Hemp Defined | Hemp Facts | Hemp Info

by Chase Thielen

A fiber plant, hemp, is from the species cannabis sativa L. and has been growing for the past 12,000 years. It is from the mulberry family. Hemp is grown for its fibers, seed, seed meal, and seed oil. It is a plant similar to flax, kenaf, jute and ramie. Kemp is an annual plant and can be grown in a variety of soils. It prefers soil that is well drained, rich in nitrogen, and non-acidic. Ironically, it grows best where corn grows well. Very limited pesticides are needed for weed and pest control as it grows very rapidly. The growing period is usually about 4 months and is planted early March to late May. The size of the plant is two to four meters in height. Hemp is harvested at various times depending on what product it was grown for.

Since 1950, growth of hemp has been prohibited in the United States due to the similarity with marijuana. Industrial hemp, which is used for the fiber and seeds, and oil, has a THC content of less than 1%, and marijuana has a THC content of 3% to 20%. Trained individuals can easily tell the difference between a hemp plant and marijuana plant, however, due to the similarities the United States has refused to allow unauthorized growth of hemp. One would need to gain authorization through the US Drug Enforcement Agency to grow hemp and they would probably require the area to be fenced, and heavily guarded which would not make it cost effective.

In other nations, hemp is grown for a variety of uses including fiber usage. When it is harvested for fiber usage, they will process immediately after the crop is in flower. The fibers are separated from the stalk by a process called "retting". One retting process is by "dew" and this is done by leaving the hemp in the field and allowing the humidity and bacteria to naturally decompose the fiber-binding pectinís. Other retting processes include water, warm water, and chemical retting. Uses of these fibers are many which include spinning them into linen-like fabric and furniture textiles. One of the original uses of the fibers was to make ropes for ships in the early years. The fibers may also be cut to shorter lengths and used for other types of fabrics which would be more comfortable. If it is to be used for seed production and stalks, they harvest about four to six weeks after it flowers. Since the core fiber is very absorbent, it is uses include garden mulch or animal bedding.

Hemp has many uses and over 50,000 products have been derived from this plant. Interestingly, many of the bird seeds sold in the United States include hemp seed since it contains protein. Before importation, the seed is sterilized. Hemp oil has been used for engines. In France, there is a mill that manufactures paper from hemp and is used for Bibles as it doesn't yellow and lasts for a very long time. Beams, studs, and posts have been made from hemp fibers as it is very durable and lighter than other woods. As the evidence shows, hemp has provided a great economical impact to our world.

by: Chase Thielen