Hemp it an eco-friendly plant that is often equated with marijuana, but they are actually different plants. Although both are classified as Cannibis sativa, there are hundreds of different varieties. While Marijuana is grown for its THC content, industrial hemp is grown for other properties such as its fibers, seeds or oil. The US government does not differentiate between marijuana and industrial C. sativa although over 30 other industrialized countries do (such as Canada). Currently all hemp products sold in the USA are imported.
Hemp is a very green product. Compared to cotton, hemp production uses far less pesticides because it is naturally resistant to pests. Cotton production accounts for 50% of the world’s pesticide use. Hemp is also a stronger fiber, more absorbent and more mildew resistant than cotton. It can also be used to make paper. Hemp paper is stronger than paper from trees, does not yellow and can be recycled more often as well. Hemp also yields four times as much fiber per acre as a forest, and can be more easily pulped which results in smaller amounts of chemicals used during the pulping process. It is a lighter fiber so it takes less potentially harmful chemicals to bleach.
While growing hemp is still illegal in the United States, greater demand for it may help convince government agencies to differentiate between marijuana and hemp. Right now there is a bill before congress that seeks to “amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana”. Currently the bill has been referred to three committees. Since the majority of bills and resolutions never make it out of committee, I urge you to contact your representative if you feel strongly about this bill and let them know you support it!