Industrial Hemp Facts
Industrial hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa and is of the same plant species as marijuana. However, hemp is genetically different and distinguished by its use and chemical makeup. Industrial hemp refers to cannabis varieties that are primarily grown as an agricultural crop. Hemp plants are low in THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana's primary psychoactive chemical). THC levels for hemp generally are less than 1 percent. Federal legislation that would exclude hemp from the legal definition of marijuana would set a ceiling of 0.3 percent THC for a cannabis variety to be identified as hemp. Marijuana refers to the flowering tops and leaves of psychoactive cannabis varieties, which are grown for their high content of THC. THC levels for marijuana average about 10 percent but can go much higher.
Industrial hemp products, production, and markets
Some estimate that the global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products, including: fabrics and textiles, yarns and raw or processed spun fibers, paper, carpeting, home furnishings, construction and insulation materials, auto parts composites, animal bedding, foods and beverages, body care products, nutritional supplements, industrial oils, cosmetics, personal care, pharmaceuticals
Cultivated industrial hemp plants usually consist of a spindly main stalk covered with leaves. Considered a low-maintenance crop, hemp plants typically reach between 6 to 15 feet in height. Depending on the purpose, variety and climatic conditions, the period between planting and harvesting ranges from 70 to 140 days. One acre of hemp can yield an average of 700 pounds of grain, which in turn can be pressed into about 22 gallons of oil and 530 pounds of meal. The same acre will also produce an average of 5,300 pounds of straw, which can be transformed into approximately 1,300 pounds of fiber.
Industrial hemp may be an excellent rotation crop for traditional crops, because it suppresses weeds and decreases outbreaks of insect and disease problems. Hemp may also rebuild and condition soils by replacing organic matter and providing aeration through its extensive root system.
Hemp's Current Status in the United States
Kentucky, Colorado, and Vermont all planted small research crops in 2015. As these states plant for a second year, many others, including Tennessee and Oregon, have passed hemp legislation and are planting their inaugural round of hemp crops.
33 states and Puerto Rico have introduced pro-hemp legislation, and 24 states have defined industrial hemp as distinct from other strains of cannabis and removed barriers to its Industrial hemp is legal to grow in more than 30 countries. The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that does not currently allow the cultivation of hemp. Millions of dollars’ worth of hemp is imported into the United States each year in order to fulfill the growing demand for hemp products.