There are a lot of misunderstood things in life. Misunderstood people, misunderstood leaders; we can go on and on. This post talks about one of the most highly misunderstood plants; not just in the US, but all across the globe. We’re talking about Hemp.
Most people only associate this plant with its drug-like image. They think it does nothing more than making you high and leaving you stoned. But, that’s just one side of the coin. On the flip side, this plant actually carries amazing usability. Some see it as a dangerous plant while others feel it has great industrial and medical implications. Like with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
What exactly is Hemp?
Before we dive any deeper into the subject, it’s important to talk about first things first. So, what exactly is hemp? Well, this is basically a plant species of the genus Cannabis aka Cannabis sativa. Marijuana (Cannabis Indica) also happens to be a part of the same genus. But, unlike marijuana, hemp contains minimum THC; the very chemical that makes you feel high when you eat or inhale it.
North American Industrial Hemp Council claims that industrial hemp contains 0.5-1% THC unlike marijuana which contains 3%-25% THC. Hemp is high in CBD content; a chemical that is supposedly capable of treating chronic pains and headaches without causing any mind-altering effects. As a matter of fact, CBD acts like an antidote to all the psychoactive effects that THC causes.
Studies and research have shown time and again that CBD actually boosts the nervous system and immune system and has a lot of therapeutic potential. It’s safe to say that hemp products could revolutionize the medical industry; if only we understood it right.
History of Hemp
It wasn’t any recent event or the onset of any cult or culture that brought Hemp into limelight. If historic evidences are to be believed, we’ll see that this plant goes way back. People used to grow and cultivate hemp even 12,000 years ago simply because of the solid usefulness it carried. People made fiber, paper, rope, grew food and did so much more with this plant. One of the oldest human artifacts – a piece of fabric – was made of hemp and dates all the back to 8,000 years ago. Many ancient sites also suggest hemp usage where hemp seeds, leaves, paper, and hemp ropes were found; all dating back to hundreds of years.
Hemp in Early America
For early Americans, hemp was a staple crop as they relied heavily on its cultivation for making ropes, sails, and other supplies for oceanic shipping. The crop was an important part of the whole Colonial America and the entire American Revolution. Ben Franklin was the owner of a mill that produced paper from hemp while Thomas Jefferson grew this crop on a sizeable scale. Since it is easy to cultivate in under different climatic conditions it was grown across many locations.
Criminalization of marijuana and taxation over the years
It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the US government started to criminalize cultivation of Cannabis. The Harrison Act passed in 1914 criminalized the use of stuff like opium, cannabis, and cocaine. Soon after, many laws were passed prohibiting marijuana usage. There was a time when marijuana was considered a substitute for Alcohol which became prohibited following 18th Amendment in 1919, but the same was repealed in 1933. The legal status of cannabis has continued to fluctuate over the years. Add to that the ‘stoner culture’, and the whole thing led to a lot of misunderstandings around this plant. Most of the debates and the ‘negativity’ around this plant were formed simply because we failed to distinguish hemp from marijuana.
Things have started to look up
Never ending debates, countless studies, and a ton of research has finally started to turn things around. Right now, almost 31 States have passed a legislation requesting that the barriers on industrial hemp production be removed. Now that the classification between marijuana and hemp is becoming clearer, it’s getting easier for people to grow it for industrial purposes.
From its beginning in ancient times to its transition into American culture; Hemp sure carries a rich history. The changing times are coming to the grips of the fact that this plant is actually a blessing; not a curse. It remains to be seen how times unfold and if this misunderstood kid is finally appreciated for its true capabilities.