THE BASICS OF HEMP
Domestic hemp, cultivated for millennia, can replace more environmentally harmful raw materials in the manufacturing of thousands of commercial products.
Hemp has been widely used as an industrial crop for nearly the entirety of human domesticated history. It has only been in modern times that the amazing hemp plant and its cultivation has seen widespread prohibition. However, in the past few years, hemp has been making a comeback in the U.S. and worldwide, gaining legal status and driving a potential billion dollar business.
Today, we explore the history of hemp, including its era of prohibition, and discover how hemp can be used in modern industry as a sustainable alternative.
What Is Hemp?
Hemp is a member of the Cannabis sativa L species of plant (just as marijuana is). Hemp is harvested commercially for its seeds and stalk, which are used to manufacture a number of products:
- Nutritional supplements
- Body care products
- Building materials
Because it thrives under natural conditions, hemp is most often grown outside, with both male and female hemp plants sown closely together to encourage wind pollination, which increases hemp seed production. The hemp plant grows sturdy and tall, up to 2 to 4 meters in height, without the need for herbicides or pesticides that can be harmful to consumers or the environment.
To be considered hemp, a cannabis plant must contain no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per dry weight. THC is the active compound in marijuana that causes its euphoric effect. At barely ⅓ of 1%, the levels of THC found in hemp are far lower than the psychoactive level.
Furthermore, hemp is naturally higher in cannabidiol (CBD), one of over 100 cannabinoids that have so far been identified in the cannabis plant. CBD is completely non-intoxicating, making it safe for use by anyone, regardless of age.
Hemp can be manufactured into many different products, and because it is more sustainable than other sources of fiber, oil, and fuel, hemp is the sustainable choice for our planet’s health.
Hemp fiber can be efficiently used to create paper products, as well as textiles like fabric for clothing, rope, and canvas. It can also be used as a petroleum substitute in creating biofuels and bioplastics, meaning hemp can be a solution to our dependance on oil and plastics.
Hemp may play an important role in the automotive and aeronautics industries in the future. It is already being used in the construction of houses through its use as insulation and as a strong, lightweight, breathable building material called hempcrete.
Due to its nutritional content, hemp can also be used as a food for both humans and livestock. Hemp seed and its derived hemp seed oil are popular ingredients in recipes and can be used as a plant-based source of vital nutrients. Because it is high in CBD, products made with CBD hemp oil have become common sources for legal cannabinoids.
Hemp has also found its way into bath and body products like:
- Shampoos and conditioners
- Anti-aging skin care products
- Body lotions
- Topical salves
Hemp is also a valuable source of many of the essential building blocks of a healthy body, making hemp-based foods and supplements a popular choice among many consumers. Hemp’s important nutrients include:
- Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids
- All 8 Essential Amino Acids
- Terpenes and Terpenoids
- Other Trace Cannabinoids
Due to hemp’s high nutritional content, many hemp food products have potential to become staples of a healthy diet.
- Hemp-based supplement powders can be stirred into water or juice or blended into a smoothie.
- Hemp seed oil can be used a base in dressings or used as a healthy alternative to cooking oils,
- Hemp hearts can be added to salads, soups, and cereals for a nutritious boost.
- Hemp granola makes a great snack by itself or mixed into yogurt.
- CBD oil supplements provide hemp’s many nutrients, as well as various cannabinoids, to promote balance.
Benefits Of Hemp Oil Products
There are many benefits to taking a daily serving of CBD from hemp oil products, but the most exciting among them is that a CBD oil supplement helps augment the body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoids, increasing the body’s ability to promote homeostasis within its systems.
There are over 100 presently discovered cannabinoids, which are largely responsible for the effects cannabis has on the body. Common cannabinoids include:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
Cannabinoids work together with the body’s endocannabinoid system to regulate the body’s natural functions – including mood, sleep, appetite, and immune response.
What Are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are a class of active chemical compounds produced by the cannabis plant. These cannabinoids act on cannabinoid receptors located in our cells as part of the endocannabinoid system and alter the release of neurotransmitters in the brain.
The endocannabinoid system predominantly consists of two endocannabinoid receptors:
- CB1, located in the central nervous system
- CB2, found throughout the peripheral nervous system
Once the endocannabinoid system is supplemented in this way, it is able to function more efficiently, optimizing the body’s performance each day. Although it is not critical to supplement the endocannabinoid system daily, doing so may increase the effectiveness of CBD and the endocannabinoid system.
Hemp oil products include commercial supplements like:
- Moisturizer lotions
- Chewing gum
- Hemp oil vaporizers
Is Hemp Legal?
Due to legislation passed in the end of 2018, hemp and its derivative products are legal in the U.S. That means that on a federal level hemp CBD products are currently legal as well.
Hemp legalization came to pass due to a provision added to the 2018 Farm Bill that would fully legalize the hemp industry in the U.S. The provision, officially known as the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
The law removed hemp completely from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and allows it to be sold as an agricultural commodity and used commercially in the manufacturing of products. That means that all hemp products are now federally legal in the U.S., including those containing CBD.
This change only affected hemp, however. Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, including CBD products made from marijuana.