07 Jan HEMP: Key Benefits and Legal Overview
The hemp plant, once a staple to agriculture across the world, has been widely prohibited for nearly 100 years in America. The plant became illegal during the early 20th century and since has faced a checkered history with regulators around the world. This versatile plant formerly was a must have for many doctors, textile companies, and consumer food brands. Further, the plant grows like a weed, easily and nearly everywhere it is planted. Yet, today it is still heavily regulated, many governments around the world ban the cultivation of hemp altogether. Luckily with the start of the 21st century, we are seeing hemp prohibition is coming to an end, bringing a new modern world the wonderful and many uses of this plant.
The hemp plant has millions of different uses which can be capitalized upon. Packed full of nutrient-rich hemp seeds, there are a ton of products already on the market today using hemp seed oil. The seeds can be pressed out to acquire a valuable and extremely healthy hemp oil, also known as, CBD oil. Even further, the fibers in the hemp stalk pack a punch when compared to the fiber-producing potential of trees in a similarly sized agricultural environment. In other words, hemp can produce more textile goods per acre than most trees. Yet, all of these wondrous features of this plant have been restricted with years of prohibition. Through prohibition, we certainly have missed some of the potential uses of hemp which is just now starting to open up for research and use of our 21st-century technology. The plant still has a long way to go before it’s free from prohibition completely, though many more states have stepped forward and legalized the growth of hemp. We will dive deeper into these regulatory differences but first let us cover some of the many features the hemp plant can offer the world.
Versatility in Grows and Products
As mentioned, hemp may well have over a million different applications, especially when you start to consider all the food, textile, and pharmaceutical varieties the plant can be put into for increased value. Furthermore, the plant is also a very versatile one to grow compared to cousin cannabis-sativa or cannabis-indica. This is true because the hemp plant is grown for industrial reasons and not for extremely high-quality flowers to be consumed (smoked) as is the case with the other two types of cannabis. Furthermore, the hemp plant is a weed. On that note, know the slang term for “ditch weed”? This slang refers to poorly grown cannabis but may very well have roots in its meaning from the hemp plant which can easily grow in ditches across the country. With this, the hemp plant can grow almost anywhere. It is also more drought resistant than other plants which may play an increasingly more important role in future decades. It is also important to note, the hemp plant can grow more paper per acre than any other plant. To be precise on this statistic, one acre of hemp plant growth can yield the equivalent paper products of four acres of trees. This is just one exciting application of hemp, though an impressive one, let’s now look at the many products hemp can be used to create.
There are many different foods already on the market today with hemp and should bring no surprise since it is packed with healthy components. These foods are often made with the plant’s seed. Hemp seed, often compared to flax or chia seeds should be considered super-foods. It has a host of benefits such as being helpful to the fight bad cholesterol levels, has a balanced ratio of essential fatty acids, offers all ten amino acids, is a great source of vitamins, and many other benefits. Hemp seed truly deserves the title of a super-food when all of this is considered. With this in mind, many athletes will consume the hemp seed in its raw form to capitalize on its beneficial effects. This has led to a huge diversity in products offered as hemp food such as pre-work mixes, healthy trail mixes or granola bars, and many types of edible essential oils.
The application for hemp as a textile is as versatile as with the foods. The plant can go into just about any type of clothing you can imagine from socks to sweatshirts, hats, and many others. These textiles are often a fine quality as well. The hemp-based t-shirts, for example, are some of the most comfortable you can find. Unlike cotton, the hemp plant actually softens over time and is noted as being more durable than cotton. Furthermore, the plant’s fibers can also be used to create a strong rope or cable. These textile applications may have been the main reason the federal government legalized the hemp plant for a short period during World War II. This time period of hemp’s brief legalization became known for the ad campaign produced by Uncle Sam titled, “Victory for Hemp.” The hemp produced was used for a variety of soldier equipment and arguably helped the allies win the war. Today, we see a host of consumer brands offering everything from hemp clothing to blankets to car seat covers.
Hemp as Medicine
Another popular application of the hemp plant comes from hemp oil, often referred to as CBD oil. This product can be extracted from the super-food hemp seed to produce a powerful medical tool. The many benefits of hemp oil, when used as a medicine, are truly astonishing. For example, hemp can be grown to be CBD rich, specifically for the extraction process to be the most efficient it can be in a post-harvest environment. With that in mind, we’ve seen a big increase in hemp cultivation with the specific purpose to produce CBD. CBD oil has over a dozen medical benefits such as being antibacterial, inhibiting cancer cell growth, and reducing seizures. To see a more complete overview of CBD oil please visit this blog entry, “15 Amazing Health Benefits of Cannabidiol (CBD)”. The hemp plant itself can also be used as a key ingredient for medical lotions or tinctures due to its high omega-3 fatty acid count. This does not cover the many medical uses found from terpenes which can also be extracted from the hemp plant and applied to a host of different applications.
Other Exciting Applications Of Hemp
There are a handful of other applications of the hemp plant which offer a great variety of products to be manufactured. The hemp plant can act as a bio-diesel fuel or ethanol. These fuel options can even power cars if created properly. Further, simply being a renewable resource should make a strong argument for hemp fuels versus traditional hydrocarbon fuels used today. Another interesting aspect of hemp comes from the construction industry. Hemp can be manufactured into a concrete type substance, called hempcrete. The hempcrete product has been used to build buildings as high as ten stories in Europe.
A third exciting application of hemp comes from its use as a plastic replacement. This is particularly exciting when you look at the huge amount of plastic pollution in the world today and hemp is biodegradable! This very well may be the future of manufacturing which relies heavily on plastics today. For this particular application of hemp, the market price of hemp will need to fall which should happen as prohibition is repealed in more and more places. Finally, yet another product hemp can be used for is livestock feed. This should be fairly straightforward but it is worth noting again how much the versatility is available with regards to growing hemp. Thus, making it a great alternative livestock feed.
States with Hemp Legal
Just as medical marijuana is sweeping the country and the world, hemp has been quickly coming out of a prohibitive state. There are now 34 states in America which have legalized the cultivation of hemp or started to allow for commercial research into the plant. Further, there are only five states left in all of America which outright restrict hemp cultivation still. It is noteworthy that there are 11 states that have a pending regulation regarding hemp cultivation. Many of the legal hemp markets simply regulate the plant as they would any agricultural good. Producers of hemp usually have to get a license from their state’s department of agriculture but this is usually fairly inexpensive compared to medical marijuana licensing fees. Hopefully, as more states see the financial benefit to growing hemp, they will join with regulatory changes to allow for hemp cultivation. As this change takes place, it will hopefully bring the market value of hemp down, to allow for even more application of the versatile plant. Finally, we truly need to research the benefits of this plant further with the advanced technology we have available today in the modern world. There must be a host of benefits we are yet to discover since the plant has been heavily regulated for nearly a century. It is important to remember hemp was a cornerstone of any farm in America for a long time, hopefully, it can regain that status again in the 21st century.