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Industrial Hemp as a Cash Crop
for Colorado Farmers

by The Boulder Hemp Initiative Project

Definition
Hemp Production in Other Countries
Hemp Production in the United States
Raw Materials and Products from Hemp
Fiber
Hurds
Seed
Economics of Hemp Production
Estimated Value of a Hemp Crop
Hemp Cultivation
Potential for New Jobs
Benefits of Hemp Production
References

Definition

Industrial hemp means those parts of the Cannabis sativa plant which contain less than 1.00% tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). THC is the psychoactive chemical found in Cannabis sativa. Industrial hemp is not to be confused with marijuana. Marijuana comes from the flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant and contains more than 1.00% THC.1 Industrial hemp has no psychoactive properties.

Industrial hemp can be grown as a profitable, high-quality fiber crop without producing marijuana. Registered seed varieties that produce hemp containing less than 0.3% THC even in the flowers are available throughout Europe.
2 Farmers in the European Community have been growing hemp for over 20 years without any problems related to marijuana.3

Hemp Production in Other Countries

Industrial hemp is grown as a profitable fiber crop in many countries.4 Industrial hemp crops have been subsidized in the European Community since before 1988.5 In 1993, England began to produce hemp for fiber.6 In 1994, Canada harvested its first crop of industrial hemp after more than 50 years of prohibition.7 The re-emerging world hemp industry is growing steadily, and farmers are excited and enthusiastic about the potential of hemp crops.

Hemp Production in the United States

Hemp has been valued throughout this country's history as an important raw material. Until the late 1800s, almost all of our cloth was made from hemp, and virtually all of our paper was made from hemp rags.8 From 1631 to the early 1800s, hemp was such a valued commodity that it was considered legal tender (money).9 Regions of Kentucky and Wisconsin were among the largest hemp producers.10

Hemp production seemed destined to increase dramatically in the 1930s, when an invention called the decorticator began getting wide attention.
11 The decorticator strips the hemp fiber from the stalk. This had been the most labor-intensive and expensive part of producing hemp.12 The decorticator was to hemp what the cotton gin was to cotton. The invention prompted a 1937 Popular Mechanics magazine to call hemp the "New Billion Dollar Crop"13 and Mechanical Engineering magazine to call it "The Most Desirable Crop That Can Be Grown."14

However, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act dealt a fatal blow to the promising hemp fiber industry. The Act established a prohibitive tax on hemp manufacturers and distributors as well as on hemp transactions.
15 It was modeled after a similar tax that was enacted to prohibit machine guns. The transfer tax of $1.00/ounce effectively ended all hemp production in the United States by making commerce in hemp prohibitively expensive.

Restrictions on hemp production were eased briefly in the United States during World War II when Japan invaded the Philippines, cutting off the supply of abaca (Manila hemp).
16 The U.S. Navy desperately needed a domestic supply of hemp to provide the lines and rigging for its fleet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraged farmers to produce hemp for the war effort by distributing a film called "Hemp for Victory!".17

After World War II, the hemp industry declined as the federal government again began to restrict hemp production.
18 Farmers continued to produce hemp on a limited scale until the 1950s.19 However, legislation eventually came to treat industrial hemp crops as marijuana (drug) crops, and hemp fiber production was no longer promoted.

Currently, hemp production is treated as a felony in the United States because it is assumed that all hemp crops will produce marijuana. With the advent of industrial hemp and low-THC seed varieties, this is no longer true. Hemp can now be grown as a profitable fiber crop in the United States with absolutely no danger of increasing marijuana use.

Raw Materials and Products from Hemp

Hemp consists of three principal raw materials: fiber, seeds, and hurds. Hemp is principally grown for the bast fiber it produces from its stalk. However, the seeds and hurds are also important economically.

    Fiber:

    The hemp stalk is composed of 20% fiber.20 Hemp is the strongest natural fiber in the world.21 It is valued for its strength and durability when used for textiles, cordage, and paper.

