Hemp leaf graphic It's Rope, Not Dope

While they warned you must obtain federal registration and a tax stamp to grow it, in 1943 the Department of Agriculture hoped to achieve a harvest of 300,000 acres of hemp or cannabis sativa by American farmers. During the war years reserves of jute and other imported coarse fibers had dwindled while demand for ropes, thread for soldiers' footwear, parachute webbing and tow lines increased. American-grown hemp was targeted as the solution to this lack of natural resource in those war years.

Inca Hemp, a retail store located at 311 N First Ave in Sandpoint, stocks a variety of hemp products from backpacks, hats, ropes, paper, canvas tennis shoes and lingerie to hemp honey and edible oil. A co-owner in the business, Steve Logan might remind you how the word canvas derives from the Arabic word cannabis. His partners, Ellen Weissman and Fran Summerday, have dedicated their business to spreading the word about hemp goods, and to educating a public they think is ready for this earth-friendly and versatile product.

While it has been the cannabis sativa flower in recent times which has gained notoriety as the source for marijuana, the versatile stalk has played a considerable role as a source of fiber in the past -- and some consider it an important part of our future. The partners believe the dominance of petrochemical products has prevented proliferation in recent years of carbohydrate natural resources like hemp, but that is changing.

Inca Hemp partners are designing and intend to manufacture a line of clothing locally and plan a fashion show featuring hemp attire. In light of the war on drugs, the tub of cannabis sativa seeds on the counter at Inca Hemp startles some attention, but they are sterile and therefore legal. As they say in the business, "Hemp is rope, not dope."

-- Lynda Herrick Schifrin

Go Back to Conents Page for 1996 Summer Sandpoint Magazine