Hemp Facts

Hemp is the most useful plant known to mankind. Hemp is not Marijuana. The term ‘Hemp’ commonly refers to the industrial/commercial use of the cannabis stalk and seed for textiles, foods, papers, body care products, detergents, plastics and building materials. Hemp stalk, fiber and seeds are refined into many other products such as hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, paper, fuel and much more. In addition to providing useful fibers, hemp seed also has high nutritional value. Hemp foods including but not limited to hemp milk, hemp protein shakes, hemp oil gel caps, hemp protein powder, hemp energy bars and hemp salad dressing are among some of the health products being produced today.

Hemp seeds are drug-free and extremely nutritious. They can be eaten whole, pressed into edible oil like soybeans, or ground into flour for baking. They are one of the best sources of vegetable protein. Hemp seed has the second highest amount of protein of any food (soy being the highest). Hemp seed protein closely resembles the protein found in the human blood, making it easier to digest than soy protein. They contain a full complement of essential amino acids, essential fatty-acids (EFA’S), and have been shown to lower blood cholesterol and dissolve plaque in coronary arteries. As a supplement to the diet, these oils can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Hemp is a very hearty plant and grows very quickly in very diverse soil conditions. Hemp fiber and seeds are incredible valuable and is why hemp is sometimes called a “Cash Crop”. Industrial hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa and is of the same plant species as marijuana. However, hemp is genetically different and distinguished by its use and chemical makeup. Industrial hemp refers to cannabis varieties that are primarily grown as an agricultural crop. Industrial hemp has a low THC content compared to its CBD content. Hemp, or industrial hemp plant contains a high content of Cannabidiol (CBD), a naturally-occurring constituent that promotes and supports the nutritional health of aging bodies (Source: US Government patent #6,630,507 “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants). Hemp plants are also low in THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana’s primary psychoactive chemical). THC levels for hemp generally are less than 1 percent. Federal legislation that would exclude hemp from the legal definition of marijuana would set a ceiling of 0.3 percent THC for a cannabis variety to be identified as hemp. Marijuana refers to the flowering tops and leaves of psychoactive cannabis varieties, which are grown for their high content of THC. THC levels for marijuana average about 10 percent but can go much higher.

Hemp fiber is the longest, strongest and most durable of all natural fibers. Hemp cultivation requires no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides. Grown in rotation with other crops such as corn and legumes, hemp farming is completely sustainable. Hemp produces four times as much fiber per acre as pine trees. Hemp tree-free paper can be recycled up to seven times, compared with three times for pine-pulp based papers. Hemp is easy to grow, and actually conditions soil where it grows. The seed and seed-oil are high in protein, essential fatty and amino acids, and vitamins. Hemp would be an ideal source of biomass for fuel, and hemp Ethanol burns very cleanly.

Hemp and humanity have been linked for over 10,000 years. Hemp was our first agricultural crop, and remained the planet’s largest crop and most important industry until late last century. Most of the non-Western world never stopped growing hemp, and today hemp for commercial use is grown mostly by China, Hungary, England, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, India and throughout Asia.

Hemp Food: Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, made into hemp milk (akin to soy milk), sprouted, prepared as tea and or used in baking. The fresh leaves can also be consumed in salads. Products include cereals, hemp milk ice cream, hemp tofu, frozen waffles and nut butters. Several companies produce value added hemp seed items that include the seed oils, whole hemp grain (which is sterilized by law in the United States, where they import it from China and Canada), dehulled hemp seed (the whole seed without the mineral rich outer shell), hemp cake (a by-product of pressing the seed for oil), hemp flour and hemp protein powder.

Hemp Nutrition: Approximately 44% of the weight of hemp-seed is edible oils, containing about 80% essential fatty acids (EFAs); e.g., linoleic acid, omega-6 (LA, 55%), alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 (ALA, 22%), in addition to gamma-linolenic acid, omega-6 (GLA, 1–4%) and stearidonic acid, omega-3 (SDA, 0–2%). Proteins (including edestin) are the other major component (33%). Hempseed’s amino acid profile is comparable to other sources of protein such as meat, milk, eggs and soy. Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score values, which measure the degree to which a food for humans is a “complete protein”, were 0.49-0.53% for whole hemp seed, 0.46-0.51% for hemp seed meal, and 0.63-0.66% for dehulled hemp seed. Hemp proteins thus have a PDCAAS equal to or greater than certain grains, nuts, and some legumes. Soy protein, by comparison, has a PDCAAS value of 1.0.

Hemp for Body Care: Hemp seed oil is perfectly suited for skin and hair care. Its nutritional value, combined with its moisturizing and replenishing EFA’s, make it 1 of the best vegetable body care foundations. Hemp seed oil’s EFA complement includes polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3, omega-6, omega-9, linoleic acid, and gamma linoleic acids (GLA’s). Although they are very effective in skin care maintenance, GLA’s are rarely found in natural oils. Hemp is an excellent source of GLA’s.

