WHAT IS HEMP?
Hemp is considered any part of the Cannabis genus that contain an almost non existent amount of THC. THC is a psychoactive compound found in marijuana and is what gets you “high”. Industrial hemp is derived from male Cannabis plant that can be cultivated for its seeds, hurd and fiber. Hemp is an incredibly versatile plant with the capability to be used to produce critical resources such as clothing, rope, paper and much more.
HEMP VS MARIJUANA
Hemp and marijuana are related but not the same. They share the same plant genus (subfamily) known as Cannabis. There are plenty of distinct differences between hemp and marijuana. For one hemp can’t get you high while marijuana can.
If you don’t know what you are looking for it is relatively easy to mistake hemp for marijuana. When both plants are in the vegetative stage they can look very similar. Actually depending on the strain it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. However when these plants are in their flowering cycle you will notice that marijuana produces very packed bud sites and bushy leaves. Hemp does not do this, it tends to grow taller.
You can see here that hemp has very narrow leaves that are centered at the top. Hemp is usually a much taller plant and is able to grow very close to other hemp plants. You will notice that hemp will develop little sacks of their pollen at their bud sites during flowering.
Marijuana is very different in appearance when it flowers. It is much bushier and its bud sites are more dense. You will notice that longer into their flowering process, marijuana will have a fine crystal like powder on its leaves and buds. These are called trichomes and they contain a concentrated amount of THC.
If you have a hard time determining if you are smoking hemp or marijuana it won’t take too long to figure it out. Hemp contains almost none of the psychoactive compound THC. This is the compound that gets you “high”. Hemp and marijuana both contain the compound known as CBD. This compound does not have any psychoactive effect but may have numerous medicinal properties.
Hemp has had a very interesting history. It has been illegal for a very long time due to the paper industry. In 2018 the farm bill was based which legalized hemp. The bill defines hemp as a cannabis plant with under 0.3% THC. However the law also explicitly preserved the food and drug administration’s authority to regulate products containing cannabis, or cannabis-derived compounds.
USES OF HEMP
Hemp seeds are mostly used in dietary products since they are extremely nutritious, high in unsaturated fats and have an optimal ratio of omega-3 to 6. These seeds may be eaten raw, sprouted, ground into a rich meal, made into milk, and can be used as protein powder. Pressing hemp seeds will release their oil. Hemp seed oil can be used for paint, inks, salad dressing or cooking and is used in many body care products.
Hemp bast fiber is a soft fiber obtained from the stem of the plant. It is extraordinarily versatile and strong. There are more than 25,000 industrial uses for hemp. This fiber can be used in textiles, construction materials, paper, rope, bags, canvas and much more. Now that hemp is completely legal it will have the ability to transform and replace entire multi billion dollar industries.
THE HURD (SHIVE)
Hurds consist of the woody inner portion of the hemp stalk, broken into pieces and separated from the fiber in the processes of breaking and scutching and correspond to the shives in flax, but are coarser and usually softer in texture. Hurds have traditionally been a by-product of fiber production.
If left untreated it can be used for many different industrial applications such as paper, insulation and cement. In its pulp form it can be treated and made into biodegradable plastics. It can also be made into hempcrete which is a form of concrete. It has a low carbon footprint it is windproof and can be used as insulation. It can also be used for biodegradable garden mulch and biofuels.