Cannabis sativa L, more commonly known as hemp, is a plant that can be divided into male and female plants. These plants have been used for many purposes for over 10,000 years. Hemp plants offer us an incredible range of materials that we can use for all sorts of purposes. The fibers from the plant’s stems can be used to make ropes or even building materials, while the seeds contain protein and the leaves are rich in oils. Hemp flowers can even be smoked!
There are four main categories of hemp:
- Bast fibers
- Hurds, or shives
- Leaves and flowers
Marijuana vs. Hemp
Hemp, like marijuana, contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive Cannabinoid in cannabis. However, hemp does not have enough THC to create intoxicating effects.
Hemp contains several cannabinoids, but the non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) is most abundant in hemp. In reality, hemp-derived CBD is becoming one of the most common types of Cannabinoid on the market presently.
The amount of THC that a hemp plant produces is how many countries differentiate it from marijuana. In the United States, industrial hemp is defined as Cannabis sativa L plants that contain 0.3% THC or less. The European Union has set its limit at 0.2%, while growers in the UK need a cultivation license for any industrial hemp plants that contain more than 0.2%.
Can we smoke hemp?
While hemp may contain trace amounts of intoxicating compounds, it is not enough to produce a euphoric high. Hemp plants do not produce enough THC to have an intoxicating effect. CBD, though technically psychoactive, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid and will not cause any intoxication on its own.
Smoking organic hemp is a fun and easy way to experience cannabinoids like CBD, especially now that you can easily find organic hemp flowers and pre-rolls online. Hemp-derived CBD gummies and oil are popular among consumers, but smoking hemp provides immediate effects.
There are numerous benefits of increased bioavailability when you inhale CBD. When you vape or smoke, the CBD enters your bloodstream faster than if you were to eat an edible or use a tincture sublingually. Not only will your body absorb more CBD when you inhale it, but you’ll also experience the effects faster. When you eat a CBD edible, it has to go through your digestive system first, which can weaken the potency.
Use hemp wick the next time you light your hemp flower for a cleaner burning experience. Raw hemp wick coated in beeswax offers a slow burn from all-natural materials, which many users say produces a cleaner cannabis flavor than using lighters or matches.
Uses of Hemp:
CBD is derived from the flowers and leaves of cannabis plants. Because more people are using CBD oil produced from hemp plants as wellness treatment, the demand for hemp-focused production is increasing.
There are many uses for hemp fibers, such as textiles and paper. But you can also find them in building materials, like shives or hurds. Shives are woody fibers usually found inside the plant’s stalk. They’re used to make things like bedding absorbents, particleboard, ceiling panels, compost, and other industrial products.
There are three types of bast fibers: primary, or line fiber, secondary, and tow. They differ in cell strength and cell wall thickness, which determines the fiber’s properties, such as strength and durability.
Hemp seeds are high in protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They have the ideal omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid balance for good consumption. Hemp proteins were also found to be more digestible for humans than soy protein isolates (SPIs) commonly used in food products in a 2008 study. We can consume hemp seeds in their raw or cooked form. Seeds may also be crushed and used to make hempseed flour or mixed with water to make hempseed milk.
Hemp seeds can be eaten whole or used to make hemp seed oil and flour. They are sometimes hulled or have their shells removed to make them tastier. The leftover shells contain a lot of fiber and can also be ground into flour.
Hemp stalks are decorticated, or french-fried, in a multistep method that strips the long fibers from the remainder of the plant. Field retting is a technique in which plants are chopped and placed in the field for four to six weeks. During this period, any bacteria on the plant’s surface will break down the outer layer of the stalk. The retted stalks are then dried. Another alternative is to water ret. Stalks are dry immediately after harvesting and placed in water for a few days. Water Retting is a process that uses water to break down the compounds of bast fibers used to make ropes, string, and substrates for papermaking.
Cultivation of hemp and marijuana
Some other main contrasts between hemp and marijuana come from how they are grown and harvested. Male hemp plants flower much quicker than females and don’t generate nearly as much fiber. Female marijuana fields try to eliminate all the males, but most female hemp fields have some male presence sporadically spread out.
The male hemp plants produce pollen, which the female ones use to generate seeds that are either grown for future crops or eaten. To promote maximum sinsemilla (seedless) bloom production, males are typically eradicated in marijuana fields.
Because marijuana plants are susceptible to mold and bacteria, they must be spaced out considerably. Most crops have a plant for every 4 square feet. However, hemp can safely be planted more densely. Typically, hemp plants that are grown for oil are planted at a rate of 40 to 60 plants per 4 square feet. Those grown for fiber are even more densely planted, usually at a rate of 100 to 120 plants per 4 square feet.
Unlike marijuana plants, hemp plants are almost always cultivated outdoors. Crop rotation, where farmers grow different crops in the same place at different times, helps to prevent the buildup of predators, diseases, and insects that attack hemp. Crop rotation also allows nutrients to return to the soil.
The order of crops rotated and the farm’s location will determine the sort of plants being rotated with hemp. Hemp is also used as a rotational crop on farms where it is not the primary agricultural product.
Is it legal to grow hemp in the US?
Before the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, 41 states introduced industrial hemp-related legislation. Thirty-nine states authorized statewide cultivation programs that defined hemp differently from marijuana, established licensing rules, and governed production to distinguish it from cannabis.
The Hemp Farming Act now requires state departments of agriculture to consult with their governors and top law enforcement officials to develop a regulatory framework, which will be submitted to the US Secretary of Agriculture for approval. According to the bill, state hemp regulatory programs must include:
- A system to keep track of all land where cultivation takes place.
- Procedures for testing THC levels in hemp.
- Procedures for getting rid of products that go against THC content restrictions.
The Agricultural Act of 2014, more commonly known as the Farm Bill, allows universities and state agriculture departments to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes. The 2014 Agricultural act mandates that state departments and universities seeking to grow hemp must first be registered with their state and adhere to all state laws and regulations regarding approval.
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018, part of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, reclassified hemp as having less than 0.3% THC. This new classification removes it from Schedule I status, which considers it a highly prone to abuse substance with no medicinal benefits. Federal legalization of hemp has allowed farmers to cultivate and distribute it without fear of legal repercussions.