Industrial hemp products, production, and markets: Some estimate that the global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products, including:

  • Fabrics and textiles
  • Yarns and raw or processed spun fibers
  • Paper
  • Carpeting
  • Home furnishings
  • Construction and insulation materials
  • Auto parts
  • Composites
  • Animal bedding
  • Foods and beverages
  • Body care products
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Industrial oils
  • Cosmetics
  • Personal care
  • Pharmaceuticals

An estimated 55,700 metric tons of industrial hemp are produced around the world each year. China, Russia, and South Korea are the leading hemp-producing nations. They account for 70 percent of the world’s industrial hemp supply.

Canada had 38,828 licensed acres of industrial hemp in 2011. Canadian exports of hemp seed and hemp products were estimated at more than $10 million, with most going to the U.S.

Because there is no commercial industrial hemp production in the United States, the U.S. market is largely dependent on imports, both as finished hemp-containing products and as ingredients for use in further processing. More than 30 nations grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not allow industrial hemp production. Current industry estimates report that U.S. retail sales of all hemp-based products may exceed $300 million per year.

U.S. law governing hemp: Under the current U.S. drug policy, all cannabis varieties, including hemp, are considered Schedule I controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA, 21 U.S.C. §§801 et seq.; Title 21 CFR Part 1308.11). Hemp production is controlled and regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It is illegal to grow hemp without a DEA permit. Cannabis varieties may be legitimately grown for research purposes only. Several states have legalized the cultivation and research of industrial hemp, including Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. However, a grower still must get permission from the DEA in order to grow hemp, or face the possibility of federal charges or property confiscation, even if he or she has a state-issued permit.

Legislation filed in both houses of Congress would exclude hemp from the legal definition of marijuana. House Resolution 525 is sponsored by Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and has 39 co-sponsors, including Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky. Senate Bill 359 is sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and has four co-sponsors, including Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Sources: Hemp as an Agricultural CommodityH.R. 525 – Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013S. 359 – Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013Warren Beeler – hemp presentation 2013

More Hemp Facts…..

Here’s are some interesting hemp facts you should know:

1) Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.

2) Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and U.S. farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.

3) Hemp seed is nutritious and contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug (learn more at TestPledge.com).

4) The bark of the hemp stalk contains bast fibers, which are among the Earth’s longest natural soft fibers and are also rich in cellulose. The cellulose and hemi-cellulose in its inner woody core are called hurds. Hemp stalk is not psychoactive. Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.

5) According to the Department of Energy, hemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures of all hemp products. The hydrocarbons in hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas. Development of bio-fuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

6) Hemp can be grown organically. Only eight, out of about one hundred known pests, cause problems, and hemp is most often grown without herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. Hemp is also a natural weed suppressor due to fast growth of the canopy.

7) Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp’s low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and its creamy color lends itself to environmentally-friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical by-products.

8) Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. Hemp paper can also be recycled more times than wood-based paper.

9) Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard. No additional resins are required due to naturally-occurring lignins.

10) Eco-friendly hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with hemp for injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil, to name a very few examples. Over two million cars on the road today have hemp composite parts for door panels, dashboards, luggage racks, etc.

Hemp as fuel: Hemp seeds have provided a combustible fuel oil throughout human history. More importantly the same high cellulose level that makes hemp ideal for paper also makes it perfect for ethanol fuel production. Ethanol is the cleanest burning liquid bio-alternative to gasoline. Ethanol is derived from plant cellulose. Plants absorb carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight and produce oxygen and cellulose, which contains the sun’s energy captured in plant cells. When ethanol combusts, it releases energy, carbon dioxide and water vapor. The carbon dioxide is then absorbed by plants, along with sunlight and water, to create more cellulose and oxygen. It is a clean and sustainable cycle. Since gasoline engines are a primary source of carbon monoxide and greenhouse gases, alternative fuels such as ethanol could contribute significantly to the rejuvenation of our atmospheric air quality. Hemp provides a renewable, sustainable and natural alternative to toxic fossil fuels.

Countries Growing Industrial Hemp Today: The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not recognize the value of industrial hemp and permit its production. Below is a list of other countries that are more rational when it comes to hemp policy.

AUSTRALIA began research trials in Tasmania in 1995. Victoria commercial production since1998. New South Wales has research. In 2002, Queensland began production. Western Australia licensed crops in 2004.

AUSTRIA has a hemp industry including production of hemp seed oil, medicinals and Hanf magazine.

