What Is All the Fuss about Hemp?
Why isn’t hemp grown in the U.S.? Why is the U.S. alone among industrial nations in not producing hemp?
Apparently hemp is too close to its cousin marijuana for someone's comfort. It is illegal to grow hemp in the U.S. without a federally-granted experimental license. Licenses have been granted, though, and many states have introduced and even passed legislation allowing cultivation or production of industrial hemp. Hemp remains in the news, and industrial hemp organizations will continue to push. [See recent story in the Vermont Guardian, “Hemp push pits U.S. against states, 30 countries”: http://www.vermontguardian.com/dailies/0904/0121.shtml ]
A few years ago, the Drug Enforcement Administration attempted to ban nutritional and some cosmetic products that contained non-psychoactive hemp seeds or hemp seed oil for reasons that had been dismissed elsewhere within the federal government. By doing this through reinterpretation of existing regulations rather than through new legislation, the DEA side-stepped some of the more reasonable U.S. federal approaches to industrial hemp.
All this fuss just because hemp is related to marijuana. But hemp does not have high enough THC levels to get anyone high, even if just a few molecules of THC can land a person in jail. That is just a smokescreen.
Perhaps there is a fuss because hemp is too easy to grow and could replace industrial cotton, a pesticide-heavy crop, as the primary American fiber. That would be bad for the cotton industry and bad for chemical companies that provide the pesticides and processing chemicals for cotton.
Hemp can also be used more widely, if grown domestically, as a nutritional and cosmetic additive. That would have far-reaching effects on other powerful lobbies.
Hemp is strong and versatile. There are more reasons to grow it and more reasons it scares people. Follow your curiosity---and then talk about it.
OK, if it’s so great, why did Firefly phase out hemp/cotton for diapers?
We have been balancing several priorities for a while: function, origins (including labor), and production. As long as only hemp/cotton functioned at the highest levels, we maintained all of our products in both hemp/cotton and organic cotton.
We were uneasy about importing fabric from China, though. I don't want to import fabric. I especially don't want to do this as so many of the mills that supplied nice fabrics to us in the past have closed their U.S. plants within the past few years and moved to China. I see the effects of this all around me in unemployment. I want to use domestically produced fabrics.
What about China? I don't know enough about the specifics of production of the hemp/cotton we used, despite years of asking. The best answer I received was that the hemp/cotton was produced in a "campus-like setting." Sounds lovely. I wonder what it means.
Once I found a U.S. producer who could make a thicker, more absorbent organic cotton fleece for me, the choice was clear. Organic cotton all of the way.
Hemp is much easier on the environment than cotton, but industrial hemp is not grown in the U.S.
The social costs are our higher priority at this time. Like most of you, we are improvising our best solutions based on our current information. When beautiful, soft, absorbent hemp is available produced in the U.S. or Canada, you will see hemp Firefly Diapers again.
See our industrial hemp resource page for more information.
copyright © 2000 - 2007 Lori Taylor. Used by permission.