The potential uses and benefits of hemp are so vast, it seems utterly absurd that its industrial uses should be barred because a small percentage of the population would rather stick it in a bong than a pulp mill.
As noted earlier, there are numerous maritime uses of hemp. Hemp is also perfect for textiles, and is less harmful to the environment than cotton. Hemp requires no chemicals and has few insect foes to contend with; by contrast, fifty percent of all agricultural chemicals currently used in the United States are used to grow cotton.
Hemp also produces 4.3 times as much pulp fiber per hectare than trees. Hemp paper products can be recycled seven times, while white paper made from wood pulp can only be recycled three times.
The criminalization of marijuana in 1937 presented some difficulties in World War II, when the Japanese seized the Philippines, the source of America's cordage at the time. (The Philippines were seized forty years earlier by the United States during the Spanish-American War, a war which Hearst worked very hard to help initiate -- but that's another story.) Hemp was temporarily re-introduced in 1942 to fill the hemp gap, and films such as the USDA's Hemp for Victory encouraged patriotic American farmers to make good use of cannabis. George Bush, whose War on Drugs would send untold American citizens to prison, was actually saved by hemp during World War II: the webbing of the parachute he used after bailing out of his burning airplane over the Pacific was made from -- that's right -- hemp.
But the practical uses of hemp extend far beyond saving the lives of Rockefeller Republicans. In 1935, 116 million pounds of hemp seed were used in the United States to produce paint and varnish. DuPont got most of that business after hemp was criminalized.
More significant that paints and rope, however, is hemp's potential as a source of biomass energy. Biomass can be converted to methane and gasoline below the current costs of fuel oil, and instead of creating sulfur-based smog and acid rain as by-products, it produces oxygen instead. Plus, biomass is a truly sustainable fuel resource; costs will not rise as resources become scarce. Widespread use of biomass fuel -- and hemp is one of the best sources of biomass around -- would drastically cut our imports of foreign oil, increasing our economic independence as a nation and saving us big bucks at the fuel pump.
With world food reserves currently at an all-time low and bad weather hampering this year's crops, it is worth noting that hemp seed is an excellent source of food. High in protein, oil from hemp seeds has the highest percentage of essential fatty acids and the lowest percentage of saturated fats. Tons of drought- and weather-resistant hemp seed can be produced on a relatively small plot of ground.
The medical uses of cannabis are far too vast to examine in detail here, but to mention a few:
--Marijuana is useful in treating approximately eighty percent of all asthma patients, and could replace toxic legal medicines which reap huge profits for pharmaceutical companies.
--Marijuana could be used to reduce ocular pressure in ninety percent of all glaucoma patients, without the toxic side effects associated with legal medicines.
--Federally-funded research at the Medical College of Virginia was shut down after it was discovered that cannabis was very successful in reducing many types of cancerous tumors.
--Marijuana can be used to control nausea resulting from AIDS medication and chemotherapy.
--Cannabis is useful for treating many forms of epilepsy, reducing the intensity of the seizures and in many cases out-performing legal pharmaceutical drugs.
Marijuana can also stimulate appetite (as any pot smoker who's had "the munchies" can attest), relieve migraine headaches, relieve pain and stop an attack of insomnia dead in its tracks.