What is Hemp? Things can get confusing with all the different cannabinoid products on the market. Here’s what you should know.
In 2019, hemp farming quadrupled in the US. Up a whopping 476% from the previous year, states issued nearly 17,000 new hemp cultivation licenses in 2019.
It seems like everyone’s jumping on the hemp cultivation trend. Yet, given hemp’s less than stellar reputation over the past century, you may be wondering: what is hemp? And why should you even care about it?
Importantly, hemp is where we get CBD. And if you haven’t heard about CBD yet, you’re seriously missing out. That’s why we created this guide to hemp, CBD, and the two are related.
Ready to learn why so many people love CBD and the hemp plants it comes from? Then check out this article because this one’s for you!
What is Hemp?
Humans have been using hemp for thousands of years. Ancient peoples used hemp to make fabric, for food, and even as medicine. Considering its incredibly diverse and varied uses, hemp is a highly sustainable agricultural crop.
Today, though, hemp has a more questionable reputation. The war on drugs made hemp and it’s more formidable cousin, cannabis, a household name. But not necessarily in a good way.
Despite its many uses, US law made hemp illegal to grow or sell. It was outlawed alongside cannabis in the 1930s and only a few government-approved farmers could produce this valuable crop. That is until the 2018 Farm Bill passed.
The Definition of Legal Hemp
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp became legal to grow in all 50 states. This statute also made it legal to transport hemp and its derivatives across state lines. It also legalized the sale transport, and possession of hemp-derived products at the federal level.
However, the bill did place limits on what exactly can be considered hemp. Legal hemp, the law goes to say, has low levels of the psychoactive compound, THC. More specifically, legal hemp has THC levels below 0.3%.
At the same time, high levels of CBD usually characterize legal hemp. What is CBD? We’re talking about that, so you better keep reading.
What is CBD?
Like its infamous cousin, THC, cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds extracted from either hemp or cannabis. Specifically, harvesters extract cannabinoids from the natural flowers that grow on hemp and cannabis plants.
Once extracted, the flowers are dried out, becoming CBD nugs. Some retailers sell these raw flower nugs directly to consumers. Otherwise, the hemp flowers will go through another process called extraction.
Extraction is the method by which companies produce CBD products. The CBD tinctures, concentrates, and edibles you find in a dispensary are all made from extracted CBD.
What’s the Difference Between CBD and Hemp?
Hemp is a plant. Its scientific name is Cannabis sativa and it’s a member of the Cannabaceae family. Technically, hemp is what’s known as a cultivar of Cannabis sativa, meaning humans selectively breed it for high levels of CBD.
Meanwhile, CBD is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids only exist in the flowers of a Cannabis sativa plant. Depending on the cultivar, the flowers may have high levels of CBD (hemp) or medium levels of CBD with high levels of CBD (cannabis).
There are also Cannabis sativa cultivars grown specifically for their seeds. These seeds are how we extract hemp seed oil, an ingredient commonly used in cooking or for supplementation. Usually, any cannabinoids in this type of cultivar are destroyed.
How CBD Gets Extracted from Hemp
When it comes time to extract CBD from hemp, the first step is to harvest the hemp flowers. Then, the extraction takes place. Today, there are multiple ways to extract CBD, but commercial CBD production has keyed into the most efficient methods:
- CO2 Extraction
- Steam Distillation
- Solvent Extraction
Unlike other methods, these three extraction processes create a clean, healthy end product. However, don’t try these methods at home. All three processes require expensive machinery and know-how to produce a safe and effective CBD extract.
Who Do CBD and Hemp Matter?
So, why does CBD, hemp, and how they’re related even matter? If you care about your health and the health of the environment, you should care about CBD and the hemp plant it comes from.
Why? We’re about to tell you, so check it out below.
Potential Health Benefits of CBD
Scientific research into CBD first began with the discovery that CBD was beneficial in treating treatment-resistant epilepsy. Particularly, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gestaut syndrome are childhood epilepsy conditions that don’t respond to medication.
Since the 2018 Farm Bill made it easier to perform research on hemp and its derivatives, scientists have discovered even more uses for CBD.
Some studies show that CBD is efficacious for anxiety and insomnia. Others have found connections between CBD and chronic pain. More research is needed but, so far, CBD appears to be a promising treatment or supplement for human health.
Environmental Benefits of Hemp
We’ve already mentioned that hemp is a sustainable crop for its sheer number of uses. But did you know that hemp plants leave the soil in better condition than before? Here are some of the incredible benefits of hemp plants on the environment:
- Hemp absorbs harmful levels of CO2 from the environment
- Hemp helps regenerate the soil
- Hemp doesn’t require fertilizers or pesticides to grow
- Hemp helps prevent soil erosion
- Hemp grows best with very little water
- Hemp absorbs toxic metals from the soil
Perhaps even more importantly, hemp can be used to make paper. By using fast-growing hemp instead of slow-growing trees to produce paper, hemp could help save the rainforests, too.
Hemp-Derived CBD for Your Health and Wellness Needs
By now, you should know the answer to your question: what is hemp? Hemp is a highly sustainable plant that produces cannabinoids like CBD. And CBD may be the thing you’ve been looking for to boost your health and wellness routine.
Do you love reading about CBD and hemp? Then you’ve come to the right place. Keep scrolling for more educational articles just like this one!