Hemp is a non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis sativa species, under the genus Cannabis in the family Cannabaceae. Hemp plants are grown for primarily industrial applications including the use of hemp fiber in rope, clothing, “Hempcrete” while also being used to make legal CBD oil derived from hemp plants. The seeds from hemp are a rich source of nutrients that can be eaten raw, refined into oils or processed to make biofuels.
Hemp plants grow sparse and spindly compared the the fuller cannabis indica and cannabis sativa species, somewhat appearing similar to a feral sativa plant. However certain hemp cultivars may look just like a hybrid cannabis strain. The buds are many times light, airy (and seeded in the case of a field planting). The stalks of hemp plants are hardy enough for many use cases, described below.
Hemp is an industry dating back to over 10,000 years ago when the first discovered use of hemp cord in pottery was found at an ancient village in Taiwan. Evidence of hemp use this early in history means that hemp was in fact one of the first plants grown in the history of “agriculture” as historians define it.
Further through history, there is evidence of hemp being used in China, Turkestan, Russia, India and Northern Europe for oils, textiles and food. Later in North America, hemp was grown by the early settlers for oil, clothing, sailcloth and rope.
Cultivation of hemp is allowed in many countries today, with China being the world’s foremost producer.
It is unclear of the exact etymology behind the word “hemp”.
Hemp is considered one of the fastest growing plants, able to grow in rough climates without needing special care or maintenance. Hemp plants gain height quickly, forming a tall, elongated structure.
Some countries have regulations on the maximum THC content that hemp may contain. In the United States, Industrial hemp cannot have a THC concentration of more than 0.3%.
Hemp is usually planted by seed scattering by hand or with grain drills across a field. The male hemp plants are not always culled in the field, depending on the farmer’s use cases.
Hemp plants are ready to harvest in about 3-4 months from seed. From there, the hemp plants are taken for processing into fiber, oil, or even modern-day “hempcrete” building materials.
Hemp can be easily used around the home for making rope, clothing and textiles. Hemp can also be processed into bioplastics or biofuel, and be mixed with other ingredients to serve a range of applications, such as “Hempcrete”, made from the hemp hurds (shives) and an added mineral binder (lime or sand ). Combined the hempcrete makes a solid foundation material for construction use. Hemp oil from the seeds can be eaten in cooking, used in topical creams and as a synthetic oil replacement. Hemp seeds are edible and are often put in bird seed mix.
The use cases for hemp are endless. With the rise of CBD extracts across the US, hemp farmers are growing hemp to make “legal CBD extracts”, which contain under legal limit of 0.3% THC. Certain hemp strains are selectively bred for CBD production.