Not to be confused with hemp’s happier cousin, marijuana, hemp isn’t psychoactive and won’t get you high. But don’t let the lack of getting blazed stop you from delving into the health and environmental benefits of this beloved (and misunderstood) plant.
Hemp refers to the non-psychoactive varieties of Cannabis Sativa L. Industrial Hemp contains 0.3% – 1.5% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) while Cannabis (Marijuana) contains around 5% – 10% THC. Although, hemp contains much higher concentrations of Cannabidiol (CBD) than cannabis.
– Hemp seeds contain all essential amino acids –
– Growing hemp uses less water than corn, cotton, soy, wheat and rice –
– Hemp absorbs 5x more CO2 from the air than trees –
– Production of hemp seeds alone is estimated to be worth over $1 billion by 2027 –
Hemp has a wide variety of uses, including, but not limited too: human food, pet food, paper, medicine, oils, construction materials, clothing, fuel and biodegradable plastic. Even Mercedes Benz has started to replace some of their plastic and metals in their cars with hemp.
Hemp has been used for thousands of years. Textiles have been found by Archaeologist on the Oki Islands near Japan dating back to 8000 BC. Most of the ropes and sails used on first explorers ships were made from hemp and good ol’ Henry Ford even made a car partly made from hemp fibre in 1941 called the Soybean car – it was also designed to run on hemp oil.
So why have we only recently seen an influx of hemp products?
Well, it used to be illegal.
Hemp cultivation was one of the most profitable and sustainable crops for farmers in US but the success and profitability of hemp production was proving detrimental to the growing oil & cotton industry. US politicians, backed by wealthy industry tycoons, started to run campaigns to stop hemp production to ensure that the only option for energy and textiles would need to come from oil or cotton. However, hemp was a popular plant and making it illegal would be difficult. Instead, hemp was placed in the same classification as marijuana; claiming that they were ‘too similar’.
This meant that once the Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937 and cannabis became illegal, so did its non-psychoactive cousin, hemp.
While science and technology rapidly progressed though this period, synthetics and cotton products were the focus; leaving research and development of the hemp to stagnate.
It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the Controlled Substance Act was introduced that hemp was no longer recognised as marijuana. Although, it took a few years for Australia to catch up with the times. Queensland only allowed the industrial production of hemp in 2002 but as of November 2017, hemp has been approved by the TGA for human consumption. Australia is now expected to become leaders in the global hemp industry.
Getting High on Hemp with Tegan Scates.
How has the Hemp industry changed in the last few years?
It is a very exciting time for the hemp industry, to be connecting with our existing and new customers. As momentum builds, a greater understanding of this unique product becomes more apparent in playing in a role in our daily lives. Since the legislation of hemp for human consumption changed in late November 2017 there has been an increase in demand for hemp from growers, manufacturers and retailers. As the perception on the cannabis industry is starting to change, hemp-focused businesses are educating consumers on what hemp is and how it can be used. We are really at the beginning of this growing industry, the developments that come into play over the next 12 months will give us a good indication as to where the industry as a whole is heading.
How big do you think the industry will get in Australia?
By following world trends, the hemp industry is on an unstoppable upwards trajectory. The Canadian hemp food industry, for example, has a 5% household penetration rate. Australians are health conscious individuals and are always looking for the next “superfood” to get their hands on. We also see the personal care industry as a growing market, plant-based skincare is on the rise as Australians are opting for chemical-free products.
We are seeing incredible innovations worldwide. As the industry’s infrastructure grows, we hope to see more being born right here in Australia.
What issues could be solved by using hemp?
The possibilities are endless. It is becoming more apparent and widely known in society that the effects of human activities are becoming detrimental to the environment. This is where the positive impacts of hemp can play a role. Not only for the health and wellbeing of humans but for the environment. The global fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Cotton has been at the forefront of fast fashion as it is a cheaper fibre, but the effects on the land are devastating. As we encourage people to buy fewer items and think more sustainably, hemp clothing is a great alternative as it is long-lasting, durable and feels better with each wash.
The journey has only just begun.