Hemp CBD oil. Hemp sunglasses. Hemp yoga clothes…in case you missed it, the world has fallen in love with hemp. Yet its big break into the mainstream is actually nothing new. In fact, for over 10,000 years hemp has played a significant role in human life throughout the course of history. But now that it’s back in the spotlight, there are more questions than ever about what exactly is hemp, how is it used and why has such a safe, versatile plant been surrounded by so much controversy.
Whether you’re completely new to the world of hemp, well-versed or somewhere in between, discover these 10 must know hemp facts to dive deeper into its history, impact, and benefits.
1. Hemp Can Do A lot, But It Can’t Get You High
You might be wondering, are hemp and marijuana the same thing? In short, the answer is: no. They are simply two different members of the cannabis family. While both hemp (or CBD) and marijuana come from the cannabis sativa plant species, the major difference is that marijuana contains less CBD and far more THC or tetrahydrocannabinol—the chemical compound responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive properties.
Usually, the THC levels in marijuana are anywhere between 12 and 30 percent, depending on the strain. Whereas hemp, a safe, legal, and non-hallucinogenic fiber of the cannabis plant, contains less than 0.3% THC and 20%+ CBD. So while hemp can certainly do a number of beneficial things, it can’t and definitely won’t get you high.
2. Hemp Has Been Around For More Than 10,000 Years
The history of hemp is just as rich as it is diverse. Some of the first signs of hemp in human existence date back to around 8,000+ BCE and were discovered by archeologists in Central Asia, now modern-day China and Taiwan, in the form of ancient pottery marked with hemp cord impressions. Additionally, a piece of hemp cloth was found in ancient Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq and Iran, that also dates back to around the same time period.
Through the ages, hemp's popularity spread across the globe as there have been traces of its use in ancient Greece, Russia, India, Egypt, and more civilizations. Prized for its strength and versatility, it has been used to make rope, oil, food, paper, clothing, shoes, fabrics and more. But it wasn’t until 1606 that hemp was first introduced to North America. Soon after in 1619, colonists in Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, began cultivating hemp for ropes, sails and more. In those days all settlers were required by law to grow hemp—a trend that would later resurface in the 1700s when more mandatory cultivation laws were enacted that compelled and incentivized farmers in Virginia and other colonies to grow hemp.
3. Hemp Was Made Federally Illegal Because It Comes From The Cannabis Plant
So how did hemp go from being glorified to stigmatized and federally banned in the United States? First, in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed—imposing strict regulatory measures and an excise tax on all cannabis sales, along with hemp, which discouraged hemp farmers and negatively impacted its production.
Decades later in 1970, the Controlled Substances Act was initiated and passed. This piece of legislation categorized all forms of cannabis, including hemp as an illegal schedule one drug simply because it comes from the same plant as psychoactive marijuana. As such, harsh regulations were set up on the cultivation of both hemp and marijuana—despite the fact that they are two completely different parts of the cannabis plant with two entirely different sets of effects.
4. Hemp Was Legalized Federally In The United States In 2018
Up until December of 2018, hemp was still federally classified as a schedule one substance along with harmful narcotics such as cocaine and heroin, according to the controlled substances act. This classification made it illegal to cultivate, possess and distribute hemp and hemp-derived CBD at the federal level, leaving it up to the states to decide whether or not they would allow the sale and consumption of CBD.
So what changed? The farm bill passed with a provision to redefine industrial hemp from a prohibited substance to a regular agricultural crop—permitting hemp growers to buy federally-subsidized crop insurance and providing clarity on the federal legal status of hemp-derived extracts, such as hemp-based CBD oil.
This also means the free transfer of hemp and hemp-derived products across state lines “for commercial or other purposes,” is fully permitted. So, if you were to purchase a CBD hemp product containing less than 0.3% THC, and you wanted to take it on a domestic vacation, you’re completely within your rights to bring that product with you across state lines.
