Industrial hemp, fiber hemp or medical hemp, as a rule, create unnecessary confusion because they differ in the purpose of use, the name does not reflect botanical differences but the differences in the ratio and the number of active substances.
The term medical hemp (medical cannabis) in different countries is interpreted very differently, for example in some cases it means a high concentration of THC, in some others a high concentration of CBD, while in the third it means a standardized product. The most common emphasis with this term is on standardization and wider understanding of this term, which is not per se limited to “medical hemp” as a substance but a broader range of factors. The term industrial hemp is also interpreted differently, mainly related to the low (very different %) content of THC.
For centuries, industrial hemp (plant species Cannabis sativa) has been a source of fiber and oilseed used worldwide to produce a variety of industrial and consumer products. Currently, more than 30 nations grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, which is sold on the world market.
Hemp is an agricultural commodity that is cultivated for use in the production of a wide range of products, including foods and beverages, cosmetics and personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, yarns and spun fibers, paper, construction and insulation materials, and other manufactured goods. Hemp can be grown as a fiber, seed, or other dual-purpose crops. However, hemp is also from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, as marijuana.
Physical Description of Hemp Plant
The hemp plant is a stout, aromatic, erect annual herb. The slender cane-like stalks are hollow except at the tip and base. The leaves are compound with palmate shape, and the flowers are small and greenish-yellow. The lower leaf pairs usually occur in an opposite leaf arrangement on the stem. Seed-producing flowers form elongate, spikelike clusters growing on the pistillate, or female, plants. Pollen-producing flowers form many-branched clusters on staminate, or male, plants.
Hemp plants are warmth-loving (thermophilic) and sun-loving (heliotropic). Bio-mass and seed production will be reduced if plants do not receive enough sun and warmth throughout the growing season.
Species of Hemp
There are three species of the hemp plant: Cannabis sativa L., Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient of marijuana, is the main difference between the different species.
Cannabis Sativa L.
A subspecies of Cannabis is known as hemp. Varieties have a THC content of less than 0.3%. A hemp is a non-psychoactive form of cannabis. Cannabis sativa L. is generally tall and randomly branched, high in fibre and grain. It is low in THC. Many fibre and grain products and industrial uses have been made from Cannabis sativa L. (hemp).
It has poor fiber quality and is used to make drugs for recreation and medicine. The plant is relatively short, conical and densely branched. Cannabis indica tends to have a higher Δ9-THC and a lower Cannabidiol (CBD) content than C. Sativa L. Marijuana, dependent on the strain, can have THC concentrations of 18% to 38%.
It is not common in North America. Cannabis ruderalis will produce flowers based on age rather than the light cycle (photoperiod). This kind of flowering is also known as auto-flowering.
Although only the hemp plant yields true hemp, several other plant fibres are called “hemp.” These include Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum), Mauritius Hemp (Furcraea foetida), Sunn Hemp (Crotalaria juncea) and many more. Let’s get to know some of them.
Mauritius hemp, (Furcraea foetida), Portuguese piteira, French aloe, plant of the asparagus family (Asparagaceae) and its fibre, belongs to the leaf fibre group. The plant has lance-shaped leaves growing directly from the short plant stalk to form a dense rosette. The gray-green leaves are 1.2 to 2.1 metres (4 to 7 feet) long and about 20 cm (8 inches) across the widest portion. Some are edged with thornlike projections. The flower stalk, which appears near the end of the plant’s life, some 8 to 10 years after planting, grows up to 12.2 metres (40 feet) and bears white flowers about 3.8 cm (1.5 inches) long. The plant is cultivated mainly on large plantations and produces leaves suitable for harvest within three to four years after planting and each 18 to 36 months thereafter. It yields about 25–30 leaves at each harvest.
Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.) is a multipurpose tropical and subtropical legume grown in many countries, notably India, mainly for its high-quality fibre. The crop is grown for green manure, as a soil improver and as a disease break in cereal or other crop rotations.
Sunn hemp, like hemp (Cannabis sativa), is mainly grown as a fibre crop that was much used in the traditional manufacture of ropes, strings, twines, floor mats, and fishing nets. It has regained interest in the late 2000s as its fibre is reported to be more environmentally friendly than synthetic fibres and having valuable traits for paper industries. Sunn hemp foliage can be used as a protein source to supplement poor quality roughage. Raw seeds are toxic and cannot be fed to cattle without prior boiling. The plant can be ploughed down for green manure in the early flowering stage. It can be useful as an intercropping species, in cereal fields or for other cash crops.
