An Advocate about re-legalizing hemp, sustainable living, and a holistic approach to nutrition & exercise

Hemp Defined


Hemp (from Old English hænep) is a term for fiber and seed products derived from varieties of the Cannabis plant. The Hemp Plant is harvested for its fibers, seed, seed meal and seed oil. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L. Due to the similar leaf shape, hemp is frequently confused with marijuana. Although both plants are from the species cannabis, hemp contains virtually no THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana. Hemp cannot be used as a drug because it produces virtually no THC (less than 1%), where marijuana produces between 5 – 20 % THC. In many countries regulatory limits for concentrations of psychoactive drug compounds (THC) in hemp encourages the use of strains of the plant which are bred for low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content or otherwise have the THC removed. Hemp is refined into products like hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, and fuel

The SEED unshelled Hempseeds in bowl is an excellent food and source of oil for cooking

  • and for lubrication. It is cholesterol-lowering and full of

    protein. It can also be used to make soaps, cosmetics and


  • The FIBER STRANDS Dry_Hemp_stem_showing_fibers..jpg can be spun into thread and used to

make rope or woven into durable, high quality textiles. The

textiles in turn are used to make clothes, sails, linens and fabrics

of all types. The original Levi jeans were made out of hemp.

The cannabis hemp fibre produces the strongest long-lasting

natural fibres in the plant kingdom.

  • The HURDS, or pieces of the stalk left after the fibre is

removed, are 77% cellulose. These can be used to make

dioxin-free paper, packing materials, non-toxic paints and

lacquers, industrial fabrication materials such as plastics and

chipboard and even bricks. Waste materials are completely


  • The LEAVES have use as a recreational and medicinal

ameliorant. They can also be eaten as a salad vegetable.

  • The ROOTS play an important part in soil conservation and

reclamation, preventing erosion and mudslides. Boiled and

made into a poultice, cannabis roots can ease the pain of

arthritis and sprains.

  • The WHOLE PLANT is an extremely valuable source of

Biomass for the production of pollution-free fuels, through a

simple process of controlled decomposition called pyrolysis.

These fuels can be used to power everything from generators

and domestic heating to motor cars and jet planes.


Cannabis flower botanical drawing, from 1887.

Agricultural production


Hemp is one of the earliest domesticated plants known. It has been cultivated by many civilizations for over 12,000 years.


Hemp is one of the faster growing biomasses known, producing up to 25 tonnes of dry matter per hectare per year. A typical average yield in large scale modern agriculture is about 2.5–3.5 t/ac (air dry stem yields of dry, retted stalks per acre at 12% moisture). Approximately one tonne of bast fiber and 2–3 tonnes of core material can be decorticated from 3–4 tonnes of good quality, dry retted straw.

Environmental impact

Hemp is considered by a 1998 study in Environmental Economics to be environmentally friendly due to a decrease of land use and other environmental impacts, indicating a possible decrease of ecological footprint in a US context compared to typical benchmarks. However, a 2010 study which compared the production of paper specifically from hemp and eucalyptus concluded that "industrial hemp presents higher environmental impacts than eucalyptus paper"; however, the article also highlights that "there is scope for improving industrial hemp paper production". Hemp is also claimed to require few pesticides and no herbicides, and it has been called a carbon negative raw material. Results indicate that high yield of hemp may require high total nutrient levels (field plus fertilizer nutrients) similar to a high yielding wheat crop.

Cannabis sativa stem

Cannabis sativa L. subsp. sativa var. sativa is the variety grown for industrial use, while C. sativa subsp. indica generally has poor fiber quality and is primarily used for recreational and medicinal purposes. The major difference between the two types of plants is the appearance and the amount of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) secreted in a resinous mixture by epidermal hairs called glandular trichomes, although they can also be distinguished genetically. Oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis approved for industrial hemp production produce only minute amounts of this psychoactive drug, not enough for any physical or psychological effects. Typically, hemp contains below 0.3% THC, while cultivars of Cannabis grown for recreational use can contain anywhere from 2% to over 20%.


