By Mary Therese Yamamoto, CannActive Life
July is National Hemp Month, a celebration first observed in 2020 to help educate the public about the positive impacts of the oil-seed-and-fiber crop and raise support for increased hemp farming. If you’re wondering “what the heck is hemp, and why are we celebrating it?” you’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know about one of the world’s most beneficial and versatile plants.
WHAT IS HEMP?
Hemp is an aromatic plant with tall, cane-like stalks and flowering buds. It is a Cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3 percent THC, so it won’t produce hallucinogenic effects like its well-known cannabis cousin. The eco-friendly plant provides natural fibers used to produce clothing, paper and “hempcrete,” as well as cannabidiol (CBD), the therapeutic darling of the health and wellness industry.
HISTORY OF HEMP
The ancient Chinese were the first to domesticate wild hemp into a cultivated crop. They discovered that male hemp plants had the best fiber for clothing, and female hemp plants produced better seeds for medicine and nutrition. Archeological records reveal hemp fiber imprints found in ancient pottery as early as 5000 BC. One of the main reasons for English colonization of America was to grow tobacco and hemp. By 1850, nearly 17 million acres of hemp were planted across the country with crops used to make clothing, paper, ropes, ship sails and currency. Hemp was one of the most instrumental cash crops in strengthening America and weakening its dependence on England. When Prohibition ended in the 1930s, the popular plant was demonized as unhealthy and ultimately illegalized. Historians suspect the decision had more to do with powerful political connections to oil, cotton, and timber industries and a desire to eliminate their cash crop competition. While the U.S. ban continued, researchers in Israel discovered the CBD compound found in hemp interacted with the body’s endocannabinoid system, influencing overall health and wellness.
In 2012, word spread of the extensive CBD research and led to the concept of medical cannabis programs in states such as Colorado and California. A momentous first step in bringing hemp back to America was the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill. New pilot programs studied the economic and ecological impacts of hemp growth and CBD production. With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was finally removed from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and industrial hemp farms were able to increase production. Demand for the crop skyrocketed in the textile, building, and health and wellness industries, and CBD was propelled into the mainstream.
USES OF HEMP TODAY
Hemp is the only plant that can feed you, house you, clothe you and heal you! Among the valuable products brought to you by hemp are clothing, rope and paper. Clothes made from hemp naturally wick away moisture and offer greater breathability. Hemp fibers are stronger and more durable than typical fibers, so they make the best ropes that are mold resistant. Hemp paper, while not stronger than other paper, is more eco-friendly since there’s no deforestation involved. CBD is now the plant’s hottest commodity. Derived directly from the stems, leaves and flowers of the hemp plant, the cannabinoid’s naturally healing benefits help alleviate pain, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, mood disorders, digestive issues and fatigue. Cannabidiol tinctures, capsules, creams, salves, gummies, bath bombs and energy drinks all help the body heal. CBD products are also available for pets. So, what the heck is hemp? It’s incredible! I became certified in Cannabis Education to break the stigma and share the many helpful qualities of the hemp plant. I am living proof of how well it works! Happy National Hemp Month!
As printed in the July 2023 edition of East Fishkill Living magazine. ©2023 Best Version Media. All rights reserved