Hemp 101: A Complete Lesson on Hemp
The myths and misinformation about cannabis, put it's helpful cousin in a peculiar spot.
Hemp use is intertwined in the fabric of human history.
Until the the classification of cannabis as an illegal drug, hemp was poised to be a billion dollar industry.
Hemp can help save farms, reduce our foot print and make us all healthier.
So, why aren’t we using it more?
Today, is a lesson in hemp 101.
We’re going to look at what hemp is, all the benefits different hemp products have to offer, and we can use hemp.
Table of Contents
What is Hemp?
Hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis sativa L plant.
It's non-psychoactive,” because of the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it produces.
Hemp contains a negligible amount of THC.
We're talking less than 1% THC here.
It’s more than being genetically distinct from marijuana plants that differentiates it.
Hemp is also distinguished by the methods for growing it, its chemical makeup and its uses.
This is further explored with the specific uses of some cannabis plants.
For example, you can use high-potency marijuana strains for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Hemp strains are cultivated for seed production or fiber.
Hemp can be genetically engineered for many purposes, which is what makes it such a useful and promising plant.
What we Mean by Marijuana
We use the term "marijuana" to talk about Cannabis sativa L. varieties that cultivated for it's THC—commonly used for recreational or medical uses.
What we Mean by Hemp
We use "hemp" and "industrial hemp" to talk about Cannabis sativa L. varieties that are non-psychoactive and have less than 1% THC.
What Can Hemp Do?
We're still uncovering the countless things hemp can be made into.
Biofuel, insulation, biodegradable plastic, paper, food, shoes, clothing, rope and textiles, are a few.
With this level of versatility, imagine the possibilities.
It's also a superfood!
Hemp seeds are rich in fiber and other nutrients.
It’s also an environmentally friendly, sustainable alternative and replacement for petroleum-based products.
In the same breath, hemp helps farmers on a regular basis.
Hemp breathes in CO2 and detoxifies the soil around it, which prevents soil erosion.
Making it an attractive, rotation crop for farmers to ensure the health of their harvests.
Furthermore, industrial hemp legally requires no pesticides, and it needs less water to grow, making it much more environmentally friendly than other crops.
Let's dive deeper into hemp's specific uses.
Hemp Used for?
What is Industrial Hemp Used for?
According to founder and director of Hemp Cleans, Jason Lauve, “any product which contains petroleum can be produced from hemp, and it’s renewable.”
We also know, according to Lauve, that fabrics made from hemp have better insulation for both heating and cooling.
They’re also stronger and water absorbent, but the water also evaporates very quickly.
Ballistic material or car part.
Petroleum clean-up product or simple animal bedding.
It doesn't matter.
Hemp can likely not only make it, but make it even better than its current primary material.
Hemp generally contains high percentages of CBD while remaining low in THC.
This makes hemp perfect for CBD products.
Cannabidiol is extracted from hemp—usually through CO2 extraction.
The CBD is either extracted by itself as an isolate or with other cannabinoids and terpenes for a broad-spectrum or full-spectrum formula.
Confused about the spectrum talk?
Full- and broad-spectrum CBD products contain more of the hemp plant than an isolated CBD formula does.
The additional cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other components extracted from the plant alongside the CBD provides what many call the Entourage Effect.
The Entourage Effect enhances the medicinal properties CBD has to offer, extends how long a CBD product can last and intensifies the experience.
We nee more research on the Entourage Effect, we mostly have anecdotal data to go on for now.
Regardless, full-spectrum—or even broad-spectrum formulas—do seem to provide better results than their isolated counterparts.
If you didn’t already guess, a CBD isolate product is when only the CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, ripped from the rest of the cannabinoids and other components.
Many who want to be still sure they can pass a drug test for work take CBD isolates thinking that there’s it's only CBD, so there’s no risk of THC showing up in their systems.
Unfortunately, unless the CBD company tests each batch with a third-party, independent lab, there’s likely to be a slip up that puts your ability to pass a drug test at risk.
Remember, the legal maximum of THC is 0.3% in any CBD product.
Consuming more than the average serving frequently or going with a CBD brand that doesn’t always test their products can lead to some inconsistencies in meeting this standard.
The CBD industry still wildly unregulated right now.
But people are trying CBD products every day and discovering the many medical benefits of cannabidiol.
Hempoline, or biodiesel, is a biofuel oil made from hemp stalks and seeds.
This fuel can be used to power engines, though it currently take quite a lot of raw material to produce any substantial amount.
More research is needed, and we’re a few decades away.
But there’s sure to be a breakthrough soon on a viable fuel option made entirely out of hemp.
