Look Who’s Growing Now
Leaps and bounds on the path to a hemp economy from Ireland, England, Jamaica,
South Africa, and, screaming and kicking, the US.
Ireland gets a wee bit Greener
Cannabis will soon be lighting up the lives of thousands of Irishfolk, by
replacing peat as a fuel to generate electricity. Scientists in
southwest of Dublin, have been growing cannabis in a secret area for the past
four years, testing it as a source of fuel to burn in power stations.
Researchers have grown three acres under license from the Department of
Justice, and explained that the mighty herb flourished in Irish conditions,
growing up to a height of 14 feet.
The Irish government is holding an international competition to find the best
design for a biomass power plant, which would burn cannabis, waste paper and
chicken droppings. The plant could be in operation by 1999, generating
electricity for more than 30,000 homes, meeting 1% of Ireland’s total energy
Ireland’s planned use of cannabis is a change from the staple fuel of bog
which has warmed Irish homes for generations. However, the bogs are running
out, with Ireland’s largest national peat cultivator estimating that peat
resources will be exhausted within 30 years. Let’s hope the cannabis crops
don’t get bogged down with red tape, for peat’s sake!
England gets a wee bit merrier
About 90 licensed hemp farmers grew thousands of acres of hemp in England this
year, with about 90 percent of the applications being placed through
Britain’s leading hemp company.
At an “open day on hemp” organised by Hemcore on August 6,
Director Ian Low explained that hemp fibre is “the perfect, natural,
sustainable, renewable resource” that should appeal to environmentally
The process for would-be British hemp farmers is refreshingly straightforward.
They just have to provide details of a seed supplier, a discreet location and
a growing period. The number of hemp licences has doubled since 1993, when the
first ones were issued. Currently most of the hemp is being sold to paper
manufacturers, textile companies and for use as horse bedding.
The British Drug Board has explained that the American government is
“very concerned about what we’re doing,” apparently afraid that if
hemp is profitably grown in England it will result in more “internal
pressure” being placed upon them to grow the wonder crop themselves.
John Hobson, general manager at Hemcore, explained how British hemp would soon
begin appearing in automobiles. “We see hemp as partly replacing
fibreglass in the door panels and the roof lining,”‘ he said. “Car
companies are under increasing pressure to meet European Commission criteria
for 70% of a car’s parts to be made from recyclable material by the year
In western England, some cattle farmers are growing hemp to help them get over
the mad cow disease crisis which has crippled their industry. They are at
least partly attracted by the fact that hemp has one of the highest
subsidies for any cash crop in Europe.
Canadians take note: Mother England is striding ahead of her squabbling New
World children, shelling out big clams to smooth the way for the hempen
transition. If we don’t get it together in this country we’ll be left watching
the European hemp parade from the sidelines, wearing nylon rags made in the
Jamaica testing out the herb
The Jamaican government has been sold on hemp by a coalition of hempsters that
included James Burr and Jill McKenzie of Alternative Imports
and Exports in Atlanta, and Jeffrey Stonehill of All Around the
James Burr explained that their strategy was to “undercut the
governmental regime by using the media and musical personalities to spark
Island-wide interest in hemp, thus putting pressure on policy
makers.” The plan worked, getting them headlines at first, and
then a formal government request for information about hemp.
After several months of discussion, the Ministry of Agriculture agreed to
import strains of low THC cannabis through Alternative Import and
Export, to conduct hemp cultivation trials at their facility near
James Burr and Jill McKenzie have also been working with the Rastafari
community. They participated in a Rastafarian march and three day concert
celebration for ganja led by Bunny Wailer, and spoke about the history
and industrial uses of cannabis hemp before the crowd of 5,000 rastas.
Contact Alternative Import and Export by phone at: (770) 938-5624, fax (770)
South Africa thinking Green
In South Africa, legal experimental hemp was grown for the past two years by
The Southern Africa Hemp Company (SAHC), in cooperation with the Tobacco
and Cotton Research Institute. SAHC is working with the Land Agricultural
Policy Centre in Johannesburg to move into the more extensive commercial
use of the crop, and state agencies have begun discussions with the Ministry
of Agriculture about allowing a legitimate hemp industry in South
Contact James Wynn of SAHC by email at
The US gets a wee bit further behind
The June issue of the US Farm Bureau News sang the praises of the hemp
plant, calling it “one of the most promising crops in half a
century.” The Farm Bureau News is the weekly newspaper of the American
Farm Bureau Federation, the largest farming organization in the United
The article criticizes the DEA‘s role in killing a Colorado bill that
would have allowed the state to grow test plots of hemp for research
purposes, and also recounts hemp’s long and prosperous history as an
agricultural commodity, including a look at the potential profitability of
domestic hemp cultivation for American farmers.
If they keep this up, maybe one day they’ll actually get to grow the stuff!
For more information contact the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project
by phone at (303) 784-5632;