I regularly eat the seed. The fiber uses are the ones that interest me. Just about everything I've seen about turning it into building materials, involves lots of petroleum-based glue.
 
r ranson
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Just about everything I've seen about turning it into building materials, involves lots of petroleum-based glue.


I've been wondering about that.  Some of the processes seem to take more energy and cause more pollution than their petroleum counterparts.  It's difficult to know for sure because there isn't much information available.

I did make some cob from flax tow (shorter waste fibres) and this turned out nice and strong.  The local Flax group made a cob brick back in 2012 and use it for demonstrating to the public what can be done with flax.  This cob brick is unfinished and handled by hundreds of people a year - half of whom deliberately and unsuccessfully try to break it.  It's held up remarkably well. 

I think hemp as the 'straw' in cob would work well and only require petroleum to get it to the building location. 

Where does hempcrete fall in terms of eco-friendly?  My ten seconds on google shows me that it's made with the boon (hard bits of stem that fall away when we extract the fibres) which is a waste product, but also good for building organic matter in the soil.  Here's a bit about hempcrete from the above link.

Hempcrete is a bio-composite made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder. The hemp core or “Shiv” has a high silica content which allows it to bind well with lime. This property is unique to hemp among all natural fibers. The result is a lightweight cementitious insulating material weighing about a seventh or an eighth of the weight of concrete. Fully cured hempcrete blocks float in a bucket of water. It is not used as a structural element, only as insulating infill between the frame members though it does tend to reduce racking. All loads are carried by internal framing. Wood stud framing is most common making it suitable for low-rise construction. Hempcrete buildings ten stories high have been built in Europe.


Why is it, that whenever someone says something is "unique to..." I want to prove them wrong?  I don't know enough about the process to try it with flax, and not sure I'm motivated enough to either, so I'll leave it alone.  But the rest of the description is impressive. 
 
Chris Kott
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I would love a complete list of the number of annuals that can contribute to making the materials in the poster. I love hemp, but this tendency to look for a singular universal cure is a recipe for self-defeat, I think.

I want to grow hemp for the seed, but I would love to hear about systems that incorporate hemp into their pasturage or livestock feed regimen. I would just love to have an oilseed hemp variety incorporated with sunchokes and amaranth and buckwheat and seed-bearing sunflowers and such in my pasture for crop rotation, if it would work as well for the health of the livestock as I think it would.

But I definitely think the overall strengths of the plant are diminished by trying to turn it into the solution for everything, especially in situations where it takes too many resources to do well.

-CK
 
Jim Fry
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My take on hemp is a bit different. Yes it was a great and useful plant for making rope for the WW2 war effort. Yes it has other wonderful uses, ...for those who want to actually make use of the plant and fiber. But, and its a fairly huge but, for many people they are trying to popularize and legitimize the hemp plant in order to make it little different than sunflowers, wheat and corn. And then, use the plant mainly for less useful proposes. There is a difference between a hemp plant for rope and a hemp plant for smoking. But in the general population there is no difference. Most people's awareness begins and ends with "food good", "any food good". The reality is that all foods are not equal. Something grown for health is much different than something grown for profit. Hemp can be a great farm plant with many uses. But mostly, most people are just interested in "hemp" for getting high. --That is what I find so un-useful. For me, anything that takes you out of your center is not good. Anything that dulls your senses is not good. Anything that "mellows" you out so much that sitting is better than creating is not so good. And the reality is that for many if not most smokers of hemp, it is not an aid to living your life. Its more of an aid to just moving thru life.

I grew up in the sixties. I experienced lots of folks who got lots and lots high. Some went on to very productive lives. Others became just burn outs. It was always a shame to me how so many folks wasted their potential. So, for me, there are things that have useful proposes, but they also have potential terrible consequences. I prefer living my life in possession of my wits, I really don't care to help other people waste their life. And that's the danger of hemp. A useful tool that can and is so easily misused. You can list all "your" useful uses all day long, but a great many folks are just interested in the one use. That's really too bad.
 
r ranson
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Chris Kott wrote:I would love a complete list of the number of annuals that can contribute to making the materials in the poster. I love hemp, but this tendency to look for a singular universal cure is a recipe for self-defeat, I think.


It's a very long list.  The Carbon Farming Solution goes into this in great detail, including of lists of plants that produce clothing, ones that produce high protein food, or oil, ... etc.  I don't think it's a complete list, but it's a good starting place. 

I definitely think the overall strengths of the plant are diminished by trying to turn it into the solution for everything


This is my feeling too. 
 
Cody DeBaun
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I agree with the general consensus here; I think if you could get high smoking nettles, there would be just as much hype for nettle and nettle products.

The only other plant I've ever seen hyped for this many purposes is bamboo, but bamboo seems much lower input and lower tech to achieve many of the same goals.

Like Chris, I see its greatest utility (at least for me) being as a feed/medicinal for livestock. Bill Mollison talked about how once upon a time hemp was grown everywhere for chicken feed. I would personally never grow it or allow it to grow here though. No need to encourage cops or teenagers to come sniffing around.
 
r ranson
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Cody DeBaun wrote:

The only other plant I've ever seen hyped for this many purposes is bamboo, but bamboo seems much lower input and lower tech to achieve many of the same goals.



Yes and no. 


