Let’s start right at the beginning. In order to properly understand the versatility of this wonder crop we first need to explore exactly what the hemp plant is. And in doing so it’s important to clear up several misconceptions surrounding the plant.

Hemp is a plant grown predominantly in the northern hemisphere. It has been used as a traditional food source for many hundreds of years, and one of the true benefits of growing hemp is the richness of proteins and nutritional goodness that lurks within its leaves, stem, roots, and seeds.

A major misunderstanding is that hemp and marijuana are two completely different varieties of plant. But that’s not true. Hemp and marijuana are simply different strains of the cannabis plant.

So why the confusion? What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?

There is a very important distinction to make between hemp and marijuana, and that’s the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, content of the plant. THC is what gets you high. It’s the psychoactive element of the plant that traditionally causes users to experience all of the sensations associated with being ‘stoned’. THC is found in large quantities in marijuana whilst hemp contains only trace amounts of the cannabinoid. 

Another crucial distinction to make, and one that is useful for us looking to explore the benefits of each plant, is that hemp has a much higher CBD content. Although exact figures vary from plant to plant and depend very much on the growing conditions, hemp can contain anything between 2-20% CBD whilst marijuana often has less than 1%. To give you an idea of the THC levels, marijuana can consist of more than 20% THC, with hemp generally possessing less than 0.2%. 

A substantial difference. And for those interested in the science:

“Chemically CBD is the kissing cousin of THC. They have identical chemical formulas (21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms), but there is one bond broken in the chemical structure that is responsible for why THC is mind-altering and CBD is not,” Kent Vrana, PhD, Penn State College of Medicine.

Source: Best Health Magazine | What is Hemp?

The maximum permitted level for the amount of THC that can exist in hemp varies from country to country, but in the UK it currently stands at 0.2%. It is because of these tiny trace quantities of THC that we can confidently state that hemp is not a drug and can be grown legally in the UK and the rest of the world by licensed farmers.

Legality clarified, what do the experts think? 

Now we know what we’re dealing with, besides its nutritional benefits, we can begin to explore the plethora of uses for hemp. The European Industrial Hemp Associated, (EIHA) who are experts in representing those at the heart of the hemp growing industry, perhaps best summarise the versatility of the crop in a recent report:

“The real added value of industrial hemp is that the same crop can be harvested and used for a wide array of different purposes: food, feed, cosmetics, construction materials, biobased plastics, textile and energy. Moreover, used in crop rotation, it has the potential to achieve positive environmental externalities.”

Source: A Real Green Deal EIHA

Put simply, the hemp plant has tremendous potential. But it remains a widely underutilised resource, we are not yet close to scratching the surface of what can be achieved by successfully harnessing the power of hemp crops. To give you an idea of its many applications, Healthline has ranked the 6 most common uses for hemp:

What is hemp used for?

  • paper production
  • clothing
  • textiles
  • animal supplies such as feed
  • key ingredient in plastic
  • food products, for example, hemp seed: hemp oil, hemp milk, and protein powder

An eco-friendly, biodiverse solution?

Because hemp grows so rapidly, much faster than similar crops, it is regarded as a more sustainable method of manufacturing; particularly in products such as paper and textiles, simply because crops can be replenished more quickly. 

Not only are its uses abundant. Its production and manipulation require minimal input, generating very little waste in the process. The plant can be used in its entirety, meaning nothing is wasted. 

And the benefits don’t stop there, hemp crops have a positive effect on biodiversity, with studies suggesting that subsequent crops (such as wheat) planted after the cultivation of hemp can see their yield increase by as much as 20%.

Where does hemp CBD fit into all of this? 

The extraction of CBD from the hemp plant is just another example of benefiting from its many uses. The high cannabidiol content of the hemp plant can be put to use in oils, creams, topicals, gels and capsules, allowing consumers to experience a host of other life-enhancing benefits.

Why is this so important to EthicaCBD?

EthicaCBD is built upon pillars of sustainability and biodiversity. We recognise the good that can come from making the most of environmentally beneficial crops and resources. We want to spread the word about the advantages of hemp, not just through our extraction of the best CBD, but by highlighting the positive impact the sustainable use of this crop can have on the planet. Help us spread the message, either by sharing this article or exploring our website to find out more about EthicaCBD. 

Let’s recap…

  • hemp is a versatile plant that has many industrial uses
  • its nutritional benefits are plentiful and it is an excellent addition to a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle
  • hemp and marijuana are distinct strains of the cannabis plant, the major difference being the much greater THC content present in marijuana 
  • hemp does not contain enough THC to get you high and is completely legal in the UK
  • hemp is high in CBD content, therefore, the perfect raw material for CBD extraction

And now you know a little more about the nutritional goodness that is locked into every component of this versatile plant, you can use your newfound knowledge to explore EthicaCBD’s range of premium CBD products.

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