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Hemp Baby!

When a baby is born in America, it doesn't take long for the child to be exposed to harmful petrochemicals. For example, most hospitals immediately wash a newborn using a petroleum-based detergent "tear-free body wash," just moments after birth. Moments later the child is wrapped in cotton blankets that most likely contain multiple chemicals that were sprayed on the cotton when it was grown. The pesticides and defoliants sprayed on the cotton are linked to cancer, are persistent in the environment for decades and can be found in most cotton clothing people own, even after numerous washings.

Hemp, long known as a sustainable natural fabric due to its relatively low impact on the environment, is an ideal substitute for conventional cotton to make clothing, bags, shoes, towels, socks, hats, curtains, furniture and much more. Hemp is so versatile the uses are only limited by one's imagination - so it is no surprise hemp baby clothing has become more popular in recent years.

So what makes hemp so great? Most importantly, hemp is not sprayed with pesticides. In fact no pesticide has ever been developed for the crop, as there is no need. Hemp also doesn't require chemicals to process the plant's long fibers which are very durable when spun into fabric.

One misconception about hemp is that it's scratchy and similar to burlap. Parents know that if their kids' clothing is uncomfortable they simply won't wear it. In recent years numerous techniques for softening hemp fabric have been perfected. Blending hemp with other fibers has produced luxurious materials that are being embraced by high fashion, and kids alike.

For example, at New York's fashion week in 2008 hemp fabrics were featured by numerous mainstream designers such as Donatella Versace, Behnaz Sarafpour, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan International, Isabel Toledo and Doo.Ri. Strutting down the runway, models wove their magic with everything from hemp/organic cotton jersey knits to hemp/silk charmeuse.

Hemp fabric in the mainstream fashion world is a crowning achievement for pioneering hemp entrepreneurs who have struggled for the last ten years to literally stitch together a way to make hemp clothing even though raw materials must be imported. US farmers have not been able legally to grow the crop for the last 51 years. Ending the misguided prohibition on hemp farming, which stems from the prohibition of hemp's cousin marijuana, is a top priority of the hemp industry.

"We see 2008 as a breakthrough year for hemp fashion, thanks to more than a decade of work by members of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA)," says Summer Star Haeske, Sales Manager for EnviroTextiles, LLC. "Hemp/silk shiny charmeuse, one of my favorite fabrics, has been the hit for top couture designers," adds Haeske.

EnivroTextiles is joined by many other innovators including Los Angeles-based Hemp Traders, which supplies numerous small and large scale clothing designers with hundreds of varieties of hemp blends.

Hemp baby clothing is now common, and numerous designers have made a niche market of hemp baby and kids clothes in recent years. Some of the leading hemp clothing brands include: Livity, Swirlspace, Ecolution, Two Jupiters, Jung Maven, Satori Hemp, Mountains of the Moon, Envirotextiles, Hemp Hoodlamb, The Hempest, Sweet Grass, Hemp & Chocolate and Hemp Sisters. Hemp is also being used by shoe companies including Simple, Black Spot and Adidas. Hemp, because of its antibacterial and absorbent properties, is also being used in cloth diapers.

The Hemp Industries Association estimates that the North American retail market for hemp textiles and clothing exceeded $100 million in 2007 and is growing around 10% per year. For the record, if you managed to smoke hemp it wouldn't get you high. The DEA wrongfully considers hemp to be a drug crop under their interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), even though drug varieties of Cannabis are significantly different from oilseed and fiber varieties (industrial hemp). The industrial varieties are low in THC and high in CBD - just the opposite of cannabis, making them useless as a recreational drug.

Adam Eidinger is the communications director for Vote Hemp, a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for industrial hemp and to making changes in current law to allow US farmers to grow low-THC industrial hemp. More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses can be found at www.VoteHemp.com