Hemp is a variety of cannabis that is grown for the fiber and seeds. The fiber and seeds are incredible valuable and is why hemp is often called a “cash crop”. Hemp is a very hearty plant and grows very quickly in very diverse soil conditions. Cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes has been done by many civilizations for over 12,000 years. Industrial hemp was the desired fiber used to manufacture rope, canvas, paper, and clothing until alternative textiles and synthetics for these purposes were discovered. Although China has been the largest hemp producer over the years, other countries such as Australia and Canada are catching up. It has been illegal for anyone to grow hemp in the United States as hemp is illegal under the marijuana prohibition act but Colorado has changed the laws and paved the way for industrial hemp production again in the United States(see hemp history). Now hemp oils, hemp plastics, hemp building materials and many hemp fiber products can be seen and purchased on the market. Hemp is truly an amazing plant with the potential to help “green up” many industries.
Traditionally, hemp fiber has been a very coarse fiber when raw, which made it well suited to rope but less than ideal for clothing designed to be worn against delicate human skin. Advances in breeding of the plants and treatment/processing of the fibers have resulted in a much finer, softer hemp fiber, which is ideal for weaving into hemp clothing, fabrics and rope. Watch the video on Hemp for victory to learn more about the importance of hemp during war times.
The “re-”growth of industrial hemp in the United States is heavily regulated, although the neighbouring nation of Canada successfully grows hemp commercially. Since becoming legal to grow again in Canada, the crop has taken off and has become a booming multi-million dollar export. Hemp building materials are another growing segment of the hemp industry. Canada is now a leader in the global hemp food/health marketplace. Canadian hemp products can be found in many hemp markets now in the United States and the world over.
In addition to providing useful fibers, hemp seed also has high nutritional value. and the plant can be used to make biodegradable plastics, some fuels, and a variety of other things. Hemp foods including but not limited to hemp energy bars, hemp salad dressing,hemp milk, hemp protein shakes, hemp oil gel caps and hemp protein powder are among some of the health products being produced today. Visit the Hemp Education pages to learn more!