What is Hemp?
An annual herbaceous plant, industrial hemp is a unique strain of Cannabis Sativa that has been specifically cultivated throughout history for many non-psychoactive purposes. Each part of the hemp plant is used in the production of a wide variety of goods ranging from fabrics and fibers to food and medicine.
Industrial hemp is often confused with its close cousin Marijuana. Though both are classified under the genus Cannabis, and have some similar physical properties, hemp and marijuana have notably different characteristics.
Species: Cannabis sativa
Appearance: average 5 metres (16 feet) tall
Mature Time: fibre in 60-90 days, grain in 110-150 days
Consumption of industrial hemp cannot get you high, as it is almost devoid of the cannabinoid called Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. It has less than 0.3% THC concentration, which is 33x times less than marijuana. Due to this significantly lower level of THC, the consumption of hemp does not have any psychoactive effects.
Industrial hemp, on the other hand, is high in another cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD) which greatly benefits our endocannabinoid system.
Industrial hemp is less known today despite its long history and many uses. However, a recent growth in popularity, and changes in legislation, have motivated growth in the use of industrial hemp.
Hemp has been used in the production of thousands of products including: paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, cosmetics, animal feed, and more. See all product categories.
Aside from being used as a raw material for manufacturing various products, Hemp can be used to clear impurities out of wastewater. One extreme example is hemp is being used at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site to clean contaminants such as radioisotopes and other toxins from the soil, water, and air.
Hemp is excellent when used during crop rotation, because of its natural ability to overgrow and kill tough weeds. It grows tall and dense, thus blocking sunlight from reaching weeds below. Using hemp like this can help gain organic certification.
Species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis
Appearance: varies between species, average 16 feet, 4 feet, and 2 feet tall respectively
Mature Time: varies, average 90-120 days
The major differences between hemp and marijuana are their appearance and the amount of THC. Marijuana has a THC concentration ranging from 10%-30%. THC is the psychoactive chemical responsible for getting high.
Marijuana is widely known for its use as a psychoactive recreational drug, and it’s medicinal uses. When consumed either by ingestion or inhalation, the cannabinoid THC causes a psychoactive effect on the brain making you feel high.
Throughout history, different strains of cannabis have been cross-bred in order to produce different psychoactive effects and medicinal benefits.
Clothing & Accessories
Hemp fabrics are porous, breathable, durable, environmentally friendly, and sustainable! Click here for everything from t-shirts and jeans to shoes and sunglasses.
Food & Nutrition
Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious foods found in nature. They are widely considered as a super-food, due to their high nutritional value—a superior source of protein and contain essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6. Click here for everything from seeds to protein powder to flour.
Health & Beauty
Discover the powerful medicinal properties of hemp that have been used since 2737 BC Ancient China. It has a high concentration of Cannabidiol (CBD) and low concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Click here for everything from CBD oil and aromatherapy candles to body lotion and sunscreen.
Home & Office
The fibers and textiles derived from hemp are highly versatile, and can be used to make a wide variety of sustainable products. Click here for everything from bedding and towels to paper and pens.
Hemp is one of the first and oldest known human agriculture crops dating back to 8000+ BCE, as an archaeological site in the Oki Islands near Japan contained cannabis achenes from about 8000 BCE.
Hemp use in crafting was during the Neolithic Age (a.k.a. New Stone Age) in China. Archaeologically dating back to 4000 BCE, hemp fiber imprints were found on Yangshao culture pottery. The Chinese later used hemp to make clothes, shoes, ropes, and an early form of paper. The first use of cannabis as a medicine was by Emperor Shen Neng in 2737 BCE, and the first hemp paper was in 100 BCE.
The classical Greek historian Herodotus (ca. 480 BCE) reported that the inhabitants of Scythia would often inhale the vapors of hemp-seed smoke, both as ritual and for their own pleasurable recreation. It was about this time when hemp was introduced to Northern Europe. The first hemp rope appeared in 200 BCE.
The leaves and flowers in most varieties of the Cannabis plant contain THC, a chemical with psychoactive properties. However, industrial hemp contains less than 0.3% THC thus cannot induce psychoactive effects.
Cannabis as a whole was banned in North America in the late 1930s as an attempt to control the use of Cannabis as a recreational drug. This negatively impacted industrial hemp and severely stunted the industry,
During World War II, farmers were encouraged to grow industrial hemp for the war effort. Hemp For Victory (1942) was an educational video created to help farmers learn how to grow, harvest, and refine hemp so it could be made into vital items such as clothing, rope, and more because industrial fibers imported from overseas were in short supply.
Since then, cultivation of industrial hemp has been recognized as a sustainable agricultural crop and is widely cultivated around the world legally. Today, industrial hemp is used to produce thousands of sustainable products in categories ranging from clothing & apparel, food & nutrition, health & beauty, home goods, construction, pet supplies, and many more!
Video note: In the US, the Farm Bill of 2018 was signed effectively legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp.