Seeds of Hope
1st May, 2003
Considering its estimated 25,000-plus uses – for producing food, fuel, medicine, paper, plastics and even dynamite – the most wasteful thing you could probably do with hemp is smoke it. Jake Bowers describes hemp’s potential to transform agriculture and the plant’s demonisation by huge and competing industrial interests
In a scrubbed-out cow shed at the end of a rutted track in East Sussex, a seed packed with all the potential to transform British agriculture and save the planet is slowly taking root. Where cows once crapped and chewed the cud, Henry Gage is hunched over a lap-top germinating his plan to free one of the most 'dangerous' plants on the planet. This year Gage plans to grow 1,000 acres of hemp (Cannabis sativa L) across Britain. Yet Gage is no home-grown drugs baron but an energetic young farmer, and he doesn't want us to smoke his crop but eat it.
Hemp poses little threat to you or I, but the plant's incredible versatility could have an explosive effect on a vast array of unsustainable industries. Gage's crop is the same plant as the cannabis consumed by recreational drug users, but it contains so little THC (tetrahydrocannabinol - the psychoactive chemical in cannabis) that you'd need to smoke a joint the size of a telegraph pole to get stoned. In fact, considering hemp's estimated 25,000 other uses (for producing food, fuel, medicine, paper, plastics and even dynamite), the most useless thing you could do with the crop is smoke it. Yet huge industrial interests created and...
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