What is Hemp?

What is hemp?

What is Hemp?

Hemp is an extremely hardy and renewable harvest crop that has been farmed since 8000 BCE. This crop is from the cannabis sativa family which is the same family that produces marijuana. Because of this, hemp is often mistakenly grouped with the drug. However, hemp does not produce the same levels of THC (the compound that produces psychoactive effects in humans) as marijuana, and it is not used for recreational purposes. Hemp is instead used for its edible seeds and its fiber, which can be made into textiles and other products. 

Want a hot take? 

Ignore those hemp naysayers that only think about its relation to mary jane – the hemp plant has many uses and holds the potential for many amazing environmental benefits.

Is Hemp “good”?

Yes! Hemp is a more sustainable alternative to fibers, like cotton. In fact, hemp needs just one third of the water that cotton needs to grow, and it can enrich the soil in which it is planted with nitrogen and oxygen, while also helping to remove chemicals and pollutants. Crop yield is also a huge factor in assessing the sustainability of how materials are grown – if you compare one acre of hemp to one acre of cotton, two to three times more hemp fibers can be cultivated in the same amount of time on the same amount of land. Hemp is also extremely resilient and has natural defenses against fungi, insects, and diseases. Therefore, farmers do not have to rely on chemicals, pesticides, and fungicides that can have devastating effects on the environment. Pesticide-free hemp, however, is not a guarantee, so look out for organic certifications when buying hemp products. 

What kind of products are made with hemp?

Hemp's fibrous materials make it great for the production of textiles and fabrics, like clothing, bed sheets, and more, and its seeds and fibers can also be used to make concrete, plastic, fuel, rope, and food. And yes, its natural compounds can be used for medicinal purposes, too.

Are there certifications I should look out for?

The 2018 Farm Bill reclassified hemp, making it legal to grow industrial hemp in the United states. There are certain rules and regulations for growing hemp, as for all crops, but as of 2018 it is completely legal to grow and use hemp in products. When you’re buying hemp products, look for organic certifications. For hemp textiles, look for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which is recognized as the world’s leading standard for textiles made from organic fibers. 

Still want to learn more? Check out some of our favorite references: