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There’s a lack of accessible and accurate information about hemp, and a lot of confusion about this plant. Here’s some answers to common questions about hemp to help you learn more.
What Is The Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
Hemp and marijuana are cousins. Both are strains of the same species, Cannabis sativa. Like human relatives, they look similar but act totally different. The scientific difference between hemp and marijuana comes from their different properties. Marijuana describes the strains of Cannabis sativa bred for its THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, the substance that causes a high. Hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp cannot get you high. Hemp has absolutely no value or use as a recreational drug. That’s because hemp contains very little THC. In fact, by law, hemp contains between 1%- .3% or less of THC. In order for a psychoactive effect, you’d need a THC level of 10% or higher.
Why is it against federal law to grow industrial hemp?
In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which put hemp under the same category as its cousin Marijuana. The legislation coincided with a fear-mongering anti-Mexican propaganda campaign executed in conjunction with the petro chemical industry, which sought to ban cannabis to develop the market for nylon, plastic and other synthetic products. While the ban on hemp was lifted during World War II, prohibition was implemented again when the war ended. For 60 years, big business and government agencies deliberately undermined the validity and viability of Industrial Hemp cultivation and tried to convince us all that hemp was a dangerous drug with no real use. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
What Can You Make From Hemp?
Hemp is unique in that every part of the plant has utility and potential market value. • Hemp stalks produce an exceptionally strong fiber and cellulose that is used to make everything from automotive parts to building construction materials. • Did you know Henry Ford built his first car from hemp? Today, millions of cars contain hemp composites for door panels. • Energy-efficient, allergen free homes are being built with hemp concrete. Hempcrete is so strong and mold resistant it can withstand floods, tornadoes and other extreme weather events. • Hemp fiber is used for all kinds of clothing, canvas and rope products as it is stronger than cotton, a crop that accounts for nearly 25% of all pesticide us in the states. • Hemp fiber is ideal for paper goods now made from trees. • Hemp seeds are a super food full of protein and healthy fats. • Hemp’s oilseed not only makes highly nutritious food but a range of personal hygiene and beauty products. And, hemp oil can be used as a fuel! The Cannabidiol (CBDs) in hemp can help fight illness, from tumors to epilepsy.
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Why Grow Hemp? Here’s Three Excellent Reasons!
1. Bring Back Healthy Economies
Hemp has the potential to revitalize land-based economies and spark a wide spectrum of hemp related businesses. The hemp industry is a major global economic force. The market for hemp products is an estimated $688 million dollars annually and growing. Demand for hemp seeds and fiber is exceeding supply. American companies that make hemp products want a domestic supply instead of having to pay to import hemp from around the world. With over 50,000 uses, hemp has the potential to create sustainable economic development for rural, urban and tribal communities. From farming to processing to manufacturing to business startups, the time to bring back the hemp industry to revitalize our economies is now.
2. Bring Back Healthy Farmland
Hemp is earth-friendly to grow. This fast growing renewable crop needs no petrochemical inputs or pesticides. That means hemp fields do not endanger rivers and streams with agricultural run-off. Hemp also needs minimal irrigation, conserving water. In fact, hemp detoxifies soil and renews soil health. The USDA Office of Fiber Investigations in the early 20th Century found that hemp leaves the soil in such good condition that succeeding crops have better yields. Plus, hemp fights invasive weeds like quack grass and thisles!
3. An Added Bonus: Help to Stop Climate Change
Hemp farming is regenerative agriculture. That means hemp regenerates the soil’s ability to not only keep carbon in the ground but also to absorb carbon in the atmosphere. Yes, hemp can help build soil so it can soak up carbon from the air! In this way, hemp helps mitigate climate change. And because the crop tolerates drought and extreme weather, it is a great crop to help us adapt and build resilience to climate destabilization.
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National Hemp Timeline
America was once a hemp powerhouse in the world. The United States built the hemp industry as a result of the fiber shortage in the late 1800’s. From 1890 to present, the American Hemp Industry was at its height during World War II and shuttered after the war. View the hemp timeline and see where it all started as well as where we are today.