    Hurds:

    The hemp stalk is composed of 80% hurds.28 The hurds are the woody inner portion of the hemp stalk that are separated from the hemp fiber.29 The hurds are 50% - 77% cellulose,30 which makes them ideal for use in paper and plastic products.

    Seed:

    The hemp seed is composed of two raw materials: the seed oil and the seed cake.

    Seed Oil:

    The hemp seed is composed of 30% oil.39

    Seed Cake:

    The seed cake is the solid part of the seeds that remains after the oil is expelled.

    Whole Seed:

    The whole hemp seed contains 20% high-quality digestible complete protein.46

Economics of Hemp Production

A hemp crop could be sold for at least $860 per acre. Since a hemp crop produces three different raw materials each year, the total value of hemp far exceeds other crops grown for a single material.

The chart below compares yields of hemp and comparable crops. Since there are currently no domestic hemp crops being sold in the United States, the prices for comparable crops were used to estimate the prices for domestic hemp fiber, hurds, and seed.

Hemp fiber is compared to cotton for textile production. Hemp hurds are compared to wood chip prices and Douglas fir yield for paper production. Hemp seed is compared to soybeans for oil seed production.

Production costs were not factored into this estimate, although hemp would be considerably less expensive to produce than cotton (see Section VI -- Hemp Cultivation).




Estimated Value of a Hemp Crop

          Yield*48       X    Price     =              Value/Acre
                                
 Fiber:    1,100 lbs./acre     $.60/lb. (cotton)        $660.00
 Hurds:    2.5 tons/acre       $50/ton (wood chips)     $125.00
  Seed:     15 bu./acre         $5/bu. (soybean)         $75.00
                                                       ---------
                     Hemp Total Value/Acre              $860.00


                                
                          Value of Comparable Crops 49
                                                         Total
          Yield          X    Price     =              Value/Acre
                                
 Cotton    578 lbs./acre       $.60/lb.                 $347.00
Douglas Fir   1 ton/acre        $50/ton                  $50.00
 Soybeans  34 bu./acre         $5/bu.                   $170.00
  Corn                                                  $205.00
  Wheat                                                  $78.00


                 Value of Comparable Crops
                     (data from above)

$900                                                     XXXX
$800                                                     XXXX
$700                                                     XXXX
$600                                                     XXXX
$500                                                     XXXX
$400   XXXX                                              XXXX
$300   XXXX                                              XXXX
$200   XXXX                                              XXXX
$100   XXXX                   XXXX      XXXX             XXXX
   0___XXXX_______XXXX________XXXX______XXXX____XXXX_____XXXX_____
      Cotton    Doug.Fir    Soybeans    Corn    Wheat    Hemp

* The hemp yields are based on historical and limited current figures. These are conservative estimates; the actual yields will probably be 2 to 3 times higher. Hemp prohibition has stifled contemporary research in the field of hemp production.




Please see the
References.

Hemp Cultivation

Hemp is easy to grow.50 Hemp is an annual herbaceous crop that grows from 5 to 16 feet tall in a season of four months.51 It will grow in all 50 states.52 It is a good rotation crop.53 Hemp has long roots that penetrate and break the soil to leave it in perfect condition for the next crop.54

Production costs for hemp would be considerably lower than cotton's. Herbicides are not needed because fiber hemp is sown thickly and chokes out competing weeds.
55 Pesticide use is limited because hemp has few insect enemies.56

Current Hemp Market in the United States

Hundreds of entrepreneurs are now selling imported hemp products. However, they are stifled by high prices and uncertain availability since all of the hemp is imported from overseas. Demand for hemp products in the U.S. is enormous. Hemp clothing and accessories have become a fashion trend.57 Tree- free hemp paper is also in demand.58 The market has a potential of as much as $15 to $30 billion a year.59

Potential for New Jobs

Hemp production in Colorado would create new farming opportunities and make Colorado farmers competitive in the global market against countries that already grow hemp for fiber. It would also create thousands of processing and manufacturing jobs in such industries as textiles, plastics, pulp paper, energy, timber, construction, and food. The retail market for tree-free paper and building materials, for biodegradable plastics, for soft and durable natural clothing, and for other hemp products has huge potential.

