Chris DeWildt

December 17, 2018 4 min read
December 17, 2018
4 min read

What is Hemp?

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In this article, Growers Network delivers the need to know info on hemp and its potential impact on US markets.

Hemp has been in the news a lot lately. With both chambers of congress approving the 2018 farm bill, hemp is just one Presidential signature away from becoming a legal cash crop in the US. But what is hemp exactly? Is it the same as cannabis? What does hemp legalization mean for the economy? Read on to find out!

What is Hemp?

Hemp is a crop plant that has been used by humankind for thousands of years. It’s a versatile plant with uses in food, medicine, textiles, and more. Banned alongside it’s cousin Cannabis with the Marihuana [sic] Tax Act of 1937, the prospect of hemp legalization is raising the heads of professionals in a variety of industries from textiles and food to Wall Street.

Is hemp the same as Cannabis?

Short answer “legally no,” long answer “scientifically, yes.” Hemp is the same species as Cannabis, but the major distinction between the two is a specific chemical component. While hemp has a variety of useful cannabinoids, it lacks a significant amount of THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. So while Cannabis growers are producing crops containing as much as 30% THC, hemp is classified as a variety containing only 0.3% or less THC. For this reason, hemp proponents have long argued that since hemp has no psychoactive effects, it should never have been banned alongside of marijuana. There are conspiracy theories as to why hemp was banned alongside Cannabis, but the jury is still out. Nevertheless, hemp legalization will have a huge impact on number of industries.

What is hemp used for?

The hemp plant is extremely useful and nearly every part of the plant can be processed into a variety of useful products:

Hemp Food Products

High in unsaturated fats and protein, hemp seeds are a high energy food containing over 500 calories in a one hundred gram serving. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. Food products from the seeds include hemp milk, hemp juice, and a variety of baking products such as cooking oil and flour. Some people even enjoy the raw hemp leaves as part of their salads.

So how about it? Ready to pour some hemp milk over that bowl of breakfast cereal?

Hemp Fiber
Like the seeds, hemp fiber has been used for millennia. Denim, shoes, rope, ship sails, canvas, and more – all of them have been produced from hemp. In fact, the word “canvas” is derived from the word Cannabis. Famously, the Vikings highly valued cannabis for its use in rope.

Additional Hemp Products
Hemp can be used in the manufacture of paper products, animal feed, oil paints and varnish, fuel, personal hygiene items, construction materials, and medicines.

Writer’s note: This is in no way an exhaustive list of hemp products. Make sure to check back for more in-depth exploration of these products and much more.

The Future?

So what does hemp mean for the future? It means money. Americans spent an estimated $700 million on hemp products in 2016, and currently, US imports of hemp seeds and fiber exceed $65 million annually. One of the major cannabinoids sourced from hemp – CBD – is an extremely hot market now and sales of this single hemp-sourced product are poised to surpass cannabis sales by 2022 as the market is predicted to swell nearly forty times its current size. While there’s no way to predict hemp’s impact with 100% accuracy, all the signs point to hemp becoming a major US cash crop that will usher in a wave of hemp farming, processing, and manufacturing. This is great news for hemp stocks as well, as new startups and established businesses seek investors for what is sure to be an influx of new hemp IPOs.

So what do you think? Will the president sign the 2018 farm bill? Will hemp create the financial boom the experts are predicting? Will you be wearing hemp underwear at this time next year? Join our forum and let us know what you think! Hempy er, Happy growing!

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About the Author

Chris DeWildt is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and Western Kentucky University. He worked in education and publishing for ten years before joining the team at Growers Network.