Despite the modern war on marijuana, the herb wasn’t always verboten in the New World. In fact, domestic hemp production actually flourished from the 16th-19th centuries in America. Today, a total of 33 states allow the use of medical marijuana. Meanwhile, 11 states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Today, calls abound for its complete legalization. Proponents of legalization have long cited the unfair criminalization of marijuana, maintaining that the latter is preferable to alcohol, tobacco, and “hard” drugs like cocaine and heroine.
In spite of a concerted effort to ban the use of marijuana and its incredible byproduct hemp, we are closer than ever to nationwide legalization of its use. In 2018, the Farm Bill gave the greenlight to broader hemp cultivation and “puts no restrictions on the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-derived products.” In fact, legitimate hemp oil products for a wide variety of uses can be found on store shelves nationwide.
Cannabis, Hemp, Marijuana: How They Are Related
Many people confuse the terms “cannabis,” “hemp,” and “marijuana.” They often presume the three mean the same thing. However, the terms differ in relation to taxonomy classification or chemical composition. So, let’s get a quick rundown of the differences between them.
- Cannabis: This refers to a group or genus of flowering plants (Cannabaceae) that contain compounds like THC and CBD, which make it of great value to humanity.
- Hemp: Hemp is derived from a cannabis plant that has been cultivated for commercial and industrial uses and, by legal definition, contains less than 0.3% of THC content.
- Marijuana: Although once derided for its popularity among Mexican immigrants in the American Southwest, marijuana simply refers to any cannabis plant containing more than 0.3% of THC.
As can be seen, cannabis can be divided into two categories: hemp and marijuana. Because THC has psychotropic properties that noticeably affect cognitive performance and behavior, it remains a controversial subject for many. However, CBD continues to gain popularity precisely because it lacks the very properties that deliver a “high.”
History tells us that people used cannabis for pleasurable recreation as far back as 500 B.C. From the cannabis plant, we get hemp, a specially cultivated strain with little to no THC content.
Fortunately for American consumers, some businesses recognized the importance of Hemp Oil early. For instance, Synchronicity has two decades of experience cultivating proprietary hemp plants and continues to expand its knowledge base and product line, all while refining its already superior sustainable farming practices. Such longevity in the competitive field of hemp commercial products is rare, earning the company a reputation for being a respected voice in the industry.
Hemp Oil and CBD Oil: They're the Same, Right?
Once more, understanding cannabis nomenclature is essential. You’ll actually run across three terms which seem interchangeable but aren’t.
- CBD Oil: Oils that contain CBD and be sourced from either cannabis or hemp. CBD can be in full-spectrum, broad spectrum, or isolate form.
- Hemp Oil: This includes any natural nutrients or chemicals gleaned from the aerial plant portions of a hemp plant. This product includes terpenes, CBD, other cannabinoids, and flavonoids, which means it includes all the beneficial nutrients hemp offers.
- Hemp Seed Oil: Created by cold pressing hemp seeds, this oil contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which aid cell, muscle, and organ functions. It doesn’t contain any CBD or other cannabinoids.
Once again, consider CBD oil to be a broad description of a variety of oils. However, when consuming hemp oil, you are assured of using a product made from cultivated hemp plants. Whereas some CBD products include high amounts of THC, Hemp Oils are guaranteed to contain less than 0.3% of the compound, an amount so minor it delivers no psychotropic effects.
This is the reason why so many discerning users prefer Hemp Oil as a means of improving their well-being while retaining mental alertness.
Industrial Hemp: Serving Humankind in Various Ways
There has been much focus on the health and wellness potential of Hemp Oil. But, we should not overlook its applications in other areas. In fact, hemp has been used for industrial purposes for more than 10,000 years.
And, thanks to scientific advances, humans are discovering more and more uses for industrial hemp. But first, a short history about it.
The Enduring History of Industrial Hemp
As far back as ancient China, you’ll find references to the practical uses and value of hemp as both a food and fiber source. The Mesopotamian culture also took advantage of this hearty, versatile plant; archaeologists found hemp cloth remnants in Mesopotamia dating back to 8000 B.C.
Over time, humans across the world made ropes, fabrics, cloth sails, and manufacturing paper from hemp. The plant made its way to Europe at about 1200 B.C. From that vantage point, it spread throughout the rest of the world.
During the founding of America, hemp was such an essential crop that formal mandates oversaw its production. Presidents Washington, Madison, and Jefferson were hemp farmers, as were Benjamin Franklin and Henry Clay. Contrary to popular rumor, no proof exists that any of these Founding Fathers used cannabis to get high.
The only blot in hemp’s recorded history is courtesy of the 20th century United States government. In its zeal to “eradicate that evil drug, marijuana,” it passed into law the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
Restrictions on marijuana use continued until the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill was a major victory for hemp proponents. It has helped propel growth in an exciting industry, offering what seems to be unlimited benefits for America and the world.
