Hemp is an ancient crop that has been used by humans for thousands of years for a variety of purposes, from paper to medicine. It is a renewable source of raw materials that can replace many products that are harmful to the environment. Until its rediscovery in the late 1980s, the use of hemp for fiber production had declined considerably, but it still occupied an important place among natural fibers due to its strength, durability and water resistance. The main uses of hemp fiber were for ropes, sacks, rugs, nets and straps.
The hemp manufacturing industry was reborn in the West in 1988 and hemp is being used in increasing quantities in the manufacture of paper. The cellulose content is approximately 70%. Cement and mortar made with hemp and hurda liber fiber have better insulating and noise-absorbing properties due to the higher porosity of the material. Hemp is also a source of natural fiber that has been used in textiles and fabrics since the early Middle Ages.
The last crop was grown in Wisconsin in 1958 and, in 1970, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) formally banned cultivation (although the state of Hawaii is home to the first industrial hemp crop grown since the approval of the CSA). From then on, hemp was used in everything from the sails of 19th century clipper ships to the covers of pioneering wagons. Hemp seeds are known to be an incredible source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, proteins, dietary fiber, and several minerals. In addition, wood pulp paper can only be recycled up to three times, while hemp paper can be recycled seven times.
Hemp has more than 50,000 known uses and is being used for a variety of purposes today. It is used in textiles and fabrics, paper production, cement and mortar production, rope making, clothing production and much more. Hemp seeds are also used as a grain-like food that dates back thousands of years and is now present in traditional Asian foods. The government's drug war has created an atmosphere of self-censorship in which talking about hemp in a positive way is seen as politically incorrect or taboo.
To delve into the details, industrial hemp is distinguished from marijuana by its THC content (the main intoxicant in marijuana), which allows industrial hemp to be cultivated for fiber and seeds. However, since the early 1990s, many countries have allowed hemp planting and commercial-scale production. This alone would make it virtually impossible for federal and state authorities to enforce marijuana laws if hemp were legalized. In fact, industrial hemp and marijuana are different breeds of Cannabis sativa; hemp has no value as a recreational drug.