Industrial hemp seems like the forgotten step child of the cannabis family. Marijuana gets so much of the attention that some people do not even know industrial hemp exists. That is too bad because hemp has been a valuable agricultural product for thousands of years. There is more than one way to use it, too.
What many people do not understand is that hemp and marijuana are two varieties of the same plant: cannabis. Though their differences can vary from one strain to the next, the defining factor that separates hemp from marijuana is THC content.
THC is the cannabinoid in marijuana that makes a person high. In order to distinguish between hemp and marijuana, the federal government developed definitions based on THC content. Any cannabis plant with a THC volume of 0.3% or less is considered hemp. A plant with a higher THC volume is considered marijuana.
- Extracting Cannabinoids and Terpenes
Like marijuana, hemp has value because of the cannabinoids and terpenes it possesses. Companies like Houston-based CedarStone Industry specialize in making the equipment necessary to facilitate CBD extraction and distillation. Their equipment and processes have given life to a whole industry built around health and wellness products derived from hemp plant material.
Processors extract CBD oil through steam distillation, solvent extraction, or carbon dioxide extraction. Extracts can then be added to other ingredients straight up or further distilled to concentrate certain cannabinoids and terpenes. The end result of all this activity is the full array of CBD health and wellness products now on the market.
- Using the Plant Material
Extracting CBD oil only scratches the surface of industrial hemp’s usefulness. Processors and manufacturers can utilize the plant material without extracting anything. In fact, human beings have been doing it for thousands of years.
Here are just some of the ways to use the plant material:
- Rope Manufacturing – Hemp plant material is very fibrous and tough. Manufacturers can process the material to create fibers that are then spun together to make rope. If you have ever used hemp rope, you know it is extremely strong.
- Textile Manufacturing – The same fibers that can be spun together to create rope can be utilized to make thread. That thread can then be woven into textiles for use in making everything from clothing to bedding and draperies. Hemp-derived clothing is pretty hot right now.
- Food Manufacturing – Hemp seeds and stalks can be processed into foods. Plant material can also be dried and ground into a flour-like powder. Indeed, all sorts of hemp foods are now available. These include things like granola bars and cooking oils.
- Building Materials – Certain portions of the hemp plant can be turned into green building materials. Hemp is a fantastic material for producing a fiber-based board that makes for a great replacement for concrete and gypsum.
- Fuel Manufacturing – Hemp plant material can be transformed into a bio-friendly fuel in much the same way corn is already used to produce ethanol.
There are undoubtedly more uses for industrial hemp that have been listed here. Hemp is one of the most versatile plants known to humanity. It has been utilized throughout history in ways that would amaze most people.
- Legal in All 50 States
Fortunately, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp growing and processing in all fifty states. Prior to that bill, most of the hemp utilized for industrial purposes had to be imported from other countries. Now that we can grow our own, an entire industry has emerged around it. That is good because there is more than one way to utilize hemp.