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Illegally Green Environmental Costs of Hemp Prohibition

Illegally Green Environmental Costs of Hemp Prohibition



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Published by kitsilencer
A paper on the pros and cons of hemp based manufacturing as opposed to cotton, wood, etc.
A paper on the pros and cons of hemp based manufacturing as opposed to cotton, wood, etc.

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Published by: kitsilencer on Jul 07, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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By Skaidra Smith-Heisters
: e
Reason Foundation
Reason Foundation’s mission is to advance a free society by developing,applying, and promoting libertarian principles, including individual liberty,free markets, and the rule of law. We use journalism and public policy
research to inuence the frameworks and actions of policymakers, journalists,
and opinion leaders.Reason Foundation’s nonpartisan public policy research promotes choice,competition, and a dynamic market economy as the foundation for humandignity and progress. Reason produces rigorous, peer-reviewed research anddirectly engages the policy process, seeking strategies that emphasize cooper-
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are those of the author, not necessarily those of Reason Foundation or itstrustees.
Copyright © 2008 Reason Foundation. All rights reserved.
Reason Foundation
Illegally Green: Environmental Costs of Hemp Prohibition
By Skaidra Smith-Heisters
egulation of 
Cannabis sativa L.
is complicated by the fact that there are two common varietiesof the plant with very different properties: the agricultural variety, known by the commonname hemp, and the pharmacological variety, marijuana. Prior to prohibition in the United States,industrial hemp was the subject of considerable excitement and speculation. The same is truetoday, as lawmakers and stakeholders in many states are considering the potential for reintroducingindustrial hemp into the domestic economy.The environmental performance of industrial hemp products is of particular interest because, to alarge degree, environmental inefficiencies impose costs on society as a whole, not just on theproducers and consumers of a specific good. Many commodities which came to replace traditionaluses of industrial hemp in the United States in the last century and a half have created significantenvironmental externalities.Assessments of industrial hemp as compared to hydrocarbon or other traditional industrialfeedstocks show that, generally, hemp requires substantially lower energy demands formanufacturing, is often suited to less-toxic means of processing, provides competitive productperformance (especially in terms of durability, light weight, and strength), greater recyclabilityand/or biodegradability, and a number of value-added applications for byproducts and wastematerials at either end of the product life cycle. Unlike petrochemical feedstocks, industrial hempproduction offsets carbon dioxide emissions, helping to close the carbon cycle.The positive aspects of industrial hemp as a crop are considered in the context of countervailingattributes. Performance areas where industrial hemp may have higher average environmental coststhan comparable raw materials result from the use of water and fertilizer during the growth stage,greater frequency of soil disturbance (erosion) during cultivation compared to forests and somefield crops, and relatively high water use during the manufacturing stage of hemp products.

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