Columbia, SC (WLTX) - When people hear hemp, they may think of marijuana, or weed. While they are both from the cannabis plant containing the illegal drug THC, one group feels hemp is misunderstood.
That's why the wheels on The Hemp Road Trip bus have gone round and round to 44 states, now stopping here in South Carolina.
"We're educating legislators and people what the plant is and what it can do," said Rick Trojan, founder of the hemp road trip.
Trojan says this small group has a big goal.
"[Take] industrial hemp off of the controlled substances act and allow farmers across the country to grow this crop," Trojan said.
It's something they all say they're very serious about.
"My wife and I were living in Germany, and when we learned about hemp and all that it could do for the planet and for humanity, we both quit our jobs and now here we are traveling the United States," said DJ Nicke founder of The Cannapedia.
Nicke says he's seen one hemp use firsthand.
"You could live on nothing but hemp seeds," Nicke said. "In fact, Rick and I did a 10-day challenge where we did just that."
"Anything you can make from oil you can make from hemp, anything you can make from corn you can make from hemp, so food, plastics, this clipboard's made from hemp," Trojan said, pointing to his clipboard.
"My shirt is made out of hemp, my shorts are made out of hemp, this bag is made out of hemp," said Coach Freddie Cecchini, part of the Hemp Road Trip.
Cecchini says it could help the economy and the planet.
"From farming to processing to building homes, [and] replacing plastics with biodegradable industrial hemp products," Cecchini said.
"Hemp is the only industrial crop that releases monoterpenes into the atmosphere, which helps replenish the ozone layer and protects us from UV radiation," Nicke said. "At the same time, one acre of hemp sequesters nine tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, and this is a crop that grows in three to four months so you could have up to three harvests per year."
Nicke says the farming benefits don't stop there.
"It's amazing at repairing the soil and fixing the damage we humans have done," Nicke said. "At the time, it uses 1/8th the water of cotton and it needs zero pesticides and zero herbicides because it's a weed, and so it's naturally pest repellent."
"And once we get over, 'hemp is not a drug,' its simply, 'how do we plant this, what do we sell it for, and how do we grow it,' so it becomes purely logistics and economics," Trojan said.
Other uses for hemp the group lists: supercapacitors, batteries, paper, socks, plastics, building materials, food (protein, omega 3), and fertilizer.
A House bill that would create a pilot program for up to 15 farmers annually to grow hemp in South Carolina is now in the Senate for consideration.