The no:
  • Bamboo clothing is rayon - a fibre that requires substantial energy and chemical resources to produce, and the waste is not always disposed of in a way that doesn't kill fish. 
  • Bamboo kitchen utensils and cutting boards are often glued together, I haven't figured out what that glue is.
  • There is often a lot of transportation to get it to the consumer.


  • But yes, it is amazing for building things and incredibly useful in so many ways.  The no list is a lot shorter than the yes list. 

     
    Chris Kott
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    I would love to be able to have people differentiate between industrial strains of hemp that are grown for oilseed and fibre and medicinal strains, colloquially known as marijuana or cannabis.

    I find it less than useful by an order of magnitude that people discussing this topic, willfully or through ignorance, conflate what are essentially two different groups of strains and their societal issues, and then dismiss both out of hand. In fact, if I were looking to take a genuinely useful conversation off the rails, I would generalise about the two, spread disinformation and fear, and then make unfounded but logical-sounding summations and analogies.

    It's like if someone started talking about tomatoes and potatoes, and then brought up the fact that they are both Nightshades (Solanaceae), and started going on about how some nightshades were addictive drugs, such as tobacco, and some were dangerous (although with medicinal applications) like Datura, or downright poisonous, such as atropa belladonna, and then made the logical summation that the whole group is just too thorny a problem to deal with, and that we should just look somewhere else (and then outlawed all of them, just to be safe).

    It is this kind of thinking that has stymied the hemp industry. Tens of thousands of farming families could have been utilizing another cash crop for a variety of purposes for decades now here in North America, weaning us off our wood pulp addiction and feeding and clothing people, directly and indirectly.

    -CK

     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    Hemp is a strain of Cannabis.  Hemp is not a different species from marijuana; it is cannabis; they are all strains of species of cannabis. While we might be interested in producing fiber and want to call that thing hemp, and someone else wants to get some high grade for his aunties glaucoma and calls it marijuana, they are from the same species, with very similar genetic history.  More on that later.
     
    I agree with the general consensus here; I think if you could get high smoking nettles, there would be just as much hype for nettle and nettle products. 
      I'm not sure if I would join that consensus.  While there are great medicinal, edible, and utilitarian uses for stinging nettle (of which I am a massive fan), hemp does stand above nettle in many categories, including but not limited to the use of hemp seeds for an oil that is highly nutritious, while also being very useful as fuel or for potentially for plastics.  The beauty of nettle, besides being extremely high in nutrients, is that it is perennial, and that it grows quite well naturally in cold temperate environments, whereas hemp does not share all of these traits, so there is the aspect that we should definitely be looking to multiple plants to serve the best purposes in the best locations, as R Ranson wrote:
    Would it not be easier on the planet to replace fossil fuels with a variety of different plant sources?  That way, we could choose the plants that grow best in different locations and that are ideal for the kind of resource it is creating.




    While this is true:
    All the things listed in that picture can be made from the flax plant.
      a few things come immediately to mind:  Flax seed contains a high concentration of only Omega 3 oils, and while Omega 3 is a healthy oil to have, it must be balanced with other oils for human health.  With hemp both Omega 3 and Omega 6 are present in a completely balanced form towards human requirements of these essential fatty acids.  In addition to it's balanced seed, hemp naturally contains highly medicinal phytochemicals maximized in it's female tissues, that when concentrated have proven effective in treating or curing a startling variety of ailments, including glaucoma, tumor reduction, pain relief, and nausea to name but a few; the latter 3 being especially helpful for cancer patients.  While cannabis does many of the same things that flax does, medicinally the converse is not true. The difference in the quantities of medicines that hemp can produce in comparison to many (perhaps nearly all) other plants, in addition to all of it's other functions, puts it, in my thinking, in a class unto itself. 

    I would love to be able to have people differentiate between industrial strains of hemp that are grown for oilseed and fibre and medicinal strains, colloquially known as marijuana or cannabis. 
      The problem is that these are strains of the same species. -> they are all Cannabis.  It would be like saying that because tomato is not belladona, it is not Solanaceae.  Fibre hemp might not be the Rastafarian's ganga, but it is Cannabis Sativa straight up.  But I get what you are saying.  If people would differentiate between these two different strains it would relieve a lot of headaches.

    I'm not sure how accurate the hemp information is in Gaustad's Spinner's Guide.  I've never grown the plant, but I'm fairly read up on all the hype, and have known a few people who have dabbled with it, and some who have been part of the medical marijuana field for decades.  So, while it may be true that the fiber hemp seeds are of Sativa lineage, this quote doesn't make sense to me:   
    Gaustad describes hemp (Cannabis sativa) as "tall and lithe with few branches and containing little of the controversial chemistry of C. indica"  Gaustad goes on to explain to grow tall, it needs rich and moist soils.  It grows shorter and bushier in arid climes which doesn't produce a good fibre. 
      The reason for my skepticism about her information is that medical and recreational marijuana comes from Indica or Sativa, and also from crosses between the two strains .  The sativa strains that are the seed stock for hemp fiber, are genetically selected sativa strains for hemp fiber. The same is true of sativa strains that are the seed stock for medical pot; they were selected for those medical traits specifically.  As such, the medical grade sativa seed will not produce great hemp fiber even if grown as a dense field crop forcing it to grow tall to compete for sunshine (although it will likely have much better fiber than if grown as a horticultural shrub with wide spacing) and the hemp fiber sativa seed will not produce high levels of the medical cannibinoids even if it was grown horticulturally with wide spacing (although it would likely have slightly higher medical phyto-chemicals than those grown in a dense field).  They are both Sativa strains with very different selected genetics for very different purposes, but both will work with the cultural environment that they are given to maximize their genetic potential---if that makes sense.

