The general population often gets hemp and marijuana confused. This is because, to the untrained eye, they look an awful lot alike. The truth is, hemp is the sister plant of marijuana, and despite both being species of cannabis, both are used for very different purposes. In fact, hemp contains nearly no THC, which is the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana. Smoking hemp will probably do nothing more than leave you with a headache. Here are three other surprising facts you probably didn’t know about hemp.
The Hemp Industry Is Bustling
Despite not being talked about in the media as much as marijuana, the hemp industry is extremely active. In 2013, more than $450 million worth of product was sold in the industry. This high volume is thanks, in part, to the diversity of hemp. This species of cannabis can be used in the making of
• concrete (hempcrete),
• diesel fuel,
• industrial lubrication,
• plastic, and
Hemp was also a big seller in the automotive industry. At one point, Henry Ford was experimenting to build car bodies out of hemp. BMW has also experimented with making cars more recyclable by making certain materials out of hemp.
America Is Dependent on Hemp Imports
Despite hemp being very versatile, there is no commercial industry for hemp in the United States. As a result, U.S. businesses must import nearly all of the hemp that they use from places such as Canada. In 2011, Canada had more than 38,800 licensed acres of dedicated land for hemp farming. However, this accounts for just a small portion of the 55,700 metric tons of hemp that are produced around the world every year. The countries that grow the most hemp are China, South Korea and Russia. These three countries alone account for more than 70 percent of the world’s hemp supply despite around 30 nations growing commercial hemp.
Hemp or Cash
In the 17th century, hemp could actually be used as a legal form of payment in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. In fact, Americans could even pay their taxes with hemp. At the time, the government was doing its best to encourage farms to grow hemp so that it could be used in the production of clothing, sails and rope. Hemp was so important that, in 1619, Virginia required farmers to grow it, and refusing was against the law and came with a penalty of jail time.
So there you have it. Three shocking facts about hemp that most people don’t know. Just because hemp is a species of cannabis doesn’t mean that it’s used in the same way that marijuana is. It’s actually a helpful plant that is used around the world in the manufacturing of numerous materials.