The Hempest Has It All And It’s All Made Of Hemp
Hats, Shirts, Milk — The Hempest Has It All, And It’s All Made Of Hemp
BOSTON — Jon Napoli jokes that when he opened a small shop specializing in hemp products in 1995, it was because, at 23, he just didn’t have anything better to do. But that’s not quite the whole story.
“Ending the prohibition on hemp and cannabis was something I needed to be involved in,” he tells MintPress News. “And I figured I could do it economically.”
“Money turns the world around, and social change can come through private enterprise,” he continues, explaining that he wanted to show people, farmers and politicians that there was a lot of money to be made in the hemp industry.
According to the Hemp Industries Association, a nonprofit trade association, the value of hemp retail products sold in the United States last year exceeded $581 million, up from $500 million in 2012. That’s no small feat for an industry that largely relies on imported raw materials and finished products because of a long-standing prohibition on its major resource — hemp.
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, cannabis is prohibited in all forms because marijuana, a plant in the cannabis family, has psychoactive properties. While hemp is also in the cannabis family, it is not a drug and contains virtually no THC — the psychoactive component in marijuana that gets people “high.” Some states have moved to legalize marijuana either for medicinal or recreational purposes, or both, or to decriminalize possession of the drug, but it remains illegal at the federal level. Likewise, since 1970 it has been illegal to cultivate hemp in the U.S. without a federal permit.
“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson
The federal 2014 Farm Bill, however, prevents federal agencies from interfering with state-designated projects for industrial hemp research and development. So far, 19 states have laws to provide for hemp pilot studies, production, or both, as stipulated by the Farm Bill.
Napoli says the bill — recently passed as part of the federal government’s $1.1 trillion spending bill — is a “great first step” toward the U.S. being able to re-establish its relationship with the versatile plant. Practically every part of the plant can be used and substituted for other ingredients or components — and it has been for centuries: Christopher Columbus used hemp sails and rope when he traveled to America in 1492. Founding fathers including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew lucrative hemp crops. Until the invention of the cotton gin in the 1820s, hemp was the fiber of choice for textiles. Fiber from the hemp plant useful in producing strong, durable fabrics that have antimicrobial and anti-mildew properties, according to the North American Industrial Hemp Council, which makes it ideal for all manner of clothing — including pants, dresses, underwear and socks.
This is a nice little tour of the knit fabric being produced. All the fabrics you see here are 55% hemp 45% organic cotton. These machines will knit together around 100 spools of yarn. You can achieve different textures and feels depending on the amount of yarns you use, their percentages, and even how the yarns are staggered.
The fiber isn’t the only useful part of the plant, as hemp crops are also harvested for seeds, seed meal and seed oil. Hemp seeds are a rich source of digestible protein and can be used in a variety of ways, like in baked goods or any other dish or snack that would benefit from the nutty-flavored, healthful component. As with as almonds and soy, hemp seeds can be used to make non-dairy versions of products like milk and cheese.
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