There are many different varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp, also known as to as industrial hemp or agricultural hemp, refers specifically to the non-psychoactive - less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis Sativa L. Click on the questions below to learn more!
WHAT CAN HEMP DO?
Hemp is a renewable, reusable and recyclable agricultural crop that can be used as a sustainable solution for thousands of products. In 2015, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) estimated the total retail value of all hemp products sold in the U.S. at $620 million. Sadly, all raw hemp materials are imported from other countries. See diagrams below!
Click here to learn more about hemp products and markets.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GROWING HEMP?
In addition to making thousands of sustainable products, hemp offers many benefits to us and our planet. Below lists some of the economic, environmental, agricultural and nutritional advantages of growing and processing hemp.
Industrial hemp is legal to grow in more than 30 countries. The U.S. is one of the few industrialized nations that does not currently allow the cultivation of hemp.
The hemp industry has the potential to create many new jobs. Not only will it give American farmers another crop to grow, but it will employee a number of Americans Industry wide, from the textile industry to the automobile industry.
Millions of dollars worth of hemp is imported into the U.S. each year in order to fulfill the growing demand for hemp products. Most of these are being sourced from Canada, China, and other countries. Domestically sourced hemp products would put money back into our economy and our farmers pockets.
Hemp and the products made from it are less toxic, renewable, biodegradable, and beneficial to the environment.
As hemp grows, it breathes in CO2 and is known to help prevent soil erosion.
Hemp has also been used to pull toxins from the soil. It was used to clean up nuclear waste near the Chernobyl disaster site.
For centuries, hemp has been a valuable paper making material. If hemp were to be substituted for trees in papermaking and construction applications, it could slow the rate of deforestation.
Hemp is most commonly grown for seed and fiber, each having a multitude of uses (see markets.)
Hemp hurd is also highly regarded for its anti-bacterial properties and absorbency.
Along with its minimal need for water, pesticides, and herbicides, this makes hemp an excellent rotation crop for American farmers.
Nothing from the plant goes to waste. The roots, leaves, and chaff that are left in the field break down into the soil, providing it with valuable nutrients.
Hemp seeds and seed oil can be incorporated into a number of food and body products.
With a nearly perfect balance of omegas plus iron, vitamin E, and all of the essential amino acids, hemp seeds are said to be the most nutritionally complete food source in the world.
Gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA, is another significant component of hemp, it has been found to alleviate psoriasis, atopic eczema, and PMS, and may also benefit cardiovascular,psychiatric, and immunological disorders.
Hemp has the same advantages as other plant-based food sources. Its proteins are easier to digest than animal proteins and, because it requires far less carbon concentration, it’s easier on the environment. Hemp is an excellent source of protein for anyone, not just vegetarians and vegans!
WHAT CAN'T HEMP DO?
Hemp can do a lot, but it can’t get you “high.” Because hemp varieties contains virtually zero [less than 0.3%] tetra-hydrocannabinol (THC), your body processes it faster than you can smoke it. Meaning trying to use hemp to put you on cloud nine will only put you in bed with a migraine! This is one of many false assumptions about hemp that has long hindered it's growth within our country, click here for a list of the most common misconceptions about hemp.
WHY WAS HEMP MADE ILLEGAL?
In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act strictly regulated the cultivation and sale of all cannabis varieties. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified all forms of cannabis -- including hemp -- as a Schedule I drug, making it illegal to grow it in the United States. This is why we’re forced to import hemp from other countries as long as it contains scant levels of THC -- (0.3% is the regulation for hemp cultivation in the Europe and Canada). As a result of this long-term prohibition, many people have forgotten the uses of hemp and continue to misidentify the crop with its cannabis cousin, marijuana.
HOW CAN U.S. FARMERS GROW HEMP TODAY?
Section 7607 of the 2014 Farm Bill allowed states with proper legislation to grow industrial hemp for purposes of research and development. After many years of prohibition, American farmers are finally reacquainting themselves with industrial hemp.
The success of hemp research under the 2014 Farm Bill sparked the legalization of hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill was passed in December 2018 and contains the Hemp Farming Act language, which removed hemp from the list of Controlled Substances and permanently legalized it across the U.S. While hemp is not longer a controlled substances, state department of agriculture must register hemp programs with the USDA and those wishing to grow, process, or handle hemp materials are required to receive a permit. For more information on Kentucky's hemp program, click here.