The world’s most beneficial plant has for a long time courted stigma that is generally unfounded. We, therefore, must set the record clear and declare an end to this unwarranted stigma.
First and foremost it needs to be understood that Hemp is not marijuana and that the distinction has been widely accepted for more than a century. However, hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species is easily labeled as marijuana by those who may not understand the difference.
Before the turn of the 20th century, Hemp was largely utilized for numerous uses. Hemp paper is made from a pulp obtained from hemp fibers. This unique paper produced from hemp has a higher tensile strength and tear resistance compared to paper produced from wood pulp. This is the reason it is used to make banknotes and cigarette paper. The process used to produce paper from hemp is complex with a cost that is fourfold that of producing paper from wood pulp.
Hemp leaves can be consumed raw in salads and the seeds can be made into dried sprout powder or eaten raw. The seeds can also be used to make hemp tea, hemp juice or hemp milk. When the seeds are cold-pressed they produce Hemp oil which is known to be high in unsaturated fatty acids. The oil can be used in creams as a moisturizing agent, for cooking, and in the manufacture of plastics and oil-based paints. When the oil is filtered it can be used directly to power diesel engines. Hempoline is a form of biodiesel made from the oils in hemp seeds and stalks. Check out here what is the best CBD oil.
Hemp fiber was extensively used in the past to produce strong ropes and sail canvas that was critical for ships mostly during times of war. Fabrics made from hemp were also popular with their textures similar to linen.
More recently hemp has been used to make composite panels for automobiles.
With all these documented uses, why is hemp confused with marijuana? The answer lies in the 1900s when it was linked with its sibling, cannabis. Politicians and influential groups misconstrued hemp alongside cannabis as dangerous drugs. This narrative may have been intentional due to the political climate during that period. The hemp plant is actually different from cannabis and has the potential to be an alternative and sustainable crop for food like wana CBD gummies and other industrial uses with huge profits for farmers.
Unfortunately, the misconception about hemp continues to date with governments condemning the plant alongside cannabis.
BRIEF HISTORY OF HEMP AND MARIJUANA
Hemp is one of the earliest plants to be cultivated by man. The use of hemp as a food and for other purposes is reported to have started more than 10,000 years ago. This means that the plant has been part of human civilization for a very long time. With the advent of various industries such as oil and manufacturing of synthetic plastic and paper (from wood pulp), some of the uses of hemp found alternatives. It was therefore easy for hemp to be forgotten when it was banned together with marijuana.
In 1930, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was created to fight the proliferation of drugs such as cocaine and opium. During this time cannabis wasn’t on the radar of any law enforcement agency. By 1932 the FBN had increasingly become interested in cannabis. A campaign was launched to lobby the passage of a bill to control access to marijuana.
The similarities between marijuana and hemp did not help matters. With that thin line blurred, the campaign targeted both plants in an unprecedented move.
It is not clear why cannabis was targeted at that point in time. Hemp was largely a traditional crop while marijuana was little-known plant across populations with little public knowledge of its psychoactive potency.
With little or no public concern about any effects of abusing marijuana, it is not known why marijuana was spotlighted by the FBN. The only remote connection that could be conjured is in relation to the then FBN commissioner Harry Anslinger.
A banker with interests in the petrochemical industry was a relative to Anslinger. This banker happened to be one Andrew Mellon, who was at the time Secretary of the Treasury. Mellon was financing Du Pont, a conglomerate involved in the petrochemical industry. It is believed that the relationship between the two may have influenced Anslinger’s push to ban marijuana, and by extension hemp, in order to protect Mellon’s interests.
Anslinger’s relentless push bore fruit in 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act was passed. This Act effectively levied taxes on cannabis which included hemp.
This was despite protests from companies manufacturing hemp paper, hemp chemical companies, and farmers. Pro-hemp groups argued their case based on the millions of people who were using hemp seed as food and the long history of hemp use across oriental counties including Russia. They put up the fight on behalf of millions of farmers whose livelihoods depended on the crop. The Act was passed nevertheless.
The troubles for hemp continued after the passage of the Act. In 1970, as drug abuse thrived, President Richard Nixon initiated a “War on Drugs”, which placed hemp in the same class as heroin. The classification of hemp as a Schedule 1 Drug meant that the substance has a high potential for abuse and has no accepted medical use in treatment while lacking accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
WHY HEMP IS STILL CONFUSED WITH MARIJUANA TODAY
Demand for marijuana has grown in leaps and bounds over the decades. Compared to hemp, marijuana is a more popular and potent variant of cannabis. The clout held by marijuana within mainstream groups is more pronounced than hemp. Activist groups advocating for the legalization of marijuana have grown into powerful lobby organizations with influence on politicians and policymakers. A good example is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). This organization is influential with lots of funding and is able to advocate marijuana’s cause. Hemp, on the other hand, does not have any lobby groups that can advocate on its behalf.
Hemp has mostly been depending on the more structured marijuana lobby groups in the hope that a lifting of marijuana sanctions would mean a comeback for hemp.
The downside of this dependence on marijuana is that the public perception has tended to associate the two plants as one and the same yet the psychoactive attributes of the two differ considerably.
Other lobby groups have not improved the image of hemp because they advocate for marijuana yet they use the word “hemp” in their promotional activities and brand names. This has only fueled the stigma that marijuana and hemp possess the same characteristics. A good example of this kind of branding is San Francisco’s HempCon and Seattle’s Hempfest, two of the most popular marijuana festivals in the United States.
