A Quick Look at Hemp
At lot of interest has been generated recently about the possible health benefits of hemp and especially the hemp based compound Cannabidiol. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound found in hemp and marijuana plants and is utilized for a variety of different medical benefits.
Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp can be grown in a variety of different climates and soils throughout the world. It is also highly resistant to bugs and other pests, which means when cultivating hemp you don’t need to use a lot of harmful herbicides or pesticides. Maximum product yield can be produced rather easily due to the fact hemp plants can be grown in close proximity to each other. Hemp naturally revitalizes the soil as it helps deposit much needed carbon dioxide.
Hemp also naturally aerates the soil and is incredibly useful for crop rotation, allowing farmers to grow other food related crops after harvest. If we were to use hemp for our paper it would be at least four times as efficient as traditional methods. A single acre of hemp is able to produce four times more paper than one acre of trees. That’s not even taking into consideration the speed at which hemp is able to grow and be used in another crop cycle. There are three varieties of the hemp plant:
- Sativa is the industrial crop of hemp and is grown for its fiber located in the stem of the plant. This has a low level of THC, below 0.3 percent, and higher levels of CBD. Produces no psychotropic effects.
- Indica is grown for the psychoactive effect of THC. Generally speaking, the Indica variety contains about 5% or more levels of THC. Cultivation is primarily for its flower production, which contains the majority of the desired compound THC.
- Ruderalis is the feral strain which grows naturally and is a staple food for a variety of migratory birds. This strain is also referred to as ditchweed and is grown for birdseed and oil. Generally speaking this variety is low in THC.
But what exactly is hemp and if it’s so useful why are you just hearing about it now? We’ve compiled a brief history of how hemp has been used throughout history for you to get a better understanding of what the hemp plant really is.
Hemp, A History
Hemp is one of the fastest growing plants next to bamboo and kelp and can be used for a variety of different everyday items such as clothing, biodegradable plastics, paper, biofuel, food, and animal feed.
Hemp was one of the earliest plants to be cultivated by early civilizations, the seeds of which were harvested for food and which contain important amino acids. Ancient archeological sites in Japan show evidence of hemp cultivation as early as 8000 BC. Early Chinese dynasties cultivated and utilized hemp to make a variety of different items. They figured out that by breaking the stalks of the plant they could use the fibers to make paper, rope, clothes, fishing nets, shoes, and other textiles. The Chinese word for hemp, Ma, literally translates into the plant of two forms, both male and female. In early Chinese civilizations hemp replaced papyrus as the source of paper. Hemp was much easier and cheaper to cultivate which lead to a high increase in literacy and the spread of written knowledge.
Hemp followed the spice trade and migrated west throughout India and eventually into mainland Europe. During the days of the Roman Empire, an individual who was in charge of hemp production and farming was considered to be of great importance. The plant was used for housing, clothing, paper, shields and weapons. The ease of cultivation in a variety of different climates and high end product yield made it a staple for a variety of different civilizations.
Hemp production was revitalized in the 9th Century in Europe under Charlemagne, who is seen as the father of Europe. In the monasteries the monks wrote on hemp paper and used hemp oil lamps for light. In 1455 the Gutenberg Bible was printed on hemp paper and was the first major book printed using mass-produced movable metal type in Europe.
In 1977, Carl Sagan suggested that marijuana may have been the world’s first agricultural crop, leading to the development of civilization itself. This is easy enough to understand, as the events and very history of any given region were being written down on hemp paper, and scholarly works including the bible were made out of hemp. Economies of scale and ease of production allowed the written word to be distributed relatively cheaply, which increased literacy and education.
In the 16th Century, the now famous king Henry VIII, in order to provide building and sail materials for the expansion of the British naval fleet, supported English farmers in planting hemp throughout the Kingdom. The program became very successful as hemp fibers and oil were utilized for a number of different components including riggings, pendants, sails, and oakum (a loose fiber used for waterproofing wooden ships).
