The Hemp plant offers an incredible opportunity for addressing current global issues. Not only does Cannabis sativa grow practically everywhere in only 90 days from seed to harvest, but hemp also features limited fertilizer or water requirements. The benefits of Hemp are broad reaching and will probably surprise you!
Legal prohibition has suppressed the realization of the incredible benefits of hemp and hemp over the past century, but this plant used to be a staple crop for humanity. And as recently as during World War II, when U.S. farmers were ‘forced’ to grow this amazing plant for use in the war effort, hemp has satisfied many of mankind’s needs for a healthy and fulfilling life.
This article considers five social and economic benefits of the hemp/cannabis plant in improving today’s world, including the ability to combat hunger and poverty, the incredible investment opportunity it presents, the ability of hemp to combat climate change, creating vast amounts of jobs, and assisting in fiscal budgets.
Benefits of Hemp span the social and economic spectrum
Combat Poverty and Hunger
Food is a basic requirement for life and is a primary concern for individuals living in poverty. Approximately 1 in every 6 people on the planet do not have adequate food to promote good health. This includes around 795 million people globally, and 30% of these are children in developing countries which have stunted growth due to their lack of nutrition. Hunger is truly a global problem, but is particularly harsh in developing countries.
Hemp grows in almost any climate. This is an important consideration in assessing the ability of cannabis to provide benefits in areas plagued poverty and hunger, as often the physical environment and climate are harsh. Industrial hemp was even planted in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster due to its hardy growth ability and positive effects on soil regeneration. Furthermore, the lack of excessive water and fertilizer requirements are positive benefits of hemp for geographical regions which may be challenged in these areas.
Modern times do not feature many hemp products in the local supermarket. However, throughout history, hemp has been an important dietary staple, often consumed as a porridge as well as a source of flour, hemp seed, and hemp oil.
The yield of hemp per acre dwarfs other food crops. Hemp seeds, predominantly comprised of hemp oil, are an incredible protein source, which is something often lacking in the diets of individuals suffering from insufficient nutrition. In fact, along with walnuts, hemp seed and hemp oil are naturally occurring sources of the ideal ratio of essential fatty acids, which are important components to human health.
Hemp oil and hemp seed provide important health benefits and can be further processed into flour and used as a healthy cooking oil alternative. With the abundance in yields of hemp per acre and its ability to grow in nearly any climate, cannabis offers a legitimate opportunity to combat hunger and poverty in today’s world.
The Incredible Investment Opportunity
The cannabis industry in the United States alone was estimated at US $668 million in 2016, and is expected to reach US $2.2 billion by 2020. This is amazing growth by any standard, but particularly in an environment with many restrictions regarding cannabis.
It is estimated that over 50,000 products can be made with hemp. The rapid growth in the cannabis market coupled with the removal of restrictions concerning growing and selling of cannabis and cannabis products provide an ideal opportunity for the creation of new industries and developing innovative products.
The Ability to Combat Climate Change
Growing and using industrial hemp can help curb global climate change in both direct and indirect ways. Through the use of cannabis in construction projects, carbon is directly removed from the carbon cycle. And utilizing hemp as a paper substitute indirectly assists in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Growing cannabis is a potentially incredibly useful method of removing carbon from the atmosphere. Hemp grows into large plants, as in really, really large plants. On average, hemp strands grow between 9 and 12 feet tall at maturity. Every ton of hemp that is grown removes an estimated 1.63 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Using hemp as a construction material represents another effective method of sequestering carbon. Using hemp in construction materials, such as hemp fiber as a wood substitute or using hemp to form hempcrete, results in very durable, long-lasting structures. One square meter of timber-framed, hemp-lime wall results in a storage of 35.5 kilograms of CO2. Furthermore, specific qualities of hemp reduce the need for electricity use in heating and cooling systems, which is the most significant electricity usage for households. Less electricity results in less greenhouse gas emissions, a further benefit for global climate change.
Indirectly, the use of hemp also contributes to the fight against global climate change. Not only does hemp grow to maturity in just 90 days, but it also produces the fiber equivalent of 4 times that of wood. Considering trees can take up to 25 years to reach maturity, the fast-growing time coupled with the increased yields can help to reduce deforestation. Besides, as shown above, hemp is a more efficient source for producing paper. Reducing deforestation promotes the storage of carbon, and hence, reduces carbon in the atmosphere contributing to global climate change. Not to mention all the incredible benefits that forests provide to planet earth.
Other benefits to hemp include the potential use of hemp oil as a substitute for fossil fuels in transportation. Local hemp production would be an effective complimentary product to the oil economy, which again, could use the fast-growing fuel source of hemp to substitute for a product (oil) that requires millions of years to create in order to store carbon. Saving fossil fuels from being consumed is a major contribution to addressing global climate change.
In an era plagued by unemployment, cannabis offers an incredible opportunity to provide people with meaningful jobs. So what is the employment potential of legalizing cannabis?
In 2015, Colorado, following the legalization of cannabis, created over 18,000 full-time jobs. It is estimated that 250,000 jobs would be created in the U.S. by 2020 if cannabis was legalized, and 1.1 million jobs by 2025. With the ongoing reduction in jobs in the manufacturing and other sectors, the potential of job growth by legalizing marijuana cannot be ignored. The potential for job creation is not limited to the United States and is even greater in developing countries due to the low startup costs involved an abundance of agricultural knowledge and workers available. Further, we are seeing a groundswell of interest in CBD products as another means of tackling ailments and conditions. There are tremendous benefits to using both hemp and CBD oil to be had.
Assistance in Fiscal Budgets
Cannabis offers the dual benefits of adding revenue while reducing costs for governments. The economic activity associated with cannabis provide tax dollars to all levels of government. In addition, the export of cannabis products provides positive effects on the balance of payments. It is predicted that by 2020, cannabis will provide the US $150 million in government revenue to the state of Colorado, a state with an estimated population of only 5.44 million.
At the same time, legalizing cannabis would significantly reduce jail and enforcement expenses. This would free up billions of dollars in the United States that could be better spent funding social programs that benefit disadvantaged classes of society or investing in research and development in the pursuit of creating a better world.
With the incredible benefits of hemp and the cannabis plant discussed above, coupled with the recent removal of restrictions governing its use, the cannabis plant is primed for improving many areas of modern society. The movement of regional and national governments to reclaim the positive impacts that cannabis has had on societies throughout human history is on the verge of transforming many systems currently under threat.