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What Is Hemp? [What Is Hemp Used For & What Are Its Benefits]

The Cannabis Sativa plant is part of a family of flowering plants called Cannabaceae. There are two primary varieties of cannabis plants; Hemp and Marijuana.

Lately, hemp has been taking all of the lights and attention or doing so in the mainstream market. Mainly due to its recently acquired legal label [1].

While it is widely known that marijuana and hemp are two different things, not everybody knows that they are both plants. Let alone how they’re different from one another.

Not many people know that there are different types of cannabis at all. Part of the reason for this is the lack of regulation the industry has gotten with cannabis as a legal substance.

Only since 2018 has hemp been federally legal. This legalization has enabled researchers to learn more about the plant, how to use it, and the different uses.

What Is Hemp?

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant that contains equal to or less than 0.3% of THC per unit of dry weight.

THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is one of 113+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, in both of the main varieties discussed. It is also the only psychoactive component the plant contains. 

THC is much less predominant in hemp, which makes hemp a non-psychoactive variety and subsequently explains the passing of the 2018 farm bill, a law where all hemp and hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC are declared federally legal.

Hemp is a federally legal harvest in the U.S. and is used for a wide variety of things. Smoking is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hemp, and the effects and benefits that have been associated with it seem almost endless [1].

While hemp is naturally deficient in Delta-9 THC, it is predominantly strong in Cannabidiol (CBD) content. This has made hemp the primary source of CBD in the U.S. Part of the reason is that hemp CBD extraction is legal, while marijuana harvest and extraction are a bit more tricky depending on state laws.

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a cannabis variety that has more than 0.3% of THC per unit of dry weight.

This does not mean that all marijuana is potent in THC content. The THC content in the marijuana plant will vary widely depending on breeding conditions, harvesting processes, and the type of strain farmed.

Marijuana is also weaker when it comes to CBD content in comparison to hemp.

Because marijuana is psychoactive, it has also been declared highly illegal in many countries worldwide and still is so in some states within the U.S. But the legal status of marijuana within the U.S. can be a bit confusing. Some states allow medical marijuana while others allow its recreational use.

Is Hemp Legal?

Hemp and hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC are federally legal across all 50 states in the U.S. Many countries still maintain unclear regulations around hemp. In contrast, others still classify it as a cannabis crop, meaning many countries still consider hemp illegal.

Uses of Hemp

Like its effects and properties, the uses of hemp are many. The plant itself has physical attributes that have made it a valuable material for textile and paper production. Its seeds have also been used for various purposes, and components like CBD have made it increasingly popular in the medical industry [2].

Some of the products that can be made with hemp are:

  • Edible supplements (Hemp protein supplements are top-rated)
  • Body care products
  • Clothing
  • Construction materials
  • Biofuels
  • Plastic composites
  • Paper
  • Rope
  • Animal feed

These are only some of the uses that cultures have given to hemp. Some of these date back hundreds or even thousands of years to ancestral cultures and societies.

On top of all these uses, hemp can also be smoked by grinding and rolling, using in a water pipe, or traditional dry pipe. Hemp can be consumed in gaseous form, much like marijuana but without the psychoactive effects.

Smoking hemp is one of the most effective ways to consume CBD. It provides a fast absorption of the components found in the plant and is particularly easy to do.

Smoking dry hemp is not the only way to consume CBD. A long list of extraction processes are used to extract CBD and different cannabinoids from the plant and use them to produce concentrates.

Extraction processes can be classified into two main categories; Solvent-based and solventless extraction.

Solvent-based extraction requires the use of a solvent-based solution that extracts the components from the plant. The resulting mix is then submitted to higher temperatures that evaporate the solvent used, leaving only the target components.

Solventless extraction uses pressure and changes in temperature to draw the targeted components out of the plant.

While solventless extraction can be considered a more natural process, it is also less accurate. This means that isolates (single-cannabinoid extracts) are made by using solvent-based processes.

What Is Hemp Oil?

Hemp oil is a finished good made by infusing an oil base with hemp extract. The oil base is called a carrier oil, and it can be several different products.

Some of the most popular oils used are hemp seed oil and MCT oil, but companies are constantly innovating, and new carrier oils seem to pop up every so often.

The term ‘hemp oil’ has been used to describe CBD oil because of the high CBD content hemp usually contains. But there could be hemp oils with a higher content of any number of cannabinoids than they do CBD. This makes hemp oil a broad and not very detailed description of the product in question.

In other words, CBD oil is ALWAYS hemp oil, but hemp oil is not necessarily CBD oil.

What Is It Used for & What Are the Benefits of Hemp Oil?

If we assume we’re talking about hemp CBD oil, then CBD can have many uses and benefits on the human body. Some of the most popular uses and properties attributed to CBD include:

1. Antiemetic Properties

2. Pain Relief

3. Anxiety Reduction

4. Anti-inflammatory effects

5. Neuroprotective Properties

6. Better Sleep

However, all of the above attributes are still labeled as “potential”. Further human research and studies have to be finalized in order for any of these to be confirmed conclusively [2].

Hemp oil can be consumed in many different ways. One of the most popular ways to consume hemp oil is sublingual consumption. By placing a few drops of hemp oil under your tongue, the body can absorb a large quantity of CBD that acts very fast and effectively. 

Some hemp oils may also be consumed orally, either directly, by mixing them into your favorite food or drink or in the form of capsules. Other hemp oils are crafted as topical products that can be placed directly onto the skin.

Conclusion

Hemp and marijuana are varieties of the same family of plants. Hemp contains more CBD than marijuana does, while marijuana contains more THC than hemp does. THC is the only psychoactive component found in both plants, which is why marijuana is still considered illegal in many states and countries. At the same time, hemp is now a federally legal crop in the U.S. Hemp has been used for various purposes, including textile manufacturing and dietary supplement production. In contrast, CBD has been said to have a range of beneficial effects that include pain relief and better sleep, to name a few.

Hemmfy articles and blogs are meant to entertain and educate. However, we are not medical professionals and do not intend to give medical advice through them.

The knowledge around CBD and other cannabis-derived products is growing and constantly changing, as does their legal status. Hence, we recommend checking with your local authorities and a licensed physician prior to consumption.

References

[1] Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill. (2019, July 25). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019

[2] Larsen, C., & Shahinas, J. (2020). Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 12(3), 129–141. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4090

Simon Cartagena

Simon Cartagena is a full-time cannabis copywriter. This has led him to write for companies like Hemmfy.com where he acts as Senior Content Writer and other world-renowned cannabis publications. Simon has created Content Marketing strategies and articles that have helped company revenues increase by up to 1,000%. Simon’s goal is to help people understand cannabis in an industry where misinformation seems to be predominant.