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HEMP 101

Hemp is a non-intoxicating variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant species that is grown specifically for industrial or medical use. Until 1940, hemp was the worldwide standard that everything else was judged against and along with bamboo, hemp is one of the fastest growing plants in the world.

Unlike its relative commonly referred to as Cannabis or Marijuana, the hemp plant does not contain substantial amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and instead contains predominantly Cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp is defined as the Cannabis Sativa plant with 0.3% or less THC on a dry-weight basis. At these minuscule percentages, the intoxicating and psychoactive effects of THC are eliminated & hemp cannot “get you high".

Whereas THC is the cannabinoid associated with a psychotropic high and is intoxicating - CBD is not. According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.


​Hemp cannot, and does not, produce any drug whatsoever—no matter how you process it. As with Cannabis, industrial and medical Hemp is also illegal and people are imprisoned for growing and using it. It was made illegal  due to propaganda created from companies with vested interest from the new petroleum based synthetic textile companies and the large and powerful newspaper and lumber barons who saw hemp as the biggest threat to their businesses.

It has significant and proven medicinal properties  with between 25,000 to 50,000  industrial, environmental  and medical uses such as clothing, rope, biodegradable plastic, Styrofoam alternatives, building materials, and paper with research showcasing hemp as an efficient bio-fuel and soil-remediator.  Meanwhile, its seeds contain a balanced concentration of protein, essential fats, vitamins, and enzymes, while sugar, starches, and saturated fats are nearly non-existent—making it one of nature’s most-perfect foods. Paper, cardboard, fabrics, plastics, fuel, building material and lubricants of all kinds, products we use every day, could easily be made from hemp or hemp oil, and at a much lower cost than we currently pay. In fact, in many instances the quality of the products would go up while the costs decrease. Hemp is one of the most versatile and fastest growing plants on the planet. Its long fibers are the strongest natural fiber known, yet it’s also been made into the world’s finest cloth.


Hemp-based paper lasts three times longer (225 years) than wood-based paper (75 years) and does not yellow. Hemp-based cardboard boxes are stronger than wood-based cardboard boxes. Even hemp-based building materials (plywood sheeting, and manufactured dimensional hardwood) would produce homes that last longer and hold up to the weather better. The obvious starting point of re-implementing hemp as a viable resource would be the development of hemp-based paper, cardboard and packaging products. We can produce four times the amount paper pulp per acre from hemp than from trees and we don’t have to wait a minimum of five years for it to grow we can harvest in a matter of months.


Hemp grows to maturity in a matter of three to four months, and two (sometimes three) crops can be harvested per year off the same parcel of land, year after year. Hemp also does not require the highly toxic non-reusable and non-recyclable chemicals (sulfuric acid, to break down the organic glue called lignin and chlorine bleach used to whiten paper) that are needed to break down wood fibers into pulp, nor does it require chemical pesticides. Tree-free hemp paper by contrast, can be made without sulfuric acid, chlorine bleach or any toxins, because the hurds (found inside the stalk of the plant) can be broken down with much less harmful compounds and in many cases are recyclable.  

On an annual basis, 1 acre of hemp will produce as much fiber as 2 to 3 acres of cotton. Hemp fiber is stronger and softer than cotton, lasts twice as long as cotton, and will not mildew.


Cotton grows only in moderate climates and requires more water than hemp; but hemp is frost tolerant, requires only moderate amounts of water, and grows in more climates. Cotton requires large quantities of pesticides and herbicides with 50% of the world's pesticides/herbicides beings used in the production of cotton. Hemp requires no pesticides, no herbicides, and only moderate amounts of fertilizer. Conventional grown Cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop due to its heavy dependence on pesticides – these pesticides are toxic to humans, the environment and wildlife.  Hemp fixes the soil with nitrogen, can be grown in companion with food and it cleans toxicity out of the soil. Hemp can be used to create totally biodegradable plastics to prevent wildlife death and toxic plastic pollution.

Some of the world’s most masterful works of arts were painted on canvas which was historically made from tightly woven hemp. The word "canvas" is derived from the 13th century Anglo-French canevaz and the Old French canevas. Both may be derivatives of the Vulgar Latin cannapaceus for "made of hemp", originating from the Greek κάνναβις (cannabis). It came into common usage in the 16th century during the Italian Renaissance. Venetian painters were especially keen on utilizing canvas because it was easier for them to use in a humid environment than frescos (which dried poorly in the lagoon) or wood panels (which absorbed moisture and warped). They also had a large, cheap supply readily available—given that the material was also used to make sails and the Venetians were known for their naval fleet.


What Is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

Hemp and marijuana are varieties of Cannabis sativa. However, there are some differences between them. The main difference is the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the compound that is responsible for producing the sensation of feeling “high”. Marijuana can have high THC levels. Hemp, however, has only trace amounts of THC. Hemp and marijuana have many chemical and genetic differences.

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Since both are varieties of Cannabis sativa, the leaves’ structure is the same. Historically, marijuana has had a negative connotation. In fact, many consider marijuana as a racist term. This expression is tied to an anti-Mexican sentiment. During the 1930s, cannabis was negatively linked to Mexican immigrants. This association was one of the reasons that later led to total prohibition.


The key distinction is that hemp contains much less THC content than cannabis and by virtue of this fact its non-intoxicating. By definition, hemp plants contain no more than 0.3% THC, compared to the 5-40% THC found in cannabis. Although THC is known for recreational use, it also has its own legitimate therapeutic use cases. Hemp can also hold more cannabidiol (CBD).


