HEMP Basics 101
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
What is Hemp
Hemp is one of the oldest domesticated crops known to man. In fact, the Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a scrap of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.
There are many different varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp — also called industrial hemp — refers to the non-psychoactive (less than 0.3% THC) varieties of Cannabis sativa L. Both hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis species, but are genetically distinct and are further distinguished by use, chemical makeup, and cultivation methods.
What can Hemp do?
Hemp can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials that can be incorporated into thousands of products. Its seeds and flowers are used in health foods, organic body care, and other nutraceuticals. The fibers and stalks are used in hemp clothing, construction, biofuel, plastic composites, and more. Common applications in construction include utilizing the fibrous parts of hemp for mulch, litter, and animal bedding, but now some crafty builders are using the material to construct “hempcrete,” a cement-like mixture comprised of hemp hurds mixed with lime. Hemp has over 25,000 uses making it one the most diverse plants on the planet. While Hemp can do a lot, it cannot get you “high.” Because hemp varieties contains less then 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Why was Hemp Illegal?
The Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937, which regulated the growing and sale of all cannabis varieties. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified all forms of cannabis(including hemp) as a Schedule I drug, making it illegal to grow it in the United States (which is why we’re forced to import hemp from other countries as long as it contains scant levels of THC — 0.3% is the regulation for hemp cultivation in the European Union and Canada). As a result of this long-term prohibition, most people have forgotten the industrial uses of the plant and continue to misidentify hemp with its cannabis cousin, marijuana.
The US Farm Bill was passed in 2014 which allows states that have passed their own industrial hemp legislation to grow industrial hemp for purposes of research and development. Several states- including Kentucky, Colorado, and Oregon — are already conducting hemp projects. Many other states are currently pursuing similar legislation and programs. After many years of prohibition, American farmers are finally reacquainting themselves with industrial hemp.