Hemp is a superfood, with the primary nutritional sources deriving from the seeds and oil of the plant, as well as the heart.
The seeds are extremely nutritious, and some speculate that ancient Chinese and Indians were some of the first to consume the seeds as food.
How is Hemp a Superfood?
Hemp is also high in potassium, magnesium, L-glutamic Acid, and L-Arginine.
Though it’s packed with protein, it’s also more digestible than any other high-protein food thanks to its added fiber.
Research indicates that hemp can lead to reduced inflammation, improved brain function, better cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, lowered chance of heart disease or stroke, the potential for weight loss and increased energy throughout the day.
High in antioxidants and minerals, you can be sure to get a dose of vitamin E, vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin, carotene, potassium, magnesium and calcium with hemp seeds.
Hemp hearts, or the heart of the hemp seed, are nutritionally dense additions to any meal and have a subtle but enjoyable sunflower seed taste.
Of the fat within hemp seed oil, 75 to 80% are the polyunsaturated “good fats” we seek, and only 9 to 11% contains “bad fats.”
Good for the brain, hemp seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids that amount to more than any fish and most fish oil supplements.
Finally, hemp is a viable plant-protein that has a highly concentrated balance of proteins - less than soybeans, but more protein than barley, corn, rye, oats or wheat!
We touched on it in the introduction, hemp can make rope, textiles, paper and different fabrics.
In fact, the word “canvas” derives from the word cannabis.
As its tensile strength is very high, hemp makes a great rope, string or thread.
Hemp has a high amount of cellulose, which you want in fibrous material.
Hemp is so strong that when it’s harvest correctly, it can be stronger than steel.
You’ll notice that the names don’t get much more creative as we go down the list because “hempcrete” is concrete-like bricks made out of hemp.
Want to know something coool?
We can make houses, cars, electronics, biodegradable plastics, and anything wood from hemp.
Making history in August of 2010 in Asheville, North Carolina, the first American home went back to its roots with hemp-based materials.
As hemp gains traction across the world (again), Canada and Europe have also started to build more houses with hempcrete and other hemp materials.
It’s no wonder why.
Hemp will only continue to get bigger across the globe.
Hempcrete is windproof, has strong and durable insulation and a low carbon footprint.
What more could you want in the literal building blocks of your home?
Hemp will only continue to get bigger across the globe.
We look forward to seeing what other building materials make the switch to hemp as a natural replacement to the current material.
How is Hemp Different from Marijuana?
Though they can appear similar, both hemp and marijuana have some clear distinctions.
Hemp plants appear as skinny leaves concentrated towards the top of the plant.
These plants are skinnier and grow taller than their marijuana counterpart, with just a few branches beneath its upper body.
Marijuana, on the other hand, blooms frosty dense buds with bushy, broad leaves.
Marijuana is also much shorter than hemp because it devotes energy to grow flowers.
Hemp can grow up to 20 feet tall in hopes of reaching the sun.
The environment needed to grow hemp is vastly different compared to marijuana.
Hemp is typically much easier to grow.
It can grow in a variety of conditions and is likely to thrive in most environments.
Hemp's grown closer together than marijuana, sometimes as close as 4 inches apart.
Needing such little space, you can grow a massive amount of hemp, fast.
The typical growth cycle for hemp is 108 to 120 days.
Meanwhile, marijuana takes only 60 to 110 days.
And marijuana can only survive in very specific, tailored conditions.
Marijuana needs a humid, warm and tightly controlled atmosphere for optimum growth.
Usually, it’s recommended that marijuana is grown indoors hydroponically.
Outside, they have to be grown at 4-6 feet apart with most conventional growing techniques.
Plus, the amount of THC left in the flowers at harvest can be considerable.
The biggest difference between hemp and marijuana is their chemical composition.
A marijuana plant can contain anywhere from 5 to 20% THC, though highly modified strains can get up to 40%.
Industrial hemp contains a max of 0.3%.
Aside from THC, they contain mostly the same cannabinoids in varying degrees.
For instance, since there is hardly any THC, cannabinol (CBN) is almost non-existent.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, hemp plants can be rich in cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD, is the cannabinoid opposite THC.
It's the non-psychoactive counterpart that acts as THC’s antagonist.
And by that, we mean you can cancel out THC’s psychoactive effects by ingesting CBD.
CBD is responsible for most of the medicinal properties that cannabis is well-known for.
Combined with the other cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds in cannabis, CBD can provide a series of medicinal benefits that we’ll touch on more later in this guide.
While people use marijuana either medicinally or recreationally, hemp has far more versatility.
Hemp has a wide range of industrial uses.
