Hemp is a fascinating yet highly misunderstood plant. It has many different uses in the modern age, and throughout history, it’s been used for manufacturing, cooking, medicine and more. Hemp’s history dates back to 8,000 B.C., and today, the plant is staging a comeback as legal attitudes towards the hemp plant begin to shift.
But what is hemp? What is it good for? Why has it been outlawed in many countries? Our Hemp 101 guide will attempt to demystify the cannabis Sativa plant for our readers.
What is Hemp?
First and foremost, what is hemp, anyways?
Hemp, otherwise known as industrial hemp, is a variety of cannabis Sativa. Hemp refers to varieties that contain less than 0.3% THC, while varieties containing more than that are referred to as marijuana. The difference between industrial hemp and marijuana is explained in our dedicated guide.
Unlike marijuana, hemp is not a drug. It does not have intoxicating effects, although its extracts can have some therapeutic benefit. Hemp and hemp extracts are non-psychoactive, meaning they will not get you “high”.
Uses of Hemp
Traditionally, hemp has been used in medicine, food production, manufacturing, and more.
Today, its uses remain similar. Hemp is heralded for its high CBD content. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a beneficial cannabinoid that has significant therapeutic benefits. High-grade CBD oils are used to address a variety of health concerns, as outlined in our health applications of CBD page.
Industrial applications of hemp are also plentiful. Hemp can be used for:
- Heavy manufacturing (hempcrete is used as a concrete alternative)
- Clothing manufacturing (hemp fiber is very durable)
- Body care manufacturing (hemp oil is used in lotions, soaps and more)
Hemp is also useful in the kitchen. Hemp seeds are becoming a popular, nutritious topping for salads and soups, while hemp oil can be used as an alternative to olive oil or vegetable oil for some applications.
History of Hemp
Hemp is among the oldest domesticated crops known to humankind. It’s history dates back thousands of years.
Hemp was grown and used in many areas of the world. Its use in the United States was extensive, up until the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was passed. The act, intended largely to protect the interests of the paper industry, lead to the prohibition and criminalization of cannabis.
Since the 1930s, hemp and cannabis have been illegal in the United States. That started to change in the 1990s when states began to implement medical marijuana laws. In the last 20 years, regulations have loosened significantly, particularly when it comes to low-THC hemp varieties.
Today, every state has different laws when it comes to cannabis, but CBD itself is legal in most states. See our CBD FAQ page for more information on the legal status of CBD products
The more detailed history of hemp is pretty fascinating, and we encourage anyone who is curious to do some reading!
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