The benefits of hemp are as many as the types of hemp products. There are many health, environmental, and economic benefits of hemp. The seeds’ nutritional profile is impressive, which makes it a superfood. CBD oil, extracted from the hemp flowers, is also rich in health benefits. Hemp can be an alternative to other materials that are expensive and unsustainable. On the economic side, hemp has immense potential as a crop.

Health Benefits of Hemp.

Other seed oils pale in comparison to the health benefits of hemp oil. Hemp seeds have many nutrients, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids. They are also high in protein, calcium, iron, and fiber. Such nutrients support the normal functioning of our bodily systems.

Hemp has 75% of omega 3s and 6s in an optimal ratio for absorption. It can also reduce internal inflammation and treat numerous skin conditions. Hemp oil can also reduce the adverse effects of menstruation and menopause.


There are various environmental and economic benefits of hemp as a crop. Due to its potential chemical-free cultivation and its outstanding anti-weed properties, hemp leaves an optimally prepared field to following plants, as the fine artilleries of its roots have penetrated and loosened the ground. The fact that “a wheat or potato field where hemp was planted the year before yielded 10 % more harvest” was a rule-of- thumb for Italian farmers around the beginning of the 20th century. Even before the usage of its products, the hemp plant as an interim crop is an advantage for farming, and scientific experiments show that it can also purify soil exposed to heavy metal poisoning. Hemp has significant environmental benefits since it has the potential to remediate contaminated soils through phytoremediation, convert high amounts of atmospheric CO2 to biomass through bio-sequestration, and hemp biomass for bioenergy production.


Many experts consider hemp as the “ultimate cash crop”. It has the potential to be the most efficient source of fiber, food, and oil in the world. These facts make hemp an economically significant commodity.


There are many reasons why farmers are excited about growing industrial hemp. This plant can be used to manufacture all types of products, and that’s part of why it’s so important. Every part of the plant is valuable, and the industrial hemp uses are numerous. If your crop is organic, seeds and flowers can be used for food and supplements. The products include organic hemp food, flour, oil, cosmetics, and extracts. If the cultivation is not organic, the seed oil is still suitable for biodiesel and paint, among many other applications.

The fiber can be used as a fabric, for paper and pulp, for insulation, carpeting, and paneling. It can also replace the irritating and non-biodegradable fiberglass. A fantastic example is an electric car, BMW i3. This vehicle has hemp in its door panels as well as other recycled materials. Numerous other multinational corporations have already heavily invested into hemp with Adidas and Levi Strauss Co. all having dedicated hemp lines of clothing and shoes. 

Industrial hemp uses for the hurds include fiberboard, absorbent bedding for animals, and construction material. The hurd is also viable as raw material for plastics, paint, and sealant.


Hemp vs. Cotton for Clothing


Hemp uses less water and can produce up to 260% more fiber than cotton. The process for hemp-based clothing is significantly cleaner. The hemp bleaching agents used are peracetic acid,hydrogen peroxide, or caustic soda and are less harmful to the environment. The cotton bleaching process uses heavy metals, chlorine bleach, formaldehyde, or benzidine. Such chemicals are linked to high environmental pollution.

When compared to cotton, hemp consumes one-third of the required water. This metric, known as Water Footprint (WF), calculates the water required for textiles, but there are other advantages to the use of hemp for textiles over cotton.

study by a university in the Netherlands adds even more benefits to hemp clothing. It says it’s softer, stronger, more durable, and more breathable than cotton. It is also flame retardant, not affected by UV rays, and moisture absorbent. Hemp fiber used for ropes and other naval equipment is more robust and durable.

Hemp vs. Wood for Paper

In a fraction of the time, hemp can produce the same amount of pulp and  with a smaller footprint compared to  trees. The hemp plant has a longer and stronger fiber and is also more resistant. However, the costs of industrial hemp production for paper can be higher than that of wood. Currently, most of the hemp-based paper produced is used for cigarette paper.

Hemp vs. Other Materials for Construction

The stems of the hemp plant can be used to build hempcrete. This building material can replace concrete blocks and drywall. Hempcrete can also substitute insulation materials, such as polyurethane or fiberglass. Hemp-based building materials can be the base of environmentally friendly buildings. These constructions have zero carbon emissions, high insulation, and energy efficiency.

Nowadays, many houses and buildings are made with drywall. However, this material can cause structural issues and health problems. The mold and other chemicals inside the walls can be harmful to people. These chemicals can trigger the sick building syndrome.

Walls built with hempcrete can absorb and balance humidity without growing any mold. These blocks are also known to be flame resistant and pest resistant. They have thermal regulating properties and are non-toxic. Hempcrete buildings can eliminate most of the culprits for many labor hazards. Hemp can also be the base for wood-substitute planks, as a replacement for oak.

Hemp Bioplastic vs. Plastics Made from Petrochemicals

Plastic pollution and the use of petroleum are urgent issues for the planet. There are some companies around the world investing in creating bioplastic. The materials include hemp pellets and hemp cellulose to make rayon, cellophane, celluloid, and other plastics.

There are numerous companies creating hemp-filled propylene, ethylene, and other plant-based polymers. Hemp bioplastic is biodegradable and can substitute fossil fuel, which is a big advantage. Using bioplastics for packaging food and other consumer goods could decrease plastic pollution. The packaging is responsible for half of all discarded plastics in the oceans nowadays.

Hemp as a raw material is not at all something new in human history several societies knew hemp benefits and cultivated it for many purposes. An interesting fact about hemp is that not long ago, it flourished in the U.S. and around the world. It was the largest crop in the U.S., and people could pay taxes with the harvest.

Unfortunately, many countries followed the U.S. trend after the Controlled Substances Act passed in 1970. This act prohibited all cannabis plants, which included hemp.

"Hemp will be the future of all mankind, or there won’t be a future." – Jack Herer


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