Over the last few weeks we’ve seen an alarming increase in concern over the availability of essential healthcare equipment. Of course the most important seem to be surgical masks and ventilators, but then there have also been everyday items for the average household like hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
Amazingly, we’ve also seen an impressive number of companies switching their assembly lines over to meet the needs of the people. Breweries and distilleries turning their operations in hand sanitizer operations is just one example. These are amazing human beings rising to the occasion. Thank you!
When I think about the shortage of equipment, I inevitably also think about natural resources. And, because we’re in the hemp industry, I always think about the role hemp plays in times like this.
Hemp as a Vital Resource
It’s undeniable that most of us are experiencing a critical situation like the one we’re currently in for the first time in our lives.
Many countries are in almost total lockdown. Many are isolated at home, either working or out of work. Children are being homeschooled. Parks and meeting places are closed.
We know these things, and the point of this post wasn’t to remind you of the negatives. It’s hard enough to get away from them as it is, so we’ll stop that right now.
Instead, I want to look at some really cool, very positive, stuff.
Over the last few weeks, Donald Trump’s advisors have been encouraging him to invoke the Defense Production Act in response to the Covid pandemic. When a president does this, it allows for all the nation’s resources to be directed to support the nation in a time of crisis.
That’s a big deal for hemp specifically, as the Defense Production Act clearly lists hemp as a food resource, meaning it’s a vital resource in a time of national emergency.
For those of us in the hemp industry, this means supply chains for things like CBD will keep running. But again, I’m thinking larger picture here! After all, hemp isn’t only used for CBD (but we’ll get to more on that in a bit).
And this isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. Trump’s advisors are looking to the past for possible solutions to some of the resource problems we may inevitably face. While some may remember the “Hemp for Victory” campaign of World War 2, most may not. Here’s a little hemp history…
Hemp for Victory
When Pearl Harbour was attacked in 1941, America became directly involved in the Second World War. As a result, American war production had to be up and running as fast as possible.
A lot of wartime equipment was actually made out of hemp – ropes, parachute webbing, even shoelaces for troops’ combat boots. The thing was, hemp was illegal to grow in the U.S. at the time, and most of it came from the Philippines and East Indies.
By 1941 though, both of these regions had been overtaken by enemy forces, and so the hemp supply was drying up. Not good.
So, what did the U.S. do? Said “times they are a changing'” and got to growing…
In 1942, the United States Department of Agriculture even released a film to encourage farmers to grow hemp! That film was Hemp for Victory. Check it out!
This was no simple thing. According to the video, “In 1942, patriotic farmers at the government’s request planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp, an increase of several thousand percent. The goal for 1943 is 50,000 acres of seed hemp.”
Those farmers really stepped up!
As is often the case with hemp history, there’s good with the bad… Unfortunately, even though hemp quickly gained recognition once more as a vital resource, after the war came to a close, hemp imports began again. And “Hemp For Victory” disappeared into the government vaults.
Hemp for Rubber Gloves?
As I mentioned, hemp isn’t just used for CBD (or ropes, or parachutes, or shoelaces). It may also have a place in the healthcare sector.
At the beginning of this article I talked about the shortages of healthcare equipment, and rubber gloves fall into that category. Can hemp help out here too?
An alternative to rubber gloves? It’s true!
There have been so many reports of the antibacterial benefits of hemp and its potential use in textiles! Right now, specifically, one amazing use is with the possibility of making surgical gloves out of natural, antibacterial hemp-based fibers that could be turned into the same consistency as a light rubber glove. These hemp-based textiles could also be developed into surgical masks as well, which could be a huge benefit to the medical community at a time like this.
And, what’s even better, hemp plastic is completely biodegradable! Gloves made out of hemp plastic can be completely biodegradable if they’re made with biodegradable polymers. And, unlike conventional plastics, those made from hemp take only around 3-6 months to decompose.
Hopefully this is something that we will see come to fruition in the coming months to meet demand!
This is just one of the many really positive ways we can embrace hemp as a vital resource, not just in times of crisis, but all the time.
Just some food for thought.