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Industrial hemp has been used for paper, textiles and cordage for thousands of years. However, in 1937 Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which began the hemp prohibition in America. Then a little over 30 years later the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified all forms of cannabis, including hemp, as a Schedule I drug, making it illegal to grow or sell hemp.

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant but it specifically has far less THC than normal cannabis. Hemp has less than 1% THC while legal hemp in the US has less than .3% THC. This being said hemp does have psychoactive properties but they are so low hemp can't be used to get high.

Hemp is a great crop as we can use every part of the plant. The seeds and flowers can be used in health foods and organic body care. The fibers and stalks can be used for clothing, construction materials, paper, bio fuel, compostable plastics and so much more!

Hemp seeds are considered a health food as they are a source of protein, fiber and magnesium. They are sold in health stores as hemp hearts and are usually eaten raw on salads or in smoothies. Hemp seeds can also be pressed into milk and used as an alternative to dairy milk.

Hemp oil can be used in paints, varnishes, soaps and edible oils. The fibers are very strong and durable. They are used to make yarn, rope, cable, string, sponges, burlap style fabrics and canvas. The fiber can also be used in biodegradable plastics and bio-plastics that can be recycled. The fiber is usually yellow, green or a dark brown or grey color. It's not easily bleached and rarely dyed so most products are made in the hemp's natural color.

Hemp requires less resources and has a larger yield than most crops. We'll compare hemp with corn, since corn is the most cultivated crop in the US. 

It costs $400 to plant one acre of corn and the return is $600, meaning the farmer only profits $200 per acre of corn. Hemp on the other hand costs way more per acre but has a larger profit margin. Hemp costs $15,000 per acre to plant but the return is $280,000 per acre, which is $256,000 profit! 

Hemp produces almost twice as much fiber than cotton grown in the same size lot. Corn yields about 4 tons of dry biomass per acre while hemp can yield 6 to 7 tons per acre.

One acre of hemp requires half the water needed for an acre of corn. Hemp also is low maintenance, can be grown almost anywhere, doesn't require pesticides and is very tolerant to inclement weather. Hemp also helps detoxify the soil and prevents soil erosion. This is important because most crops deplete the soil of all nutrients leaving behind a useless patch of land.

The 2014 US Farm Bill allowed states to pass their own industrial hemp legislation for research and development. Colorado, Kentucky and Oregon were some of the first states to start their own hemp legislations.

The 2018 Farm bill, passed in December, legalized the cultivation and sale of hemp at the federal level. This means farmers can now grow hemp legally in all 50 states.

This is a huge step for America! Before this bill passed almost all hemp came from international sources, since only a handful of states had legalized hemp cultivation. 

It is estimated that in 2017 the value of hemp products was $820 million. ­­­In 2018 the CBD industry was worth $350 million and is now projected to be $1 billion come 2020.

Imagine how much the hemp and CBD market can grow if we stop importing from other countries and begin to grow on US soil. With this legalization we should begin to see larger studies done on the importance of hemp and hopefully learn some new uses for it.



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Industrial Hemp 101
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