The hemp plant has been an integral part of human society for time immemorial. In the era of sail, hemp and flax fibres literally fuelled the global economy, money and bibles have traditionally been made from hemp paper, and hemp fabric is warm, resilient and soft.
The plant also provides a rich source of high protein oils that are useful in cosmetics and food. The health benefits of hemp oil have been respected by many different cultures over the millenia.
The pith or, more properly, hurd of the plant also makes a strong concrete that lasts for centuries as opposed to the decades that modern cement is rated for. Hemp masonry was used in some of the Roman aqueducts that are still standing in Europe, making it one of the most resilient building materials known to humanity. In this Miracle Plant segment, Klara Marosszeky and Dr Keith Bolton discuss their work to bring a hemp industry about in Northern NSW. Listen to the interview
Of course, the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant also provide a powerful drug that is used for religious and recreational purposes in many societies. The banning of marijuana by the United States in the early twentieth century has unfortunately led to the demise of the plant’s central role in western society. It is the fervent wish of those working to promote the benefits of hemp that a new attitude to drugs in the White House may see an end to the unsuccessful and counterproductive abolition of many recreational drugs.