Industrial hemp has been in existence for many years and was traditionally cultivated in temperate areas for its fiber and oil. It is believed that it was first introduced in the United States around the early years of the 17th century and would be used in water-powered fiber mills. Hemp oil extracted from the seeds was used to make ink, paints, varnishes, and lamp oil, while fiber was used to make grain bags, clothes, wagon covers, and ropes.
It was only until the 1930s that industrial hemp was linked to cannabis Sativa, which contains the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This connection led to the introduction of legislation such as the Marihuana Tax Act of 1938, which classified both marijuana and hemp as controlled substances.
In the 1960s, the distinction was established, showing that hemp had low THC levels instead of marijuana, which had high THC levels that caused the high effects. In 2014, restricted cultivation of industrial hemp for research was allowed in various states, followed by the 2018 Farm Bill.
What is Industrial Hemp Used for?
Today, industrial hemp is mainly cultivated to extract cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound that is unlike THC, is not psychoactive but has medicinal characteristics. It is widely used as a natural supplement to manage conditions such as pain and anxiety, among others.
Another popular usages are the extraction of oil from hemp seeds and fiber. While there are instances when some farmers cultivate industrial hemp for a specific application, either fiber or hemp oil, there are many instances when multi-purpose cultivation of the crop is popular.
Global Importance of Industrial Hemp
Industrial hemp gained global attention when the therapeutic abilities of cannabidiol, CBD, its main chemical compound, were first discovered. The usage may vary from one country to another, depending on the legal requirements.
- Hemp Seed/Grain: Considered one of the best superfoods available today by nutritionists, hemp seeds have rich nutritional and medicinal values. They are great energy boosters, energy management supplements and enhance the immune system. They are believed to be rich in proteins, essential amino acids, and vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, the perfect combination for vegetarians. Furthermore, they contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, antioxidants, gamma-linolenic acid, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, and iron. It is a popular edible oil used as an ingredient in a wide array of food products and supplements.
- Fiber Hemp Products: Hemp fiber is sturdy and therefore good for making an assortment of products, especially ropes, baskets, clothing, and even shoes in some areas. It can also be used to make paper and as a building material.
- Hemp CBD Oil: This is the most popular part of industrial hemp owing to its pharmacologic properties. It is mainly extracted from the CBD-rich parts of the plants, especially the leaves, stalks, and flowers. The oil is then used to make various CBD-infused products such as CBD vape oil, edibles like gummies and candies, injectables, topicals like creams, etc.
What is the Difference Between Hemp vs. Marijuana
Scientifically, hemp and marijuana are plants belonging to the same species in the family of Cannabaceae. For many years, the two have been assumed to be the same, a factor that led to classifying both under controlled substances by the federal government.
They are, however, different as they have different concentrations of the two main chemical compounds tetrahydrocannabinol, responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis where it is highly concentrated than cannabidiol (CBD), a closer cousin whose concentration is higher in industrial hemp than THC at only 0.3% and therefore cannot cause the “high” effect.
According to federal law, industrial hemp is legal, while marijuana remains a schedule 1 controlled substance in the United States.
Does Industrial Hemp Contain CBD?
Yes. Industrial hemp, just like marijuana, contains more than 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids. CBD is the most profound in hemp, with high concentrations in the leaves, stalks, and flowers. CBD extracts may have some percentage of the psychoactive THC at less than 0.3%, which is too low to cause a high effect.
Are There Any Medical Benefits of Industrial Hemp?
The pharmacologic hemp oil benefits are due to CBD, which is extracted and used to make various products. However, some benefits remain controversial as medical experts have not fully verified them.
However, findings of preliminary studies show that CBD can be used to manage conditions such as pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties, relieve stress and anxiety, boost the functioning of the immune system, reduce episodes of seizures in patients suffering from medical conditions such as epilepsy, among others.
Hemp grains are also popular supplements due to their high nutritional content of vitamins, essential acids, fatty acids, and proteins. This, coupled with the therapeutic hemp oil benefits, makes industrial hemp the plant of the future.
Is Industrial Hemp Legal?
Yes. Cultivation of industrial hemp is currently legal in all 50 states of the United States. There are, however, some specific requirements that farmers must abide by, and they may vary from one state to another. This was formalized by the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Some of the leading states where hemp is cultivated include Colorado, Montana, Kentucky, California, and Oklahoma. Extracts from industrial hemp used for making commercial CBD products must contain less than 0.3% THC levels. This may vary from state to state as some have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
Industrial hemp has transitioned from being a controlled substance that could land you in jail to a power plant that is changing lives throughout the world because of its magical cannabidiol. Before cultivating hemp or using hemp extracts or products from these extracts, always consult your respective authorities.