The world leading producer of hemp is China with smaller production in Europe, Chile and North Korea. While ore hemp is exported to the United States than to any other country, the United States Government does not consistently distinguish between marijuana and the non-psychoactive Cannabis used for industrial and commercial purposes.


Hemp grown for milk animal fodder

Hemp is used for a wide variety of purposes including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, durable clothing and nutritional products. The bast fibers can be used in 100% hemp products, but are commonly blended with other organic fibers such as flax, cotton or silk, for apparel and furnishings, most commonly at a 55%/45% hemp/cotton blend. The inner two fibers of hemp are more woody and are more often used in non-woven items and other industrial applications, such as mulch, animal bedding and litter. The oil from the fruits ("seeds") oxidizes (commonly, though inaccurately, called "drying") to become solid on exposure to air, similar to linseed oil, and is sometimes used in the manufacture of oil-based paints, in creams as a moisturizing agent, for cooking, and in plastics. Hemp seeds have been used in bird seed mix as well. A survey in 2003 showed that more than 95% of hemp seed sold in the EU was used for animal feed (bird seed, bait for fishing). Hempseed is also used as a fishing bait.

In modern times hemp is used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, construction (as with Hempcrete and insulation), body products, health food and bio-fuel.




Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, sprouted, made into hemp milk (akin to soy milk), prepared as tea, and used in baking. The fresh leaves can also be consumed in salads. Products include cereals, frozen waffles, hemp milk icecream, hemp tofu, and nut butters. A few companies produce value added hemp seed items that include the seed oils, whole hemp grain (which is sterilized by law in the United States, where they import it from China and Canada), dehulled hemp seed (the whole seed without the mineral rich outer shell), hemp flour, hemp cake (a by-product of pressing the seed for oil) and hemp protein powder. Hemp is also used in some organic cereals, for non-dairy milk somewhat similar to soy and nut milks, and for non-dairy hemp "ice cream."

Market share

Within the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has treated hemp as purely a non-food crop. Seed appears on the UK market as a legal food product, and cultivation licenses are available for this purpose. In North America, hemp seed food products are sold, typically in health food stores or through mail order. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that "the market potential for hemp seed as a food ingredient is unknown. However, it probably will remain a small market, like those for sesame and poppy seeds." Since 2007 the commercial success of hemp food products has grown considerably.


Typical nutritional analysis of hulled hemp seeds

Calories/100 g 567 kcal

Protein 30.6

Carbohydrate 10.9

Dietary fiber 6.0

Fat 47.2

Saturated fat 5.2

Palmitic 16:0 3.4

Stearic 18:0 1.5

Monounsaturated fat 5.8

Oleic 18:1 (Omega-9) 5.8

Polyunsaturated fat 36.2

Linoleic 18:2 (Omega-6) 27.6

Linolenic 18:3 (Omega-3) 8.7

Gamma-Linolenic 18:3 (Omega-6) 0.8

Cholesterol 0 mg

Moisture 4.7

Ash 6.6

Vitamin A (B-Carotene) 4.0 IU/100g

Thiamine (Vit B1) 1.4 mg

Riboflavin (Vit B2) 0.3 mg

Pyridoxine (Vit B6) 0.1 mg

Vitamin C 1.0 mg

Vitamin E 9.0 IU/100g

Sodium 9.0 mg

Calcium 74.0 mg

Iron 4.7 mg

Approximately 44% of the weight of hempseed is edible oils, containing about 80% essential fatty acids (EFAs); e.g., linoleic acid, omega-6 (LA, 55%), alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 (ALA, 22%), in addition to gamma-linolenic acid, omega-6 (GLA, 1–4%) and stearidonic acid, omega-3 (SDA, 0–2%). Proteins (including edestin) are the other major component (33%), second only to soy (35%).