    Because Cannabis species are dioecious genetic selection is relatively easy, and as such it could fairly easily be bred for medicines, biomass, fiber, oil, et cetera, which is how the plant's medical and recreational qualities have been 'improved' so rapidly in recent decades.  This fast breeding quality alone, when combined with many of its other potential functions, places it in a rank above many other plants, and so it being heavily touted is, in my mind, not out of context.  

    Just about everything I've seen about turning it into building materials, involves lots of petroleum-based glue
      I've not seen that in any of the literature that I've come across. 


    It's like if someone started talking about tomatoes and potatoes, and then brought up the fact that they are both Nightshades (Solanaceae), and started going on about how some nightshades were addictive drugs, such as tobacco, and some were dangerous (although with medicinal applications) like Datura, or downright poisonous, such as atropa belladonna, and then made the logical summation that the whole group is just too thorny a problem to deal with, and that we should just look somewhere else (and then outlawed all of them, just to be safe). 
      I really enjoyed this analogy.  Kudos.

    It is this kind of thinking that has stymied the hemp industry. Tens of thousands of farming families could have been utilizing another cash crop for a variety of purposes for decades now here in North America, weaning us off our wood pulp addiction and feeding and clothing people, directly and indirectly. 
      This kind of thinking was planned and orchestrated.  If you are interested to read more about it, try The Emporer Wears No Clothes:  Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy
     
    Chris Kott
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    Hi Roberto,

    You are entirely correct. My solanaceae analogy is a bit hyperbolic, I must admit, but my point was to underline the extreme differentiation between strains, whether we're talking about industrial hemp and the differences between plants bred for seed of different grades and uses, those bred to produce fibre, or those with medicinal and recreational properties.

    The better example may be that of canis familiaris. They are all the same species, but a Tibetan Mastiff isn't exactly like a Chihuahua, is it? Nor are the problems faced by the Chihuahua owner likely to be anything like those of the owner of the Tibetan Mastiff.

    Perhaps what I am getting at is that, though we are discussing a single species of plant with three distinct subspecies (Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis, am I right?), even just handling them all under the same label is akin to generalising about all dogs. A Pekingese is not a Great Pyrenees.

    -CK
     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    Perhaps what I am getting at is that, though we are discussing a single species of plant with three distinct subspecies (Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis, am I right?), even just handling them all under the same label is akin to generalising about all dogs.
    I wholeheartedly, entirely, completely and redundantly agree with you!  The problem is that the (mis) education of the masses is as ubiquitous as bugs in the bush.  Go to a hemp rally and check out the people who are talking about all the great things that hemp can do, and then watch the news and all they focus on when reporting the huge event is some stumbling high kid who can't finish his sentences. <,-That's a bit of a generalization, but isn't far from the truth. 

    Part of the problem is the spokespeople too.  I once went to a meeting where a local candidate (running on a marijuana party platform), brought up the founder and leader of the marijuana party to my home town.  While the leader had a lot of great ideas, I debated with the founder, Marc Emery about the rest of his platform, and he had nothing.   I told him that although I support the full decriminalization of this plant (I don't like the idea of legalizing it) that his party will go nowhere.  I also debated with him about the fact that the lungs are an organ designed solely for the purpose of exchanging Oxygen for CO2 and not for dealing regular smoke intake, but he would not be swayed. 

    Are you suggesting that we call the strains used by industry "Hemp", and those used recreationally and medicinally "Marijuana"?  For the purposes of this thread, going forward, it might be in our best interest.
     
    r ranson
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    Roberto pokachinni wrote:

    Are you suggesting that we call the strains used by industry "Hemp", and those used recreationally and medicinally "Marijuana"?  For the purposes of this thread, going forward, it might be in our best interest.


    I think that would be easier. 



    It's interesting what you say about C. indica and C. sativa earlier.  Books on hand spinning usually make a huge effort to differentiate between Marijuana and Hemp, saying that the two different strains are incompatible.  I think it's done for two reasons.  One, they are trying to distance it from pot, and two, they don't really care enough because all they are interested in is making cloth. 

    Trying to sort through the mythology, I've been having trouble telling the difference what people mean by 'industrial hemp' and 'hemp'.  In my mind, industrial means large-scale growing and processing by machines.  Whereas hemp could be grown and processed by hand or machine.  Something like industrial cotton or cotton.

     
    r ranson
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    Roberto pokachinni wrote:
    While this is true:
    All the things listed in that picture can be made from the flax plant.
      a few things come immediately to mind:  Flax seed contains a high concentration of only Omega 3 oils, and while Omega 3 is a healthy oil to have, it must be balanced with other oils for human health.  With hemp both Omega 3 and Omega 6 are present in a completely balanced form towards human requirements of these essential fatty acids.  In addition to it's balanced seed, hemp naturally contains highly medicinal phytochemicals maximized in it's female tissues, that when concentrated have proven effective in treating or curing a startling variety of ailments, including glaucoma, tumor reduction, pain relief, and nausea to name but a few; the latter 3 being especially helpful for cancer patients.  While cannabis does many of the same things that flax does, medicinally the converse is not true. The difference in the quantities of medicines that hemp can produce in comparison to many (perhaps nearly all) other plants, in addition to all of it's other functions, puts it, in my thinking, in a class unto itself. 