5. Some Consider Hemp A Superfood
In recent years, hemp has catapulted onto the food scene, and it’s no surprise why. After all, every hemp-based food originates from the same thing: hemp seeds; which many have said is one of the world’s most complete and nutrient-rich food sources. Hemp seeds are packed with omega-3, omega-6, protein, iron, vitamin E, healthy fats, calcium, fiber and all of the essential amino acids. They can be eaten in a variety of ways like shelled, raw, toasted or with a dash of flavor. Plus, the seeds can be pressed for oil which creates seed cake that can then be used to produce flour and protein powder.
Additionally, hemp-derived foods have the same pros as other plant-based foods. Mainly that the proteins in it are simpler to digest than animal proteins. But also, hemp relies on far less carbon to cultivate than raising livestock to produce animal protein. So it's an ideal choice for anyone looking to minimize their carbon footprint, not just vegetarians and vegans.
6. Growing Hemp Could Reduce Deforestation
Did you know that on average, one acre of hemp can produce about two to four times more paper than one tree? Hemp paper is stronger, acid-free, has a longer shelf life and costs much less to produce than paper made from trees. It also matures in 90-120 days, while it can take trees 20 years to mature. Not to mention, hemp paper can be recycled nearly 7-8 times compared to paper made from wood pulp which can be recycled only three times.
Can you imagine how many trees and forests could be saved around the planet solely by switching from wood-based paper to hemp paper products?
7. Hemp Can Be Used To Create Planes
The world’s first airplane made of 75% hemp exists. Derek Kesek, hemp enthusiast, environmentalist, and CEO of Hempearth, a marijuana-based cannabis company, teamed up with Velocity Inc. to design and manufacture the first model of the plane. It runs on 100% hemp oil, has a wingspan of 36 feet and can hold one pilot plus four passengers.
If you’re thinking: why would anyone attempt to use hemp to build a plane? It’s because hemp is incredibly strong and durable. In some forms, roughly 10 times stronger than steel and can hold more weight before reaching its breaking point. Hemp also bends more easily than metal and is lighter so it relies on less fuel to get off the ground.
8. Planting Hemp Can Restore Depleted Soil
Certain plants are known to clean up unhealthy soil, and industrial hemp is one. This process is called bioremediation or phytoremediation. There have been a number of scientific experiments testing hemp’s effectiveness in restoring toxic soil—most notably the hemp soil remediation experiments in Chernobyl. During the 1990s a team of scientists successfully used hemp to expel heavy metals from the soil in areas surrounding Chernobyl.
Nearly a decade later in 2001, German researchers confirmed the Chernobyl results showing hemp’s ability to remove lead, cadmium, and nickel from land contaminated with sewage sludge.
9. In The U.S., Hemp Sales Grew To $820 million In 2017 Alone
Despite legal and regulatory obstacles in 2017, the U.S. hemp grew by 16% annually—resulting in a total of $820 million in sales. This monumental growth was spearheaded by the rapid expansion of the hemp-derived CBD market which brought in $190 million in sales. By 2022, Hemp Business Journal estimates that the U.S. hemp industry will grow into a $1.9 billion dollar market.
10. There Are Currently Over 25,000 Hemp Products Globally
Skateboards, furniture, skin care, vitamins—hemp is everywhere and almost in every product. Take cars for example. Automobile manufacturers like Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, Honda, and Mercedes use hemp composites to craft their door panels, trunks, headliners, dashboards and more.
Still, it’s the rising popularity of hemp-based consumables, particularly products with hemp-derived CBD oil like vape pens and tinctures that have taken the world by storm just in the last five years alone. The good news: access to the benefits of hemp CBD are now more accessible than ever. On the other hand, with so many brands and products to choose from, it can be hard to know for sure which is the best for you. Our advice: be conscious, be cautious and choose Curaleaf Hemp. We offer a variety of pure, lab-tested, THC free CBD products made with the highest quality full spectrum CBD oil and premium essential oils.
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