Benefits of Hemp Production

Hemp will be a profitable crop for farmers because of the volume of hemp each crop produces, the number of different products that can be made from hemp, and the demand for hemp products.

Not only is hemp profitable, but it is a desirable crop to grow for other reasons. Hemp is a renewable and sustainable resource. It will help shift our economy away from dwindling non-renewable petroleum resources and help preserve our forest resources.

Hemp is the strongest natural fiber.
60 It has an extremely high cellulose content.61 It is biodegradable.62 It requires no herbicides to grow.63 It can be used to make paper, cloth, rope, particle board, plastic, paint, varnishes, linoleum, dynamite, fuel, food, and cardboard. It will create new jobs and make Colorado competitive with other countries. It is the fiber of the 1990s.




Copyright © 1994 by The Boulder Hemp Initiative Project. All the facts contained herein have been compiled from the sources listed below and are true to the best of our knowledge.

Reproduction of this report is encouraged. We ask only that credit be given to the:

Boulder Hemp Initiative Project
P.O. Box 729 Nederland, CO 80466 (303) 784-5632 Email:
bhip@darkstar.cygnus.com

HTML editing by
Sam Corl of the University of Iowa Chapter of NORML





References

1. Since 1980, THC levels of confiscated marijuana have averaged between 3% and 4% THC. (National Institute for Drug Abuse, University of Mississippi, Mississippi Potency Monitoring Project, Report #50, June 30, 1994).

2. Multiple References Listed Below:

  1. Federation Nationale des Producteurs de Chanvre (National Federation of Hemp Producers), LeMans, France, Jean-Paul Mathieu, director.
  2. Hungarian Agricultural Research Institute (GATE), Kompolt, Hungary.
  3. International Hemp Association, Postbus 75007, 1070 AA Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  4. Sensi Seed, P.O. Box 1771, Rotterdam BT-3000 Holland.
  5. Ukrainian Institute of Bast Crops, Glukhov, Sumy Region, SSR Ukraine.

3. "British Farmers to Grow Cannabis -- Legally", Reuter's press release, Feb. 18, 1993.

4. These countries include Canada, China, England, France, Holland, Hungary, Ukraine, Tasmania. From Rosenthal, Ed. Hemp Today. Oakland, CA: Quick American Archives, 1994.

5. Commission Regulation (EEC) No. 1164/89 of 28 April 1989 "Laying down the detailed rules concerning the aid for fibre flax and hemp", No. L 121, Vol. 32, pp. 4-9, April 29, 1989.

6. "British Farmers to Grow Cannabis -- Legally", Reuter News Service, Feb. 18, 1993.

7. Turner, Craig, "Legalize hemp? Other countries say yes", Boulder Daily Camera, May 22, 1994.

8. Herer, Jack. The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of the Cannabis Plant. Van Nuys, CA: HEMP Publishing, 1992, pp. 5-7.

9. Herer, Jack. The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of the Cannabis Plant. Van Nuys, CA: HEMP Publishing, 1992, p. 1.

10. Hemp for Victory, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1942.

11. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238-240.

12. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238-240.

13. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238-240.

14. Lower, George A. "Flax and Hemp: From the Seed to the Loom", Mechanical Engineering, Feb. 26, 1937.

15. United States Congress. House of Representatives. Committee on Ways and Means. Hearings on H.R. 6385. Taxation of Marihuana. April 27, 28, 29, 30 and May 4, 1937. 75th Congress, 2nd session.

16. "It's a Hemp Year." Business Week. April 24, 1943.

17. Hemp for Victory, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1942.

18. Brecher, Edward M. Licit and Illicit Drugs: A Consumers Union Report, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1972, p. 419.

19. Miller, Richard Lawrence. Hemp as a Crop for Missouri Farmers: Markets, Economics, Cultivation, Law. Report to Agricultural Task Force, Missouri House of Representatives, Summer 1991.



