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Hemp – What is it? How is it different from Marijuana?

Hemp

Everyone has heard of “cannabis” – a plant that has taken the global health and wellness industry by storm and is poised to spark an eco-industrial revolution. Industrial hemp is defined as any part of the cannabis plant containing a THC concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. Anything over 0.3% on a dry weight basis is classified as “Marijuana”. In short, lawmakers have used this presence of THC to distinguish the two categories of cannabis; industrial hemp and marijuana.

Scientifically speaking, cannabis belongs to a family of plants called Cannabaceae– which include over 170 species grouped into 11 genera. This genera includes Humulus (hops), Cannabis (hemp and marijuana), and Celtis (hackberries). Celtis contains 100 of the species of Cannabaceae, while Humulus and Cannabis represent the only economically important species. You can find evidence of industrial hemp dating back to ancient Greek and Egyptian physicians indicating its medical usage for ailments.

Industrialists in the 1930’s conspired to criminalize the hemp industry – leading to decades of prohibition while promoting their revolution utilizing coal, petrochemicals, and lumber. After the 1937 Tax Act, the cultivation and processing of hemp became restricted and almost impossible to continue.

The war on hemp is now failing as more and more research continues to prove its effectiveness and add to its number of use cases. Patients and doctors are taking a stand for access citing decades of research continually backing cannabis as a therapeutic tool in medicine. As the evidence piles up, so do the numbers of different and unique products hemp can be applied for humans and mammals alike.

Today, hemp has over 25,000 use cases ranging from – supplements, lotions, food & beverages, industrial applications such as green building materials and much more. Hemp is now being cultivated globally – propelling its relevancy in emerging foreign markets to accompany its domestic success. This rapid adoption and research continue to provide new applications for hemp such as airplanes and nano-materials. It was predicted by the Hemp Biz Journal in 2015 that the then $ 500M industry would grow to a $1.5B global industry by 2020. Today, that number sits at $5B. This is thanks in part by the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized hemp at the federal level in the US. This bill led to the planting of 288,000 acres of industrial hemp in 2019. How does the yield compare to other crops? On a per-acre level, hemp could potentially generate $45,203, compared with just $773 for corn. Brightfield Group is expecting the industry to grow to a whopping $23.7B by 2023. We are just at the cusp of a hemp revolution that brings with it some exciting life-changing results.