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The New Generation of Hemp

Legal Hemp in UK

Creative Commons License Photo credit: Uncleweed

The day has finally come for industrial hemp. Hemp products are reaching mainstream markets and becoming more and more popular. However, although hemp crops have been around for literally thousands of years, the benefits of this important crop are still being overshadowed by its controversial stigma as marijuana. 

What is Hemp?

Hemp (also known as Cannabis sativa L.) is a diverse plant encompassing over 500 varieties. This article refers to industrial hemp, used for food, cloth and other commodities, as opposed to marijuana.

Contrary to popular belief, marijuana and hemp, though related, are not synonymous. The levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana) are less than 0.3% in hemp. Conversely, industrial hemp contains a relatively high percentage of another chemical called CBD, which actually impedes psychoactive effects of marijuana. Therefore, eating hemp, smoking hemp or using hemp products will not get you high.

Benefits of Hemp

A highly renewable resource, hemp’s adaptability, sustainability and durability set it apart from other natural plants. Compared to cotton crops, which require enormous amounts of pesticides and herbicides to grow, hemp thrives without chemicals and without much water. In fact, hemp crops actually enrich the soil, instead of depleting it of nutrients. Plus, hemp grows quickly, making it a perfect sustainable crop.

Products Made From Hemp

Next time you go shopping, keep an eye open for these great hemp products:

Clothing: As clothing, hemp stays cool in the heat and warm in cold weather. Hemp cloth is more durable than cotton, but just as comfortable. Its cloth is naturally resistant to mold and mildew. These days, hemp clothing doesn’t mean burlap sacks—there are tons of comfortable, trendy clothes for men and women made from hemp or hemp/organic cotton blends. It’s not just t-shirts either; look for hemp underwear, pyjamas and even wedding gowns. Plus, it is a great vegetarian alternative to leather or synthetic fibres in wallets, purses, bags, belts and shoes.

Brand to check out: The Hempest (http://store.hempest.com/catalog/)

Food: Hemp seeds (also called Hemp Hearts) are extremely high in protein, fibre, and omega 3 fatty acids (the “healthy fatsâ€). They are also delicious and have a nutty taste, similar to sunflower seeds. Try some sprinkled over your oatmeal, cold cereal, yogurt, or straight out of the package. Other hemp products include protein powder, oil, flour, and “hemp milkâ€â€”a vegan alternative to milk!

Brand to check out: Manitoba Harvest

Body Care: The natural, healthy oils in hemp makes great, moisturizing lip balms, body lotions, shampoos and conditioners and even massage oils.

Brand to check out: The Merry Hempsters

Cleaning Products: Hemp produces all-purpose, all-vegetable, liquid soap that can be used for bathing, dishes, laundry and more.

Brand to check out: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap

Household Products: Rope, twine and yarn made from hemp is very strong. Try using hemp twine in the garden to support and tie climbing plants, such as tomatoes. Paper products include journals, napkins and greeting cards. Products for the kitchen range from pot holders and oven mitts, to aprons, towels and more.     

Brand to check out: Rawganique (http://www.rawganique.com/index.htm)

Of course, there are hundreds more brands and stores that carry hemp products. Try this search engine to find hemp products and stores near you (in Canada and the US): http://www.hempstores.com/. Better yet, do some research of your own and see what you come up with.

Regulatory Issues

Since 1998, Canada has grown industrial hemp. It is federally regulated and all hemp crops must legally be GMO free.

Unfortunately, hemp is still facing obstacles being seen as a valuable, environmentally friendly crop and not a drug. In the US, where hemp is continually associated with marijuana, hemp crops are illegal without a permit. There, hemp is regulated under the Drug Enforcement Administration instead of the Department of Agriculture, where it belongs. Thankfully, there is a growing movement against these regulations. Visit their website Vote Hemp (http://www.votehemp.com/) for more information and to learn how to get involved.

User Feedback

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Thanks for the article Leah! I've long been interested in hemp products and I've always wondered why it hasn't received the attention it deserves (or, rather, who's been hampering hemp).

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I think the government must try to pass a resolution on this one, it's income generating and once regulated could boosts some economic progress, hence, could create more jobs to those unemployed people. Goodluck and I like your posts.

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I think the government will eventually pass laws making Marijuana legal for adults. The Medical Marijuana industry is growing and is only helping out the States with no money going to the government. www.budtrader.com is an example of where the market is going.

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I like how this article is about industrial hemp and why it needs to be differentiated from the drug- and then someone starts talking about marijuana.


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