What’s all the Hype about Hemp?

Doug Elbinger
By Douglas Elbinger, Energy Systems Finance, Newman Consulting Group LLC

Hemp is a natural fiber that can be used in concrete, insulation, furniture, and much more…

Hemp is not new. It has a recorded history going back over 4,000 years. You may remember hearing that George Washington grew the stuff on his plantation, which he and many others did because in pre-industrial America, it was a staple cash crop and had many uses like; cloth, sail, rope, netting, paper, and many more. The first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper and until the 1890’s, most paper in the US was made from hemp. Hemp was a very common crop in the US, especially in tobacco growing states until its cultivation was outlawed in 1937, the same year that cannabis was banned. During WWII, hemp was deemed essential to the war effort and special licenses were granted to grow hemp, but by 1947, hemp was gone. Hemp farmers have been struggling ever since to draw a distinction between industrial hemp, which for all practical purpose, has no psychoactive qualities but many valuable commercial uses, and its close genetic cousin cannabis (aka marijuana) which is popular with recreational and medical users today.