If hemp were legally cultivated using 21st century technology, it would be the single largest agricultural crop in the United States and world today!
(Popular Mechanics, February 1938; Mechanical Engineering, February 1938; U.S. Department of Agriculture Reports 1903, 1910, 1913.)
In fact, when the preceding two articles were prepared early in 1937, hemp was still legal to grow. And those who predicted billions of dollars in new cannabis businesses did not consider income from medicines, energy (fuel) and food, which would now add another trillion dollars or more annually to our coming “natural” economy (compared to our synthetic, environmentally troubled economy). Relaxational smoking would add only a relatively minor amount to this figure.
The most important reason that the 1938 magazine articles projected billions in new income was hemp for “pulp paper” (as opposed to fiber or rag paper). Other reasons were for its fiber, seed and many other pulp uses. If the hemp pulp paper process of 1916 were in use today, it could replace 40 to 70% of all pulp paper, including corrugated boxes, computer printout paper and paper bags.
This remarkable new hemp pulp technology for papermaking was invented in 1916 by our own U.S. Department of Agriculture chief scientists, botanist Lyster Dewey and chemist Jason Merrill.
This technology, coupled with the breakthrough of G. W. Schlichten’s decorticating machine, patented in 1917, made hemp a viable paper source at less than half the cost of tree-pulp paper. The new harvesting machinery, along with Schlichten’s machine, brought the processing of hemp down from 200 to 300 man-hours per acre to just a couple of hours.* Twenty years later, advancing technology and the building of new access roads made hemp even more valuable. Unfortunately, by then, opposition forces had gathered steam and acted quickly to suppress hemp cultivation.