Hemp: What It Is – And What It Isn’t

Hemp: What It Is – And What It Isn’t

We originally published this excerpt from Hemp Biz Journal, issue 1: 2016 in our CannaTech magazine. We are honored to make it available to you here. 

To understand where the global hemp industry is going, it is important to begin with a brief review of the incredible plant we call “cannabis”—a plant that is positioned to launch a new global health and wellness industry and catalyze an eco-industrial revolution. Never before has a common plant held such potential for both modern society and the environment. Industrial hemp is defined throughout most countries as any part of the cannabis plant, whether growing or not, containing a THC concentration of no more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3 percent) on a dry weight basis. In short, cannabis plants that exceed 0.3 percent THC are classified generically as “Marijuana/Marihuana” while cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3 percent THC are classified as industrial hemp. As such, lawmakers have utilized the presence of THC to define two general categories of the cannabis plant: industrial hemp and marijuana. The language traditionally used in conversations about cannabis has been one of the biggest problems in accurately representing the agronomic truths about the plant.

Cannabaceae is a family of plants that includes 170 species, grouped into 11 genera, including Cannabis (hemp and marijuana), Humulus (hops) and Celtis (hackberries). Cannabis contains three primary subspecies — Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis – and has a record of usage dating back thousands of years. Historical data shows how past cultures of Asia, India and Europe utilized the cannabis plant for industrial and medical benefits. Ancient documents from Egyptian and Greek physicians have also been found illustrating its medical usage for ailments, artifacts and widespread industrial use.

The industrial revolution powered by coal, petrochemicals and lumber is not only responsible for polluting our planet but may also be responsible for creating hemp prohibition. While domestic production of hemp was encouraged from the 1600s to 1890 — through the use of hemp in making sails, rope and clothing — the cultivation and processing of hemp became restricted in the United States under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. According to hemp industry insiders, a powerful group of American industrialists — including John D. Rockefeller, William Randolf Hearst and the Dupont Co. — conspired to demonize the hemp industry in the 1930s, setting the stage for decades of prohibition.

While it is not fully clear how complicit these industrialists were in creating hemp prohibition, what is clear is the man behind it all was Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), and his wife’s uncle, Andrew Mellon, who appointed Anslinger secretary of the Treasury and gave him a budget of $100,000. A known racist and staunch supporter of prohibition, Anslinger had everything he needed to demonize “marihuana” and collude with industry magnates to stymie hemp’s economic and industrial potential.

Despite Ansligner’s best efforts, the war on cannabis is now failing, and research continues to prove the effectiveness of this plant for a myriad of uses. With decades of research backing cannabis as a positive addition and another therapeutic tool in the western pharmacopeia, patients and doctors alike are taking a stand for access. Cannabinoid therapies are being researched, and the evidence remains positive; the human body was designed with cannabis in mind. Hemp, it turns out, is both an industrial commodity that can be used to help the environment, and a medicinal herb that can be used to help humans and other mammals.

Hemp is an agricultural commodity with over 25,00 uses. It is already being cultivated globally for use in a wide range of products — foods and beverages, supplements, CBD products, bio-fuels, textiles, industrial applications such as oil-well linings and green building materials as well as other manufactured goods. Propelled by emerging foreign and domestic interests, consumer and industrial innovations for hemp are growing like never before and are being researched for an array of applications from airplanes to nano-materials. Propelled by full federal commercial legalization in the United States, the Hemp Biz Journal projects the hemp industry will grow from a $500M industry in 2015 to a $1.5B global industry by 2020. With growth like this it’s safe to say the future of hemp is brighter than ever before!

the many uses of hemp


A big thank you Sean Murphy and the good folks at Hemp Business Journal for your work. For so much more about opportunities in the hemp industry, please visit http://www.hempbizjournal.com/



This Post Has One Comment

  1. There’s little better than a well authored article!

    Thank you so much for this relief, I loved every moment of thee read.
    Will be looking forward to your next article

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