Many regard industrial hemp as the key to the future of sustainable agriculture. But the industrial properties of hemp are widely misunderstood. Firstly, hemp is completely different from cannabis in its cultivation technique, function and application. Even then, political leaders have tended to group them together as a cannabis species. In the U.S. hemp was banned as a Schedule 1 drug, just as cannabis, in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act. Although cannabis is legalized now in Canada and it has been decriminalized elsewhere, hemp continues to be clubbed with marijuana 45 years since then.
Hemp and marijuana have completely different applications. Marijuana is used for both medical and recreational purposes. Hemp is used in ways that marijuana can never be used in such as clothing, skin products, automobiles, construction materials and more.
Some farmers in the U.S. switched from marijuana to hemp because hemp is said to be more efficient and eco-friendly. Hemp takes half the amount of water as corn and many other agricultural products. It is carbon neutral or carbon positive which means that it puts back nutrients into the soil rather than depleting it. It also emits carbon dioxide, expels oxygen, and does not require herbicides and pesticides either. The thick density of hemp plantations deter pests and competing weeds. It is typically grown anywhere between 250,000 to 500,000 plants per acre. Even then there are several misconceptions about hemp that need to be cleared.
Fact: Industrial hemp and marijuana (both medical and recreational) are all members of the same family but the two plants are quite in contrast. The leaves of the marijuana plant are broad leaved with tight buds. Hemp has a few thin leaves that are concentrated at the top. From a distance, marijuana looks like a short, fat bush. Hemp plants are slimmer and taller, growing up to 20 ft tall.
Fact: Hemp plants can be male, female or both in the monoecious species. However, the male hemp plant die shortly after pollination. The female hemp plants are grown and harvested for industrial use. Hemp is cultivated differently from medical and recreational marijuana for health food, building material such as rope and other valuable commodities.
Fact: Hemp has an extremely low THC content. Medical and recreational marijuana contain about 5% - 35% THC but hemp contains a maximum amount of 0.3% THC. It is impossible for a person using hemp food products to get even remotely high, unlike cannabis edibles that contain higher THC. Hemp also has high CBD content making the minuscule amount of THC negligible.
Fact: Since hemp foods contain barely any THC, it is quite impossible to fail a drug test when you consume them even in large quantities. In fact, hemp is highly nutritious, containing essential omegas that are required for a healthy diet. You can indulge all you want! Consuming other foods such as poppy seeds have the possibility of failing you in a drug test for opiates.
Fact: Hemp can grow easily in most climates. It requires little care. Marijuana on the other hand is a fragile plant that is carefully grown in controlled warm, humid environments. Hemp is grown closely together in large multi-acre plots. Medical marijuana cannot be grown closely together. If hemp is grown alongside marijuana, the pollen from hemp could easily dilute the psychoactivity of marijuana and ruin the produce.