It’s the main ingredient in a massive selection of THC-free CBD oils, flower and edibles.
People use these CBD products for finding relief from pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, insomnia and nausea.
Hemp lotions line the shelves of Walmart.
Hemp can even be used as a textile, plastic, clothing material, and countless other industrial uses.
Compared to marijuana, hemp is certainly the more versatile of the two.
It's usefulness is part of the reason hemp found it's way back to legality much quicker than marijuana.
The 2018 Farm Bill made industrial hemp legal in all 50 states.
It’s not legal to cultivate industrial hemp in every state, but the sell and use are legal across the entire nation.
Hemp plants in the USA can have a maximum of 0.3% THC, though most of the rest of the world is 0.2% or lower.
As it naturally contains very little THC, hemp is legal in most parts of the world.
Where it’s not legal, the consequences for hemp are minor or negligible.
However, a license may be required to legally cultivate, transport, or sell hemp products of any kind, especially in the United States.
There may also be additional requirements depending on your individual state’s laws.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is still classified as a Schedule I drug on a federal level.
Only recreationally legal in 10 states and Washington D.C., marijuana is still cloaked in a stigma that is slowly being broken down, albeit slower than for hemp.
Thirty-three states have legalized marijuana for some medical purpose, however, which is a big step in the right direction for legalization across the nation.
Hemp is capable of producing four times the paper per acre than trees can.
Back in 1938 popular Mechanics praised hemp as the “Billion Dollar Crop.”
But, hemp got lumped with marijuana during the 1930's cannabis prohibition.
Crushing and industry that would've been worth around $192 billion in today’s market.
Able to act as a more viable alternative across countless industries, hemp has been speculated as a potential market that can produce more than 25 thousand different products.
The global industrial hemp market is expected to reach $10.6 billion by 2025, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc.
The Legality of Hemp
Hemp has a long history of chalk full of propaganda.
Kept in the dark, inaccessible to those who could genuinely take advantage of its effects.
Many of our oldest generations are still against the plant due to the reefer madness propaganda spread in the 1930s.
Hemp effectively became illegal just over 70 years ago.
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 strictly regulated the sale and cultivation of all cannabis.
This meant treating marijuana and hemp as if they were the same plant, with the same purposes.
There was a lull in the government’s restriction of the plant during World War II when there was a massive demand for rope material.
Jute and abaca, which are used to make rope, were limited during World War II, prompting the government to start various pro-hemp farming campaigns.
Their video, called “Hemp for Victory,” aimed to help meet the Navy’s demand for rope.
Watch the Hemp for Victory video here:
Unfortunately, the governments restriction on the plant resumed once the war ended and the demand for rope fell.
Then, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified all cannabis plants as a Schedule I drug.
After a 60-year ban, Canada was the first country to make hemp legal again in 1998.
The US didn’t follow suit until the 2014 US Farm Bill, which allowed states to pass their own individual industrial hemp laws.
While this enabled the development and research of hemp, it wasn’t until the 2018 Farm Bill that industrial hemp was officially made legal on a federal level in the United States.
Hemp and the Farm Bill
Congress agreed to the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill in December of 2018.
The bill expanded upon provisions in the 2014 version; specifically, the Hemp Pilot Programs that were created with the 2014 Farm Bill.
These programs “created a framework for the legal cultivation by states of ‘industrial hemp’ without a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration.”
The provisions in 2018 defined hemp in legislation as any cannabis plant with no more than 0.3% of THC.
Now, hemp is legal in all 50 states, though there are some serious restrictions.
Hemp cultivation is allowed broadly, and transfer of hemp-derived products across states lines for any purpose, commercial or otherwise, is now explicitly allowed.
As long as hemp-derived products are produced in a manner consistent with the law, there is no restriction on the possession, transport or sale of these products.
However, this new Farm Bill still doesn’t create a completely free system for businesses or individuals to grow hemp wherever and whenever they want.
Instead, there’s a significant regulatory power shared by the state and federal governments.
State departments of agriculture have the opportunity to consult with the state’s chief law enforcement officer and governor to devise a plan for industrial hemp that must then be submitted to the Secretary of the USDA.
Once the Secretary of USDA approves a state’s plan, only then can the state begin operations.
The states that opt out of devising their hemp regulatory program are constructed a regulatory program by the USDA.
Hemp growers in states like these must comply with a federally-run program and apply for the proper licenses to start their operations.
Why was Hemp Illegal?
The short answer? Money.
American industrialists led by DuPont executives and newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst didn’t like hemp cutting into their market’s share.
DuPont had recently started processing petroleum and wood for plastic, which is not as environmentally friendly or as economic, while Hearst owned 800,000 acres of timberland acquired from the Mexican Revolution.