20. Lower, George A., "Flax and Hemp: From the Seed to the Loom", Mechanical Engineering, Feb. 26, 1937.

21. Multiple References Listed Below:

  1. Castellini, Luigi. "The Hemp Plant", CIBA Review, 1961- 62, pp. 2-31.
  2. Lower, George A., "Flax and Hemp: From the Seed to the Loom", Mechanical Engineering, Feb. 26, 1937.

22. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238-240.

23. Hemp for Victory, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1942.

24. Herer, Jack. The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of the Cannabis Plant. Van Nuys, CA: HEMP Publishing, 1992, p. 6.

25. Lower, George A. "Flax and Hemp: From the Seed to the Loom", Mechanical Engineering, Feb. 26, 1937.

26. Conrad, Chris. Hemp: Lifeline to the Future. Los Angeles: Creative Xpressions Publications, 1993, p. 24.

27. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238-240.

28. Lower, George A. "Flax and Hemp: From the Seed to the Loom", YMechanical Engineering, Feb. 26, 1937.

29. Dewey, Lyster H. and Merrill, Jason L. "Hemp Hurds as Paper-Making Material", Bulletin No. 404, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oct. 14, 1916.

30. Multiple References Listed Below:

  1. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238- 240.
  2. "It's time to reconsider hemp" Pulp and Paper, June 1991.
  3. West, C.J. "Hemp Wood as a Paper-making Material", Paper Trade Journal, Oct. 13, 1921.

31. Dewey, Lyster H. and Merrill, Jason L. "Hemp Hurds as Paper-Making Material", Bulletin No. 404, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oct. 14, 1916.

32. Correspondence from D. Paul Stanford, president, Tree- Free EcoPaper, Portland, OR, January 1993.

33. Multiple References Listed Below:

  1. "Isochanvre (Insuhemp): Nature is an Architect". Chenevotte Habitat, "LeVerger", F 72260 Rene, LeMans, France, Phone: 43 97 45 18.
  2. Rosenthal, Ed. "Hemp in Hungary", Hemp Today, Oakland, CA: Quick American Archives, 1994, p. 242.

34. "Isochanvre (Insuhemp): Nature is an Architect". Chenevotte Habitat, "LeVerger", F 72260 Rene, LeMans, France, Phone: 43 97 45 18.

35. "DuPont". American Peoples Encyclopedia, 1953.

36. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238-240.

37. Conrad, Chris. Hemp: Lifeline to the Future. Los Angeles: Creative Xpressions Publications, 1993, p. 101.

38. Rosenthal, Ed. "Hemp in England" (Conversations with Ian Low, Hemcore Corp, Essex, U.K.) Hemp Today, Oakland, CA: Quick American Archives, 1994, p. 205.

39. Wirshafter, Don. "Why Hemp Seeds?" Hemp Today, Oakland, CA: Quick American Archives, 1994, p. 171.



40. Erasmus, Udo. Fats and Oils: The Complete Guide to Fats and Oils in Health and Nutrition, Vancouver: Alive Books, 1991, p. 231.

41. Multiple References Listed Below:

  1. Korus, R. "Transesterfication Process and Manufacture of Ethyl Ester from Rape Oil". Proceedings of the First Biomass Conference of the Americas, Burlington, VT, Aug. 30 - Sept. 2, 1993.
  2. Reed, T. "Overview of Biodiesel Fuels". Proceedings of the First Biomass Conference of the Americas, Burlington, VT, Aug. 30 - Sept. 2, 1993.
  3. Interview with A. Das, Biomass Energy Foundation, P.O. Box 7137, Boulder, CO 80306, (303) 225-8356, October 1994.

42. Reed, T. "Overview of Biodiesel Fuels". Proceedings of the First Biomass Conference of the Americas, Burlington, VT, Aug. 30 - Sept. 2, 1993.

43. "Hemp". Merit Student's Encyclopedia (1982), New York: MacMillan Educational Company, pp. 520 - 521.

