With oil hitting $110 a barrel and gas prices creeping towards $4 a gallon, the federal government continues to prohibit U.S. farmers from growing hemp, which could be used to efficiently produce biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol.
Hemp is also a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly substitute for polyester, cotton, fiberglass and concrete, according to a new Reason Foundation study that examines hemp's potential uses and the ways other countries are benefitting from it. Industrial hemp production is banned in the U.S. as an archaic consequence of the war on drugs.
"There are numerous environmental advantages to hemp," said Skaidra Smith-Heisters, a policy analyst at Reason Foundation and author of the report. "Hemp often requires less energy to manufacture into products. It is less toxic to process. And it is easier to recycle and more biodegradable than most competing crops and products. Unfortunately, we won't realize the full economic and environmental benefits of hemp until the crop is legal in the United States."