    I agree there are a lot of differences nutritionally and medicinally between hemp and flax.  I think flax has medicinal benefits not found in cannabis, but more importantly, it's good at what it's good at.  Cannabis is good at what it's good at. 

    I get frustrated by blanket statements like that infographic makes that end up dividing people into pro and anti camps.  Statements like "Hemp is the only annually renewable plant on earth able to replace all fossil fuels" aren't accurate.  People who know a bit about this kind of thing think that the pro-camp is over exaggerating about this, from which they conclude that other statements are being over exaggerated.  The pro-camp people think that anyone not believing the hype are in the anti-camp.  I don't believe the hype, so I usually get dismissed as an unbeliever.  I think hemp is marvellous at what it does well, and I would love to see it used more in building soils, construction, clothing, that kind of thing.   The medicinal stuff isn't very interesting to me because I'm sensitive to the medicinal pot and don't react well to most pain meds.  Although, that would be a neat topic for another thread. 
     
    r ranson
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    Here's a standard pro-hemp infographic.



    there are many elements of this that are accurate-ish.  I think hemp is great for what it is great at, but I worry that information like this is presented in a way that doesn't do hemp justice. 


    1. "Cotton needs twice as much land as Hemp" v "Hemp produces twice as much fibre per acre"


    Cotton needs twice as much land as hemp for what?  For producing the same weight of fibre?  The same length of finished cloth?  The same...?  Are we comparing cotton grown as an annual or cotton grown as a perennial where we don't need to till the soil each year?

    More importantly, are we talking apples and oranges here?  Can cotton and hemp grow in the same conditions?  The same soil?  The same climate? 

    The second statement, that Hemp produces twice as much fibre per acre seems pretty standard, but it isn't.  Each fibre weighs a different amount per volume and each kind of fibre produces a different range of thickness of yarn.  For example, a meter of cotton would weigh considerably less than a meter of hemp.  My hemp t-shirt weighs half again as much as my cotton one.  The lack of units of measurement makes this statement meaningless.  Which alas, weakens the pro-hemp sentiment of the infographic. 

    In conditions where Hemp thrives, then it will produce more fibre (of any measurement) than cotton in the same conditions.  In conditions where cotton thrives, cotton will probably produce more.  So really, it's about choosing the right plant for the growing conditions and growing that plant in a way that matches it's nature.

    2. "Cotton needs 9.758L to grow 1KG of fibre" v. "Hemp only uses 2.123l to grow 1kg of fibre"

    First, these numbers for cotton are probably on the small side for industrial agriculture cotton.  However, cotton is a dry land crop.  It was traditionally grown without irrigation in the Americas, in places with little rainfall.  In other parts of the world, it had more access to water.  Cotton how it is grown industrially today is not the only way to grow cotton.the work of Sally Fox is an excellent example of how cotton can be grown in a sustainable way. 

    These water numbers also appear to be irrigation numbers.  When hemp is grown in a place with summer rainfall, it requires less water.  If it was grown where I live, it would require considerably more water.  Industrial cotton is often not grown in the ideal climate, thus it needs more water. 

    And again, we have the units of measurement.  How many of you can instantly convert 1 kilogram of hemp into a number of t-shirts?  Tank tops?  How many know how many t-shirts are in a kilogram of cotton?  Jeans?  skirts?  Of course, it's going to vary depending on your shirt size and other factors.  The point is, a kilogram of cotton produces a different amount of cloth than one kilogram of hemp processed the same way.  Hemp is a denser fibre.  A hemp cloth is going to last longer than a cotton one - all things being equal. 

    3. "Cotton accounts for 25% of all pesticide use worldwide" v. "Hemp requires no pesticides and is a natural weed deterrent"

    Again, the numbers for cotton are probably a bit low.  However, pesticide use in cotton has gone down drastically since the adoption of GMO cotton.  A tidbit that doesn't exactly make me feel better about life, the universe, and everything. 

    Hemp is still mostly grown in ideal conditions and ideal climates.  So the plant can thrive.  Therefore there aren't problems with pests.  When cotton is grown in the ideal conditions, then it doesn't have problems with pests.  Saying that hemp doesn't require pesticides, doesn't say that pesticides aren't sometimes used. 

    4. "Organic Cotton lessens the blow, although it is not entirely as sustainable as Hemp"

    I think both hemp and cotton grown correctly are equally sustainable.  This statement that one is more sustainable than the other is unsustainable rhetoric. 

    What they are saying, is that industrial methods of growing cotton are not sustainable.  Semi-industrial methods of growing cotton are not sustainable.  The non-industrial method of growing hemp that one sees in places like Canada, is sustainable.  But will hemp still be sustainable when it's production is scaled up to match current day cotton?  That remains to be seen.

    The other points, like Hemp returning nutrients to the soil, it being a great rotation crop and hemp fibre being more durable than cotton, these I agree with full heartedly. 

    I don't know enough about hemp to agree or disagree with the sentiment that Hemp can produce high protein seeds in drought conditions.  It is too easy to infer from that statement that hemp produces all our nutritional needs... which I think it is intended to imply. 


