Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant, just like bell peppers and cayenne peppers are different varieties of the Capsicum annuum plant. All varieties of Cannabis are dioecious, meaning plants can be male or female. Though the leaves of hemp and marijuana may look similar, the two plants have significant genetic differences. Hemp grows much taller than marijuana and is an excellent source of nutritious seeds and useful fibers. Hemp, unlike marijuana, only contains a trace amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that produces a high. This tiny amount (less than 0.3 %) of THC cannot be felt by the body and makes hemp products safe for people and pets.
Growing hemp requires few pesticides, no herbicides and less water than most other crops. Hemp grows fast (like bamboo) and the roots replenish the soil through phytoremediation. The prolific leaf structure of the hemp plant absorbs large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere providing excellent carbon sequestration. The same land can be used continuously to grow hemp making it an easy crop for farmers to rotate.
Fear of this amazing plant was instilled through nearly a century of anti-Cannabis government propaganda. The prohibitive tax on hemp farmers enacted in 1937 was done to protect the paper business of William Randolph Hearst and the petrochemical synthetic products (such as nylon) being developed by Pierre S. du Pont. In order to ensure the illegality of hemp, a fear-mongering yellow journalism campaign was regularly featured in Hearst’s newspapers. The word “hemp” was taken out of parlance and all Cannabis was declared to be “marihuana.” In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act solidified the illegality of hemp by listing it as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD. After 80 years of prohibition, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 finally removed hemp from the drug schedule.
Because hemp is Cannabis sativa, beneficial compounds called cannabinoids can be extracted. The most abundant phytocannabinoid in hemp is cannabidiol (CBD). As a natural herbal extract, CBD is anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relief), anti-anxiety and an antioxidant. CBD is safe, non-impairing and not addictive.
The two main formulations of CBD products are isolates (a 99% pure CBD extract) and full spectrum (CBD plus other components from the plant). Isolates are generally good for providing relief from stress and anxiety. Full spectrum CBD (with the addition of other cannabinoids and terpenes) is anti-anxiety as well as a more effective anti-inflammatory. Like most other natural remedies, consistent usage will help achieve the best results. There are many ways to use CBD with the most effective being oral tinctures or capsules, topical creams or salves, and vaporizing liquid or concentrates.
Hemp is a superfood. Hemp seed and hemp oil have the perfect ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids needed for optimal health. Hemp seed also provides substantial amounts of protein, iron, potassium, vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper and niacin.
Hemp is dairy-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free. It’s easily digested and is a great source of energy. Hemp flour can be used for baking bread, cakes and pretzels. Hemp seeds can be included in virtually any food and can be pulverized into “milk” or added to flavored water and fruit drinks. Processed hemp seeds and cold pressed oils do not contain measurable cannabinoids. However, raw hemp leaves can be dried to make a delightful herbal tea while preserving the naturally occurring cannabinoids.
Hemp oil penetrates and hydrates the skin extremely well making it an outstanding moisturizer and protectant. The vitamin-rich oil balances out oily skin and smooths out dry irritation without clogging pores.
The omega-6 fatty acids in hemp act as an anti-inflammatory and promote cell health. The oil can enhance the effectiveness of topical skin lotions and creams, beeswax-based salves and lip balms.
Hemp is the world’s most durable natural fiber and has been used for clothing and in industry for thousands of years. The word “canvas” is derived from the Greek word “Kannabis.”
Not only is hemp fiber strong and dependable, it is also UV resistant, antimicrobial, mildew-resistant, and breathable. Unlike synthetics, hemp is all-natural and biodegradable. With proper equipment, hemp can be used to create any type of clothing or cord.
Products created from hemp are 100% safe and non-toxic. Hemp oil can be used to create hypoallergenic paints and varnishes. Adding hemp oil to candles helps the wax burn more evenly.
Because Cannabis hurd is cellulose-rich, hemp can be fashioned into durable yet biodegradable plastic or added to traditional plastics which will reduce our dependence on petroleum. It can create concrete (hempcrete) and a variety of construction materials and lubricants.
Hemp oil makes a safe and sustainable biofuel. Hemp produces recyclable dioxin-free paper and cardboard. Hemp makes the future possibility of a green economy limited only by our imagination and ingenuity.