Why Hemp Could Become Even Bigger than Cannabis


Rachelle Gordon

February 21st, 2017

Policy


Both hemp and marijuana have been getting a lot of attention lately but for much different reasons. While both are cannabis sativa plants, the two have much different properties. Hemp does not contain THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid that makes users feel high), but instead is typically higher in cannabidiol (CBD), which is known for its medicinal benefits. Additionally, hemp has long been used to make fabric, rope, paper, soap, and many other things. So if hemp doesn’t get you high, can help the sick, and may be used to make several conventional products, why is it illegal to grow?

A Storied History

Hemp has been grown for various purposes since the beginning of time, and many of the Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, grew the plant for a variety of reasons. It was not until 1937, with the enacting of the Marihuana Tax Act, that growing and distributing cannabis was outlawed. Hemp returned in popularity during World War II, when the government encouraged citizens to grow hemp in order to help the war effort. In 1970, President Nixon put marijuana on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (industrial hemp was also included) where it has remained ever since.

The hemp industry is now worth tens of millions of dollars. Products containing the plant (including everything from wallets to breakfast cereal) are a big business – Americans spend around $580 million per year on these typical consumer products. With the growing popularity of CBD, it is estimated that the hemp industry will only continue to grow at incredible rate. Many government officials – both Republican and Democrat – believe that hemp should be legal, as it will bring medicine and economic growth to local economies.

The Health Benefits of Hemp

In the hemp versus cannabis debate, more people are discovering the many health benefits of both with a focus on hemp. The plant has shown great efficacy in a variety of illness and ailments, including muscle aches, arthritis, menopause and much more. Here are some of the evidence-based benefits, according to Authority Nutrition:

  • Hemp seeds are high in protein, and jam-packed with two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).
  • Seeds are also shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Hemp seeds may aid digestive issues.

It is vital to also mention the many benefits of CBD, which hemp plants are typically high in. The cannabinoid has shown efficacy in treating epilepsy, autism, anxiety, inflammation, and has even been used to help treat cancer patients. While CBD remains on the Schedule I list of dangerous drugs, it is becoming more widely accepted across the country due to its remarkable abilities.

The Growing Hemp Industry

It’s no secret that the medical and adult-use cannabis markets are exploding, and hemp is quickly becoming a multi-million dollar business. In addition to CBD, hemp has an array of other end markets, such as food, protein, supplements, clothing, pharmaceuticals, skincare, paper, and more. According to The CBD Report, hemp consumer products sales are exploding with several companies receiving huge investments.

NutraFuels Inc., a producer of CBD oral sprays, had shares hit an all-time at the beginning of 2017. Oral sprays are a growing delivery method and are popular with patients who may be unable to swallow capsules. In other hemp industry news, Lexaria Bioscience Corp., a food sciences company, recently announced plans to partner with Hempco© Food and Fiber in order to bring its proprietary technology to an emerging market.

Final Thought

The hemp industry is growing at a rapid rate, thanks to broader legalization of the plant and its potential medical benefits. As the popularity continues to grow, more and more politicians are looking at hemp to help revitalize economically depressed areas, perhaps even turning the plant into the nation’s next cash crop. Hemp has a potentially wider reach than cannabis and could even overtake the plant in its projected earnings – only time will tell.

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Rachelle Gordon

About Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based writer. She was the president of her college's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and worked in Amsterdam for a brief time. Find her online at www.rachellegordon.net.


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