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What is Hemp Paper?

Hem paper is a special kind of paper that is made from the hemp plant. The plant has two types of fiber that can be used to produce paper; the short bast fiber and the long bast fiber. Paper made from the fiber is normally rough, thin, brittle and tough while the one made from the pulp is not only easier to make but is favored for many daily uses because of its thickness and soft texture.

The attractiveness of hemp in the production of paper is due to the resemblance of hemp hurds to wood pulp. In fact, the very first paper to be made was from the hemp plant. Hemp’s advantage arises from its composition. It has lower lignin content and a much higher cellulose content compared to wood. The plant is also considered more eco-friendly because of its shorter life cycle compared to many years it takes for trees to mature.

Hemp paper has a higher quality in comparison to paper made from wood pulp. As mentioned, hemp paper is the earliest form of paper known to man and was very popular in the nineteenth century. The early twentieth century marked the decline of hemp when it was outlawed. Thankfully today, hemp is being legalized in some states in controlled forms of Cannabinoid Oil and the like.

Hemp fiber is unique with higher tensile strength and tear-resistance. These characteristics make hemp paper superior compared to paper produced from wood pulp. Hemp paper is used for specialized functions such as making banknotes and cigarette paper.

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History of Hemp Paper

World’s First Paper

Hemp fiber was pound into sheets to make the world’s first paper around 200-150 BC. This happened in China during the reign of the Western Han Dynasty. This early use of hemp spread quickly across the world and was adopted as the best way to produce paper. By the nineteenth century most stationery was being printed on hemp paper; novels by Mark Twain, Thomas Paine’s pamphlets and even the Gutenberg Bible. In the 1800s across Russia, hemp paper was widely used to print credit bills, watermarked paper such as bank notes, bonds, stocks, postal stamps, and stamped paper.

Used by our Founding Fathers

During the revolution against Britain hemp CBD extracts were unommon backt then, but hemp paper became a key component of that campaign. It was used to print pamphlets that assisted to disseminate information about the revolution and agitation for independence across the colonies. By the time of independence, hemp paper was being widely used in the United States. The founding fathers used parchment to write the final versions of the Declaration of Independence. However, it is notable that in the summer of 1776, they used Dutch hemp paper to write the first and second drafts. Hemp paper, therefore, has gone through an amazing journey that started with our founding fathers

Forgotten in the 1900s

Hemp’s decline started in the 1930s when the Marihuana Tax Act was passed. This Act effectively levied taxes on cannabis which included hemp. This was as a result of intense lobbying by newspapers and synthetic textile companies. This happened after Popular Mechanics had indicated that hemp was poised to become a billion dollar crop because of the potential for multiple uses. This was despite protests from farmers, companies manufacturing hemp paper and hemp chemical companies. Hemp enthusiasts protested the prohibition claiming that the livelihoods of millions of people would be affected adversely.

The troubles for hemp continued after the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970.  Hemp was classified as a Schedule 1 drug putting it in the same class as heroin. The classification of hemp as a Schedule 1 Drug meant that the substance has a high potential for abuse and has no accepted medical use in treatment while lacking accepted safety for use under medical supervision. This was the final blow to a crop that had the potential to save the world.



Hemp can help solve the deforestation crisis

Benefits of Hemp Paper

  • Hemp requires less than a tenth of the acreage used by trees to produce the same amount of paper.
  • The hemp plant has a life cycle of 4 months while trees take a minimum of 20 years to mature.
  • The important ingredient in making paper is cellulose. Hemp has been found to contain higher concentrations (85%) of this ingredient than wood (30%). This means that extracting cellulose from wood is more difficult and uses a lot of toxic chemicals compared to hemp.
  • Lignin must be removed from the pulp before it can be processed as paper. This is a disadvantage for trees since they contain more lignin (20-35%) compared to hemp (5-24%).
  • Hemp paper has been found to be more durable compared to paper from wood pulp. Hemp paper
  • Does not crack or turn yellow with age.
  • The cultivation of hemp can mitigate the effects of deforestation.


Why Deforestation is a Serious Matter

The loss of forest cover is a major environmental issue that the world is grappling with. In North America alone, 97% of the mature forest cover has disappeared since the 17th century. Paper companies are largely responsible for this decimation. The companies’ replanting efforts are deemed inadequate to compensate for the decline.

This has led to the loss of habitat for millions of species across the world. With 70-80% of the world’s plants and animals living in forests, the rate of deforestation is estimated to lead to the extinction of 50% of all species by mid-century.

The clearest indication that deforestation has a huge impact on the environment is climate change. Forests play an important role in the balance of nature. They remove carbon dioxide and replenish oxygen into the air. The decimation of forest cover will lead to widespread desertification. With no forest cover to balance the greenhouse gases the problems of global warming will only exacerbate.

The use of hemp in the manufacture of paper offers the only eco-friendly alternative to a wood pulp by providing high-quality paper. This will help to save the earth’s forests, reduce the effects of global warming and save mankind.

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