CANADA started to license research crops in 1994. In addition to crops for fiber, one seed crop was licensed in 1995. Many acres were planted in 1997. Licenses for commercial agriculture saw thousands of acres planted in 1998. 30,000 acres were planted in 1999. In 2000, due to speculative investing, 12,250 acres were sown. In 2001, 92 farmers grew 3,250 acres. A number of Canadian farmers are now growing organically-certified hemp crops (6,000 acres in 2003 and 8,500 acres in 2004, yielding almost four million pounds of seed).

CHILE has grown hemp in the recent past for seed oil production.

CHINA is the largest exporter of hemp textiles. The fabrics are of excellent quality. Medium density fiber board is also now available. The Chinese word for hemp is “ma.”

DENMARK planted its first modern hemp trial crops in 1997. The country is committed to utilizing organic methods.

FINLAND had a resurgence of hemp in 1995 with several small test plots. A seed variety for northern climates was developed called Finola, previously know by the breeder code “FIN-314.” In 2003, Finola was accepted to the EU list of subsidized hemp cultivars. Hemp has never been prohibited in Finland. The Finnish word for hemp is “hamppu.”

FRANCE has never prohibited hemp and harvested 10,000 tons of fiber in 1994. France is a source of low-THC-producing hemp seed for other countries. France exports high quality hemp oil to the U.S. The French word for hemp is “chanvre.”

GERMANY banned hemp in 1982, but research began again in 1992, and many technologies and products are now being developed, as the ban was lifted on growing hemp in November, 1995. Food, clothes and paper are also being made from imported raw materials. Mercedes and BMW use hemp fiber for composites in door panels, dashboards, etc. The German word for hemp is “hanf.”

GREAT BRITAIN lifted hemp prohibition in 1993. Animal bedding, paper and textiles markets have been developed. A government grant was given to develop new markets for natural fibers. 4,000 acres were grown in 1994. Subsidies of 230 British pounds per acre are given by the government to farmers for growing hemp.

HUNGARY is rebuilding their hemp industry, and is one of the biggest exporters of hemp cordage, rugs and fabric to the U.S. They also export hemp seed, paper and fiberboard. The Hungarian word for hemp is “kender.”

INDIA has stands of naturalized Cannabis and uses it for cordage, textiles and seed.

ITALY has invested in the resurgence of hemp, especially for textile production. 1,000 acres were planted for fiber in 2002. Giorgio Armani grows its own hemp for specialized textiles.

JAPAN has a rich religious tradition involving hemp, and custom requires that the Emperor and Shinto priests wear hemp garments in certain ceremonies, so there are small plots maintained for these purposes. Traditional spice mixes also include hemp seed. Japan supports a thriving retail market for a variety of hemp products. The Japanese word for hemp is “asa.”

NETHERLANDS is conducting a four-year study to evaluate and test hemp for paper, and is developing specialized processing equipment. Seed breeders are developing new strains of low-THC varieties. The Dutch word for hemp is “hennep.”

NEW ZEALAND started hemp trials in 2001. Various cultivars are being planted in the north and south islands.

POLAND currently grows hemp for fabric and cordage and manufactures hemp particle board. They have demonstrated the benefits of using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated by heavy metals. The Polish word for hemp is “konopij.”

ROMANIA is the largest commercial producer of hemp in Europe. 1993 acreage was 40,000 acres. Some of it is exported to Hungary for processing. They also export hemp to Western Europe and the U.S. The Romanian word for hemp is “cinepa.”

RUSSIA maintains the largest hemp germplasm collection in the world at the N.I. Vavilov Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR) in St. Petersburg. They are in need of funding to maintain and support the collection. The Russian word for hemp is “konoplya.”

SLOVENIA grows hemp and manufactures currency paper.

SPAIN has never prohibited hemp, produces rope and textiles, and exports hemp pulp for paper. The Spanish word for hemp is “cañamo.”

SWITZERLAND is a producer of hemp and hosts one of the largest hemp trade events, Cannatrade.

TURKEY has grown hemp for 2,800 years for rope, caulking, birdseed, paper and fuel. The Turkish word for hemp is “kendir.”

UKRAINE, EGYPT, KOREA, PORTUGAL and THAILAND also produce hemp.

UNITED STATES granted the first hemp permit in over 40 years to Hawaii for an experimental quarter-acre plot in 1999. The license was renewed, but the project has since been closed due to DEA stalling tactics and related funding problems. Importers and manufacturers have thrived using imported raw materials. 22 states have introduced legislation, including VT, HI, ND, MT, MN, IL, VA, NM, CA, AR, KY, MD, WV and ME, addressing support, research or cultivation with bills or resolutions. The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) has endorsed industrial hemp for years.

Bibliography: Chris Conrad, “Hemp: Lifeline to the Future”, Jack Frazier, “The Great American Hemp Industry”, Hemptech, “Industrial Hemp” and “Hemp Horizons”.. Source: http://www.thehia.org/facts.html

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