Manila hemp, also known as abacá, is a type of buff-colored fiber obtained from Musa Textilis (a relative of edible bananas), which is likewise called Manila hemp as well as abacá. It is mostly used for pulping for a range of uses, including speciality papers. It was once used mainly to make Manila rope, but this is now of minor importance. Abacá is an exceptionally strong fibre, nowadays used for special papers like teabag tissue. It is also very expensive, priced several times higher than wood pulp.
Hemp-nettle commonly called Galeopsisis an annual weed sometimes plentiful on arable land, and in cornfields. It also occurs in damp places and woodland clearings and is common throughout the UK. It prefers nutrient-rich loamy or sandy soils. Dry conditions reduce vegetative and reproductive growth. Common hemp-nettle is a very variable species in flower colour and leaf shape. It is thought to have originated as a hybrid between G. speciosa and G. pubescens. The plant has some medicinal and therapeutic uses. The seeds are said to be included in the diet of marsh and willow tits.
Watch this video to know more about hemp species
Obtaining the fiber from Hemp
The Hemp fiber or industrial hemp is obtained from the outer layer or the bast of the Cannabis sativa plant, more popularly known as that meant for producing marijuana or hashish. The narcotic content is because of tetra-hydro-cannabinol content (THC) which is as much as 20% and causes the high when smoked. Industrial hemp contains 1 percent THC only.
This fiber has some very incredible properties. It conducts heat, dyes well, resists mildew, blocks ultraviolet light and has natural anti-bacterial properties. It is used in many industries including paper, biodegradable plastic, construction, health food, chemical clean-ups, and fuel. Automobile companies like BMW use hemp fiber to reinforce their door panels for better safety standards. The best fibers have properties like other fiber crops like flax. The best fiber is known for their length, strength, durability, absorbency, anti-mildew and antimicrobial properties.
What are some benefits and commercial uses of Hemp?
The global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products in nine submarkets: agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food and beverages, paper, construction materials, and personal care. Hemp can be grown as a fiber, seed, or dual-purpose crop.
Hemp fibers are used in fabrics and textiles, yarns and spun fibers, paper, carpeting, home furnishings, construction and insulation materials, auto parts, and composites. Hurds are used in animal bedding, material inputs, papermaking, and oil absorbents.
Hemp is also being used in nutritional supplements and medicinal and therapeutic products, including pharmaceuticals. It is also used in a range of composite products. Hempcrete (a mixture of hemp hurds and lime products) is being used as a building material.
Hemp is not something which is 0.3% less than THC. In fact, it is misrepresentation or rather a scam. Numerous individuals still don't understand that marijuana and hemp are the same plants with the same genus and species, named either Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica.
Looking beyond the species, the common traits between the two varieties begin to dwindle. Marijuana and hemp are different in their appearance, growing methods, chemical makeup, and potential uses.
“Hemp” consists of genetic strains that are higher in Cannabidiol (CBD) while “marijuana” strains are higher in tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC). CBD and THC are the principal cannabinoids (among several) found in cannabis. The term “marijuana” is used for the recreational and medicinal use of products derived from the flower and leaves.
Hemp has long been known for its 25,000+ potential product uses thanks to its fibrous makeup and versatile seeds. More recently high-CBD strains have been used as a source to create CBD oil extracts used in a wide range of products known for their non-psychoactive, therapeutic benefits.
Marijuana is commonly trimmed of its leaves and stalks down to the flowering buds which are then smoked or consumed as a recreational, medical, or spiritual psychoactive drug.
These perspectives can prompt contradictions because, under one definition, a material with high CBD would be called hemp and under another worldview, the same would be called cannabis. If you want to know more about their difference, then let us know in the comment section below. We will listen to you.
Here is a video explaining what exactly is cannabis-hemp as a Hindi vlog.
We have named our organization as Himalayan hemp because we encompass all kinds of indigenous plants in the Himalayan region including cannabis hemp. Join our Hemp revolution. Have a look around our website to find out more about how you can get involved.
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