The Real Story This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   So you say you're concerned about the environment ... okay, fine. Then what would your reaction be if I told you there's a plant that would not only help our environment but our economy as well? And what if I also said that the reason it's not being used in industry is because of the progress-obstructing bureaucratic red tape in our government? Can you guess what this plant is? Your first clue: cloth made from the fibers of this plant are eight times stronger and four times more durable than cotton, and can be used to make rope, clothing, even sneakers. Also, it can grow without pesticides (as opposed to cotton's roughly 40 million pounds of pesticides per year), a bonus when taking the environment into consideration.

Or how about this: one acre of our mystery plant can produce the same amount of paper as four acres of trees. So we're not only using less land because less of the plant yields more paper, but we'd be saving trees in the process. Paper made from this plant doesn't get yellow as it gets older; and besides, while the pulp from trees requires deadly and toxic chemicals like dioxin in its bleaching process, our mystery plant only needs hydrogen peroxide, which is benign.

Need another clue? This plant could revolutionize building. Fiberboard made from it is stronger than wood - there we go saving trees again. And houses can be built from it which are not only as strong as - and better insulated than - cement homes, but fireproof too. Think how much that would accomplish; a well-insulated home will save its owner on heating bills and also conserve energy.

You still can't guess? Okay, here's another clue. Only soybeans are higher in protein than this plant's seeds. You can lubricate engines and use as a base for varnishes and paints derived from this plant. The need to use many fossil fuels from natural gas, oil and coal would be eliminated if industry would just utilize the fuel that can be made from this plant.

Prior to the 1930s, it was a valuable crop for the United States (even George Washington encouraged people to "sow it everywhere"). But as I mentioned before, the plant can grow without pesticides and is stronger than cotton, so cotton growers couldn't keep up. During the thirties, the cotton industry launched a major propaganda campaign against the plant, and consequently it is now illegal in the U.S. So this country is, for the most part, still not making use of this valuable resource ... hemp.

Hemp, a.k.a. cannabis sativa, is most widely known for its close relative's use as the recreational drug, marijuana. Now, just recovering from the '80s no-hold-barred, frenzied "War on Drugs," not many people have bothered to find out what hemp can do for the United States. Put aside those prejudices and take the time to discover the real story about hemp. You may be surprised to find yourself in support of what you previously, disdainfully referred to as a problem when it really may be a solution. ^


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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rtrenary16 said...
Jan. 24, 2009 at 2:29 pm
Finally, someone on this site has intelligence about this issue. Go hemp!
 
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