These two entities led the charge in whipping the public into a frenzy over the "dangerous" and ill-causing effects of marijuana.
Strategically tarnished as the “assassin of youth,” the cannabis industry went into outlawed and unjust silence.
Hearst, is best known for his role in the surge of “yellow journalism.”
And he's responsible for publishing the largest chain of US newspapers in the late 19th century.
“Yellow journalism” refers to the pure sensationalization of journalism that took place starting in the 1890s.
Many refer to the Spanish-American War as the first “media war” because of the sensationalized journalism that sparked it all.
In short, Hearst birthed the “fake news” that still plagues the world.
Journalism has never been the same; forever tainted by the yellow journalism sensationalized need for drama instead of fact.
In poetic symmetry, the hemp industry’s reputation was tarnished for decades.
Only now, within the past two decades, has a positive light been able to burst through public perception and shine brightly on hemp.
The History of Hemp
We may be able to date hemp back further than any of humanity’s other industrial efforts.
It’s widely thought that hemp was the first plant cultivated as a textile fiber - as far back as 8,000 BCE.
There are also rope imprints on broken Chinese pottery (potential archeological hemp evidence) that’s dated back to 10,000 BCE.
Hemp’s been through it all.
The plant was used to make the 600-year old Gutenberg Bible.
Even more impressive, it’s speculated that the sails of the English fleets that defeated the Spanish Armada were hemp - what a sight to see!
“Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country,” said Founding Father and former President Thomas Jefferson.
He's not the only Founding Father with an affinity towards hemp.
President George Washington urged two things in his farewell address:
Don’t have a two-party system and don’t deal with foreign affairs.
But he also urged Americans to “make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.”
Not only did we not listen, but we’ve stubbornly chosen to do the opposite.
Washington encouraged the cultivation of hemp, knowing it could be a more profitable crop than even tobacco—the most popular crop of that century.
Hemp was already abundant in Virginia as elsewhere throughout the country.
We only needed to keep cultivating it and turn it into something huge!
What Can't Hemp Do?
The biggest mistake people make is thinking hemp can get you high.
There is no "reefer madness" and this sure isn't the devil's lettuce.
Hemp doesn’t have the same properties marijuana does.
It’s missing the secret ingredient, THC, remember?
This makes hemp a viable medical option for those looking to access the various other cannabinoids found in cannabis, but want to bypass the psychoactive effects THC provides.
THC is the component in cannabis plants that can get you high, and hemp doesn’t contain enough THC to give you this feeling.
Even if hemp plants contain more than the legal max of 0.3%, the amount of THC they do have is still negligible.
In other countries, you can expect less than 0.2% and even less than 0.1% THC within CBD or hemp products.
Fun Facts About Hemp
We didn’t stop using hemp for clothing until the 1920s. In fact, the first pair of Levi’s, were first made from hemp in the 1890s.
King Henry VII of England passed a law in 1535 that forced every landowner to plant a patch of hemp.
A great legend states Buddha went on a fast that lasted six years, sustaining himself with a daily hemp seed.
The Future of Hemp
The hemp industry is fast-growing in popularity thanks to CBD.
While CBD products are certainly helping the industry, the 2018 Farm Bill opening up legal cultivation of industrial hemp has also helped even more.
Hemp is the quickest growing industry in the market right now.
And there are countless practical usages and bio-friendly alternatives made possible through hemp.
Furthermore, hemp’s future is generating more employment, sustainable living for local farmers and growth in local farming in the US.
There seems to be no limit to what hemp is capable of.
It can be a plastic, a tasty edible, a dog treat, a shirt, and just about anything in between.
The possibilities for what we could do with hemp are still growing, and we are witnessing history being made before our eyes.
Can Hemp Make a Comeback?
Many speculate that hemp is already making a comeback.
Thanks to the industrial hemp laws now in place and the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills.
With the lastest polls showing almost 61% of america is in favor of legal cannabis, I think it's safe to say hemp will have a huge come back.
We’re seeing hemp in a new light as we discover more uses and medicinal benefits the plant has to offer.
With it's legality in its infancy, I am certain this is just the beginning.
Hemp finally is free from the shackles on of a schedule 1 drug.
It can once again thrive being made into textiles, ropes, lotions, cars, houses, drinks, medicine and whatever else it wants to be.
The most versatile plant on the planet, hemp can help the global economy and give farms a sustainable and profitable cash crop.
While marijuana still has a ways to go for legalization, the eco-friendly hemp plant is finally in people’s homes once more.
As the cannabis industries climb faster than any other industry in the present day marketplace, we look forward to a greener future.