A beginners guide to hemp plants

Published Jan 29, 2019 01:52 p.m. ET

What is a hemp plant?

 Hemp or Cannabis Sativa does not produce the majority of the sought-after recreational benefits that THC provides and is a separate species from the traditional Cannabis plant due to its unique differences in how it grows, how it looks, and what it produces. Hemp originated in Central Asia in 2800 BC and was also grown and cultivated in Europe, then later America mainly for industrial reasons as a source of fiber, tinctures, and hash. A hemp plant contains almost none of the active cannabinoids like THC, so it is rarely grown for recreational purposes.

What does a hemp plant look like?

When observing a hemp plant from a distance, it could easily be mistaken for a cannabis plant and that works both ways. However, up close and personal it’s almost impossible not to notice the various dramatic visual differences the two strains have. Hemp plants will have much thinner; skinnier leaves then a marijuana plant with most of its leaf growth at the tip of the stalk. Hemp can also grow much taller than marijuana upwards of 15-20 feet and the tiny buds a hemp plant produces will be filled with seed.

What are some uses for hemp?

Hemp plants are currently grown for industrial reasons due to the high-quality material that can be made from the plants. Products such as clothing, paper, textiles, bio-fuel, paint, makeup, insulation and even animal food are made form hemp.

Clothing - The industrial hemp strains we see today have been bred specifically for the plants quick growing high fiber content and would be useless to try and gain any benefit from smoking. When clothing is made from hemp, the bare fibers of the plants are harvested and then mixed with either cotton, silk, or flax which produces a heavy-duty fabric.

Tinctures/Medicinal Use - Hemp strains are grown on a larger scale for their medicinal qualities due to a hemp plant’s high CBD content, making them perfect for creating tinctures that can help to alleviate symptoms of a variety of illnesses such as nausea, muscle spasms, seizures, pain, inflamed joints, chronic pain, and more.

Paper and Textiles - Paper and textiles are made by using the two inner fibers of the hemp plant which produces a strong moldable finish when mixed with other chemicals like Styrofoam or concrete and then baked.

BioFuel - AKA Hemp biodiesel is made by pressing the hemp seed and harvesting the oil which is then mixed with methanol or ethanol which can also be created by using a hemp plants stalk that is fermented.

Paint - High-quality paint and varnish are manufactured using hemp seeds by pressing them to extract precious oils. Hemp oil paint can outlast any average quality paint on the market with a lifespan of double (6 years) before needing another coat. It stands up well to high traffic and is easy to wash making it a widely loved paint that most folks enjoyed right up until 1963 when Hemp became illegal across several regions making it an expensive option. Now Hemp paint is mostly marketed towards artists who want a long-lasting finish for their canvas.

Animal Feed - The high levels of protein produced by a hemp plant make it an ideal addition to almost any pets diet but is mostly used in commercial animal feed for pigs, cows, and horses. When used in food the entire plant is processed by grinding it up and adding it to a feed mix for an extra boost.

Insulation - Due to a hemp plants strong fibrous nature it’s a perfect addition to any insulation. It does not rot, has a high thermal mass and low conductivity levels and is used in some of the most expensive insulation money can buy.

Makeup - Hemp is used as an all-natural base to several different lines of
foundations, eye shadows, mascara, facial cream and more. The entire plant is processed into a fine powder that is used as the main ingredient to help solidify and add texture as well as provide essential oils that are beneficial when rubbed on a person's skin.

Why is hemp illegal?

During the big cultural shift that made marijuana illegal, it seems lack of knowledge and personal bias pushed lawmakers to completely outlaw the growing of hemp. It was assumed hemp produced the same effects of a Cannabis plant and therefore the two should be prohibited together. In 1970 The Controlled Substances Acts came into full force officially banning the growth of hemp for any purpose. Even now several decades later, our politicians are only slowly beginning to change legislation now that it is proven that both plants serve two completely different purposes. Hemp is now grown on a mass scale as shown by the massive list of products currently made using hemp plants, but it is only grown in regions that have allowed certain companies the privilege of cultivating it. Unfortunately, nothing much beyond that has changed.

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