The tide is turning in favor of hemp at the highest levels of global governance, explain Lorenza Romanese, Managing Director, and Francesco Mirizzi, Senior Policy Advisor, of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA).
Most of the legal problems with hemp started at the United Nations with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961. This punitive drug convention followed the example of the United States which had undermined the hemp industry in the years 1930 by prohibition and the increase in taxes via the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
Other countries were forced to follow suit, and hemp cultivation on the planet dropped dramatically, from over 300,000 tons in 1961 to around 75,000 tons in the early 1990s.
The light at the end of the tunnel
In recent years, many hemp activists and organizations around the world, including the EIHA, have lobbied for the rehabilitation of the plant.
These efforts achieved public recognition with the publication last November of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) document titled “ Commodities at a glance: Special issue on industrial hemp (in English here).
This post was followed by last week’s event at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. This is probably the first time the cannabis plant has been discussed in a positive light in a UN building – and with the support of a UN body itself!
The highest levels
The EIHA now believes that hemp is finally recognized at the highest levels of global governance as a key crop in the transition to a new and greener economy, fit for people and planet.
The fact that these UN initiatives were launched by UNCTAD is in itself an acknowledgment of the potential of hemp as a catalyst for economic growth and development. The hallowed halls of the UN have previously only discussed hemp in relation to narcotics and prohibition.
EIHA also infuses its “whole plant” approach, as described in their Hemp Manifesto. This holistic vision has been adopted and used as a source of information by UNCTAD, contrary to certain visions which divide hemp molecule by molecule.
This comprehensive publication presents many arguments for hemp to play a crucial role in a new, greener and more sustainable society. It also demonstrates the potential of hemp to empower rural communities around the world, and particularly in developing countries, which can jump-start local economies and serve a wide range of consumer markets.
Hemp: resilient plant
For the EIHA, hemp is the perfect complementary crop to legumes and cereals. Communities can rely on it to produce safe and nutritious food, clothing, housing and a wide range of other products. Synergies with other sectors are essential and easily deployable.
Hemp is also a viable solution for raw material diversification and greening for major international players.
The EIHA Hemp Manifesto offers a global path for hemp to reach its full potential and deliver multiple economic, social and environmental benefits. UNCTAD estimates that the global market could reach $18.6 billion by 2027, nearly four times the amount in 2020.
EIHA, which contributed to the publication of the UNCTAD document on hemp and its presentation at last week’s event in Geneva, now hopes to achieve a transparent discussion within the framework of the UN and set the record straight to correct mistakes made in a past where international hemp regulations were driven by vested interests rather than science and facts.
Main image: The EIHA UN team: From left to right: Monica Solano, Lorenza Romanese, Francesco Mirizzi and Mark Reinders.