Hemp: An Industrially Versatile Plant

Credit: Jayselthofner.com

Written by Wes Annac, The Culture of Awareness

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says the word ‘hemp’? For the uninformed, marijuana might immediately pop up, which could cause them to automatically shun the plant.

Almost any article you’ll find about hemp distinguishes it from marijuana, which is closely related to it but doesn’t actually have much to do with it. Unfortunately, the United States closely links hemp with marijuana by putting them in the same ‘Schedule 1’ drug category.

Even though industrial hemp doesn’t contain anywhere near enough THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) to produce any kind of ‘high’, the US government has utterly failed to distinguish it from its psychoactive counterpart.

Despite hemp’s numerous benefits, the Federal government’s comfortable pretending it’s the same as marijuana when, in fact, the two are very different. You can’t get high off of hemp, but it’s legally considered a dangerous drug.

Most people don’t realize that the only people who’d really be hurt by hemp’s legalization are the interests who want to maintain the grip that the cotton and timber industries (among many others) have on our society. Due its many uses, hemp’s a great alternative to things like cotton and the aforementioned industries would lose sales if it were legalized.

Here, we’ll explore some of hemp’s benefits as we plow our way through the misconceptions that have been mistakenly accepted as reality.

The intention of this article is to help break some of the socially accepted stereotypes surrounding hemp while raising awareness of its uses, and if enough awareness is raised about it, it could eventually be legalized for industrial use and finally show us what it can do.

A lot of other countries already cultivate it for its industrial riches, but the US has yet to catch up.

This world could change significantly if hemp’s many uses were understood and accepted, and in time, the widespread ignorance that surrounds this plant will be replaced with an understanding of the many benefits it can offer our society. We could definitely use something to help us out of our ongoing economic slump.

HempBenefits.org explains why hemp is such a valued plant.

“Hemp is one of the oldest agricultural crops, cultivated as early as 4000 B.C. in China. It has been mentioned in different contexts in several ancient texts:

“It was grown all over the world and valued for its medicinal benefits.

“Once its many properties were discovered, it was treated as a precious substance and even given importance in religious ceremonies.

“Hemp is one of the oldest known sources for cloth

“Composites of hemp and limestone have been discovered in ancient Roman structures.” (1)

We’re also told about how the East India Company grew industrial hemp and used it on their ships (and, I’d imagine, on plenty of other things).

“The naval prominence in the Netherlands around the 17th century brought about the Golden Age. The Dutch East India Company has established their shipping trade globally, with the financial support of the Dutch merchant empire. This naval industry relied on hemp to a very large extent.

“It was the second most important component in ship-building, after wood. It was used as rope, canvas and to waterproof the hull through caulking. Around 21 kilometers / 13 miles of rope and several hundred square meters / yards of canvas were needed for each sailing vessel. This in turn increased the cultivation of the cannabis plant.” (2)

The end of this quote mentions the cannabis plant, and I think it’s important to remember that there is a difference between the two plants (hemp and marijuana). I’m sure they’ve been grown together in times when the latter wasn’t outlawed, but it’s very possible to grow hemp without growing marijuana or producing any THC whatsoever.

Hemp Benefits also explains hemp’s role in building up the American colonies, which would eventually become the United States.

“The British colonized the region of modern-day America and set up large agricultural fields to produce the raw material, mainly in Kentucky and Missouri.

“The processed fibers were exported to England and the other colonists. Employment opportunities increased in America as the spinning and weaving industry grew, eventually leading to the War of Independence against England’s dominance.” (3)

The US thrived cultivating hemp until interests across seas who sold it for cheaper prices started to dominate the market (the US became one of their buyers). They were forced to start growing it again during World War 2, lest they wanted to miss out on its industrial benefits.

“The growth of hemp in the U.S. dwindled with the availability of cheaper imported fibers from Manila and the East India Company.

“During [World] War II, however, the Japanese took possession of the Philippines and the East India Company, and since jute supply from India was also restricted, the Americans had to produce hemp once again, for industrial purposes as well as to sustain the vast demand from the army and navy, as follows:

“Rope made from hemp was used in rigging, towing and mooring the ships

“Paratroopers needed webbing for their parachutes

“The fiber was used to make shoes for the soldiers

“It served as a fire-hose of average quality

“Thus, hemp has played a vital role in global history.” (4)

Most hemp advocates have seen the video the US government made in the 1940s entitled ‘Hemp For Victory’, and this video displays that at one time, the US government clearly knew the difference between hemp and marijuana and were willing to use hemp to help this country.

Their stance on hemp has definitely changed since the 40s, and again, this is probably because of the vested interests in other commodities who don’t want to lose out on the money hemp would save.

Hemp could easily overtake cotton, lumber and plenty of other things that are grown industrially, and if it were legalized, the corporations who make big money off of these depleting resources wouldn’t profit as greatly as they’re used to.