Hempseed's amino acid profile is close to "complete" when compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy. Hemp protein contains all 21 known amino acids, including the 9 essential ones adult bodies cannot produce. Proteins are considered complete when they contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities and ratios to meet the body's needs. The proportions of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in one tablespoon (15 ml) per day of hemp oil easily provides human daily requirements for EFAs.

   from wikipedia

Hemp Agronomic Characteristics


Hemp is a bast fiber plant similar to flax, kenaf, jute and ramie. Long slender primary fibers on the outer portion of the stalk characterize bast fiber plants. An annual plant that grows from seed, hemp can be grown on a range of soils, but tends to grow best on land that produces high yields of corn. The soil must be well drained, rich in nitrogen, and non-acidic. Hemp requires limited pesticides because is grows so quickly and attracts few pests. In northern latitudes, hemp is usually planted between early March and late May. Hemp averages between 2 - 4 meters in height in about four months of growth.

Hemp crops are harvested at different times for different hemp products.

Harvesting stalks for high quality primary fiber occurs as soon as the crop is in flower.

Harvesting for seed production and stalks occurs 4 - 6 weeks after flowering, when male plants begin to shed pollen.

Primary Hemp Fiber

The valued primary fibers are contained around the hollow, woody core of the hemp stalk. These long, strong fibers that grow the length of the hemp stalk are considered bast fibers Hemp fiber possesses properties similar to other bast fibers (flax, kenaf, jute and ramie) and excels in fiber length, strength, durability, absorbency, antimildew and antimicrobial properties.

Once a hemp crop has matured and been harvested, hemp primary fibers are separated from the hemp stalk through the "retting" process. For "dew retting", the cut stalks are left in the field for several weeks to allow natural humidity and bacteria to decompose the fiber-binding pectins. Other ways to separate the fiber from the core are: water retting, warm water retting and chemical retting. When the retting process is complete, the fibers are readily separated from the core, and processed for specific products.

Primary fibers are long-staple length fibers, averaging 8 ” (20 cm) in length. These hemp fibers can be spun and woven to a fine, crisp, linen-like fabric and used for apparel textiles, home furnishing textiles and carpeting. Antimildew and antimicrobial properties make them very suitable for sails, tarps, awnings, and floor coverings.

Primary fibers can be cut to shorter staple lengths to accommodate a variety of spinning systems. Hemp fiber blended with wool, cotton, linen or other fibers, adds strength, durability, absorbency and breathability, making hemp-blended fabrics cool and comfortable to wear and touch.


The Qualities of Primary Hemp Fiber

structure hemp under microscope 125 x magnification

length average 8 ” (20 cm) in length,

4 - 6 ”, 1 - 2 ” and special lengths available upon request

luster high

strength high

elasticity low, can be treated to improve

heat conductivity high, very cool fabric to wear

absorbency high

cleanliness and washability high reaction to bleaches will weaken,

use with care reaction to heat will scorch and burn

effect of mildew highly resistant

effect of light & outdoor exposure very resistant

reaction to alkalies not affected

reaction to acids easily affected

affinity for dyes very good

Core Fiber

Core fiber is derived from the sturdy, wood-like hollow stalk of the hemp plant. Sometimes referred to as "hurds", it is up to twice as absorbent as wood shavings, making it an excellent animal bedding and garden mulch. It can be easily blended with lime to create a strong yet lightweight concrete or plaster. Its high cellulose content means it can be applied to the manufacturing of plastics. Like primary fiber, it is biodegradable and possesses antimildew and antimicrobial properties.

U.S. Legal Definitions

Custom Regulations of the United States, Official US Custom House Guide, 1987. sec. 302.58 --CR-360. MARIJUANA STATUTORY PROVISIONS

Controlled Substances Act, Food & Drug Admin (1970)

Chapt. 22, Sec. 802-15 Definitions:

(a) MARIHUANA. The term 'marihuana' means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa (L.), whether growing or not, the seeds thereof, the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin;

BUT SHALL NOT INCLUDE the mature stalks of such plant,. fiber provided from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant., any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber. oil or cake or the sterilized seed of such plant. which is incapable of germination.....


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