July is National Hemp Month! If you’re thinking, “What the heck is hemp, and why are we celebrating it?” you’re not alone. National Hemp Month is a relatively new addition to the calendar—the first observance occurred in 2020. However, the history of hemp dates all the way back to 5000 BC, so the month-long celebration of the potent plant is long overdue.
This July, let’s kick off National Hemp Month by learning more about hemp, one of the world’s most beneficial and versatile plants.
Remember: HEMP IS NOT POT!
What is Hemp?
For over 80 years, laws banning marijuana also prohibited hemp even though it’s non-intoxicating, so it won’t get you high. Luckily, that’s no longer the cannabis case, thanks to the United States federal government legalizing hemp by passing the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill removed it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), causing demand for the eco-friendly crop to skyrocket in the health and wellness, textile, and building industries.
Despite the legalization of this non-intoxicating cannabis plant years ago, many people still wonder, “What is hemp?”
Quick answer: Hemp is an aromatic plant with tall, cane-like stalks and flowering buds.
Legal answer: Hemp is a Cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3 percent THC, so it won’t get you high like its cannabis cousin, marijuana.
Helpful answer: Hemp is an eco-friendly plant that delivers a wealth of beneficial uses. It provides natural fibers used to produce clothing, paper, and “hempcrete” as well as cannabidiol (CBD), the therapeutic darling of the health and wellness industry.
Did you know non-intoxicating CBD comes from the hemp plant?
CBD, the second most dominant ingredient in cannabis, is derived directly from the stems, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant. The cannabinoid’s naturally healing benefits help alleviate pain, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, mood disorders, digestive issues, and fatigue.
So much healing from one plant! That’s why July is National Hemp Month!
As praise for the cannabis plant continues to grow, more hemp-related observances have been added to the calendar:
National Hemp Week (July 17-23)
National Hemp Day (February 4th)
National CBD Month (January)
These celebrations of all things hemp help educate the public about the positive impacts of the oil-seed-and-fiber crop and raise support for increased hemp farming and processing across the country.
However, despite its current popularity, the history of hemp reveals a much rougher road to mainstream approval. For years, hemp had to overcome the stigma of its loopy cousin, marijuana, and prove its usefulness in society.
So, let’s take a brief look at the long history of hemp...
A Brief History of Hemp
From Chinese emperors to American colonists to modern-day consumers, the history of hemp is both eventful and impactful. Throughout the years, despite changing perceptions, hemp continued to be a valued crop worldwide for producing fabric, paper, and wellness products.
Ancient Hemp History
The ancient Chinese were the first to domesticate wild hemp into a cultivated crop. They discovered that male hemp plants had the best fiber for clothing and female hemp plants produced better seeds for medicine and nutrition. Archeological records reveal hemp fiber imprints found in ancient pottery as early as 5,000 BC.
Colonial Hemp History
One of the main reasons for English colonization in America was to grow valuable cash crops—tobacco and hemp. By 1850, nearly 17 million acres of hemp were planted across the country. The cannabis plants were used to make clothing, paper, ropes, ship sails, and currency. Hemp was one of the most instrumental cash crops in strengthening America and weakening its dependence on England.
Post-Prohibition Hemp History
When Prohibition ended in the 1930s, the popular plant took a major hit as lawmakers demonized it as unhealthy and ultimately made hemp illegal. Historians suspect the decision had more to do with powerful political connections to oil, cotton, and timber companies. Eliminating the cash crop competition, hemp, allowed these businesses to thrive.
Medical Hemp History
While the United States continued its ban on hemp, researchers in Israel conducted studies on a new compound found in hemp called cannabidiol (CBD). Led by Raphael Mechoulam, the researchers discovered that the cannabinoid, CBD, interacted with the body’s endocannabinoid system, influencing overall health and wellness.
In 2012, word of Mechoulam’s extensive CBD research spread, which led to the concept of medical cannabis programs in states such as Colorado and California.
In 2014, politicians passed the 2014 Farm Bill, a momentous first step in bringing hemp back to America. The popular bill created pilot programs used to study the economic and ecological impacts of hemp growth and CBD production.
Modern-Day Hemp History
The pilot programs from the 2014 Farm Bill were a huge success, resulting in the upgraded, landmark 2018 Farm Bill. This bill allowed industrial hemp farms to increase production, which propelled CBD to go mainstream. Hurray!
Since then, the CBD market has skyrocketed, producing an abundance of healing CBD products that potentially alleviate numerous health conditions:
CBD for anxiety
CBD for sleep
CBD for muscle and joint recovery
CBD for pain and inflammation
CBD for wellness
CBD for digestive issues
CBD for pets!
Thanks to hemp, you have cannabidiol tinctures, capsules, creams, salves, gummies, bath bombs, and energy drinks to help your body heal!
Other Uses of Hemp
There’s a lot more to hemp than CBD oil, although the cannabinoid is currently the plant’s hottest commodity. Here are a few of the many valuable products brought to you by hemp...
Clothes made from hemp naturally wick away moisture and offer greater breathability—less sweat (and stink).
Hemp fibers are stronger and more durable than typical fibers, so they make the best ropes. Hemp ropes are also mold resistant.
Unlike the rope, hemp paper isn’t stronger than other paper. In fact, it’s very similar, but its production is more eco-friendly since there’s no deforestation involved.
So, what the heck is hemp? Incredible!
Every July, National Hemp Month celebrates the return of one of the world’s most beneficial and versatile plants—hemp. Share this hempful info with others who are unfamiliar with the amazing, eco-friendly plant.
“Hemp is the only plant that can feed you, house you, clothe you, and heal you.”
Happy National Hemp Month!