It seems like a small price to pay for the revolutionary things hemp offers our society, but greed always seems to trump the will do to what’s right.

David P. West tells us that hemp’s among the most misunderstood plants of our time.

“Surely no member of the vegetable kingdom has ever been more misunderstood than hemp. For too many years, emotion—not reason—has guided our policy toward this crop. And nowhere have emotions run hotter than in the debate over the distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana.” (5)

David also explains the difference between THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, and CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabinoid that’s found in industrial hemp.

“Cannabis is the only plant genus that contains the unique class of molecular compounds called cannabinoids. Many cannabinoids have been identified, but two preponderate: THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient of Cannabis, and CBD, which is an antipsychoactive ingredient.

“One type of Cannabis is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, and low in the antipsychoactive cannabinoid, CBD. This type is popularly known as marijuana. Another type is high in CBD and low in THC. Variants of this type are called industrial hemp.” (6)

Hemp contains a lot of CBD and almost no THC, but most people who don’t know anything about it are too worried that legalizing it will lead their children to try to get high off of it. It’d feel pretty bad for anyone who tried to get intoxicated from hemp, because it seems silly and it wouldn’t work.

Parents don’t have to worry about their children seeing it as some new drug, and all we have to do is let them know about the difference between it and marijuana.

We can let our children know that these plants are related but one of them serves various industrial purposes and the other causes an intoxication that they’re best to stay away from – at least until they’re at an age where they can make their own decisions.

The fact that hemp and marijuana are so closely related has been used as a reason to keep the former’s enormous benefits from us, and it’s because of the close-mindedness of the public (and our elected officials) that it hasn’t yet been legalized.

If we can understand the difference between the two related plants, we can bring an end to the close-mindedness and open up to the idea that this plant might actually help us out of the industrial and economic mess we’re in.

David West explains why hemp isn’t intoxicating.

Myth: Smoking industrial hemp gets a person high.

Reality: The THC levels in industrial hemp are so low that no one could get high from smoking it. Moreover, hemp contains a relatively high percentage of another cannabinoid, CBD, that actually blocks the marijuana high. Hemp, it turns out, is not only not marijuana; it could be called ‘antimarijuana.’” (7)

CBD actually prevents a THC induced high, and what dismal traces of THC are left in the industrial hemp plant are rendered useless by this compound. This alone should reassure scared parents that nothing about the hemp plant will intoxicate them or their children or even change their consciousness in the tiniest way.

This plant is as harmless as the trees we use for wood and paper, and it can actually make stronger and more durable paper than what we receive from trees. Not to mention that it grows much, much quicker than any tree ever will, and it can be harvested three times a year (as opposed to waiting seventy years for a tree to grow into maturity).

We’ve heard a lot of talk about hemp oil lately, and apparently, some people are concerned that it’s as intoxicating as marijuana. David West busts this myth.

Myth: Hemp oil is a source of THC.

Reality: Hemp oil is an increasingly popular product, used for an expanding variety of purposes. The washed hemp seed contains no THC at all.

“The tiny amounts of THC contained in industrial hemp are in the glands of the plant itself. Sometimes, in the manufacturing process, some THC- and CBD-containing resin sticks to the seed, resulting in traces of THC in the oil that is produced. The concentration of these cannabinoids in the oil is infinitesimal. No one can get high from using hemp oil.” (8)

Again, I’d feel bad for anyone who tried to get high off of hemp oil, because they just wouldn’t gain the effects they desire. If they’re looking to cure cancer or some other type of illness, then hemp oil could very well be their answer, but it won’t intoxicate them or change their mental state one bit.

It just doesn’t contain enough of marijuana’s active ingredient to be intoxicating, which naturally makes people question why the US government (and other governments) would close-mindedly classify it in the same category as marijuana.

Just because the two plants are related doesn’t mean one has to speak for the other, and even the most passionate marijuana haters can recognize that beyond their close relation, they don’t really have much to do with each other.

We’re the ones who decided they had to be the same thing, and we’re keeping ourselves from prospering by refusing to open our minds a little.

Now, we’ll examine some of the health benefits of hemp seeds. Hemp doesn’t just have industrial value – its seeds provide nutrition in the form of certain essential acids we’re meant to have in our daily diet.

We’d receive a significance dose of these acids if we ate hemp seeds every day, and we’ll learn more about them and the overall nutritional value of hemp before we wrap this report up.

Care2.com tells us about the fatty acids hemp seeds contain, which are important for our health.

“Sharon Palmer, author of The Plant Powered Diet, wasn’t wasting her breath when she said, ‘I think hemp is the next ‘it’ food — it has been for a while.’

