Industrial hemp is an incredibly useful plant, with thousands of applications to choose from.
Industrial hemp (cannabis Sativa), while closely related to cannabis Sativa Indica (medicinal cannabis), is a very different crop and grown in a very different way.
Industrial hemp farmers tend to aim to grow the plants up, not out as is that the case with medicinal cannabis – and therefore the taller, the higher. This is because a number of the good value of commercial hemp in fiber-based applications is primarily in its stalk instead of leaves. Industrial hemp is grown at quite high density – another major difference to the cultivation of India.
Hemp oil and seeds are also having commercial appeal, as they have a variety of uses. Since it has a high level of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids and is high in some amino acids, hemp has great nutritional benefits. Hemp oils, extracts, and edibles are most often what consumers see in the marketplace.
While hemp has been traditionally used as a paper (it has qualities that prevent fading or discoloration), as well as in textiles for clothing, it also is being used to create biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation (as mentioned above), biofuel, food, and animal feed, and even converted into malt to be used in brewing beer.
One of its benefits is that hemp can be grown quickly, and does not require pesticides or herbicides. It also helps to prevent topsoil erosion. All of which are factors that make hemp a superb crop for farmers.
The changing political atmosphere and social attitude towards marijuana have allowed hemp to slowly gain recognition as a viable crop and commercial enterprise. Colorado, which has been seen because the leader of all states in making progressive changes to cannabis policy, has become the primary state to supply and certify domestic hemp seeds.
The great irony of the legal mess concerning industrial hemp is hemp products often aren’t banned in countries where cultivation is; meaning consumers in those countries are spending millions on importing products that could be made locally. Even more perplexing is situations such as in Australia, where most hemp products can be imported, but not hemp seed as food. Yet, poppy seeds can be purchased at the local supermarket.
One of the many myths about the legalizing of hemp cultivation is that those growing it will be able to hide the more potent marijuana amongst it. This isn’t viable as the intoxicating variety needs a great deal of space and is easy to pick. The other argument about high THC marijuana pollinating hemp and creating a better THC hemp is null and void – this simply doesn’t happen. Cross-pollination will result in lower-THC marijuana.
As with medicinal cannabis, outdated legislation and thinking are beginning to change and shortly industrial hemp are going to be a crucial crop in many countries where it’s currently forbidden.
For farmers, industrial hemp is often a highly profitable crop; returning far more per acre than other more damaging crops like soy. A well-regulated hemp industry will also create jobs and help in creating a more environmentally-friendly agricultural sector.