HEMP – Chapter 1 – What is hemp and why use it?

Hemp-plants-australiaHemp is a power-packed, highly beneficial plant with a phenomenal amount of uses and alternatives to materials we currently use today. There are thousands of uses for hemp products, but the most common currently range from food, hair, beauty, clothing, building materials, bio-plastics and so many more. The full potential of Industrial hemp has yet to be fully discovered.

Confusion about hemp and Marijuana began back when propaganda campaigns created confusion in the market due to vested interest in the private sector and then when they were grouped under Schedule one of the Controlled Substances Act. This basically meant that it was classed as a highly addictive substance with no medicinal value.

Now we know this seems a little crazy, but hopefully, with more education, we will see a change in legislation in the coming years!  So let’s get started. The basics.

What is hemp?

Hemp-Seed-Oil-AustraliaHemp has many cultivars of the Cannabis Sativa plant and is grown in many countries all over the world for it’s industrial and now medicinal uses.

Hemp can grow 2 to 3 times a year in Australia and generally takes anywhere from 90 to 120 days to reach maturity. This will depend on the cultivar, soil type and geographical location.

Hemp provides 3 main market opportunities. These include Fibre (from the stalk), Seed and Flower.

Why Hemp?

It’s good for you and the environment and here is why?

Hemp is a wonder plant loaded with many beneficial nutrients. Hemp seed oil (different to CBD oil) & hulled hemp seeds AKA hemp Hearts are high in protein, fibre, and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3s & 6s.

Eating or applying hemp to your skin can help treat:

  • Skin ailments i.e. acne, psoriasis and other skin lesions
  • Minimise negative side effects of menstruation and menopause
  • Provide you with plenty of plant-based proteins
  • The right balance of amino fatty acids, and dietary fibre.
  • Are a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc and calcium.

Hemp also helps on an environmental perspective, when grown as an agricultural crop. Hemp can remove CO2 from the atmosphere, make productive use of poor soil, it requires little to no pesticides, and for farmers gives them an alternative rotation crop to help improve future yields.

Hemp-paper-australiaWhat does Hemp offer?

The Bast Fibre – the outer of the hemp plant can be made into many things. Hemp clothing is the most common, due to the benefits of protecting you from the sun’s UV Rays and as a bonus, it’s a strong natural fibre.

Hemp Hurd – The woody core of the hemp plant is mainly used to construct affordable healthy homes. When you mix the hurd with lime, sand and water you get Hempcrete. There are plenty of advantages (we can’t name them all but here are a few):

  • High energy savings
  • Fireproof
  • Breathable walls
  • Termite resistant
  • Prevents mould
  • CO2 sequestration
  • Negative carbon footprint
  • Almost zero waste to landfill

Hemp vs. Marijuana: are they the same?

The simple answer is No. It’s a very common misunderstanding that hemp and marijuana are the same. The difference between the two is the THC level.

There are many chemical compounds, which have different characteristics of the Hemp or Marijuana plant. Some of these are called Cannabinoids which are the chemicals, that give the plant its medicinal and or recreational properties.

Hemp is extremely low in THC, generally no more than 0.3% of THC, which isn’t enough to give you any psychoactive effects. Most Hemp farmers in Australia grow hemp for seed and fibre.

CBD is a compound from the flower cannabis plant. It’s gained a lot of popularity due to its ability to potentially assist in reducing inflammation, seizures, and anxiety as well as many other medical conditions. CBD will not give you any psychoactive effects.

THC is a cannabinoid. When heated, THC’s chemical makeup changes to give you a ‘high’ or a psychoactive effect. The most common use is for recreational purposes, however recently THC has been used to treat a range of medical illnesses such as Cancer and pain-related ailments.

So in reality, Hemp and Marijuana smell and look the same, but they are worlds apart when you look at what is in the makeup of their chemical compounds.

By changing the stigma surrounding hemp, we could see many more uses being discovered to eventually create a thriving Australian Hemp Industry.

In the next issue of Slow, we will dive more into Hemp – Chapter 2.

Written by Maxine and Mike Shea Founders of Hemp Collective. They grow hemp near Byron Bay, as well as produce a range of quality ethical hemp body products plus hemp education around Australia.

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