Starting up an industrial hemp enterprise takes more than a good idea, enthusiasm or a bunch of capital. Fiber processing remains underdeveloped, but that could be changing. Three fiber start up in western Canada, Alberta, are worthy of attention. Alberta seems well positioned to become a hemp fiber industry leader in North America. American start ups should pay close attention.
Kentucky was once the heartland of the American hemp industry, as this evocative turn-of-the-century postcard shows. It depicts a man’s world: hemp, horses, beautiful women, tobacco, and bourbon. It draws a nostalgic picture of quiet rural roads, guarded by leafy stands of hemp waving in the warm wind, sitting on the front porch in the rocking chair with a tall glass of iced tea, the coon dogs keeping you company, a Winchester rifle on your lap, and wafting out the window is the sweet aroma of fresh apple pie!
At this point, sixteen states have passed legislation allowing them to take immediate advantage of the industrial hemp research and pilot program provision, Section 7606 of the 2014 US Farm Bill. But there are only two states which were really ready this year: Colorado and Kentucky. They make for an odd couple and have taken apposite approaches. Kentucky is by the book, by the rules, with a methodical, rational, planned, and scientific approach. Colorado is freewheeling, entrepreneurial, risk taking, and hyped up. Together they make a compelling story. If they were people on a TV sitcom, they could share an apartment.
Allergies and food intolerance seem to be on the rise. Poor physical responses to food are frustrating it makes something that is necessary and should be enjoyable — eating — uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. Is Hemp an Allergen? The hemp food business has expanding steadily for the last 15 years, driving acreage and building the case for hemp’s cultivation in the United States. The good news to date is that hemp has no documented allergies. However, there is no reason to suspect that there will not be reported allergies in the future. People being a diverse lot, we pretty much have to wait and see.
There has been many books written about hemp, and many would argue the whole modern renaissance began with Jack Herer’s Emperor Wears No Clothes. The highlights of Hemp Bound’s are that the author provides a newer, contemporary material and the on-the-scenes journalistic field work. Doug Fine writes from a first person perspective without being overindulgent. A few personal and small descriptive details scattered all through his narrative ensures that his spiel remains grounded. It’s an enjoyable read and I greedily want more.
In the wake of the passing of the 2014 US Farm Bill in January there has been, as predicted, a further green wave of pro hemp legislation passed and hemp research activity announced. While there is great activity, how this shapes out is anyone’s guess. Several states are positioned to conduct hemp research. To date, only Kentucky and Hawaii have announced specific research programs. While recognizing that there are valid obstacles, questions, and legal gray areas, much comes down to political courage, leadership and vision.
As industrial oil, hemp oil has a number of useful applications including that of a natural wood stain. At its most basic, unrefined hemp oil acts as a simple drying oil. It penetrates, hardens and preserves wood, and provides a long-lasting finish. And like any other stain, it can be used craftily to darken wood color, to accent the grain, to match different pieces of wood and to help accent details. One of the most important natural features of hemp oil as a wood stain is that it is low-to-no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
One of hemp’s most innovative and applicable uses today is in building materials sector. Hemp can be used for all sorts of building materials, replacing or supplementing traditional materials including wood and concrete. There are a wider range of products, but the most important categories are: Hempcrete, Insulation, and Particle Board.
An innovative Czech study from the 1930’s used hemp seeds in a nutritional therapeutic trial to treat tuberculosis. Basically, in order to fight TB, foods had to be able to help the body’s organs and tissue rebuild. Hemp seed — a nutritionally significant source of edestin and arginine proteins, and today also known to be a powerful source of Essentially Fatty Acids — proved to be a low cost and very method of helping sick children get better.
Medical uses for hemp in China has a long, documented, cultural history, using all parts of the plant — the seed, leaves, “juice” (oil), roots and flowers — in both oral and topical applications. Interestingly and perhaps controversially to some, there does not seem to be a strong tradition of smoking the cannabis flowers… where some texts considered that part of the plant to be poisonous. For the record, the earliest known references of hemp leaf medicinal tea is from 2700 BC while the earliest textual medical reference to using hemp seeds is from the 14th CE.