This is a weird question and one I never thought I’d ask.
It all started at a party when I found myself chatting up with a girl who had the strangest reply to some wiseass comment about trying ganja. She said - “No thanks, I prefer wearing it.” I was bored out of my wits and this seemed like the perfect ice breaker. So, I wasted no time in chatting up with her and what followed was a truly enlightening experience.
To begin with, she clarified that what she was referring to is “Hemp”, which isn’t the same as marijuana. It belongs to the same botanical class (Cannabis sativa) but has one major difference. Hemp contains only tiny amounts, 0.3% to be precise, of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the magic psychoactive ingredient that gets you high. Hmm, not bad.
Next came the fact that hemp has been used as textile fibre for centuries. It’s one of the strongest and most durable fibres around. On top of that, hemp’s requirement of water is about half of what cotton needs, and far lower than all other natural fibres. It grows freely, needs no pesticides, and if that wasn’t enough, it does the opposite of what most plants do. Instead of taking nutrients from the soil, it replenishes nutrients in the soil. And what’s good for the soil is good for the soul!
When she said all this, I wanted to stand up and clap for this awesome sibling of my favourite herb. But I resisted the temptation. If hemp is so good, why don’t we see more of it, I wondered. Capitalism, she said. And a bunch of factors like regulation and misinformation. But that’s behind us now. In fact, in 2018, the US legalized planting and purchasing of hemp. Back home in India, Uttarakhand is leading in hemp cultivation and production.
So, we’ll be seeing a lot more clothes made from hemp soon. At that moment, burning with curiosity, I wished I could touch hemp cloth. And that’s when she said, well, guess what, the top I’m wearing is made from hemp.
That night, I came back home with two new pieces of information – one was of course a bucket load about hemp. And the other was her phone number. We are going to buy me a cool hemp t-shirt! It’s a date.