In honor of national CBD Day, we wanted to focus your attention on that beautiful plant that gives us a reason to wake up in the morning (and be happy about it): cannabis! From recreation to wellness, this herb is unrivaled in versatility, and let us show you why.
Beyond the Medical
We are full steam ahead with appreciating the medical and wellness benefits with cannabis. Beyond the healing properties, cannabis, in the form of low THC varieties called hemp, has been recognized for thousands of years as an extremely versatile, robust and beneficial plant delivering considerable economic and societal benefits to people and communities. Current understanding promises hugely encouraging potential for hemp to address significant environmental concerns.
A Snippet of UK & US History
Brought to America by the early British settlers the earliest known accounts of the plant being used in the UK is from 373BCE; Cambri Formosa, a Celtic princess, taught women to sew and weave with hemp. Accounts in China, Egypt and countless cultures across the globe highlight the utility of hemp as a medicine going back over 5000 years.
Martin A. Lee’s book “ Smoke Signals” comprehensively outlines the history of cannabis cultivation in the USA. Hemp was a commodity of significant value in trade wars between the US, the UK, Russia and the rest of Europe. Prior to this, Henry the 8th, the tyrannical King of England, made it law that 1 in 20 acres of farmland be dedicated to growing hemp for it’s tough fibre used by the naval fleets for rigging and sails. Failing to grow hemp resulted in fines. Queen Victoria was prescribed cannabis in the form of a tincture by the Royal physician to ease painful menstrual cramps and the importance of hemp to the British economy is seen in towns and counties in England named after the crop; Hampstead, Hampshire.
English settlers were one of the earliest groups to cultivate hemp in America for fabric, rope and paper, amongst other things. The fibrous nature of the plant meant that processing it was difficult. Secrets on how to turn the plant into usable fibers became international currency as well as highly guarded secrets.
George Washington famously grew hemp for the fiber and the seed. It’s versatility was integral to clothing manufacture in addition to the shipping and paper industries. Washington’s drive for American hemp independence from Britain, as Lee outlines, was regarded as a national security issue. Lee goes on to mention how hemp was a bone of contention prior to the Boston Tea Party and Benjamin Franklin himself refused to trade US hemp with Britain.
By the mid 19th century hemp was the 3rd largest crop in the USA, it’s uses innumerable and it’s value tremendous, not just economically but also environmentally.
Clean up Crop
Hemp is one of the most versatile crops available to tackle key environmental challenges, such as land contamination and carbon capture. Cannabis cleans contaminated soil through bioremediation, improves soil structure and nutrient levels, and can lead to greater yields in follow on crops, such as wheat.
Hemp nurtures the soil rather than depletes it. Its deep roots break hard ground and bring nutrients to the surface making it more fertile, as well as increasing the soil’s water retention, preventing desertification.
Due to its ability to grow very tall in 3-4 months, hemp is recognized as one of the most efficient and effective crops for carbon capture. Perfect for use as a carbon sink, Industrial hemp absorbs more CO2 per hectare than any other commercial crop or commercial forestry.
Hemp can also sequester carbon back into the soil through a process called biosequestration. In this process, hemp captures carbon emissions from the atmosphere. The plants can then be turned into a charcoal-like product which can be returned to the soil providing clean nutrients.
A vacuum cleaner for soil, hemp is used to clean contaminated soil due it’s amazing ability to bioremediate where it is grown. Hemp has been planted around the site of the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster Phytotech to clean up the horrendously contaminated soils of metals such as cadmium as well as pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil, and toxins leaching from landfills.
Covering just 2.5% of cultivated land, cotton uses 16% of the world’s pesticides. This chemical soup ends up in the land, rivers, ecosystems and human food chain. Hemp grows without the need of pesticides or herbicides and needs just 10% of the water required for growing cotton.
Europe has been leading the way into energy-efficient, hemp-based buildings, with Canada and the US following suit. Hempcrete is a material made from a combination of hemp, lime, and water. This combination creates a bio-composite material that is lighter and more flexible than concrete while keeping the structural strength and thermal properties.
Yes, you heard correctly. The strength, versatility and lightness of hemp can actually provide a real alternative to steel and plastics made from petrochemicals. This is nothing new Henry Ford held a media event in 1941 where he swung an axe at a car body made of hemp to prove its strength. Oh and hemp fuel, safe, renewable and as biodegradable as sugar, has fueled 30,000,000 road trip miles in the US.
Plastic has had its day. Made from the abundance of cellulose found in hemp, non-toxic, biodegradable plastic- anything and everything from lego to cellophane wrapping… it’s endless.
Hemp grows readily almost anywhere from the Himalayas to the equator. Hemp can empower small local communities by providing local manufacturing and industry. This also means less carbon is emitted due to shorter transportation and results in more sustainable supply chains.
“Hemp is a more sustainable, organic and regenerative agricultural crop and most everything that you can make with cotton can be made with hemp, with way less impact on the Earth,” Morris Beegle, co-founder and president of WAFBA
Cannabis fibre once provided 80% of the world’s textile needs before synthetic fibres and cotton took over in the 20th century. Last year Levi’s released a line of hemp jeans and Korto Momolu’s capsule collection raised the versatility of cannabis clothing to a whole new level at New York fashion week. In addition to the versatility of hemp fibre as a sustainable material for fashion, Momolu also wanted to “change the narrative” about who leads, and benefits from, the cannabis industry, strongly supporting medical cannabis patients and females in the industry. Oh and her collection sold out immediately – she’s ace.
(We also love Jay Burstein and his BugOut Guitars, which combine hemp and plant-based resins to create unique and supremely rugged guitars)
So look, we hate the fact that we can’t go shopping without ending up with a ton of plastic waste. We know our plastic never gets recycled properly and ends up in landfill or in some other foreign country contaminating the earth and communities. We worry about energy demands and the pollution that results. We need sustainable, carbon neutral solutions to the concerns we face. Cannabis provides the answer to these and a thousand other puzzles. When you’re sitting in your cannabis made house looking out the window at your cannabis made and fueled car, you can say we told you so.