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Beyond CBD: The Eco-Friendly Versatility of Industrial Hemp

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Cannabidiol (CBD) is just one of the 113 potentially beneficial plant-based cannabinoids found in hemp plants. Those investigating the numerous potential benefits of CBD soon learn that most CBD products available to the average consumer are derived from the aerial parts of industrial hemp. Although hemp is a member of the plant species, Cannabis sativa L., hemp oil products do not cause intoxication.

After decades of prohibition, the federal government recently lifted the restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp. Thanks to the Agricultural Act of 2018, it is once again legal to grow hemp crops in all 50 states. That’s a significant step in the right direction; hemp has prevailed throughout history as an extraordinarily versatile crop.

 

Ancient Civilizations Thrived on Hemp Cultivation

As one of the earliest domesticated crops, hemp has been used throughout the ages as a source of food, textiles, and herbal medicine. While ancient Chinese Emperor Shen Nung1 is credited for teaching his people to cultivate hemp for cloth in the 28th century BC, archaeologists found remnants of hemp cloth in Mesopotamia (now Iran and Iraq) that dated back to 8,000 BC. It is commonly believed that hemp arrived in Europe in 1,200 BC, and quickly spread throughout the ancient civilizations.

Our ancient ancestors found multiple uses for every part of the plant, from the seeds to the roots. Just a few of the many significant ways hemp was used throughout ancient history included:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hemp Was Once a Required Crop

It was the Puritans who first brought hemp seeds to colonial America. Hemp was used to create the sails, ropes, and caulk used on British sailing vessels. Due to the high demand for hemp, British Colonies were required to grow hemp crops to create products intended for British consumption.

Early American Presidents Washington and Jefferson were both known to have grown hemp on their land. In Colonial America hemp was still a required crop, and at least three colonies used hemp as a form of legal tender. Anyone who did not grow hemp on their land was fined.

Hemp cultivation prospered until the mid-1930s. Hemp was so widely used in the US, that some historians believe competing industries that considered hemp a threat to their livelihood (paper, pesticides, and oil) began a campaign to directly associate industrial hemp with its cannabis cousin, marijuana.

 

The Taxation and Criminalization of Industrial Hemp

When the Marijuana Tax Act was signed to law in 1937 to minimize marijuana use, the government also imposed heavy licensing restrictions and hefty taxes on hemp farmers, raising the cost of cultivating industrial hemp. The resulting financial burdens made hemp farming significantly less profitable.

While hemp farming fell out of favor during the 1930s, at that time hemp and marijuana were still recognized as individual plants with significantly different properties. That changed with the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, which specified cannabis, rather than marijuana, as a schedule one drug. With the reclassification, hemp could no longer be grown in the US without a permit from the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency). Since that time, industries relying on industrial hemp were forced to use imported hemp.

 

The Revival of a Renewable Resource

Not only is hemp a versatile commodity, but hemp crops are also an ecologically-friendly, renewable resource. This hearty plant grows up to 16 feet in height within a few months in a variety of climates. A single crop can yield up to 8 tons of dry stalks per acre. These fast-growing plants are even used to clean contaminated soil. Just a few of the many beneficial products that are currently created with industrial hemp include:

 

 

 

 

Industrial Hemp Cultivation on American Soil

While hemp has been grown in a significant number of states for research and pilot programs since the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, it was the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the cultivation of hemp crops in all 50 states.  As the production of domestic hemp increases, product manufacturers will no longer have to rely on imported crops, potentially providing substantial economic benefit for our country.

Hemp is still used in many industries. Today, we better understand what our ancestors discovered long ago. We know why hemp fibers are strong, we recognize the specific nutrients in hemp seeds and have identified the elements that give hemp oil the potential to influence our health.

To learn more about this fascinating communication system, your endocannabinoid system, and the many potential health and wellness benefits of hemp CBD, download The Ultimate CBD User Guide at CBDistillery. While there, consider taking a look at our selection of quality, fairly priced hemp oil supplements. All CBDistillery products are grown from non-GMO hemp seeds using organic farming methods and third-party verified for quality, purity, and potency.

 

Sources:

The Thistle. (2000, September). Volume 13, Number 2

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