    What do I conclude from this? Hemp is good at what it's good at.  Cotton could be grown better. 

    Comparing cotton and hemp together like this gives both fibres a disservice. 

    Given a choice, I would choose hemp over cotton most days of the week, and linen over both because it grows so well in my local conditions. 
     
    Chris Kott
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    Yes, I think the differentiation in terms helps. Hemp for seed, fibre, and any other non-medicinal application, and marijuana for the medicinal strains.

    As to comparing apples and oranges, I think it all breaks down with this polarization thing we have going on in every aspect of life. Everything gets politicised. Everything becomes them and us because polarity is easy to understand. It's simple, or perhaps simplistic, and there's the rub. I think that any place or issue where you have to resort to such stark polarity to make your point, you've already lost it.

    I think it is useful at this point to remember that with permaculture, there are a number of tools in our toolbox. They are all immensely useful in the right situations. They can also be completely useless, or even harmful, in the wrong ones. I think hemp is great, and we haven't even gotten to the part where we talk about how great it is at sequestering heavy metals and like contaminants. But let's not try to hammer a nail with pinking shears, or dig great earthworks with a trowel.

    -CK
     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    Maybe it's time for some Permie info-graphics that make more accurate statements...

    ...but there is always the ever present possibility that Mr.  I.D. will show up.  It Depends.  He kinda always seems to jump in when someone wants to make blanket statements. 

    Is it possible to make an accurate info-graphic that doesn't have blanket statements?

    Perhaps a poster that simply states that for every use that we have for petroleum and manufactured chemicals there is a plant or fungi that can replace it without harming the environment.  The list could give simple examples with the caveat that it is an incomplete list and for many of these we are choosing the best known replacement... or we could list several replacements with the dichotomy of drylands, tropical, or temperate beside each one.

      Perhaps this above is off topic.

    At any rate, the thread is supposed to be about myth busting hemp. I definitely agree by the way that hemp needs demystifying, and a balance needs to be attained rather than dealing with so much potential for misleading bullshit... or at least it and it's proponents would stand to gain if more accurate info was readily available and common knowledge.  An info graphic towards these ends would be very welcome as well.

     
    r ranson
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    Maybe it's time for some Permie info-graphics that make more accurate statements... 


    I think this would be neat. 

     
    Kyle Neath
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    I think one the more interesting facets of hemp to me is its multi-use capability coupled with its high-value potential. The high-value potential of the flowers allows farmers to get started with the crop in a small space and still make a profit, while learning more about how the crop grows on their land. Longer term, a single crop can produce THC/CBD oils or edibles, hemp seed, and fibre of various qualities. Depending on the current market conditions, one could tailor the crop each year to yield more of whichever product will be most profitable (mostly by choosing the ratio of female/male). Since a single male plant can produce unfathomable amounts of pollen, the ratios can be tweaked to the extreme. On top of that, hemp is wind-pollinated (and easily pollinated, not like corn), making it an ideal greenhouse crop, expanding the potential growing areas by quite a bit. And when you can grow the same crop in many different climates, that means you can source your material closer too — reducing the demand on transportation.

    I think that's what is most exciting to me: it's a very versatile crop. There are many uses for it, and many ways to grow it. This is far more important to me than any lbs/acre of nitrogen needed. Any time I see graphics like the one above comparing it to cotton, I can't help but roll my eyes. Numbers without sources are just noise.
     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    The high-value potential of the flowers allows farmers to get started with the crop in a small space and still make a profit, while learning more about how the crop grows on their land. Longer term, a single crop can produce THC/CBD oils or edibles, hemp seed, and fibre of various qualities. Depending on the current market conditions, one could tailor the crop each year to yield more of whichever product will be most profitable
      If only it were as simple as that!  Ha ha.  You slay me!  I am on the floor, brother.  My stomach, and cheeks are aching.  You really had me there!  kidding.  Anyway, the key problem with that idea (which I like very much by the way, don't get me wrong), at least as far as Canada is concerned, is the fact that while it is going to be 'legal' it is not like you are going to free to do whatever you want with it, whenever you want to do it.  The legal aspect is that the government will want control over who grows how much, what types, and how it is sold.  They want taxes, and, while I hope they simplify the baffling red tape/rules that currently exists to grow a crop of fiber, I doubt that that will be the case, and I also doubt that it will be likely that it will be any easier to market a crop of medicine.  Hence my personal preference to decriminalize it, while criminalizing certain acts, like driving, under the influence... but that is another thread, I think.  Great idea, Kyle.

    FYI:  In Canada, it will be legal, from my understanding, for any person to grow 5 plants without regulatory issues.     This will come into effect on July 1st, 2018.
     
    Kyle Neath
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    Roberto: I definitely just kind of avoided the legal aspects. That's a whole different layer to things, especially here in the US where all cannabis growing is being pushed indoors (don't get me started on using electricity to light up a building that blocks out the sun). I was imagining a world where we're just comparing the crops themselves. Without that, we get into terribly complicated calculus between laws, regulations, and subsidies that really makes it impossible to compare to other crops. As a side note, I do believe things will likely change in my lifetime — but then again, I'd have thought our corn subsidies would be gone by now given how bad ethanol turned out to be a fuel. And yet here we are.
     
    r ranson
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    Roberto pokachinni wrote:
    FYI:  In Canada, it will be legal, from my understanding, for any person to grow 5 plants without regulatory issues.     This will come into effect on July 1st, 2018.


