Cannabis is a broad term for a number of species, namely Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. Cannabis Sativa & indica are widely used for their CBD and THC contents; for both recreational and medicinal purposes. But within the Cannabis Sativa family, they have a distant cousin called Hemp. Despite looking a lot like their Sativa family, Hemp is packed with slightly different characteristics and grown for very different purposes.
Hemp vs Marijuana.
What is hemp then?
First of all, you do not get high from smoking hemp.
Hemp, or Industrial Hemp, is grown to contain no more than 0.3% of THC content. Evidence of hemp cultivation and use stem back from almost 10,000 years ago, China being one country with the longest history of cultivation (6000 years). The Chinese first realised its usefulness by making paper out of Hemp. Recognising how strong Hemp is as a fibre, it is subsequently used to produce plenty of useful items like clothings, plastics and even ethanol. At its seed form, it is also a healthy food source.
A report by New Frontier Data in February 2019 noted that retail sales in the global hemp industry has reached $3.7 billion USD in 2018, and is projected to soar up to approximately $5.7 billion USD by 2020.
This ambitious estimation coincides with the legalisation of hemp under federal law across all states in the US, making it legal for local farmers to cultivate hemp. It is definitely encouraging news for the Agriculture industry in the United States, but what is most important is that this a big step toward building a more sustainable environment.
Hemp vs Deforestation
With the recent increase of forest fires around the world and also ongoing issues of deforestation, there is a need to find an alternative source for materials usually found in trees. An average tree takes 10-20 years to grow before it can be harvested for use.
Comparatively, Hemp grows rapidly and need only 60-100 days to be fully matured and ready for harvesting. In addition to that, Hemp boasts similarly useful materials for industrial and commercial production. If more companies and consumers would switch to hemp for a source of raw materials, it will definitely help preserve more trees for the environment.
Hemp as raw materials
As the illustrations show, this magical plant produces strong fibre that is mostly used for papermaking and textile production, but can also be involved in the production of various daily use items like body care lotions, shoes and consumables like bread.
Essentially, cultivating hemp as a substitute to trees as a source of raw materials is ideal, as hemp has a greater yield over a shorter period of time and produces strong fibre with lesser nutrients needed (to grow a tree).
This would also possibly reduce the amount of trees getting cut down for industrial purposes.
Hemp oil & CBD oil: health benefits
Hemp oil is also a substance from the plant that is highly sought after, mostly for therapeutic effects. Depending on what it is used for, the oils are extracted from different parts of the plant.
Although there is very little to no THC content in a hemp plant, it still contains CBD, a compound that serves the purpose of regulating our endocannabinoid system. This helps relief stress, reduce muscle inflammation, and assist in better sleep etc. CBD oil is extracted from an adult hemp plant, using various extraction methods. In the modern society, CBD oil can be found in various forms: capsules, tinctures and topical.
On the other hand, hemp oils are extracted from its seed form (by cold pressing), and usually from industrial hemp (No CBD/THC). Hemp seed oils are known to be rich in essential nutrients such as omega-6 & omega-3 fatty acids, high protein, and also Vitamin E for the human body.
These attributes make hemp seed oil a popular healthy food source, and can be found in foods like bread, dairy products and protein powder. Foods that contain hemp seed oil are also considered superfood.
Vitamin E in hemp seed oil is an antioxidant that aids in skin reparation and is widely found in cosmetic and body care products.
With the prohibition finally lifted on the federal level, perhaps it is a great time for more people to get onboard with using more hemp-made products as an alternative to items made from trees. It is more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and most importantly carries a lot of health benefits.
This article was written by Ashton Leow, a soccer enthusiast and cannabis advocate.
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