What exactly is Hemp?
What is Hemp?
There has always been common confusion about hemp and what it is. Hemp has remained a taboo subject for many years because it’s often associated with marijuana. Marijuana and hemp are often confused as the same substance. Although, hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis species, their components are genetically different. Not only are their components different, but they are used and cultivated in distinct ways too. Marijuana plants that are used to reach psychoactive effects contain around 15% of THC while hemp contains about 0.5% THC. Hemp is not used as a recreational drug because its psychotropic chemical, THC, is very low.
History of Hemp
Even though hemp is beginning to become more noticed, it is not a new substance in our world. In fact, the hemp industry is among one of the oldest industries in the planet, dating back to more than 10,000 years ago! Crazy right? We’re going to go through a timeline of key events that have led to where hemp is today.
8,000 BCE – Traces of hemp were found in pottery, food, and natural hemp-based medicine throughout modern day China and Taiwan.
500 BCE – Hemp seeds/leaves were found in a jar in Berlin, Germany which proves that the use of hemp continued to spread across northern Europe.
100 BCE – China creates paper out of hemp.
1553 – Farmers are fined if they chose not to grow hemp.
1616 – Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, begins to create textiles, clothes, ropes, and sails out of hemp.
1776 – The U.S Founders write the rough drafts of The Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.
1937 – The Marihuana Tax Act is passed which eventually led to the prohibition of hemp production.
1939 – When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the US stopped receiving foreign supplies. The USDA encouraged farmers to begin to grow hemp again. During WWII, farmers grew about a million acres of hemp! But after the war ended, the government no longer allowed the growth of hemp and the industry faded away again.
1970 – The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 and marijuana and hemp were no longer distinct substances. Both were merged as one.
1998 – Food-grade hemp seed and hemp oil are imported into the US.
2007 – For the first time in 50 years, the first hemp licenses are granted to two North dakota farmers.
2014 – The Farm Bill was signed by President Obama and this allowed institutions to grow hemp for research purposes.
2015 – 2018 – There were plenty of failed attempts to legalize the growth of hemp in the US.
2018 – An amendment in the Farm Bill was signed and this legalized hemp in the US. The amendment removed hemp and its seeds from the Controlled Substance Act!
Industrial Uses for Hemp
When hemp is discussed, the main benefit that is often brought up is its medicinal purposes. However, hemp can be used for a wide variety of other things too! For instance, clothing, paper, plastics, fuel and energy. Hemp is not only more affordable, but it makes a significant difference in our environment.
- The textile industry has used hemp for many years.
- Hemp clothing is more affordable to make and it typically lasts longer.
- It takes less water to grow hemp than it does to grow cotton.
- It is naturally resistant to bacteria and it also provides UV protection.
- Civilizations have used hemp to create paper for thousands of years.
- Hemp can be used to make a variety of different types of papers such as cigarette paper, banknote paper, and filter papers.
- Hemp pulp is much stronger than wood pulp which means that its products are more resistant to tearing.
- It can take up to 30 years or more to harvest a tree for paper. Hemp regenerates after a couple of months.
Fuel and Energy
- Biodiesel may help the fuel problems we are currently experiencing.
- Hemp has the ability to create biofuel.
- Unlike fossil fuels, biofuels can be renewed and they produce far less carbon monoxide.
- Plastic has become a serious issue for our planet. We’re filling our environment and oceans with plastic.
- Plastic hemp can be made by removing the fibers from the hemp stems which are biodegradable.
Medicinal Uses for Hemp
Hemp produces a cannabinoid called CBD, a non psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. CBD blocks the high that is typically associated with marijuana. It’s non psychoactive components can be extremely valuable and helpful in the medical world. Here are a few of it’s medicinal purposes.
- Childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS)
- Many children don’t respond to epilepsy medication. CBD has been proven to help reduce the number of seizures and stop them altogether.
- The FDA recently released its first ever cannabis derived medication for individuals with these conditions.
- Studies have shown that CBD may aid in sleep.
- Inflammation due to arthritis
- Research has shown that when CBD is topically applied, it helps relieve some of the pain and inflammation due to arthritis.