Check page 11 of the Cape Times this morning for an Opinion Piece written by Tony. The sub-editors still can’t resist headlines like “Homegrown- High time we tuned into the many uses of Hemp”, but at least they are allocating space to this issue.
This is the copy:
Cannabis…it certainly seems to be popping up in all sorts of strange places lately.
The mainstream media seem finally to be giving the plant some positive space, not just focussing on the “dangers” and reporting on the different initiatives around the world to get it liberated, a far cry from the old days of the “groen-gavaar”, the devil’s weed.
The plant has found it’s way into the hallowed halls of Parliament lately, with the submission of the Medical Innovation Bill by the Honourable Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini that includes medical Marijuana as a potential treatment for Cancer patients, of which he is one.
In the bill is also reference to the economic and industrial uses of the plant, which is how Hemporium was invited to display our hemp products and samples outside the assembly doors during the Parliamentary debate. We had plenty of interested MPs and a few ministers come and learn about and touch the various industrial hemp products that included textiles, construction materials, food products, cosmetic and body-care products, paper, oil, twine, rope, carpets and more all made from this easy to grow resource that grows in 4-5 months without the need for agro-chemicals.
A certain group showed more interest than most, the Khoi/san,Griqua and Koranna chiefs who were there for a sitting of the House of Traditional Leaders. I was told with great excitement how the Cannabis plant has been used by the indigenous people since way before colonial time for medicinal, recreational and fibre purposes. The word “dagga” is said to come from the Khoi word “Dachab”. It is a plant that has always been seen positively by the Traditional Healers and indigenous groups, and it is thanks to them that a lot of the knowledge that is now being “re-discovered” about Cannabis is knowledge that they have never lost, only been prevented from using (legally).
Another strange place that Cannabis popped up is in construction materials, with the idea that you can “grow your house”. Hemporium constructed a hemp house in Noordhoek that is constructed with hempcrete (a mix of chipped hemp stalk and lime), Hemp insulation (made from the hollow hemp fibre) and hemp chipboard. The soft furnishings such as carpets, curtains, couches and bed-linen all were made from hemp too. Hempcrete has been dubbed “the better than zero carbon” building material and the houses built with it are not only eco-friendly, but are healthy, breathable and well insulated.
With economies of scale all of these products could be competitive with the price of traditional building methods as has been shown in Europe, with Marks & Spencer’s building their latest flagship store using hempcrete . If we evaluated construction materials on the true costs including the environmental and social costs, hemp wins hand down every time.
Cannabis is also appearing in your cosmetics with many brands such as the Body Shop using the super-moisturising and absorbent hemp seed oil as a base ingredient. Hemporium’s own range is locally made and is an example of the kind of industry that rural communities could get into with minimal technology if they were allowed to grow and process it.
If you are still suffering from the affliction of cannaphobia, best you avoid healthfood stores, and even mainstreet giants like Woolworths and Spar, where hempseed nutritional products are being sold openly. Before you cry “boycott these drug dealers”, you should know that hempseeds are not psychoactive (which may be a dissappointment to some) and are grown from non-drug varieties of industrial hemp. The only high you will get from them is the natural one you receive from eating a food that contains immune-boosting omega 3, 6 and 9 in the optimum ration for the human body and really good protein (globulin edestin) that is easily digested. The hemp food market has grown incredibly quickly in the U.S. and Canada, where 60000 acres have just been planted to keep up with demand.
Now I know some of you connect the surfing culture with cannabis use already, but did you know that industrial cannabis is now finding its way into the surfboards too (and no, not for smuggling purposes). Some shapers are experimenting with replacing the fibreglass with sustainable “fibregrass”. Local fin manufacturer Scarfini is using hemp and bamboo to make a composite fin and the CSIR’s BioComposite Center of Competence in Port Elizabeth is researching using hemp in auto and plane parts as the pressure on those industries to use biodegradable products grows. If you drive a BMW or Merc there is a good chance that Cannabis has even found its way into your cars door panels and dashboard.
You may already be wearing Cannabis if you weren’t careful, with hemp fabric being used by international designers such as Donatella Versace, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan in their ranges and local labels Bastion, The Joinery, Dark Horse, Veldt and even kiddy clothing brand Eco-Punk all taking advantage of the positive qualities of organic hemp fabric.
Hemp fibre, prized for its fineness, strength and recyclability has even found its way into bibles, banknotes and cigarette papers.
Many hardware stores are also peddling cannabis as it is not rare to find eco-hemp ropes, twines and even plumbers hemp, which is used to seal connections, on their shelves.
So with more and more Cannabis finding its way into medicine cabinets, food, houses, cars, cosmetics, paper, and even plastics, it is amazing to think that more money and energy has been spent on eradicating it from the planet during the failed “war on drugs” than just about anything other war.
Industrial hemp was kept illegal with the assistance,