These festivals have been used to advocate the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Marijuana represents the psychoactive cannabis which many lobby groups have been pushing to be allowed to use for pain relief in some medical conditions such as cancer and other mental disorders. Find out here the best-rated CBD oil for anxiety and pain.
The association between marijuana and hemp in these promotions and other activities has posed the challenge of turning around the public’s perception that these two actually mean the same thing.
HOW HEMP AND MARIJUANA ARE DIFFERENT
The difference between marijuana and hemp is so distinct that their uses are varied in length and breadth.
The active ingredient found in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This chemical is therefore found in both marijuana and hemp since they both belong to the cannabis family.
THC is the ingredient that accounts for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. This brings us to the question: if both marijuana and hemp contain the same active ingredient, why are they different?
Although both plants contain THC, they are unique strains with particularly different phytochemical makeup. This makes their uses different too. Hemp has much lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of another ingredient called cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabidiol is an antagonist to THC. This implies that CBD decreases or eliminates the psychoactive effects of THC.
Typical marijuana contains between 5–20% THC content. There are some strains of marijuana that have been reported to contain up to 30% THC content. Hemp has been found to contain on average a maximum THC level of 0.3%. It is clear from these facts that it is impossible to get the same psychoactive effect or “high” from the two plants. In fact, the psychoactive effect from hemp is zero.
The legality of growing and processing industrial hemp contrasts widely between countries across the world. Some countries only allow hemp with very low THC content to be cultivated. This is done through strict monitoring of THC concentrations at the time of harvesting. In the United States, hemp can only be cultivated with a license. Under the Controlled Substances Act, hemp is related to marijuana and hemp products must meet a zero tolerance level as defined in the statutes. It has been extremely difficult to grow hemp on an industrial scale in the U.S. However, individual states have been gradually passing legislation to regulate how the crop is cultivated.
Hemp and marijuana do not just differ in the quantity of active ingredient found in them but also in the way they are cultivated. Hemp grows well in a variety of climates both in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere. It takes on average three to four months to mature.
Hemp is planted closely at 4 inches apart in large farmlands. When hemp is grown closely it results in tall, slender plants with long fibers. This is particularly important if the plant is being cultivated for its fiber. To increase the quality and yield of the fiber, the plant needs to be harvested towards the end of flowering. This, unfortunately, reduces the crop’s seed yield.
In contrast, the cultivation of marijuana requires a cautious approach to ensure that the crop yield produces the required THC content. It grows well in a warm and humid climate. Early cultivation of marijuana can be traced to Central and South Asia. In Japan and China, the plant’s early use was for fabric and rope production.
The spacing for marijuana plants is about 6 feet apart and the crop takes two to three months to mature. Medical cannabis (used to treat disease or alleviate symptoms for conditions with chronic pain or muscle spasms) is typically grown with such spacing.
It is important to note that it is not advisable to grow marijuana and hemp in close proximity or amongst each other. The two plants tend to interact through pollination. Hemp’s pollen has been found to weaken the psychoactive effects in marijuana.
Applications & Benefits
Apart from the small link related to the active ingredient, marijuana and hemp seem to diverge completely beyond that. They are unique I the way they are cultivated and are used for entirely different purposes.
Marijuana is used for medical purposes to treat diseases or improve symptoms. It has been recommended that cannabis can be used to improve appetite in patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, to treat chronic pain like migraine (know how to apply CBD oil for migraines) and to alleviate nausea and vomiting in cancer patients during chemotherapy. It is also widely used for recreational purposes, providing increased awareness of sensation, relaxation, and euphoria. The plant has been found to distort the perception of time and space creating visual illusions. It has also been linked to increased libido.
On the other hand hemp, due to its characteristics, has found thousands of users across different fields. Its uses vary across the food, clothing, beauty, paper, construction and automotive industries. In the food industry, the seeds are cold-pressed to produce hemp oil which is known to be high in unsaturated fatty acids and is used for cooking. Its leaves can be consumed raw in salads and the seeds can be made into dried sprout powder or eaten raw. The seeds can also be used to make hemp tea, hemp juice or hemp milk.
In the beauty industry, hemp oil can be used in creams as a moisturizing agent. Within the construction industry hemp oil is used in the manufacture of plastics and oil-based paints. Hemp has also been used in conjunction with lime to make concrete-like blocks that are used as an insulating material.
In the automotive industry, hemp mixed with fiberglass, kenaf, and flax has been used to make composite panels for automobiles. Hemp oil has been used to produce biodiesel and when the oil is filtered it can be used directly to power diesel engines.
Hemp fiber is also used to produce hemp paper which is unique higher tensile strength and tears resistance compared to paper produced from wood pulp. The paper is used to make banknotes and cigarette paper.
Fabrics made from hemp fiber have unique textures similar to linen.
HEMP IS NOT MARIJUANA: IT’S TIME TO DISTINGUISH THE TWO
It is no secret that hemp’s reputation has been negatively affected for almost a century. The only way for hemp to rise again from the shadow of marijuana is for the plant to distinguish itself as a sustainable and profitable crop. This can only happen if the marijuana affiliated brands stop using hemp in their campaigns. Another hope is for the legalization of marijuana which in turn will result in the free cultivation of hemp.
Aren’t convinced yet? check out here for more explanations.