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10 Neat Things About Hemp
by Dorothy Dobbie

The Local Gardener magazines, Ontario Gardener, Manitoba Gardener and Alberta Gardener, are published by Pegasus Publications Inc.

Drawing on her 30 years' experience as a senior executive in the magazine publishing industry, Dorothy launched Manitoba Gardener in 1998, initially running the business out of her home. Two years later, Dorothy's daughter Shauna, living in Ontario, jumped into the fray with Ontario Gardener. And two years after that, they started Alberta Gardener. Visit us at and register for our "Ten Neat things" newsletter. Watch Shaw TV for garden tips and Listen to CJOB for the Gardener Sundays at 9:08

April 8, 2018

1. Took a beating for his cousin.

In Canada, marijuana became illegal in 1923, under the William Lyon Mackenzie King Liberal government. (There were a number of additional acts, in 1929, 1961, 1971 and 1997 that tightened drug restrictions). The United States did not take this step until 14 years after. The drug Canada added to the proscribed list was Cannabis indica, when in fact, hemp is a strain of Cannabis sativa which produces low amounts (.03 per cent) of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in what is commonly known as pot. Still, the growing of hemp was made illegal in 1970 as it fell under the zero tolerance provision.

2. Manitoba to the rescue.

In the 1990s, scientists at the University of Manitoba formed a hemp awareness committee that led to the legalization of industrial hemp in Canada in 1997. The first crop after that was harvested in 1998. 3. How can you tell the difference? Marijuana leaves are generally broad with a tight bud. The flower looks like a nugget with hairs. Hemp has narrower leaves that grow near the top of the plant with few branches or leaves along the stem. Marijuana is a much shorter, bushier plant. Hemp is tall (up to 20 feet) and slender.

4. Hemp seed, the wonder food.

Only soy has more protein (13 to 15 grams in three tablespoons) than hemp seed and the protein in hemp seed is closer to the protein found in human blood. Three tablespoons contains 45 per cent of all the magnesium you need daily, not to mention a goodly dose of the B vitamins and more, including iron and essential fatty acids.

5. Hemp the cultivator.

Hemp has an amazing root system with a taproot that can extend down three feet into the soil to obtain water, reducing the irrigation needs to 14 times lower than that of cotton. If you grow a crop of hemp, you don't need to worry about weeds. It will out-compete them all.

6. Hemp the paper maker.

Two thousand years ago in China, Cai Lun, the inventor and politician of the Han dynasty, was using hemp fibre to make paper. China is still the world's leader in hemp production. Wood fibre has largely replaced hemp in paper making, but connoisseurs still favour hemp for making cigarette papers, alone or in combination with rice or flax.

7. Before the pols got it all balled up.

Hemp, as we have learned, has been a useful plant for thousands of years. Its fibres are used to make sail canvas (in fact, the word cannabis derives from the Dutch word for canvas), textiles (often in conjunction with cotton, flax or silk), rope, fibreglass, biodegradable plastics, insulation, biofuel and even construction products such as concrete blocks.

8. Hemp can drive you.

Today, a long list of automobile makers are using hemp in composite panels for cars. These include Audi, Ford, GH, Chrysler, Mercedes - some industrialists are working on an aircraft made mostly from hemp.

9. Hemp seeds and oils.

You can find hemp hearts on the supermarket shelves. Grab some. They are not only super nutritious; they are also delicious with your yoghurt or added to a salad. The seeds are 30 to 35 per cent oil by weight and a seed cake is about 25 per cent protein. Hemp seed meal is also being used to brew beer. Hemp seed oil is used in making paint.

10. Liquid hemp.

You can make a delicious drink of hemp milk for a high protein drink. A green hemp juice is also sold in Europe. Not only does hemp contain high quantities of nutrition, it also contains cannabidiol acid (CBD), a strong anti-oxidant that can counteract the psychotropic effects of THC.

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