    My local news said four plants but only for medicinal or recreational use, not for cloth.  There is a temptation to grow the fibre variety and say it's for recreational use, but like I said before, it looks like it would take too many resources in our climate.  I know flax and nettles grow well here, so I don't think I'll bother.

    But still, this just goes to show how there is already misunderstanding as to how the law is going to be implemented.  Any word if they will relax regulations on farmers growing hemp for textile production?
     
    Cody DeBaun
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    In Canada you can grow cannabis for use as a drug, but not for fiber?

    In many parts of the Middle East they grow poppy for the drug trade, since they're not allowed to grow cotton.

    I sure hope I can find out what's so horrible about fiber soon, right now all I'm covered in it!!
     
    r ranson
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    Cody DeBaun wrote:In Canada you can grow cannabis for use as a drug, but not for fiber?


    In Canada, they are in the process of legalizing Marijuana for medicinal and recreational (personal) use.  The law is supposed to go into effect on Canada Day 2018.  Part of that law will allow us to grow 4 or 5 plants per adult per year for personal use only.  A bit like how the law in Canada allows us to grow our own tobacco for personal use only.

    I have strong thoughts on this new law, but it won't make any difference if I voice them, so I'll keep quiet about it. 

    Other parts of the world have laws that allow Marijuana use.  The legal restrictions are very localized, so it's important to know what one's local laws are and then make their own choices.  On permies, we advocate that people follow the law or at least not admit to breaking it on our site. 
     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    Hemp can be relied on in a drought induced famine for it's high protein seed



    I don't know enough about hemp to agree or disagree with the sentiment that Hemp can produce high protein seeds in drought conditions.  It is too easy to infer from that statement that hemp produces all our nutritional needs... which I think it is intended to imply.  


    I don't know either whether hemp bolts to seed in drought situations, but I think that it is not out of the realm of possibility; many plants bolt to seed in severely dry situations in hopes of producing viable offspring that will be able to deal with the worst situations in the future.  I don't see the connection or inference or hidden intention, that the poster's statement about it producing high protein seed in drought involves a claim that hemp produces all of our nutritional needs.  While protein is essential in our diet, and oil of the nature that hemp seed contains are also essential, these are hardly a complete diet but I don't see the connection that you do, R.

    I completely agree with the rest of your post, R.Ranson.  And also with Kyle's response to the same info-graphic:
    Numbers without sources are just noise.
      Too often statistics are used without a foundation of understanding; and thus the people's minds who are reading them are used by the statistician as a playground for a manipulated agenda.  We've been battling hemp propaganda since criminalization; it's a real shame that it's back in some force from the other side.  Perhaps we can help set it straight?
     
    Cody DeBaun
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    On permies, we advocate that people follow the law or at least not admit to breaking it on our site.


    A position which I in no way intended to challenge, my intent was merely to comment on an aspect of agricultural regulation both in your locale and globally that, to me, seems bizarre. Perhaps in the future I should follow your example and keep quiet about it, I'm still relatively new here so if I misinterpreted the rules or spirit of the cider press please feel free to remove my comment.
     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    Any word if they will relax regulations on farmers growing hemp for textile production?
      With all the hype on 'marijuana', I have heard nothing about 'hemp'.    Sure would be nice though, eh?
    My local news said four plants but only for medicinal or recreational use,
    My bad, it probably is 4 plants.  Perhaps it was wishful thinking.  A pipe dream, as it were.      In actuality, I can't imbibe at all because of regulations with my job.  Those work rules might changes slightly as the new law comes into effect, meaning that I could have a certain amount on days off or after work, but not on the job.  Whatever.  It's been years now since I've had any and I don't really miss it. 
     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    In Canada you can grow cannabis for use as a drug, but not for fiber?

    In many parts of the Middle East they grow poppy for the drug trade, since they're not allowed to grow cotton.

    I sure hope I can find out what's so horrible about fiber soon, right now all I'm covered in it!!


    The legal restrictions are very localized, so it's important to know what one's local laws are and then make their own choices.  On permies, we advocate that people follow the law or at least not admit to breaking it on our site.  


    A position which I in no way intended to challenge, my intent was merely to comment on an aspect of agricultural regulation both in your locale and globally that, to me, seems bizarre. Perhaps in the future I should follow your example and keep quiet about it, I'm still relatively new here so if I misinterpreted the rules or spirit of the cider press please feel free to remove my comment.


    I'm not sure where the misunderstanding is here.  Cody wearing hemp?  hemp fiber is legal in the U.S.A., no?      
     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    In Canada you can grow cannabis for use as a drug, but not for fiber?
      In Canada, hemp fiber and seed production has been legalized for a while, but it is presently highly regulated.  We are hoping that these laws will be relaxed, especially considering that medicinal grade plants (which are what they were afraid of in the first place), are now allowed on a limited (4 plant) basis without regulation.   We shall see.
     
    Chris Kott
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    Note: as per previous posts, I am marking the separation between types of strains of the cannabis plant based on differentiation for different uses, so strains intended for fibre or seed use are referred to as hemp, while the strains used as medication or recreation are referred to as marijuana.

