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A Journal of Cannabis and Culture

The Ultimate Guide To Hemp's Many Uses

The Ultimate Guide To Hemp's Many Uses

BY KIMBERLY TRUONG

From your reusable grocery bag to your favorite TOMS shoes, you likely have at least a few of things around your house that are made out of hemp, whether you know it or not. But what is hemp, really? And how can it be used in so many different things?

What is Hemp

Hemp, a cannabis subspecies, is mostly bred for its fibers. It’s a part of the cannabis plant, though it’s a different subspecies from marijuana. Legally, hemp is defined as any cannabis plant with less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid that gives you the high that’s associated with the versatile plant.

“While hemp is cannabis and marijuana is also cannabis, hemp is not marijuana in that hemp, which contains just 0.3% THC, has no use as a recreational drug,” says Erica McBride Stark, executive director of the National Hemp Association.

Hemp had been federally illegal until the passage of the 2018 Hemp Farming Act, which removed hemp from the list of controlled substances and made it an ordinary agricultural commodity. While that doesn’t automatically make hemp legal in every state, Stark says there’s hope that this will soon be the case.

Forty-one states have already passed some form of hemp legislation, and it’s expected that it won’t be long before all states get on board when they realize the tremendous opportunities hemp has to offer,” Stark explains. “It is widely said that hemp can be used to make 25,000 different products. While this sounds like a gross exaggeration, it actually is not.”

With that in mind, here’s the lowdown on a few of the most popular ways in which hemp is used.

Hemp Benefits and Uses

Fibers
Kristen Williams, CEO of cannabis education company Hempsley, says that because hemp stalk is much stockier and sturdier than marijuana plants tend to be, it’s ideal for fibers and textiles, like rope, canvas bags, and shoes—although, since it’s not the softest material, it’s rarer to see it used in clothing.

Paper
Since hemp is so fibrous, it can also be used as an alternative means of making paper. You can grow hemp much faster than you can grow trees, so it’s very useful for sustainable sources of papermaking,” Williams says.

Food
There’s a reason you see hemp seed in the aisles of every healthy grocery store you walk into. Williams says hemp seeds are highly nutritious and rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which can give your body energy and can even protect against heart disease and strokes.

“You can buy a bag of hemp seeds and put them in your smoothies, oatmeal, or granola,” Williams says. “Hemp seed oil is also great for making your own salad dressing.” Additionally, hemp seeds can be used to make hemp milk for those who are lactose intolerant—or just on the lookout for alternative milk options.

Beauty Products
Williams says that since the oil pressed from hemp seeds is so rich in those fatty acids, it’s a popular ingredient for beauty product, particularly moisturizers. “Again, hemp seed oil is rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, so it traps moisture into the skin,” she says.

Fuel
Hemp can also be used toproduce biofuel by pressing the hemp seeds to extract its oils and fats and then processing that product into fuel. That said, it takes a good amount of the hemp material to turn it into a significant amount of fuel, but it’s still a testament to its versatility.

CBD
Hemp is also used in a lot of popular CBD products, like CBD hemp oil. However, hemp CBD is different from cannabis CBD in a few specific ways. For starters, hemp is derived from the hemp seed and stalk of a plant instead of the leaves and flower that cannabis is extracted from, which means it doesn’t have the components you’d find in cannabis CBD. Plus, as Williams explains, hemp is largely unregulated, meaning that it’s hard to tell how much hemp CBD is actually in any given product, or if it’s free of any toxic materials like pesticides.

A Journal of Cannabis and Culture
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