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There is a longstanding history of confusion surrounding what is—and isn’t—hemp.
The issue began in 1937 when hemp and marijuana (cannabis) possession were collectively outlawed in the Marihuana Tax Act. While the act was eventually repealed in the sixties, the incertitude continued and further escalated in the 1970s when the United States government classified hemp as a Schedule 1 Drug alongside cannabis.
For over 80 years, these plant cousins, both derived from the Cannabis Sativa family, were seen by officials as pretty much indistinguishable. The recent passing of the 2018 US Farm Bill finally acknowledges the vast differences between them and legalized commercial production of hemp. Now, the confusion can be cleared once and for all.
Organic Hemp 101
Organic hemp is not the same as organic cannabis. Their appearances, chemical compositions, and applications differ significantly.
Organic hemp has skinnier leaves that are more concentrated at the top than the leaves of organic cannabis plants. The hemp plant also grows much taller than the bushy cannabis plant.
The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrations in each plant are also very different. Whereas you can find cannabis with THC levels ranging between 5-30 percent, organic hemp contains negligible amounts at just 0.3 percent. This means that consuming organic hemp, even in large quantities, cannot get you high as the psychoactive effects are nil.
Unlike organic cannabis, organic hemp is easy-to-cultivate, can grow in almost any climate, and has thousands of useful applications.
Uses of hemp
The Ministry of Hemp recognizes over 25,000 possible uses for the hemp plant from its seeds, its bast fiber, and its shiv (the soft inner core of the stalk).
The seeds are commonly used for dietary purposes and provide an excellent source of omegas. They taste nutty and can be eaten raw, made into milk, pressed into oil, and ground into a powder perfect for blending into smoothies. The oil from the seeds has been added to creams, lotions, and beauty serums as well.
The bast fiber is said to be stronger than steel and can be transformed into construction materials, paper, rope, carpet, shoes, durable clothing, and so much more.
The shiv is also incredibly versatile. It can processed into building materials that rival concrete blocks and natural insulation that holds heat. It can also be processed into bioplastic and help us move away from our single-use plastic pollution problem.
Hemp has also been used to make eco-friendly biofuels. With the recent legalization in the United States, you can be sure we’ll see many more sustainable uses of hemp in the future.