44. Conrad, Chris. Hemp: Lifeline to the Future. Los Angeles: Creative Xpressions Publications, 1993, p. 140.

45. Interview with A. Das, Biomass Energy Foundation, P.O. Box 7137, Boulder, CO 80306, (303) 225-8356, October 1994.

46. Wirshafter, Don. "Why Hemp Seeds?" Hemp Today, Oakland, CA: Quick American Archives, 1994, p. 171.

47. McKenny, M. Birds in the Garden and How to Attract Them. NY: Reynall and Hitchcock, 1939, pp. 64-65.

48. The hemp yield estimates are an average of figures taken from the sources listed below. Many of the more recent hemp production figures have shown yields 2 to 3 times higher than the averages used in the text.

  1. Agricultural Statistics, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1949.
  2. Dewey, Lyster H. and Merrill, Jason L. "Hemp Hurds as Paper-Making Material", Bulletin No. 404, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oct. 14, 1916.
  3. Haney, Alan. "An Ecological Study of Naturalized Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in East-Central Illinois". The American Midland Naturalist, January 1975.
  4. "Hemp Slows Up" Business Week. Jan. 22, 1944.
  5. FAO Production Yearbook 1986. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization, 1987.
  6. Letters from Professor Goloborodko, Director, All Union Bast Crops Institute, Glokov, Ukraine. In Birrenbach, John. Report B: Hemp for Paper, St. Paul, MN: Institute for Hemp, 1993.
  7. Lower, George A. "Flax and Hemp: From the Seed to the Loom", Mechanical Engineering, Feb. 26, 1937.
  8. Merit Student's Encyclopedia (1982), pp. 520 - 521. New York: MacMillan Educational Company.
  9. Miller, Richard Lawrence. Hemp as a Crop for Missouri Farmers: Markets, Economics, Cultivation, Law. Report to Agricultural Task Force, Missouri House of Representatives, Summer 1991.
  10. Robinson, B.B., "Hemp", Farmers' Bulletin No. 1935, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1943 edition and 1952 revised edition.



49. Cotton, soybean, wheat and corn figures come from: Costs of Production (1987), U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Wood chip figures come from: Rosenthal, Ed. Hemp Today, Oakland, CA: Quick American Archives, 1994, pp. 73 and 79. Douglas fir figures come from: Conde, William, et al. Wood Fiber Demand Can Be Met with Hemp Fiber. Published by: C & S Specialty Builders, 23005 N. Coburg Rd., Harrisburg, OR 97446, (503) 995-6164.

50. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238-240.

51. Robinson, B.B. "Hemp". Farmers' Bulletin No. 1935, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1943 edition and 1952 revised edition.

52. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238-240.

53. Dewey, Lyster. "Hemp". Yearbook of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1913.

54. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238-240.

55. Lower, George A. "Flax and Hemp: From the Seed to the Loom", Mechanical Engineering, Feb. 26, 1937.

56. Dewey, Lyster. "Hemp". Yearbook of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1913.

57. Zeman, N. & Foote, D. "Turning over a New Old Leaf: An Unfashionable Icon Comes Back in Fashion." Newsweek, Feb. 8, 1993, p. 60.

58. Correspondence from D. Paul Stanford, president, Tree- Free EcoPaper, Portland, OR, January 1993.

59. Multiple References Listed Below:

  1. Birrenbach, John. Report B: Hemp for Paper, St. Paul, MN: Institute for Hemp.
  2. Rosenthal, Ed. Hemp Today. Oakland, CA: Quick American Archives, 1994.

60. Multiple References Listed Below:

  1. Castellini, Luigi. "The Hemp Plant", CIBA Review, 1961-62, pp. 2-31.
  2. Lower, George A. "Flax and Hemp: From the Seed to the Loom", Mechanical Engineering, Feb. 26, 1937.

61. "New Billion-Dollar Crop", Popular Mechanics, February 1938, pp. 238-240.

62. Conrad, Chris. Hemp: Lifeline to the Future. Los Angeles: Creative Xpressions Publications, 1993, p. 101.

63. Lower, George A. "Flax and Hemp: From the Seed to the Loom", Mechanical Engineering, Feb. 26, 1937.

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