The day has finally come for industrial hemp. Hemp products are reaching mainstream markets and becoming more and more popular. However, although hemp crops have been around for literally thousands of years, the benefits of this important crop are still being overshadowed by its controversial stigma as marijuana.
What is Hemp?
Hemp (also known as Cannabis sativa L.) is a diverse plant encompassing over 500 varieties. This article refers to industrial hemp, used for food, cloth and other commodities, as opposed to marijuana.
Contrary to popular belief, marijuana and hemp, though related, are not synonymous. The levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana) are less than 0.3% in hemp. Conversely, industrial hemp contains a relatively high percentage of another chemical called CBD, which actually impedes psychoactive effects of marijuana. Therefore, eating hemp, smoking hemp or using hemp products will not get you high.
Benefits of Hemp
A highly renewable resource, hemp’s adaptability, sustainability and durability set it apart from other natural plants. Compared to cotton crops, which require enormous amounts of pesticides and herbicides to grow, hemp thrives without chemicals and without much water. In fact, hemp crops actually enrich the soil, instead of depleting it of nutrients. Plus, hemp grows quickly, making it a perfect sustainable crop.
Products Made From Hemp
Next time you go shopping, keep an eye open for these great hemp products:
Brand to check out: The Hempest (http://store.hempest.com/catalog/)
Brand to check out: Manitoba Harvest
Brand to check out: The Merry Hempsters
Brand to check out: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap
Brand to check out: Rawganique (http://www.rawganique.com/index.htm)
Of course, there are hundreds more brands and stores that carry hemp products. Try this search engine to find hemp products and stores near you (in Canada and the US): http://www.hempstores.com/. Better yet, do some research of your own and see what you come up with.
Since 1998, Canada has grown industrial hemp. It is federally regulated and all hemp crops must legally be GMO free.
Unfortunately, hemp is still facing obstacles being seen as a valuable, environmentally friendly crop and not a drug. In the US, where hemp is continually associated with marijuana, hemp crops are illegal without a permit. There, hemp is regulated under the Drug Enforcement Administration instead of the Department of Agriculture, where it belongs. Thankfully, there is a growing movement against these regulations. Visit their website Vote Hemp (http://www.votehemp.com/) for more information and to learn how to get involved.
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