Industrial Hemp in the 21st Century
Below, we take a peek at new potential applications for industrial hemp in the 21st century.
Hemp produces the strongest and longest plant fiber in the world and remains resistant to rot. It’s infinitely superior to cotton, another popular fibrous plant, for these reasons.
- Production: One acre of hemp will produce more fiber than three acres of cotton.
- Endurance: Hemp fibers last twice as long as cotton fibers.
- Texture: Not only is hemp stronger, but it’s also softer than cotton (and keeps getting softer with use)
- Stretch-Resistant: Thanks to its strength, hemp fabrics stretch less and retain their original shape and size.
- Water-Resistant: Hemp will not succumb to mildew, a common problem with cotton.
- Hardy: Cotton needs more water than frost-tolerant hemp. The latter consumes less water, which means it can grow almost anywhere.
- Environmentally Better: Half of the pesticides and herbicides manufactured today are used in cotton production. Hemp needs fewer pesticides. Also, reputable companies like Functional Remedies offer a COA (Certificate of Analysis) for each product. A COA certifies the purity of the product and the accuracy of ingredients.
- UV Protection: When it comes to blocking harmful ultraviolet rays, hemp excels for its protective attributes.
- Holds Colors: Dyed hemp materials retain original dye colors longer than cotton.
- Versatility: While cotton boasts various uses, hemp continues to distinguish itself with new applications in various fields.
When harvesting hemp fiber, there are two materials to glean from the plant: the outer stem, where the bast fibers are found, and the inner woody core (called the hurd or shiv). The outer, longer bast fibers are processed and used for high-end applications like furnishings, clothing, and floor coverings. The shorter inner hurd core is converted into hemp tow and used for stuffing or coarse yarn spinning.
Some hemp uses are obvious, but you may be surprised to learn about other materials and products made from hemp.
The ancient practice of growing hemp for cloth production continues from Mesopotamian times, making it one of the earliest examples of cultivating the plant for utilitarian, commercial purposes.
Fashions may change by the season, but hemp maintains its own steady trend. These days, finding hemp clothing is a breeze, no matter what you’re looking for. Hats, shirts, pants, shoes, sports clothing, sweatshirts, tank tops, t-shirts, and hoodies: All can be made from hemp. Even the big-name manufacturers are getting in on the hemp clothing game, such as Levi’s Wellthread Collection and Patagonia’s Hemp Clothing Collection. You can even find clothing made from a blend of hemp and fine materials like silks.
Finally, hemp clothing is more durable than cotton ones. When you buy hemp clothing, you can help the planet. Hemp production uses less land, water, and pesticides.
People have used hemp to make paper for centuries. In fact, the oldest surviving piece of paper comes from China. It’s 2,000 years old and made entirely from hemp. This is because hemp fibers are four to five times stronger than wood pulp fibers.
The material used for common paper products like shopping bags, newspapers, and books is wood pulp, via an admittedly wasteful process. Unfortunately, industry cost analyses have determined that manufacturing conventional paper products with hemp isn’t profitable. So, no potential changes will likely occur in this area in the near future.
While it hasn’t yet replaced a paper production process that decimates forests, hemp continues to be used for banknotes, filters, and cigarette papers, thanks to its tear-resistant properties. For those who appreciate fine stationery and a sustainable lifestyle, high-quality hemp paper is available on the market.
Food and Beverages
Hemp oil makes up one-third of the content of hemp seeds. It’s nutritious and packed with essential fatty acids. It also delivers more Omega-3 than walnuts and remains an excellent source of iron and calcium. Each seed contains approximately 25% protein, making hemp an ideal food and herbal remedy.
Hemp is also gaining popularity as an ingredient in iced teas, beers, and wines. Some alcoholic brews are even called “hemptails” (instead of cocktails). For those who don’t imbibe alcoholic beverages, hemp milk or even pure hemp juice may be good choices.
Hemp bioplastics may upend conventional, non-recyclable fossil fuel plastics. Many experts tout hemp plastic for its natural ability to produce lots of cellulose, which is 100% biodegradable. More importantly, hemp has a healing rather than polluting effect on the planet.
For instance, hemp plastics (and other hemp-derived products) can absorb and “lock in” carbon dioxide. This is due to simple biology. Plants absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, converting it into life-giving oxygen. As a bioplastic, hemp still absorbs carbon dioxide, but it doesn’t release it back into the air. With non-degradable plastics littering our beaches and killing sea life, hemp plastic is a viable option. Many consider hemp plastic a game-changing opportunity to bring healing to our planet.
With the need to reduce fossil fuel dependence, countries are considering the use of hemp by-products to produce cleaner-burning fuels.