The Mayflower, which itself was fastened and sealed with hemp, brought over the Puritans to Colonial America. With them they brought hemp seed for planting. During this time in the British Navy, a vessel would almost certainly contain hemp seed, for wherever they landed it would most certainly grow and yield products used for paper and clothes as well as parts used to repair and sail the ship. While still under British rule, the Colonies were forced by law to grow hemp. Hemp was especially sought after during the height of British Imperialism, as Britain was dependent on the use of their ships and hemp was the ideal source plant because of its natural decay resistance and ease of cultivation.
In Colonial America, hemp was vital to the economy and its use and domestic cultivation were seen as critical to a fledgling United States if they were ever going to separate from foreign rulers. In order for the United States to gain independence they needed to be able to produce their own products and wean themselves of foreign imports. The first drafts of the US constitution were written on hemp paper, and the same was used in 1776 for the Declaration of Independence.
By the early 18th century, it was possible to be sentenced to jail for not growing hemp on your farm land. Hemp could be used as currency for trade and you could even pay your taxes with it. In 1810, hemp was the third largest agricultural commodity, and played a vital role in the United States economy.
The diesel engine was invented in 1896 by Rudolph Diesel. At the time, early automakers believed that a primary source of fuel would be provided by vegetable and seed oils, which would power the diesel engine. This idea was so prevalent that the Ford Motor Company operated a successful biomass conversion plant in Michigan, which turned hemp into a useful fuel.
This relationship between the United States economy and hemp production came to a quick end in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act. The tax was levied on farmers who cultivated hemp, while the farmers also had to pay further licensing fees which made growing hemp financially impossible. In collaboration with the Marijuana Tax Act came propaganda which linked the marijuana Indica plant with the hemp Sativa plant.
Hemp was back in vogue with the start of WW2. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States joined the war, this halted the importation of hemp from the Philippines, which had a basic monopoly on hemp production. With the Japanese controlling the pacific, the United States had to rethink its stance on hemp. A war propaganda movie called Hemp for Victory was made in order to motivate American Farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. One million acres of hemp were grown across the Midwest as part of this program. When the war came to a close in 1945, hemp processing plants were closed and industrial hemp production came to a virtual close.
Even with the advent of the internet and access to this information, hemp is still to this day linked to the Indica plant, known to most as marijuana. After the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970, it became the federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain narcotics was prohibited, which included hemp.
The Global Wellness Industry
With the advent of the internet, greater awareness has begun circulating about hemp and its link to health and a betterment of overall lifestyle. The wellness industry to date is valued at around $3.7 trillion U.S. Due to hemp’s efficiency and ease of cultivation it has the ability to disrupt multiple industries, including the health and wellness industry.
Today, hemp is in the news for its compound Cannabidiol, or CBD for short. Studies have also seen CBD’s potential benefits in cancer treatment, as cannabinoids are known to interfere with tumor neovascularization, cancer cell migration, adhesion, invasion and metastasization. Currently there are 85+ cannabinoids known to medical science, including THC and CBD. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found throughout the cannabis plant which, when ingested or inhaled, can provide beneficial treatment for an array of symptoms and ailments.
Hemp has played pivotal role in the growth and proliferation of human economies and civilization. Perhaps the time has come to look to the past so we can understand and help facilitate the change necessary to shape a positive future. Here at Halcyon we are fervent believers that hemp, and its incredible compound Cannabidiol, has the ability to change people’s lives for the better and improve the well being of our planet’s ecology. To achieve that we need to help educate those who will benefit most, and in time we will see the propagation of hemp resurge and with it all the added benefits.
Information listed, referenced or linked to on this website is for general educational purposes only and does not provide professional medical or legal advice.
Japa Organics does not condone, advocate or promote licit or illicit drug use. Japa Organics cannot be held responsible for material from references on our pages or on pages to which we provide links, which condone, advocate or promote licit or illicit drug use or illegal activities. Please consult your Doctor/Healthcare Practitioner before using any products/methods listed, referenced or linked to on this website.
Cody is founder of Japa Organics has been active in the hemp and CBD industry since 2016. Although it’s been a tricky industry he is optimistic of the 2018 Farm Bill Act coming up in September and continues to follow his passion delivering the best full spectrum hemp oil and CBD Tinctures to his loyal customers.