The thousand uses of hemp


Nothing is wasted when it comes to hemp. Its stalks and leaves are used to make textile fibers and paper, and in the field of bio-construction; even its roots are used as fertilizers for the soil. A long-running smear campaign waged against hemp during the first decades of the 20th century has managed to bury its many qualities, relating it to the use of drugs. In order to restore some dignity to this product of the soil, highlight its marketing potential and debunk drug-related myths, the association “Punto verde canapa” has organized an event in Crotone called “Hemp can: the future of industrial hemp”, consisting of four days full of conferences, seminars and practical demonstrations of the many uses that can be made of this fascinating product.

In the words of Luigi Critelli, vice president of the association: “For millennia, hemp was used to manufacture clothes and underwear, as well as to make food, oil, flour. With the advent of petrol economy, it fell victim to a steady smear campaign”. Over the years though, particularly the last few years, initiatives have been set up to give this product a new lease of life: by looking back to its past uses for example, which might be useful in demonstrating that “clean” non-drug-related economic gains can come from industrial products derived from it.

Thus, many hectares of land have been turned into hemp plantations in Calabria. The cultivated variety is the one with a low rate of thc (which is the psychoactive substance contained by this plant). Only in the province of Crotone, 40 hectares have been dedicated to the growing of hemp, producing, as Critelli declared, “a remarkable amount of good-quality seeds”. The next step will be putting up a distribution chain of this product on the territory, because the case of hemp is similar to that of wheat: as the president of the association Antonio Chiaramonte explains, “it is the distribution chain that gives the product an added value, enabling farmers to collect the fruits of their hard work. We must also bear in mind that hemp has no real market value when it gets threshed, but this value becomes much higher when the transformation process comes about”.