Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products.[1] It is one of the fastest growing plants[2] and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago.[3] It can be refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.[4][5]
Hemp rope was used in the age of sailing ships, though the rope had to be protected by tarring, since hemp rope has a propensity for breaking from rot, as the capillary effect of the rope-woven fibers tended to hold liquid at the interior, while seeming dry from the outside.[44] Tarring was a labor-intensive process, and earned sailors the nickname "Jack Tar". Hemp rope was phased out when manila rope, which does not require tarring, became widely available. Manila is sometimes referred to as Manila hemp, but is not related to hemp; it is abacá, a species of banana.
Hemp plants are cultivated for industrial use and harvested for their fibers, seeds, oils, and meal. Industrial hemp seeds are available in different forms. They can be sterilized, toasted, roasted, or cracked. Hemp can be pressed into oil or hulled into meal. Hemp thrives nearly anywhere, tolerating a variety of growing conditions. It's rarely affected by pests or disease, making hemp quite hardy. In fact, the plant provides numerous benefits.

In the early 1990s, industrial hemp agriculture in North America began with the Hemp Awareness Committee at the University of Manitoba. The Committee worked with the provincial government to get research and development assistance, and was able to obtain test plot permits from the Canadian government. Their efforts led to the legalization of industrial hemp (hemp with only minute amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol) in Canada and the first harvest in 1998.[85][86]
Millennia of selective breeding have resulted in varieties that display a wide range of traits; e.g. suited for a particular environments/latitudes, producing different ratios and compositions of terpenoids and cannabinoids (CBD, THC, CBG, CBC, CBN...etc.), fibre quality, oil/seed yield, etc. Hemp grown for fiber is planted closely, resulting in tall, slender plants with long fibers.[citation needed]
Hemp can be used as a "mop crop" to clear impurities out of wastewater, such as sewage effluent, excessive phosphorus from chicken litter, or other unwanted substances or chemicals. Additionally, hemp is being used to clean contaminants at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site, by way of a process which is known as phytoremediation—the process of clearing radioisotopes and a variety of other toxins from the soil, water, and air.[46]
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Use of industrial hemp plant and its cultivation was commonplace until the 1900s, when it was associated with its genetic sibling a.k.a. Drug-Type Cannabis species (which contain higher levels of psychoactive THC). Influential groups misconstrued hemp as a dangerous "drug",[56] even though hemp is not a recreational drug and has the potential to be a sustainable and profitable crop for many farmers due to hemps medical, structural and dietary uses.[57][2]
Queensland has allowed industrial production under licence since 2002,[78] where the issuance is controlled under the Drugs Misuse Act 1986.[79] Western Australia enabled the cultivation, harvest and processing of hemp under its Industrial Hemp Act 2004[80], New South Wales now issues licences[81] under a law, the Hemp Industry Regulations Act 2008 (No 58), that came into effect as of 6 November 2008.[82] Most recently, South Australia legalized industrial hemp under South Australia’s Industrial Hemp Act 2017, which commenced on 12 November 2017.[83]
Use of industrial hemp plant and its cultivation was commonplace until the 1900s, when it was associated with its genetic sibling a.k.a. Drug-Type Cannabis species (which contain higher levels of psychoactive THC). Influential groups misconstrued hemp as a dangerous "drug",[56] even though hemp is not a recreational drug and has the potential to be a sustainable and profitable crop for many farmers due to hemps medical, structural and dietary uses.[57][2]
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It is sometimes supposed that an excerpt from Washington's diary, which reads "Began to seperate [sic] the Male from the Female hemp at Do.&—rather too late" is evidence that he was trying to grow female plants for the THC found in the flowers. However, the editorial remark accompanying the diary states that "This may arise from their [the male] being coarser, and the stalks larger"[120] In subsequent days, he describes soaking the hemp[121] (to make the fibers usable) and harvesting the seeds,[122] suggesting that he was growing hemp for industrial purposes, not recreational.
Jews living in Palestine in the 2nd century were familiar with the cultivation of hemp, as witnessed by a reference to it in the Mishna (Kil'ayim 2:5) as a variety of plant, along with Arum, that sometimes takes as many as three years to grow from a seedling. In late medieval Germany and Italy, hemp was employed in cooked dishes, as filling in pies and tortes, or boiled in a soup.[114] Hemp in later Europe was mainly cultivated for its fibers, and was used for ropes on many ships, including those of Christopher Columbus. The use of hemp as a cloth was centered largely in the countryside, with higher quality textiles being available in the towns.
Hemp plants grow brown popcorn kernel-sized hard seeds. Inside these hard seeds lie soft, white or light green inner kernels that are packed with essential amino acids, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can't really derive a lot of nutritional value from the unhulled seeds, so when you see a bag at the store labeled "hemp seeds," what you're actually buying is those soft inner kernels, also known as hemp hearts. Hemp hearts can be pressed to make hemp seed oil, leaving behind a byproduct that can be turned into hemp protein powder. You can find all of these hemp products at health food stores, or a well-stocked grocery store like Whole Foods.
Hemp is considered by a 1998 study in Environmental Economics to be environmentally friendly due to a decrease of land use and other environmental impacts, indicating a possible decrease of ecological footprint in a US context compared to typical benchmarks.[65] A 2010 study, however, that compared the production of paper specifically from hemp and eucalyptus concluded that "industrial hemp presents higher environmental impacts than eucalyptus paper"; however, the article also highlights that "there is scope for improving industrial hemp paper production".[66] Hemp is also claimed to require few pesticides and no herbicides, and it has been called a carbon negative raw material.[67][68] Results indicate that high yield of hemp may require high total nutrient levels (field plus fertilizer nutrients) similar to a high yielding wheat crop.[69]
Cannabis sativa L. subsp. sativa var. sativa is the variety grown for industrial use, while C. sativa subsp. indica generally has poor fiber quality and female buds from this variety are primarily used for recreational and medicinal purposes. The major differences between the two types of plants are the appearance, and the amount of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) secreted in a resinous mixture by epidermal hairs called glandular trichomes, although they can also be distinguished genetically.[61][63] Oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis approved for industrial hemp production produce only minute amounts of this psychoactive drug, not enough for any physical or psychological effects. Typically, hemp contains below 0.3% THC, while cultivars of Cannabis grown for medicinal or recreational use can contain anywhere from 2% to over 20%.[64]
Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, ground into hemp meal, sprouted or made into dried sprout powder. Hemp seeds can also be made into a liquid and used for baking or for beverages such as hemp milk and tisanes.[15] Hemp oil is cold-pressed from the seed and is high in unsaturated fatty acids.[16] The leaves of the hemp plant, while not as nutritional as the seeds, are edible and can be consumed raw as leafy vegetables in salads, and pressed to make juice.[17]
There are no known allergic reactions to hemp seed, but the contact that the seeds may have had with THC-covered plant parts could result in small residues of THC on the seeds. This means that you could possibly experience the feeling of being “high” or under the effect of the psychotropic chemical. This effect of hemp seed is quite rare and isn’t harmful, but it can be an uncomfortable feeling if not anticipated.
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