Hemp is ready to return to the mainstream as a major crop, with many thousands of hectares planted, an increasing amount each year. Historically, the reason for hemp use was related solely to the fact that this is indisputably one of the most useful plants on earth. From medicine to basic commodities like fiber and edible oil, the hemp plant has many applications. It is used for building materials, food, clothing, bio-fuel and now even plastics.
The hemp fiber itself is immensely strong, much stronger than most other natural fibers. This was originally what made hemp popular. The fibers once processed can be used to make everything from rope to clothing, canvas and other woven materials. Softer and more durable than cotton, it is a tragedy that the association with drugs made hemp such an unpopular agri-product for decades. Public view has changed now; not only is the potent form of hemp (which we know as cannabis) now widely accepted for medicinal use, in many cases it has been legalized for recreational use too.

The ability for agriculture to focus on the non-intoxicating version of the plant (which we call hemp) has only just become a mainstream option for many farmers who would be happy to grow it but are legislated against so they cannot. One of the most important new developments is the use of Hemp as a fuel. In tandem with this is its use in plastics. The IT manager at SalvageData a Virginia data recovery company recently suggested that all computers should be utilizing hemp plastic as screens, keyboards and computer casings are now one of the biggest landfill problems; especially since LED screens took over from tubed screens – when the next generation of screens is introduced at higher resolutions, there will be another wave of replacement activity. SalvageData are aiming to be a totally green company and are currently able to meet the most of the conditions that environmentalists have stated are necessary if the world is to make it long term. However, their business is small compared to IBM and other giants who must also take up new technologies such as hemp plastics. In the meantime the recycling of other computer components is far from satisfactory. The problem is that although some computer components can be recycled, many are simply buried and will not degrade for many years to come. Hemp plastic is biodegradable and what is even better is that when hemp fuel is produced, plastic is easy to manufacture as a by-product. Whether the computer industry will take heed is another matter – they are constantly looking for a new edge to compete so perhaps the world environmental situation might provide some impetus.
The use of crude oil is not dwindling and although we are told every now and then that there is only so much oil left, we are also told at the same frequency that there is more oil but for economic (sometimes environmental reasons are quoted) reasons it appears to be inappropriate to drill for it or extract it. This game has been playing for decades; we pay more for oil as we are led to believe it is scarce but when alternatives are touted, such as the use of hemp fuel – there suddenly seems to be a lot of extra oil “knocking about.” Projects are underfunded and the public interest is not nurtured to encourage private investment. Why the oil companies do not invest more is a mystery – the cost of the cleanup in the Gulf alone would have planted billions of acres.
We are obviously getting the mushroom treatment (kept in the dark and fed BS) because there is too much vested interest in oil production and perhaps the delicate economic balance it affects. We are moving forward as a race in terms of using the technologies we develop to make the world a better place; can we afford to wait that long for hemp to become the world-saver that it could be? We will wait here in the dark and see….