Is industrial hemp the same as marijuana?
No. Even though they are both from the same species of plant Cannabis sativa L, Industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive, low-THC, oilseed and fiber varieties of the plant. Hemp has absolutely no use as a recreational drug
Where is industrial hemp grown?
Hemp is grown in Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.
Is it legal to grow hemp in the United States?
YES! Thanks to the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (Farm Bill). Hemp is not a controlled substance, however, hemp will still be regulated and can only be grown with a permit. Each state will have to submit their program to USDA for approval or have passed legislation to remove hemp from the state controlled substances act and allow for application through the USDA’s program.
Can hemp be used as a food?
Yes. Hemp seed is a highly nutritious source of protein and essential fatty oils. Many populations have grown hemp for the purpose of its seed. Most of them eat it as `gruel’ which is simular to oatmeal. The leaves can be used as roughage. Hemp seeds do not contain any THC and they do not get you `high.’
Hemp seed protein closely resembles protein found in the human blood. It's extremely easy to digest and many patients who have trouble digesting food are given hemp seed by their doctors. Hemp seed was once called `edestine’ and was used by scientists as the model for vegetable protein.
Hemp seed oil provides the human body with essential fatty acids. Hemp seed is the only seed that contains these oils with almost no saturated fat. As a added supplement to the diet, these oils can reduce the risk of heart disease. The oils from hemp seeds will even help birds to live much longer if they eat the seed.
By eating hemp seed, a vegan or vegetarian can survive and eat virtually no saturated fats. One handful of hemp seed per day will supply the adequate protein and essential oils for an adult.
What are the benefits of hemp compared to other food crops?
Hemp requires little fertilizer, and grows well almost everywhere. It also resists pests, so it uses little pesticides. Hemp puts down deep roots, which is good for the soil, and when the leaves drop off the hemp plant, minerals and nitrogen are returned to the soil. Hemp has been grown on the same soil for twenty years in a row without any noticeable depletion of the soil.
Using less fertilizer and agricultural chemicals is good for two reasons. First, it costs less and requires less effort. Second, many agricultural chemicals are dangerous and contaminate the environment — the less we have to use, the better.
Hemp has been used to feed many populations in time of famine. Unfortunately, because of various political factors, starving people in today’s underdeveloped countries are not taking advantage of this crop.
How is the hemp plant processed and useful?
The stalk of the hemp plant has two parts, the bast and the hurd. The bast (fiber) of the hemp plant can be woven into almost any type of cloth and it is very durable. In fact, the first Levi’s blue jeans were made out of hemp for this reason. Compared to all the other natural fibers, hemp is more suitable for a large number of applications.
Why is hemp better than cotton?
The cloth made from hemp may be a little less soft than cotton, (though there are special varieties of hemp, and ways to grow and treat hemp that can produce a soft cloth) but it is much stronger and longer lasting. Environmentally, hemp is a much better crop to grow than cotton.
Can hemp be used to make paper?
Both the bast (fiber) and hurd (pulp) of the hemp plant can be used to make paper. Fiber paper was the first type of paper made and the first batch was made in ancient China. Fiber paper is thin, tough, brittle and a little rough. Pulp paper is not as strong as fiber paper, but it is easier to make, softer, thicker and preferred for most everyday purposes. The paper used mostly today is a `chemical pulp’ paper made from trees. Hemp pulp paper can be made without chemicals.
How can hemp be used to make bio-fuel?
The United States government has developed a way to make an automobile fuel additive from cellulosic biomass. Hemp is an excellent source of high quality cellulosic biomass. Another way to use hemp as fuel is to use the oil from the hemp seed — some diesel engines can run on pure pressed hemp seed oil. The oil, however, is more useful for other purposes, even if we could produce and press enough hemp seed to power millions of cars.
Why is bio-fuel better than petroleum?
Biomass fuels are clean and virtually free from metals and sulfur and they do not cause nearly as much air pollution as fossil fuels. More importantly, burning biomass fuels does not increase the total amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. When petroleum products burn, carbon that has been stored underground for millions of years is added to the air. This may contribute to global warming through the `Greenhouse Effect’, (a popular theory which says that certain gases will act like a wool blanket over the entire Earth, preventing heat from escaping into space.) In order to make biomass fuels, first the carbon dioxide has to be taken out of the air — when they are burned it is just being put back where it started.
Another advantage is that biomass fuels can be made in the United States, instead of buying them from other countries. This eliminates the need of paying oil drillers, super-tanker captains and soldiers to get our fuel to us. We can pay local farmers and delivery drivers instead. It is also possible to chop down trees and use them as biomass. This would not be as beneficial to the environment as using hemp. Trees that are cut down for burning are `whole tree harvested' which means the entire tree is ripped up and burned, not just the wood. Since most of the minerals which trees use are in the leaves, this practice could ruin the soil where the trees are grown. In several places in the United States, power companies are starting to do this — burning the trees in order to produce electricity, because it's cheaper than using coal. Researchers in Austrailia started using hemp for this a few years ago. Additionally, hemp provides a higher quality and quantity of biomass than trees.
What other uses for hemp are there?
One of the newest uses of hemp is in construction materials. Hemp can be used in manufacturing `press board’ or `composite board.’ This involves gluing fibrous hemp stalks together under pressure to produce a board which is much more elastic and durable than hardwood. Because hemp produces a long, tough fiber it is the perfect source for press-board. There is also hempcrete which is a mixture of hemp hurds (shives) and lime used as material for construction and insulation. Another application of hemp is in making plastic. Many plastics can be made from the high-cellulose hemp hurd. Hemp seed oil also has a multitude of uses in products such as varnishes and lubricants.
Using hemp in building is definitely not a new idea. French archeologists have discovered bridges built with a process that mineralizes hemp stalks into a long-lasting cement. The process does not involve synthetic chemicals and produces a material which works as a filler in building construction called Isochanvre. It is gaining more popularity in France. Isochanvre can be used as drywall for insulation against heat and noise, and it is very long lasting.
`Bio-plastics’ are not a new idea, either — in the 1930’s Henry Ford had already made a complete car body out of them — but the processes for making them does need more research and development. Bio-plastics can be made without much pollution. Unfortunately, companies are not likely to explore bio-plastics if they have to import the raw materials, break the law or compete with the already established petrochemical products.