    Well the whole hemp as an outdoor crop has that obvious downside for outdoor marijuana growers, in that the airborne hemp pollen will readily fertilise any marijuana plant, at best making an otherwise potent yield a little less so, and seedy, and at worst making any such endeavour impossible. Were that properly being taken into account, I'm sure hemp as a seed and fibre resource would take off in a big way in the policy environment. Illegal marijuana cultivation (on crown land, or private land without the owners' consent for instance) would be that much harder to do without infrastructure to block pollen infiltration, which would make crops more visible.

    I suppose one downside would be that if infrared camera filters are being used to locate block illegal plantings from the air, and everyone and their grandmother has fibre or seed hemp growing in the back, that infrared signature, while still unique, would be common in the landscape. It would be like trying to find a specific type of haystack in a haystack.

    But in terms of making it pretty much impossible to grow countless fields of medical marijuana, encouraging hemp as a crop would have that effect. Anyone wanting to grow marijuana would have to do so in a space sheltered from the airborne hemp pollen, pretty much ensuring craft and boutique production.

    -CK
     
    leila hamaya
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    from my own experience i can say that ANY cannabis strain, for example the ones used medicinally/recreationally, can be used as a fiber.

    i havent worked with hemp/marijuana as a cloth fiber, but for paper making there is no difference between hemp and marijuana.
    it is also good for building used, and yes the simple way is to replace the straw, no glues or excessive processing.

    i used to make paper from the waste product of marijuana production, which is discarded or burnt normally, unfortunately.
    because people are going to keep growing marijuana, it makes sense to use this as fiber, otherwise it is wasted.

    on another note, if i tried to grow hemp in northern california, my neighbors would probably shoot me!!!
    the pollen travels quite far and would ruin their efforts to produce medicine.

    ah on a silly note here is a funny little song about hemp --

     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    from my own experience i can say that ANY cannabis strain, for example the ones used medicinally/recreationally, can be used as a fiber.

    i havent worked with hemp/marijuana as a cloth fiber, but for paper making there is no difference between hemp and marijuana.
    it is also good for building used, and yes the simple way is to replace the straw, no glues or excessive processing.
    Hi Leila.  Do you have some experience with using hemp as a building material?  Are you meaning to use hemp in a cob mix in place of straw?   It's not clear to me what you mean. Can you elaborate on the building method?

    I can see that you can certainly use the fiber from marijuana to make paper, but I think that hemp would simply produce longer fibers and probably more of it because of it's height but I might be wrong about the latter; a person might be able to make paper out of the dried leaves as well, and perhaps a multiheaded goddess plant might have enough branches and leaves to make up for the fiber loss due to it's shorter stature.  Not sure, and people tend to want to use the leaves for other purposes... so there's that. 

    btw; Funny song. 

    airborne hemp pollen will readily fertilise any marijuana plant, at best making an otherwise potent yield a little less so, and seedy, and at worst making any such endeavour impossible.
    Hi Chris K. While what you write is true to the basic literature I've read, I knew a guy from Northern California who apparently for decades grew some legendary stuff.  Thing is, he did not produce his marijuana like others did.  He put a female plant in the center of a huge mulch pit and surrounded her with a harem of males.  She fornicated to her hearts content, and produced very seedy pot, but apparently it was incredibly potent as well.  His take on it was that unlike other female plants in the marijuana game, she was allowed to be fully natural, to live to her full potential as a female plant (at least in terms of promiscuity and offspring... who am I to ethically judge what a cannabis plant's potential is?), and thus she gave many phytochemicals in her buds which were natural to the genus, chemicals that all the other plants lacked because they produced buds without being fertilized. He planted his seed every year from the females who had been treated thus, and as a result produced a strain of marijuana specifically adapted to producing these unique phytochemicals.       

    As I mentioned earlier, but it bears repeating, that since cannabis is dioecious it is easy to breed new strains, and thus come up with possibilities in the potential future that we can not necessarily imagine at this time.  Although I did not sample my friend's fornicating females, I do believe he may have been on to something.  His logic seems reasonable to my instinctual internal botanist/ecologist/biologist self. 
     
     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    I borrowed a book from a friend called Cannabis, A History.  I'm not too far into it, but when he starts about the hemp industry in Italy at the time of the sailing merchants; this part came to my attention as worthy to share.  There was a many century tradition in Italy of being one of the finest producers of rope and sails in the world.  Interestingly it is said that this had also produced such advanced techniques in processing "that hemp was being spun into yarn almost as fine as silk but stronger than cotton"  That is the first that I recall reading that hemp had been processed so fine as that.  I had always had the impression that hemp could not be processed that fine.
     
    r ranson
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    Roberto pokachinni wrote:I borrowed a book from a friend called Cannabis, A History.  I'm not too far into it, but when he starts about the hemp industry in Italy at the time of the sailing merchants; this part came to my attention as worthy to share.  There was a many century tradition in Italy of being one of the finest producers of rope and sails in the world.  Interestingly it is said that this had also produced such advanced techniques in processing "that hemp was being spun into yarn almost as fine as silk but stronger than cotton"  That is the first that I recall reading that hemp had been processed so fine as that.  I had always had the impression that hemp could not be processed that fine.


    That is interesting.  I've never seen it fine, mostly because the individual fibres generally aren't that fine.  What time period are they referring to?  Do they cite their sources?  If it was that fine, then that is something we've lost today. 

