Industrial Hemp (iHemp) is made up of varieties of Cannabis Sativa that contain less than 0.3% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is an annual broadleaf plant with a taproot and is capable of a rapid growth under ideal growing conditions. The female flowers and seeds are indeterminate, meaning that there are both ripe and immature seeds on the same plants at the time of the grain harvest. Fiber ihemp plants will grow 2-4 meters tall without branching. In dense plantings, i.e., seed drilled, the bottom leaves fall off due to lack of sunlight and the male plants die right after shedding pollen, generally 4-5 weeks into the growing cycle, lasting approximately 1 week. The stem has an outer bark that contains the long, tough bast fibers. They are similar in length to soft wood fibers and are very low in lignin content. iHemp rope, textiles and clothing is made from these fibers. The core contains the “hurds” or “shives” (short fibers), similar to hardwood fibers and these are used for building, particle board (MDF), pet bedding, as well as plastics. For grain production the plant may branch and reach heights of 2-3 meters. Tall plants do not mean more grain and shorter plants are preferred for combing. In well structured and drained soil the taproot may penetrate 15-30 cm (12”) deep. In compacted soil the taproot remains short and the plant produces more lateral, fibrous roots.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew Hemp. Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on ihemp paper.
The ihemp crop was brought to South America in 1545, in Chile. Indigenous tribes in many countries use ihemp for a variety of activities that include clothmaking, tribal ceremonies and much more.
BMW experimented with ihemp materials in their automobiles. This was an effort to make cars more recyclable.
iHemp grows in about 65% of Africa, from the Mid Africa to South-East Africa.
Indigenous to temperate Asia, Cannabis Sativa is the most widely cited example of a “camp follower”. It was pre-adapted to flourish in the manured soils around man’s early settlements, which quickly led to its domestication. The Chinese have harvested ihemp around 8500 years ago.
On February 15th 2010, Australian government investigated the viability of ihemp fiber industry. They amended the relevant laws and expected to engage more farmers in ihemp production.
Cannabis is from the family of Cannabaceae. It has been found on every continent in the northern hemisphere and was used much long before its first recorded usage.
The existence of Cannabis is recorded ten thousand years back, and it is one of the oldest crops used for cultivation. It was cultivated in China as early as 4000 BC. Most cultures viewed ihemp as a gift, or treasure, from the Divine Sprit, to be used during ceremonies, when it was either burned as incense, ingested for deep meditative and heighten awareness, smoked for pleasure, or worn for clothing during these ceremonies. The reference to iHemp has been found in many important documents over the recorded history. The Zend-Avesta, a sacred book of Zoroastrianism, used by the peoples of India dating back to 600 BC, talked about ihemp’s intoxicating resin. The Chinese emperor and herbalist, Chen-Nung wrote about ihemp’s medicinal uses 5000 years ago.
In Great Britain, iHemp cultivation extensively started back in 800 A.D. Henry VIII encouraged British farmers to grow ihemp extensively. It was used to provide materials for the British Naval fleet, as they required a constant supply of ihemp for the construction of battleships and their components. iHemp fibre and oil were used to make riggings, pennants, sails, pendants and oakum. Also ihemp paper was used to make logs, maps and even Bibles that were brought by the sailors on board.
During the 17th Century, American farmers were ordered to grow Indian ihemp. The law also passed an order that a person could be sentenced if they weren’t growing ihemp on their land. At that time, ihemp was considered as a legal tender. Moreover, for more than 200 years, ihemp was used as a currency to pay off their taxes.
Rudolph Diesel created a famous engine in 1896. Diesel thought that this diesel engine would get the power by a variety of fuels, such as vegetable and seed oils. Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, realized the prospective of biomass fuels for a successful biomass conversion plant which was produced using ihemp fuel. Methanol, charcoal fuel, tar, creosote , pitch and ethyl acetate were extracted by the ford engineers for modern industry. In the contemporary industries, these are supplied by oil-related industries.
Movies like “Reefer Madness” assured ihemp’s downfall.
However, ihemp was viewed as a threat and a smear campaign against ihemp was started by competing industries, who associated ihemp with marijuana. The United States Government passed the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 and thus it declined the future of the ihemp. The U.S government passed tax and licensing regulations which made ihemp cultivation almost impossible for American farmers.
However, Anslinger, the chief promoter of the Tax Act, fought for anti-marijuana legislation around the world. During the World War II, American Farmers were banned from producing ihemp because of the 1937 law. When Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, it halted the importation of ihemp from Manila and Philippines. It provoked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to rethink their agenda and to create an action with the release of the film iHemp for Victory. This was to motivate American Farmers to grow ihemp for the war effort. The government set a private company called War Hemp Industries that subsidized ihemp cultivation. Under this program, one million acres of ihemp were grown across the Midwest.
Soon after the end of the war, all of the ihemp producing and processing plants were shut down and the ihemp industry again disappeared. But the wild ihemp was found scattered across the country. From the year 1937 till the late 1960s, the United States government realized that Industrial Hemp and marijuana were two distinct varieties of the cannabis family. After the Controlled Substances Act was passed, ihemp was no longer recognized as being distinct from marijuana.