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Industrial Hemp
Frequently Asked Questions

Separating Industrial Hemp from Marijuana & CBD

Here are some frequently asked questions about industrial hemp:

What is the difference between marijuana and industrial hemp?

Industrial hemp and marijuana are both derived from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa. However, they are distinct in terms of their chemical composition and use. The primary difference between industrial hemp and marijuana lies in their levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound responsible for the "high" associated with marijuana. Industrial hemp is legally defined as cannabis with a THC concentration of 0.3% or less on a dry-weight basis. This low THC content is not sufficient to produce psychoactive effects when consumed.

Industrial hemp is primarily cultivated for its fibers, seeds, and other industrial uses. The fibers from the plant are used in textiles, ropes, paper, and building materials. Hemp seeds are used in various food products, including oil, protein powder, and hemp seeds themselves. Additionally, hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from industrial hemp plants and used in various health and wellness products.

Marijuana, on the other hand, is cultivated for its high THC content, which is typically much higher than 0.3%. Marijuana is primarily used for recreational and medicinal purposes due to its psychoactive effects. It is consumed by smoking, vaporizing, or ingesting products containing higher levels of THC.

Although industrial hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species, they are legally and functionally distinct due to their THC content and intended use. Industrial hemp is cultivated for its industrial applications and low THC content, while marijuana is cultivated for its higher THC content and psychoactive effects.

Can you get high from industrial hemp?

No, industrial hemp contains low levels of THC, typically below 0.3%. THC is the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana. Therefore, consuming industrial hemp products, such as hemp seeds or CBD oil derived from hemp, will not cause a "high."

Is industrial hemp environmentally friendly?

Industrial hemp is considered environmentally friendly for several reasons. It requires less water and pesticides compared to other crops. Hemp plants also absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to mitigate climate change. Additionally, hemp can be used as a sustainable alternative to various non-renewable resources, such as petroleum-based plastics and wood.

Is industrial hemp legal?

The legality of industrial hemp varies by country and jurisdiction. In many countries, including the United States, industrial hemp's cultivation and commercial use are legal, provided the THC content is below a certain threshold (usually 0.3% in the US). However, it's important to check your location's specific laws and regulations. GIHS can help you or your clients navigate the legality of IH in your country or help your country develop exemption requirements if it is not legal. Complete the contact form below to learn more about these services. 

How is industrial hemp cultivated?

Industrial hemp is typically grown outdoors in large fields. It is a hardy plant that requires well-drained soil, adequate sunlight, and regular watering. Hemp plants are usually harvested for their fibers when the stalks are mature but before the seeds are fully developed. The harvested plants are then processed to extract the fibers, seeds, or CBD, depending on the intended use.

What is industrial hemp fiber used for?

Industrial hemp fiber has a wide range of applications and is used in various industries. Here are some common uses of industrial hemp fiber:

  1. Textiles: Hemp fiber is known for its strength and durability, making it suitable for textile production. It can be used to make clothing, such as shirts, pants, jackets, and dresses. Hemp textiles are valued for their breathability, moisture-wicking properties, and resistance to UV rays.

  2. Rope and cordage: Hemp fibers have been traditionally used for making ropes, twines, and cordage due to their strength and resistance to rot. Hemp ropes are commonly used in sailing, construction, and other industries where strong and reliable ropes are needed.

  3. Paper: Hemp fiber can be used to produce high-quality paper products. The long fibers in hemp contribute to paper strength, resulting in durable paper that is resistant to tearing. Hemp paper can be used for stationery, packaging materials, and specialty paper products.

  4. Building materials: Hemp fiber can be used in the production of environmentally friendly building materials. It can be mixed with lime to create a hempcrete, a lightweight and insulating material used for construction. Hemp fiber can also be used in insulation materials, particleboards, and other sustainable building applications.

  5. Automotive industry: Hemp fibers can be incorporated into automotive components, such as door panels, dashboards, and upholstery. The use of hemp fiber in the automotive industry helps to reduce the weight of vehicles, improve fuel efficiency, and enhance sustainability.

  6. Composite materials: Hemp fiber can be combined with other materials, such as resins or plastics, to create composite materials with improved strength and durability. These materials are used in a variety of industries, including aerospace, sports equipment, and consumer goods.

  7. Animal bedding: Hemp fibers can be processed into bedding material for animals, such as horses, poultry, and small pets. Hemp bedding is highly absorbent, resistant to mold and odor, and provides a comfortable environment for animals.

These are just a few examples of the many uses of industrial hemp fiber. Its versatility, strength, and sustainability make it an attractive option in various industries seeking eco-friendly and durable materials.

What is industrial hemp grain used for?

Industrial hemp grain, also known as hemp seed, has a variety of uses across different industries. Here are some common uses of industrial hemp grain:

  1. Food and Beverages: Hemp seeds are highly nutritious and are consumed as a health food. They are rich in protein, essential fatty acids (such as omega-3 and omega-6), fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw or roasted and added to salads, smoothies, granola bars, baked goods, and other recipes. Hemp seed oil, derived from the seeds, is also used in cooking and as a nutritious dressing for salads.

  2. Nutritional Supplements: Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil are popular ingredients in nutritional supplements. They are used in the form of capsules, powders, or oils, providing a convenient way to incorporate the nutritional benefits of hemp into one's diet.

  3. Animal Feed: Hemp grain can be processed and used as a component of animal feed. It is particularly beneficial for livestock, poultry, and pets due to its high protein content and nutrient profile. Hemp seed cake, a byproduct of hemp oil extraction, is also used as animal feed.

  4. Industrial Oil and Lubricants: Hemp seed oil can be used in various industrial applications. It is used as a base oil in the production of paints, varnishes, and other coatings. Hemp seed oil is also utilized as a lubricant for machinery and mechanical parts.

  5. Cosmetics and Body Care Products: Hemp seed oil is a popular ingredient in cosmetics and body care products. It is known for its moisturizing and nourishing properties and is used in products such as lotions, creams, soaps, shampoos, and conditioners.

  6. Biofuel: Hemp grain can be used as a source of biofuel. The oil extracted from hemp seeds can be converted into biodiesel, a renewable and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel-based diesel.

It's important to note that while hemp grain is used for various purposes, it does not contain significant levels of CBD, which is primarily found in the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant. CBD extraction typically focuses on hemp biomass rather than hemp grain.

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