Top 8 Questions About Hemp
Humans have been growing hemp for thousands of years, but many people in the modern era know next to nothing about hemp other than that it’s related to cannabis. Due to long-standing regulation that limited the cultivation of hemp in the United States, it fell out of use and soon hemp fell out of public knowledge.
Hemp has made a huge comeback in the past few years because of various changes in legislation, so internet searches with questions about hemp have exploded in numbers.
To help you understand what exactly hemp is, and how it’s being used today, we’ve collected eight of the most commonly asked questions.
- What is Hemp, Exactly?
To answer this question in the most obvious way; hemp is a plant! The scientific name for hemp is Cannabis sativa, meaning that yes, hemp is a variety of the same plant that recreational and medical cannabis is made from. The name hemp, however, specifically refers to varieties of cannabis grown for industrial purposes. Hemp generally has lower concentrations of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD), meaning that hemp has little to no psychoactive effect.
- Is Hemp Legal?
Speaking from a United States-based perspective, the legality of hemp has been in limbo for quite some time. In the earliest days of the United States, hemp was promoted as a cash crop by even George Washington! Other presidents that were known to have grown hemp include Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and James Monroe.
Industrial hemp was grown widely in the United States until the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which has been disputed as an intentional attempt to remove hemp as an obstacle and bring about the success of fibers like nylon.
Hemp was again produced heavily during World War 2 to supply fiber and textiles for the war effort. The 1970 Controlled Substances Act saw no difference between industrial hemp and recreational cannabis, effectively banning its growth entirely. This was the status quo until the recently-passed 2018 Farm Bill, that legalized industrial hemp production on a federal level so long as the THC content was lower than .3%.
- What is the History of Hemp?
The first documented evidence of hemp cultivation by humans dates to 8000 BC and was found on an island off the coast of Japan. Throughout various cultures, hemp was grown for its fibers and was used for clothing, shoes, rope, parchment, food, as well as a recreational drug. Hemp cultivation is referenced in texts found in China, Greece, Jewish religious texts, and all across Europe.
- What is Hemp Used For?
Hemp wasn’t popular throughout human history and across the world for no reason; hemp can be used for an almost endless number of things. Hemp might be most famous for its ease of use in textiles. Thought to be one of the first plant fibers used by humans, hemp was spun into clothing, ship sails, rope, and many other items. Hemp seeds are a popular food item and can be seen as an element in granola. Not only that, but hemp is used as a natural pest control method, as its rapid growth can smother weeds in fields and helps return nutrients to the soil. One of the most recently found uses for hemp include use in biodiesel and a building material called “hempcrete”.
- Can You Get High From Hemp?
Being that hemp and recreational cannabis are scientifically categorized as the same plant, you may think that smoking or otherwise consuming hemp can get you high. Despite having the same scientific name as recreational cannabis, in order to be called “hemp” in the United States, the plant must have less than .3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the compound responsible for psychoactive effects. This negligible amount of THC cannot get you high nor induce psychoactive effects on people.
- What are the Benefits of Hemp CBD?
While the current body of research on CBD is light (due to restrictions put in place by the Controlled Substances Act), clinical trials with clear, reproducible evidence are being published at a rapid rate. Proponents of hemp-derived CBD claim that it has properties that make it useful as a sleep aid, pain reliever, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and an anti-inflammatory.
- How is Hemp CBD made?
There are two main methods that are used to distill CBD from the hemp plant. The first is carbon dioxide extraction, in which CO2 is combined with the material in solid form and then allowed to transition to a liquid form. As it transitions to a liquid it extracts the CBD from the hemp material and then is allowed to evaporate into CO2 gas, leaving behind the CBD. The second method is called solvent extraction, in which liquid solvents such as isopropyl alcohol, butane, or hexane are used to leach the desired chemicals from the hemp material.
- How Can I Consume Hemp CBD?
For many people, the hardest part of their CBD journey is choosing how to consume it. With such a boom in the market, all kinds of companies are trying to make a buck with CBD, so there are countless products containing CBD. Generally, they narrow down to edibles, topicals, and oils. Edibles can be any food or drink containing CBD, and when ingested, the CBD must be absorbed through the stomach, meaning that it takes longer to take effect and lasts longer. Topicals are CBD products like lotions and creams, which are perfect for achy joints or muscles. Oils and tinctures are the simplest method. They’re easily taken as drops under the tongue that take effect nearly immediately and can be added to food or drink as they have little flavor.