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Legalize Hemp Textiles

            If the average American reduced his/her consumption of wood and paper to the level of the average European, there would be a reduction of 11 billion cubic feet of wood consumed each year: saving 135 million trees, each 100 feet tall and 1.5 feet in diameter. -Consider that-.
             Industrial hemp is a raw material with an image problem. Until the 1930s, the hemp plant had served for centuries as one of the world's most valuable sources of fiber. It was used for thousands of products, from marine rigging and sails to fine laces. Adventurous settlers traveled west in Conestoga wagons covered with hemp canvas and worked in jeans made from hemp cloth. For more than two centuries, hemp was a valuable cash crop for American farmers.
             But industrial hemp, tarred by the reputation of its cousin, was effectively banned in the United States in the 1930s, even though it contains insignificant amounts of THC, the drug found in marijuana. However, it was to be recognized once again for its importance to America. In 1942, with the United States facing a disastrous shortage of wartime fiber, the US government called upon all patriotic farmers to grow "Hemp for Victory." Hundreds of thousands of acres of this versatile plant were grown to supply our armed forces with the raw material for shoelaces, parachutes and marine rigging. Despite its obvious value to our farmers and to our nation's defense, once hostilities ceased, industrial hemp again was banned.
             But interest in this plant as a producer of high quality, sustainable fiber has resurfaced worldwide with concern about the paper industry's voracious appetite for trees. Canada has authorized farmers to grow it commercially. Several US states have legislation pending that would legalize and regulate production of industrial hemp. Once called the "New Billion-Dollar Crop" by Popular Mechanics magazine, hemp may soon prove to be a major source of paper fiber and a new profitable crop for American farmers.

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