What is Hemp?
It's a compound that is rapidly growing in mainstream popularity as more people discover its wide-ranging benefits, but exactly what is Hemp? Products made from Hemp are making an appearance in many different markets. Hemp seeds are sprinkled over smoothie bowls, Hemp oils are found in medicine cabinets across the country, and Hemp fibers are being transformed into beautiful adornments. The incredible versatility and medicinal benefits of the Hemp plant make it a genuinely remarkable product of the Earth.
What is Hemp?
Hemp, also known as Industrial Hemp, is a variety of Cannabis sativa. Hemp has a reputation of being incredibly easy to grow, and it is cultivated in countries around the world. The plant is also known for its strong fibers which can benefit a variety of industries including the auto, clothing and home building industries. Hemp has tall, fibrous stalks and thin leaves that grow in a palmate shape. They also produce flowers and seeds, which are also highly useful as resources.
While historically cultivated for its durable fibers, Hemp is also an essential resource in the health industry. Hemp is also rich with compounds called “cannabinoids” which can have positive effects on the body and mind. Humans and many animals have Endocannabinoid systems which are comprised of cannabinoid receptors. These receptors respond to external sources of cannabinoids, like those from the Hemp plant, to help promote positive health. The Endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating functions like sleep, mood, immune response, temperature, pain sensation and more. The medicinal benefits of the cannabinoids found in Hemp have started becoming more popular and recognized in recent years.
History of Hemp
While Hemp is often viewed as a trendy or up-and-coming plant, it’s been cultivated for about 10,000 years. From ancient societies to present day communities, people all around the world have taken advantage of the versatility of the Hemp plant. It is believed the first Hemp cultivation began in China, as they recognized its use for making cloth. Over time, Hemp made its way to Middle Eastern and European societies, where it was used to create textiles, clothing, rope, homes, naval supplies and more.
The forgotten history of Hemp is also woven into the beginning of our nation. While the native Americans were already cultivating Hemp, the plant was commonly grown in the early American colonies. In fact, there was a time in colonial history when it was required by law to grow Hemp. George Washington had a Hemp farm. The first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were believed to be written on Hemp paper. Many supplies during the American Revolution were comprised of Hemp fibers.
Sadly, the prosperity of Hemp came to an end in the 1930s. Hemp became closely associated with the dangers of Marijuana through media programming which warned of the risks of this psychoactive plant. Soon after, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 made it illegal to grow both Marijuana and Hemp, and the market quickly dwindled.
Further damaging the reputation of Hemp, it was also grouped with Marijuana under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. Hemp was ruled a Schedule 1 drug, which is defined by having high abuse potential. Even though the Hemp plant is not considered to have psychoactive or addictive properties, its relation to Marijuana negatively affected peoples’ perception of the plant.
In recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence of the Hemp Industry. In 2014, the Farm Bill granted permission for legal Hemp farming in the United States in few locations. Today, more people are starting to discover the medicinal benefits of the Hemp plant, and the Hemp Extract (or CBD) industry is experiencing rapid growth. Currently, the Hemp Extract industry is predicted to reach one billion dollars in the next few years.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
Hemp and Marijuana are often confused with one another, especially when it comes to topics of supplements and legality. The two plants are closely related, as they are both members of the Cannabis family. Hemp and Marijuana look similar to one another; however, there are minor distinctions in physical appearance. These two “sister” plants have a lot in common, but they also have some noteworthy differences when it comes to chemical composition and historical use.
The most significant difference to understand is the amount of THC found in each plant. THC is the federally illegal, psychoactive chemical that gets you “high.” Marijuana contains a high percentage of THC, which can range up to 35 percent. Hemp, on the other hand, contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, so it is not considered a psychoactive plant. Theoretically, you could smoke a large quantity of the Hemp plant and never achieve a high. Both plants contain a cannabinoid called CBD, or Cannabidiol. CBD is non-psychoactive, and it has a powerful potential in helping with stress relief, anxiety reduction, better sleep, calm and relaxation and more. Hemp typically has a higher concentration of CBD, which is commonly used to make CBD Oil or Hemp Extract products. In general, Marijuana is closely associated with THC, and Hemp is becoming more linked with its high concentration of CBD.
Hemp and Marijuana also have different uses. They are both used in the health and wellness industry, but the comparison mainly ends there. Historically, Hemp has been used to produce clothing, automobiles, homes, accessories, plastic alternatives and more. Marijuana is more commonly used for recreational purposes, both legally and illegally, as many enjoy the sensation of being “high” from THC.
What is Hemp Extract?
Hemp Extract, also known as Hemp oil or CBD oil, is a product of the Hemp plant used for therapeutic purposes. As we mentioned earlier, the Hemp plant contains a wealth of cannabinoids which may help improve health and provide a variety of wellness benefits. More people are switching to Hemp Extract to avoid the harsh side effects and addictive properties of traditional medications. Taken daily, Hemp Extract can be a powerful supplement to boost overall health. Click here to learn more about Hemp Extract.
Today’s Legality of Hemp
The legal status of Hemp products is often viewed as somewhat gray or confusing. The laws mainly focus on the levels of THC in Cannabis products. Hemp generally has fewer legal restraints, as it contains only trace amounts of THC. Marijuana, however, is highly restricted under federal laws. Products derived from Industrial Hemp that contain less than 0.3 percent THC are federally legal. Hemp-derived products that still contain trace amounts of THC are legal in many states, but also illegal in others. The Farm Bill made it legal for some farmers to cultivate Industrial Hemp with restrictions in place. As the differences between Hemp and Marijuana are becoming more understood, there may be hope for rules regarding the farming of Industrial Hemp to become more lenient.