Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Eagle Butte
Mostly sunny
Mostly sunny

Hemp: An alternative to petroleum-based products and a cash crop for CRST 

This op-ed is just that it is my opinion, as I am not an expert on hemp. I do believe that we need to do what we can to ensure the future of the planet for our children and grandchildren.

Floyd Braun

The petroleum industry has stated that this year it is beginning to peak in reliable output due to the price of oil. Only with higher prices can they afford to continue to drill for oil, and with this you must ask yourself, “At what cost to the environment?”

We know that traditional well-drilling is mostly a thing of the past and that the only oil left is obtainable through fracking and tar sands mining. Both of these types of production are proving to be resource-heavy and require more resources, such as water, than we have to give up.

We must look toward transitions to other sustainable options and I believe that hemp is one of those options, not only for our petroleum-product needs, but also as a steady source of revenue for tribes. Hemp would provide some jobs, but more importantly, provide the tribes with self-generated revenue whiling decreasing the need for reliance on government programs. This would also allow the tribes to offer more services and infrastructure building on their own terms, without the stipulations and red tape of government or private grants.

Hemp is part of the cannabis plant family, as is hops, which is used to make beer, but is a far cry from being marijuana. It does have a negligible amount of THC, which according to livescience.com, is the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects, but has such a low presence in hemp that it barely even reads on a test. You would need to smoke entire bales of hemp to get the effect of the amount found in one medical dose of marijuana.

Hemp grows much higher and denser than marijuana, growing an average of ten to fifteen feet high, while marijuana grows only to a maximum of ten feet and requires space for air flow. Hemp can be grown without irrigation, while marijuana cannot.

Here are some products that have been and can be produced using hemp:

  • Our money was once printed on hemp paper
  • Levi Jeans were originally made from hemp, which is much stronger and more durable than cotton, and is the reason why 100-hundred-year old jeans still hold together
  • Diesel fuels and other fuels can be made from hemp
  • Plastics can be made from hemp
  • Medicines for cases such as cancer and epilepsy.

The cost of starting a hemp farm is low since the equipment used for corn can be also used for hemp. Where hemp is grown, it is a rotated crop, so one year you grow corn, the next year hemp. Hemp also helps the soil, resulting in higher yields of corn crops during alternate years.

Harvesters, plant managers, plant workers, truck drivers, office staff and agronomist, pump operators and just some of the jobs created through the hemp industry. We can get people trained to do the work by finding candidates in our schools and through job training-programs. Technical schools in our area provide the training needed and can be applied to a processing plant.

With what is made as a profit for the tribes, that is a win-win situation with jobs and funds for infrastructure and programs.


In conclusion, I challenge every consumer to look at our future needs, and how we can meet them with sustainable options. No one option is the cure all for our energy and consumer needs, but will required many things, such as hemp, to make our future sustainable.


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