“The hemp seed is bursting with Omega-6 and Omega-3, essential fatty acids that have heart health and anti inflammatory benefits. Hemp seeds are nutty in flavor and breathe life into salads, desserts, yogurts, cereals, and breads. Hemp seeds can be turned into butter, milk, protein powder, finishing oil, and soap.” (9)

We’re also told about some of the benefits of hemp as a plant.

“Unfortunately, Uncle Sam outlawed hemp farming in 1958, a shame when you consider how amazing a crop it is. The plant thrives without pesticides, purifies the soil around it, and kills weeds. The U.S. is the only country that bans industrial hemp farming, quelling what could be an agricultural and financial boon for our indebted country.” (10)

Not a lot of other plants actually kill weeds, and most of them are overtaken by weeds, vines or some other type of invasive plant species. Hemp can apparently thrive without being overthrown by weeds or anything else, and this, along with its uncountable industrial benefits, makes it a good candidate for farmers.

According to Care2, adding hemp seeds to our diet could give us more energy and vitality.

“The protein and fiber in hemp combine to slow digestion, which prevents spikes in blood sugar and therefore sustains your body’s energy. A diet rich in hemp promotes digestive regularity.” (11)

Not only can they give us more energy – they can keep us full for a longer period of time.

“When sprinkled on your cereal or fruit at breakfast, hemp protein and fiber also help aid in satiety, which will prevent you from snacking and keep you fuller longer.” (12)

Hemp is one of the only plants with seeds that contain Omega 3, which can apparently keep Alzheimer’s away.

“The Omega-3 fatty acids in hemp reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, and may even ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Hemp seeds are one of the few Omega-3 sources found in plants.” (13)

Hemp seeds contain Omega 3 and Omega 6, which can keep our skin, hair and bones healthy. Their amino acids can also help us control our muscles and maintain our cells and organs.

“The Omega-6 fatty acids in hemp stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and help the brain function.

“Hemp seeds contain essential amino acids, which improves muscle control, mental function, and normal body maintenance of cells, muscle, tissues, and organs.” (14)

Hemp seeds help the human body in all these ways, and yet, growing it still isn’t acceptable in the US. Its industrial benefits alone should cause us to reconsider our biased stance on it, and even if it weren’t for these benefits, the acids its seeds provide (which the body needs to stay healthy) should lead us to consider that this plant isn’t so bad.

People are nothing if not judgmental, and all it takes is a few people in power telling us something’s bad for everyone to jump onboard. Most people will do little to no research on hemp, because they rely primarily on their governments, mainstream media, and general social conditioning to know if something’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

In relying on society to tell us what’s right for us, we start to overlook things that’d benefit our planet greatly but pose a risk to corporations who make money off of the alternatives they’ve relentlessly pushed onto us.

I think people need to wake up and educate themselves about hemp’s numerous benefits, and instead of immediately lumping it in with marijuana, which is itself lumped in with drugs that are much more dangerous, we can see that the two only have as much to do with each other as we let them.

The degree to which we associate hemp with marijuana determines its true relation to the drug, and if we wanted to, we could keep the two completely separate and grow hemp by itself for purely industrial purposes.

Plenty of people (and countries) already do, and there hasn’t been a spike in marijuana use in the countries who allow hemp to be grown industrially. If there were, you can bet the mainstream media would let us know.

In time, the haze of confusion surrounding hemp and marijuana will clear, and we can start to see this plant for what it really is – a revolutionary godsend that could help the hurt economies of various nations, introduce jobs galore to countries that outsource employment to other, distant places, and bear seeds that help our bodies prosper.

We just have to clear our biases and replace collective ignorance with knowledge, and we might find hope for this planet after all. Hemp might not solely help our planet thrive, but it’ll help us a lot more than most people are comfortable giving it credit for.

Footnotes:

  1. HempBenefits.org: ‘Hemp History’ at – http://hempbenefits.org/hemp-history/
  2. Loc. cit.
  3. Loc. cit.
  4. Loc. cit.
  5. ‘Hemp Myths & Realities’ Written by David P. West, Ph.D., HempBenefits.org – http://hempbenefits.org/hemp-myths-realities/
  6. Loc. cit.
  7. Loc. cit.
  8. Loc. cit.
  9. Care2.com: ‘Five Surprising Health Benefits of Hemp’ at – http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-surprising-health-benefits-of-hemp-2.html
  10. Loc. cit.
  11. Loc. cit.
  12. Loc. cit.
  13. Loc. cit.
  14. Loc. cit.

(Share this article freely.)

I’m a twenty-one year old writer, musician and blogger, and I created The Culture of Awareness daily news site.

The Culture of Awareness features daily spiritual and alternative news, articles I’ve written, and more. Its purpose is to awaken and uplift by providing material about the fall of the planetary elite and a new paradigm of unity and spirituality.

I can also be found on Facebook (Wes Annac and The Culture of Awareness) and Twitter.

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