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What Hemp and the Lone Ranger Have in Common

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Modern Hemp cultivation needs added research

Think you’re hip on hemp? Think again, as you discover what hemp and the Lone Ranger have in common that leaves many Agronomists shaking their heads.

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Hemp and the Lone Ranger

At risk of dating myself, first let me explain that I am from Missouri; or “Mizz-orr-uhh,” as we prefer to pronounce our state’s name. That said, my point of warning before you watch the following video is to remember that in many parts of Missouri when I was a kid, time stood still when all you had for entertainment was CBS, NBC…and if the weather was foul, sometimes ABC if you turned the antenna “juuuuuuuust riiiiight.” As such, old TV show series in B&W were my childhood fare.

In other words, given a chance to wax nostalgic and tie it into an article is a rare pleasure. So, bear with me by watching the following video even for a few minutes after which I will make the connection between hemp and the Lone Ranger.

A Test of Intellect

There’s a line I picked up once that stated that the true sign of an intellectual was someone who could listen to the William Tell Overture by Gioachino Rossini without mental images of the Lone Ranger flashing across his mind. I can’t do it. And, I challenge anyone to prove they can do it after watching the above video.

As it turns out, it’s the same thing with hearing the word “hemp.” Say the word “hemp” in normal conversation and most associate the word with mental images of marijuana and illegal drugs. And that is the point of this article.

Industrial Hemp: Reviewing History and Hysteria

In a recent posting in the “Sustainable, Secure Food Blog”—a blog sponsored and written by members of the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America—agronomists want the public to know that hemp is actually much more than having to do with pot and illegal drug use. Rather, that hemp is about a sustainable and potentially profitable crop that can and should be further investigated and used for the betterment of everyone as “…a grain and strong fiber crop that can potentially serve as a source of revenue for many farmers.”

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In fact, in the opening line of today’s blog post, “I research industrial hemp. As I discuss this with acquaintances, I’m usually met with two responses. One is excitement to hear about a potential up-and-coming crop. The other is a mixture of suspicion and hesitation.” The writer makes a valid point about just one of the difficulties in being a hemp researcher.

Here are the points that the blog would like the public to know and understand:

• “Hemp” alone, or as “industrial hemp,” refers to a different variety of Cannabis, one that doesn’t have enough of the psychoactive component THC in it to cause a high.

• Hemp used in research has less than 0.3% THC and is defined as an agricultural commodity.

• Historically, hemp originated in China, where it was produced for thousands of years for its use as a strong fiber for making ropes and shipping canvases. Hemp was introduced to North America in the 1600s; and, it was grown widely across the United States in the early 1900s through the second World War with special importance as a source of rope needed during the war effort.

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• Because of a misunderstanding of some basic botany, confusion between the two varieties of Cannabis led to hemp as being classified in a drug category, which led to legislation that outlawed the farming of hemp shortly after WWII ended.

• It was not until 2014, with much work by scientists and other groups, that the US Farm Bill allowed research institutions to grow industrial hemp, which was followed by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill), classifying hemp as an agricultural commodity and thereby took it off the controlled substances list.

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The initial problem with hemp, however, continues today with public and legislative misunderstandings and misgivings of hemp. Especially so perhaps with the popularized use of cannabidiol (CBD) in so many questionable, reputedly pain-relieving supplement products today.

As it turns out, the unfertilized flowers of some varieties of hemp are high in cannabidiol (CBD); and, the buds of those flowers look identical to those of marijuana. The blog points out that, “…many law enforcement agencies are opposed to further hemp cultivation for this reason.”

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This in turn has led to outdated or irrelevant information about hemp cultivation that can only be remedied through rigorous study. In other words, unbiased university research is needed to advance baseline knowledge of hemp as a sustainable crop that can potentially serve as a source of revenue for many farmers.

And, this can only be achieved with educating the public and the lawmakers with what agronomists would like for everyone to know about hemp in spite of “the Lone Ranger” factor—it’s time to grow up and learn beyond our baser musings.

For more information about hemp and what it is and why we need it, follow this link to a webinar classroom “Introduction to Hemp Production Systems” available at a low online tuition cost.

If you have views about how you feel about hemp, please express your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image source courtesy of Pixabay

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with a background in farming and an avid home gardener, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between plant biology and gardening for healthy living. For continual updates about plants and health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

References:

Industrial Hemp: reviewing history and hysteria” American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America, May 2020.

Introduction to Hemp Production Systems” American Society of Agronomy

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