Industrial hemp is a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis sativa. While marijuana and hemp are both species of cannabis, hemp has less than 1.00% THC and can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials used in countless products such as fuel, textiles, plastics, building materials, food, and more.
Carbon testing suggest that the use of this magnificent plant dates as far back as 8,000 B.C. and The Columbia History of the World confirms that hemp has been around for over 10,000 years. Furthermore, once one understands the environmental and economic benefits of growing hemp, it is difficult to believe that such a versatile resource has been shadowed behind a veil of ignorance for so long.
Hemp was consolidated within the definition of “marihuana” in the early 1930’s and was finally deemed illegal under the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. The subsequent lack of appreciation for the diversity of cannabis and its different uses has hindered our industrial evolution. However, the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill – specifically, Sec. 7606 – ushered in an exciting new era and we began to remember and reconsider the benefits of growing this ancient plant.
Industrial hemp has been grown in the U.S. since the first European settlers arrived in the 1600’s. In fact, both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp and advocated for commercial hemp production.
From an environmental perspective, hemp detoxifies the soil it’s grown in and sequesters four times more CO2 than an average tree during its 12-14 week grow cycle. It also prevents soil erosion and less water and pesticides than any other industrial crop. These facts are impossible to overlook now that we desperately need to find solutions to the immanent threats posed by climate change.
On an annual basis, one acre of hemp produces as much fiber as 2-3 acres of cotton. Hemp fiber is also stronger and more durable. One acre of hemp also produces as much paper as 2-4 acres of trees. Hemp can be used to make tissue, cardboard, and fiberboard, all of which are stronger and lighter than the exact same products made from trees. Hemp can be harvested 12-14 weeks after it is planted, while trees take years to grow and require exponentially more chemicals to be turned into consumer products.
Looking at the nutritional and wellness benefits of hemp, hemp seeds are rich in both healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great source of protein and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, sodium, calcium, iron, and zinc. Furthermore, hemp oil has been used medicinally for thousands of years by almost every culture.
In short, the most efficient and compassionate solutions are often derived from nature. Let’s leverage the opportunity to work together with plant-based technologies and restore our ecosystem before it’s too late!
- Nanu Berks
Nanu Berks is a PR & Branding Advisor with a focus on AI technology and plant medicine. She has been working remotely for seven years while researching cross-cultural integrations across The Americas. Nanu graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a dual degree in Communications and Science.