Hemp, unlike its controversial cousin, Marijuana, has been known and loved for its industrial and environmental uses for generations. And while it comes from the same cannabis species as marijuana, they are genetically distinct and can be distinguished by their use, chemical makeup and even the method by which they are cultivated.
As far back as 10,000 years ago, hemp was one of the first plants ever to be spun into usable fiber. Today, you’ll find that it’s been refined and used for a variety of items such as textiles, paper, clothing, paint, food, rope, animal feed, and even bio fuel. Hemp seeds have even been used in organic body care and other nutraceuticals.
At one point, hemp was even considered legal tender and was used as money for over 200 years in America. In fact, it was considered so valuable that farmers in America and England were fined or jailed for not growing it.
Today, it’s still valued particularly by people who love the environment. It is an incredibly sustainable renewable resource. And as one of the fastest growing plants, it can be grown in many climates and conditions worldwide.
Hemp only takes about three to four months to mature. Weed and crop protection are not necessary, and it requires very few pesticides and no herbicide which is incredibly good for the environment. It’s been called a “carbon negative” raw material and environmentally friendly due to its decreased land use and other environmental impacts.
Compared to regular paper, hemp paper is more environmentally friendly. It would only take 1 acre of hemp to produce the same amount of paper that 4.1 acres of trees would yield. Just 1 acre of hemp produces as much fiber as almost 3 acres of cotton. And unlike cotton, hemp does not mildew and is relatively stronger yet softer than cotton. Pure hemp is said to have a similar texture as linen.
However, despite being undeniably industrial with a variety of uses and proving its environmental benefits, the reality is that many people still associate hemp with marijuana and the bad reputation it brings with it. Hopefully, as marijuana laws change, society will start to recognize hemp for all its benefits and its potential to become as valuable as it once was.