Hemp has the potential of delivering two fuel sources:
- Biodiesel: from oils in the seeds and stalk of hemp
- Biofuel: from the fibrous stalks
With interest in alternative energy resources growing, hemp is perfectly positioned as a viable fuel source.
Environmentally-conscious Europe has discovered hemp’s dual purpose in the housing industry. Hemp (rather than wood pulp) can be used to produce insulating materials and fiberboard. The result is reduced deforestation and an increased ability to meet growing demands for new housing.
Insulation constructed from hemp fibers is formed into rolls, batts, and solid panels. This is becoming the preferred insulation method. Hemp batts are bound together with natural rather than chemical binders. Furthermore, hemp insulation offers these benefits:
- Absorbs Noise
- Won’t Rot
Hemp particle boards are particularly ground-breaking. They are stronger, lighter, and more moisture-resistant than typical fiberboards. Most people aren’t aware that conventional particle boards use formaldehyde-based adhesives (a suspected carcinogen). Meanwhile, hemp-based fiberboards are safer for the environment and humans. There is no risk of off-gassing (dangerous gasses released into the air) with hemp.
And then, there’s hempcrete. This is a simple blend of industrial hemp hurds and a lime-based binder. Together, it creates a lightweight yet strong building material. Hempcrete is low allergenic, recyclable, moisture absorbent, as well as termite- and mold-resistant. When used properly, the lifetime of hempcrete is measured in centuries, not decades.
For a promising future, hemp delivers safety, longevity, higher construction quality, and increased environmental protections.
Humans aren’t the only living creatures to benefit from the miracles of hemp. Thanks to human ingenuity, hemp bedding is trending as the best alternative to floor coverings for rabbits, chickens, horses, and other livestock. In comparison against wood shavings and straw, hemp comes out on top (as usual) in the following areas:
- Absorbency: Neither wood shavings nor straw absorbs droppings and urine very well. However, hemp excels at absorbing them, making clean up easier.
- Ventilation: Thanks to its great absorption capacity, hemp bedding can keep animals dryer. Your animals will breathe cleaner air, as the hemp bedding absorbs odors much better than wood shavings or straw. The loose structure of hemp also prevents bedding from fermenting and producing rank odors.
- Composting Rate: Hemp beats wood shavings and straw, delivering the fastest composting rate of all three.
- Cost: Wood shavings are the most expensive, while hemp presents a low cost alternative.
- Economics: Hemp is cheaper than wood shavings, lasts longer than both wood shavings and straw, and is more effective. So, you can use less, which adds up to real money savings.
- Pest Repellant: Hemp also serves as a deterrent to pests that may be attracted to animal bedding, such as flies and mites. For extra protection, spray the hemp bedding with eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, or apple cider vinegar.
- Softer: Hemp bedding delivers greater comfort for animals, and yes, it’s also soft enough for a hen to lay an egg in.
If you have feline friends, you can now get hemp cat litter. It’s lightweight, absorbent, and uses no fillers or toxic clays. Hemp is versatile and safe for all pets.
As far back as the 1940s, automobile manufacturers experimented with hemp in car production. In fact, Henry Ford built a prototype automobile with a body made from hemp and soy plastics. It never reached production, thanks in part to lobbying efforts by the DuPont corporation. Ford powered his first eco-conscious cars with hemp ethanol. Unfortunately, the knee-jerk fear of cannabis and hemp shut the door of opportunity for carbon-negative cars for decades.
In 2013, BMW used hemp to reduce the weight in its i3 model, resulting in a car 800 pounds lighter than similar models from other makes. Two years earlier, Canada’s Motive Industries designed the world’s most eco-friendly car with its Kestrel, made entirely from hemp. The crash test showed that the car would weather impacts well. Finally, Motive Industries visualized the Kestrel as a 100% electric vehicle. It would reach top speeds of 90 miles per hour and range up to 100 miles before requiring a recharge.
By all indications, the transportation industry has come to appreciate the importance of green technology. So, look for more hemp vehicles in the coming years!
Soil Contamination Cleanup
Although little known, the cleanup effort at Chernobyl (the infamous nuclear disaster in Ukraine) in the early 1990s used hemp to reduce soil toxicity. Thanks to its fast growth rate (up to 400 plants per square meter growing to a height of 15 feet each), hemp shows great promise in the field of phytoremediation. The latter describes the process of using living plants to remove hazardous contaminants from soil, air, and water.
The Miracle of Hemp Fiber
Impressed by the vast range of uses for which hemp can be applied? If so, get ready for an even more amazing fact. Harvested hemp fiber represents only 4.5% of the hemp plant. Of that small percentage, three-quarters of the fibers are converted into dry line fibers, with the remaining quarter becoming dry tow.
This leaves the majority of the hemp plant available for uses beyond industrial purposes. New advances will continue in the world of hemp, all of them delivering promises for a healthier and happier planet.
Do you have your own hemp success or revolution story to share? If so, we would love to hear from you!