Hemp: what you need to know about this amazing variety of cannabis

Hemp: what you need to know about this amazing variety of cannabis

Cannabis belongs to a large family of plants that is becoming more and more popular. However, it is important to note that cannabis does not just refer to the plant used for recreational use.

If you want to learn about the different types of cannabis (also commonly known as marijuana) and what they are used for, other than recreational purposes, you are in the right place.

In this article, we are going to be talking about a specific type of cannabis called hemp. Hemp contains CBD (cannabidiol, one of the active components of cannabis), which can be used for medicinal purposes. But did you know that hemp has many other uses too?

What is hemp?

Most of us have heard of hemp, without realizing that it is a cannabis plant. The word hemp refers to both the plant and the fiber derived from it.

History of hemp

In the history of mankind, hemp has been around since 12,000 b.c. – 8,000 b.c.

Since then, hemp has travelled all over the world and its use has varied depending on different cultures and periods of history.

In the past, this plant has been used to make clothing, paper, rope, pottery, oils and food.

Currently, hemp is used as a material for construction, thermal and acoustic insulation, biomass for making biofuels, microfibers, as well as an ingredient for medical purposes.

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What is the difference between hemp and other cannabis plants?

Although they belong to the Cannabaceae family and are varieties of the cannabis genus, hemp is very different from other cannabis plants in terms of its composition, cultivation and uses.

In this article, “other cannabis plants” refers to cannabis that is not hemp (which is used for therapeutic, medicinal or recreational purposes).

Composition of hemp and other cannabis plants

Cannabis contains more than 100 phytocannabinoids or active ingredients, the most common being CBD and THC. Although both types have medicinal properties, CBD does not have a psychoactive effect, whilst THC is the plant´s main psychoactive cannabinoid.

Hemp has a maximum THC content of 0.3 % in dry weight. It can have a high CBD content (which acts as
an antagonist to THC), which
makes it a non-psychoactive plant.
Other cannabis plants can have
high THC contents, which,
depending on the variety, can be up to 35 % THC.They have a high CBD content.

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Types of hemp and other cannabis plants:

Cannabis is divided into three groups:

  • Sativa: originates in the Himalayas, can grow up to 5 meters tall, its leaves are narrow and it has a greater number of leaflets (max. 9).
  • Indica: originates in the mountainous regions of the Hindu Kush, Tibet and the Canary Islands, can grow up to 2m tall, is more robust and compact, its leaves are wider and has a small number of leaflets (max. 7).
  • Ruderalis: originates in the south of Siberia and the north of Kazakhstan, it is autoflowering (flowering does not depend on photoperiods) and doesn’t grow as tall, but takes a shorter amount of time to grow.
Hemp is mainly related to the
sativa group.
Other cannabis plants can belong
to any one of the other groups (andhybrids can belong to more than

Legality of hemp and other cannabis plants:

Although views are changing and the global stigma surrounding this amazing plant is starting to crumble, other cannabis plants (due to their psychoactive properties caused by their high THC content) have a very different legal framework from hemp.

As hemp contains minimal amounts of THC, its planting, distribution,
sale and use is legal in most
Other cannabis plants with higher
levels of THC are regulated on a
recreational and medicinal level.
More and more countries are
beginning to legalize its medicinal use, but its recreational use is still up for debate.

What do hemp and other cannabis plants look like?

The leaves and the general shape of the plant is very similar, but there are many other visual characteristics that can help us differentiate between hemp and other types of cannabis.

Hemp is tall (can grow up to 6 m),
thin and has narrow leaves that
are concentrated at the top of the
Other cannabis plants, depending
on the subspecies, can have thin orwide leaves spread out along the
entire stem. Next to hemp, they
may look like shrubs because of their bushy shape.

Cultivating hemp and other cannabis plants

The environment in which hemp and other cannabis plants grow, is very different. Conditions like space, temperature, distribution and care are completely different.

Hemp plants grow very close
together, at about 10 cm (or less)
apart. They are usually grown
outside in large plots.
They can be grown in various
climates and their cycle takes 108
to 120 days.
Hemp plants are harvested using amachine.
Other cannabis plants cannot be
grown so close together (1 or 2
per square meter) and require
greater care and control, which is why they are usually grown in
Their growth requires the control
of temperature, humidity and
atmospheric conditions and their
cycle takes 60 to 90 days.
Their flowers are harvested, dried and stripped by hand.

Resin from hemp and other cannabis plants:

One of the main differences between hemp and other cannabis plants is the amount of resin that can be extracted from them.

Hemp has very little resin.Other cannabis plants have a lot ofresin, which is extracted from their

Use of hemp and other cannabis plants:

The history of cannabis shows us that, despite the controversy that still surrounds the plant, it has a wide range of uses. It can be used for mundane purposes, but also for scientific and medical development and research.

Hemp has more than 25,000
possible uses, including: making
textiles, supplements, body and
skin treatments, paper and
biofuels, as well as for
Other cannabis plants can be used
recreationally, but also for
medicinal and scientific purposes.

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The many uses of hemp

Among the many uses of hemp, some uses are particularly surprising:

Hemp as a fiber

When the fiber from the bast (the inner core of the stem) is properly collected, you obtain a material that is even stronger than steel. This material can be used to make:

  • textiles
  • rope
  • paper
  • cloth
  • canvas (the word canvas actually comes from the word cannabis)
  • nets
  • bags
  • accessories
  • rugs

Hemp as food

Hemp is one of the most nutritional plant-based food sources. In terms of nutritional value, hemp seeds are even better than chia seeds, flaxseeds and fish oil. They are also happen to be delicious.

Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, milled, sprouted or in powder form. The seeds, as well as the leaves and the oil from the hemp plant, can be used to make:

  • salads
  • salad dressing
  • milk alternative
  • protein powder
  • all-purpose flour
  • cakes
  • beer
  • granola
  • bread
  • dietary supplements
  • pet food

Hemp as a construction material

The woody center of the hemp stalk , or the hurd, is highly absorbent, contains a lot of cellulose and has incredible acoustic and thermal insulation properties. It can be used in two forms, as unprocessed pieces or as a pulp. It can be used as:

  • concrete “hempcrete” (material that is becoming more and more popular in the construction of houses, because it is a great insulator, wind-resistant and has a low carbon footprint)
  • insulation
  • biodegradable plastic
  • material for:
    • building houses
    • car manufacturing
    • making electronic devices
    • production of microfibers (can substitute materials like fiberglass, hence why it can be used in car manufacturing)

Hemp as a phytoremediator

Hemp has phytoremediation potential, which means that it takes toxic elements out of the soil and restores the ground where it has been planted. Some of the toxins that can be absorbed by hemp are:

  • metals
  • pesticides
  • crude oil
  • cadmium
  • radioactive materials

Hemp that has been used as a phytoremediator is not suitable for human consumption, but it can be used for other things, like making biofuel.

Hemp as a biofuel

It is almost poetic to think that this same plant that has healed the soil, can also be used to produce eco-friendly biofuel. Well, that’s hemp for you. This wonderful plant can be used to produce two different types of biofuel:

  • Researchers from the University of Connecticut found that hemp seed oil has a 97% conversion rate into biodiesel. This fuel passed all the laboratory tests, proving that it can be used in any diesel engine.
  • The rest of the hemp plant can be used to produce ethanol or methanol. These are more commonly known as “hempanol” or “hempoline”.

Cannabis-based products:

AccessoriesPurses, bags, briefcases, belts, hats, gloves, guitar straps, hair ties, hats, jewelry, luggage, scarves, shawls, shoelaces, socks, ties, travel kits, wallets, watch bands.
Pet productsBedding, food, leashes, collars and toys.
ClothingPants, shirts, t-shirts, shorts, skirts, dresses, jackets, jeans, underwear, suits, sweaters, bathrobes and baby clothes.
BodycareShampoo, conditioner, soap, lip balm, lotion, massage oils, balsams, tanning oil.
FoodBread, burgers, sweets, chocolate bars, coffee, cookies, hemp flour, hemp seeds (including flavored varieties), in dry mixes for cakes, cookies, pancakes and pizza dough, energy bars, hummus, milk alternative, ice cream (and non-dairy desserts), nut bars, butter, cooking oil, pasta, pretzels, protein powder, roasted seeds, salad dressings, beer and sodas.
HomewareBlankets, curtains, bedspreads, furniture, hammocks, pillows, napkins, tablecloths, towels, aprons.
PaperArt paper, bond paper, bookmarks, books, rolling papers, cardboard, envelopes, invitations, postcards, stationery, notebooks, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, posters and research papers.
Raw hempFiber, wadding, long fiber for industrial and artisanal use, seeds.
SportsSkateboards, snowboards, surfboards and frisbees.
Hemp yarnKnitting and crochet yarn, sewing thread, string, rope, straps.
TextilesFabrics made by hand and with a loom: silk linen blend fabrics, of various weights, textures, colors, patterns, stripes and pictures; non-woven mats (replacing fiberglass); carpets and rugs.
OtherCandles, coffee filters, drums, picture frames and children’s toys.
What other uses for hemp can you think of?

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CBD from hemp

CBD is a compound found in cannabis with a number of therapeutic properties, which helps to keep you healthy, as well as recover from various diseases.

This magical phytocannabinoid is found in all cannabis plants in different proportions, including in different sativa, indica or ruderalis varieties, as well as hemp (sativa).

However, CBD from hemp and its oil is different to CBD from other cannabis plants.

How is CBD from hemp different to CBD from other cannabis plants?

CBD, whether from hemp and other cannabis plants, is almost the same. The difference is that hemp has a much lower amount of CBD, which means extracting just a small sample of CBD requires much larger quantities of hemp.

The advantage of CBD from hemp is that, as it is extracted from a plant that is not psychoactive (with a THC content of less than 0.3 %), it is not classified as a psychoactive drug and can be sold freely.

CBD from hemp has been used effectively and safely in children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and in people who are not able to take pharmaceutical drugs and are looking for an alternative.

In any case, it is important that you get informed about the source of CBD and where the hemp has been extracted from was planted.

Take into account that if the hemp was planted in a place with a lot of pesticides or toxic elements, it should not be consumed or used for medicinal purposes.

The future of hemp

With the growing popularity of medicinal cannabis, as well as the thousands of practical and eco-friendly uses of this plant, the hemp industry is booming all over the world.

We already know the benefits of the cannabis, including hemp and other types of cannabis plants. Now it is just a matter of educating people about the advantages of this special plant, which have nothing to do with its recreational use, but could help us make huge scientific, medical and technological advancements.

Share this article with your friends and family and help raise awareness about the incredible benefits of hemp.

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