In Japan, hemp was historically used as paper and a fiber crop. There is archaeological evidence cannabis was used for clothing and the seeds were eaten in Japan back to the Jōmon period (10,000 to 300 BC). Many Kimono designs portray hemp, or asa (Japanese: 麻), as a beautiful plant. In 1948, marijuana was restricted as a narcotic drug. The ban on marijuana imposed by the United States authorities was alien to Japanese culture, as the drug had never been widely used in Japan before. Though these laws against marijuana are some of the world's strictest, allowing five years imprisonment for possession of the drug, they exempt hemp growers, whose crop is used to make robes for Buddhist monks and loincloths for Sumo wrestlers. Because marijuana use in Japan has doubled in the past decade, these exemptions have recently been called into question.
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. 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". Hemp is also claimed to require few pesticides and no herbicides, and it has been called a carbon negative raw material. Results indicate that high yield of hemp may require high total nutrient levels (field plus fertilizer nutrients) similar to a high yielding wheat crop.
While hemp seeds are grown in many parts of the world, its major producers include Canada, France, and China. Hemp has been prohibited from cultivation in the United States since about 1950. Despite its value, the U.S. government doesn't recognize the differences between industrial hemp and marijuana. In fact, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, classifies all varieties of Cannabis as marijuana, making industrial hemp just as illegal regardless of its use.
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.
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.
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. 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.
While the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 had just been signed into law, the United States Department of Agriculture lifted the tax on hemp cultivation during WW II. Before WW II, the U.S. Navy used Jute and Manila Hemp from the Philippines and Indonesia for the cordage on their ships. During the war, Japan cut off those supply lines. America was forced to turn inward and revitalize the cultivation of Hemp on U.S. soils.
Author Paoli Ranalli in the book, Advances in Hemp Research, states that one of the major minerals that one can find in hemp seed is iron, an integral part of red blood cell construction in the human body. Iron deficiency can result in anemia, so having a proper amount of iron intake from foods like hemp seed can help prevent anemia, which displays itself in symptoms like fatigue, headaches, muscle weakness, and a wide range of other symptoms. Iron also helps in reducing stress and anxiety.
^ Jump up to: a b c This paper begins with a history of hemp use and then describes how hemp was constructed as a dangerous crop in the U.S. The paper then discusses the potential of hemp as an alternative crop. Luginbuhl, April M. (2001). "Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L): The geography of a controversial plant". The California Geographer. 41. California Geographical Society. pp. 1–14. hdl:10211.2/2738. Hemp contains less than 1% THC, or tetrahydrocannabinols, the psychoactive property in marijuana. In other words, smoking hemp cannot create a 'high.' ... The dense growth of hemp eliminates other weeds.... The best growing technique for hemp, planting 300 to 500 plants per square meter, also helps authorities easily tell the hemp from marijuana, which is a plant that is less densely cultivated. (Roulac 1997; 149).
Furthermore, hemp seed has a final unique characteristic. Gamma-linoleic acid, commonly known as GLA, is a rare form of omega-6 fatty acid that can be found in very few edible sources, but it can have amazingly beneficial effects on your health. It has been connected to improving a number of cardiovascular conditions, and it helps to lower negative cholesterol while increasing the presence of beneficial cholesterol. Overall, this seed is a powerful weapon against damage to your heart.