Could this be the most versatile and useful plant on the planet? I think it could be. Let us take a moment to appreciate this wonderful gift from Mother Nature.
From its tawny seeds to its signature green leaves, there is no part of this plant that cannot benefit mankind and the rest of the world. It provides nourishment, cures disease and offers an environmentally friendly alternative to many common materials used today.
While the standard American diet is way too high in omega 6 fats relative to omega 3 fats, hemp seeds provide the ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. Much of this imbalance comes from the vegetable oils we use for cooking and unfortunately, oil made from hemp seeds isn't very good for cooking due to its low smoke point. However, it can still be incorporated into your life! For example, most salad dressings are made with vegetable oil; consider using hemp oil on your salad instead for a healthier alternative. Hemp seeds can be sprinkled into yogurt, on salads, etc. and impart a mild nutty flavor. Hemp seeds are also a good source of high quality vegetarian protein that is more easily digested than soy and is non-GMO.
Another benefit of hemp is that it can be made into paper and reduce the demand for cutting down trees. Approximately 4 billion trees are cut down every year for paper, accounting for 35% of the trees cut down in total. We're losing trees faster than they can be replaced. While it takes 20 years for trees to mature, hemp only takes 4 weeks! And hemp takes up a lot less space, and it's easier to harvest. Makes you wonder why we continue doing things the hard way, especially when it's destroying our home.
Given that our skin absorbs most of the chemicals it comes into contact with, the fabric that you use for your clothing and bedding is very important. About 90% of all the cotton grown in the world is genetically modified, which allows farmers to spray the crops with more pesticides. In fact, half of all the pesticides used in the U.S. are used on cotton! Do you really want all that poison pressed against your body all day? Synthetic fibers aren't any better (they're usually toxic as well). Hemp can be grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides and can be woven into many types of fabrics. A much better alternative for you and the environment!
Carbon emissions may be the media darling that hogs all the attention in the realm of environmental concerns, but I believe that plastic consumption is the most pressing environmental issue we face today. Think of all the plastic you use everyday. While much of it serves a purpose to you for only a few moments, it will exist in the environment forever, contaminating the food chain and unleashing its harmful xenoestrogenic effects. Throwing your plastic into a recycling bin may ease your conscience, but recycling is somewhat of a myth due to the Green Fence put up by China. Much of the waste you put into the recycling bin ends up in landfills anyway. And even the plastic that does get recycled isn't recycled 100% the way some other materials, such as glass, are.
Luckily, there is an alternative to this madness. The hemp stalk can be used to create a plastic that doesn't release harmful chemicals into the environment. Furthermore, plastic made from hemp and corn is 100% biodegradable.
There is all this talk of oil shortages and how we need to find an alternative fuel source to power our vehicles. If you have a car that runs on diesel, you could modify it so that it runs on vegetable oil. Instead of heading over to McDonald's to take their leftover Monsanto canola oil, you could go the way cooler route and use hemp oil. There are many environmental benefits to using bio-diesel over conventional diesel. For example, it contains less cancer-causing compounds, degrades quickly and emits less carbon monoxide.
In the United States, prescription drugs kill more people every year than traffic accidents do. While tens of thousands of Americans OD on prescription medications every year, it is nearly impossible to OD on marijuana. Medical marijuana can be used to treat cancer, glaucoma, chronic pain and more. In fact, there are studies suggesting that cannabis can induce brain tumor cell apoptosis, reduce breast cancer cell proliferation and inhibit lung cancer cell migration, growth and metastasis. This is only a small sampling of the healing power of cannabis, but the pharmaceutical companies can't patent it and profit off of it so they keep this information suppressed. Thankfully, half of all states have legalized medical marijuana, which means only 25 more to go!
And perhaps the most widely recognized use for cannabis is for its recreational value. This is still illegal in most jurisdictions so I don't condone its use. However, users report elevated mood, pain relief, increased appetite, increased creativity and deep thinking, intensifying of the senses, music appreciation and relaxation. Paradoxically, it could cause anxiety, tachycardia and agitation in other users. Despite the disinformation spread by reefer madness, marijuana won't give you brain damage or turn you into a heroin addict.
All the demonization surrounding cannabis is totally unfounded and unfair. It's sad how the interests of powerful companies in the plastics, fiber, timber, pharmaceutical and oil industries have prevented us from implementing simple solutions to urgent problems. Apparently, DuPont - that evil company that is poisoning us all with Teflon - played a big role in making it illegal in 1937. Their business was hurting and they didn't want any competition for their newly developed nylon material and wood-pulp paper production processes. Stand up to monopolistic corporations that have it out for small business owners, like Monsanto and DuPont, and support hemp growers.
This post is dedicated to @berniesanders and anyone else who fights anti-marijuana legislation