     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    That is interesting.  I've never seen it fine, mostly because the individual fibres generally aren't that fine.  What time period are they referring to?  Do they cite their sources?  If it was that fine, then that is something we've lost today. 
    Hi  R Ranson.  Yes I agree.  My experience with hemp is that it tends to be heavy and course.  I've noticed though that the quality has improved since I first connected with it in high school in the 80's as a craft twine.  The first hemp cloth (a pair of pants in the early 90's) I purchased was really poor, but later I had some cloth that was very high quality canvas.  I think that what we are seeing is just a drop in the bucket of what could be happening if we had more access, if more people were growing it and processing it, if the price was reduced, if, if... 

    Anyway, the time period stated was fairly recent.  The author writes of the three century great surge in Italian hemp and that the businesspeople behind the Venetian merchant fleets could not be hurt by a boycott of selling hemp to them if they were producing their own sails and rope from hemp grown and fabricated at home.  This period of Venetian dominance in Naval commerce ended with Napoleon invading in 1797, but the industry of producing cloth continued to flourish and this book claims that they continued exporting hempen products to England, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland, but it does not say for how long.  Around this time, the U.S. started producing a lot of hemp for export.  Unfortunately, though this book has an extensive bibliography (which I have not perused), it does not have citations.

    Another tidbit from the book that might be of interest to you, R Ranson (as I associate you with textiles, and you mentioning textiles and trade wars and such with a posting about the Korean T shirt with made in China labels which I watched and thought was interesting and informative), was that of trade relations between the budding U.S. and Britain.  The colonists were unimpressed by the Brits forcing them to grow raw materials and send them to England for manufacture, only to have the products shipped back to America for sale.  The Brits had outlawed the spinning of products outside of that for small dyi home based domestic use, but the colonists rebelled by scaling up the spinning of hemp.  The Brits, under pressure from their mill owners, countered with the Wool Act in 1699, depriving colonists of the right to import wool, but the policy backfired because the colonists decided to increase their use of hemp and flax.     
     
    leila hamaya
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    i dont have experience with working with hemp for cloth, but for paper fiber the thing about hemp is that it takes twice as long to prepare the fiber. you have to boil it much longer and beat it for double the time it takes for anything else.
    yes it is very strong, and coarse, but perhaps those who make the fine and not coarse products with it, process it a lot longer?

    as far as the plant being shorter or bushier instead of long and lanky, that is the basic difference between sativa and indica.
    indica being what was encouraged through breeding to be more medicinal, sativa being the beginning of "hemp" for fiber, and also tending to favor long season, very warm climates.
    there are many good medicinal quality types of sativa, that have qualities of being tall and not bushy. i suppose i am suggesting these may be better for processing cloth from, while also producing medicine.
    they produce different types of medicinal qualities, with sativa being more of a psychological/emotional kind of high, and indica producing more of a body response of relaxation and physical healing.

    so i think good fiber can be gotten from plants grown for medicinal purposes.
    well if we can have both - then i want both =)

    i continue to think that quality fiber can be produced from medicinal strains of cannabis... with the benefit that it can be obtained for free, since it is already being produced.
    i suppose i have always thought the main point of hemp was to try to differentiate it as much as possible from the drug/medicinal qualities, because of laws and people's bias. yes it may have started off to expand upon that tall lanky quality of sativas...but i am thinking the earliest ones still had potency. then it was further encouraged to be less medicinal, just to separate it more and more...but i think thats not a good call. why not go for a medicinal strain that also produces good fiber ?

    as far as building with it my only experience was at commune number 3....there was a house i worked on with many others where we were using shredded hemp stems, lime, clay and soil crete to produce bricks. it made something very strong like concrete. i have read of other methods just replacing some of the straw in your cob/earthen plaster with hemp stalks.
     
    leila hamaya
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    ^^^ keeping with the trend of being specific about the different types, i suppose i should correct myself and say the building work i did was done with cannabis, not hemp specifically.
    actually to be very precise it was sensimilla, it was the waste product of marijuana production.

    anywho i wasnt the bottom line person on that project, just a helper...so dont necessarily remember even the exact recipe... just that it also contained lime, purchased bags of dry clay, sand and rocks, dug screen soil (which was very clayey), and a small amount of cement.
     
    Chris Kott
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    I agree that there is some function stacking to be had with medicinal marijuana, but I always thought about paper rather than cloth, because of the tradeoff with quality/quantity of fibre in exchange for the bud. My other question would be whether it is the best function to stack in that scenario. If you are already producing it without synthetic inputs and in a permaculture-approved manner, wouldn't the remaining plant be better used as feedstock for a food animal, or one we milk?

    I like the idea of producing fibre crops in line with human waste processing, as whatever they accumulate will not be eaten, and yet will be useful. Ideally, the processed human waste is applied to a woodlot, whose leaves and detritus would create mulch and soil. The wood is used for heating or building, and construction wastes or ashes go into the next hugelbeet. As hemp has excellent heavy metal sequestration properties, it could do very well as part of a natural water treatment plan.

    This requires more hardware, but with a hammer mill and pelletizer, you can use a wide variety of biomass as feedstock to make pellets for pellet stoves, or to pelletize your own feed pellets for storage or bedding or a number of other uses. Hemp residues can be such a biomass.

    -CK
     
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