PLENTY SUMMER 2020 | Page 48

HEMP 101 BY SIMON ARENDT Over the last two years the hemp plant has experienced a resurgence rarely seen for any agricultural crop. In the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp was legally removed from inclusion in the definition of marijuana and is no longer considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the DEA. Although America had been growing hemp since its earliest days—minus a controversial ban in the US starting in 1937—it was only in 2018 that we regained the right to legally grow this versatile, powerful, and helpful crop again. For the purpose of this article, we’ll use the word cannabis instead of marijuana—a term with a controversial history, while the name cannabis comes from the plant’s origin in agriculture. Early American farmers, including our neighbors across the Potomac in Virginia, were encouraged and in some cases required to grow hemp to contribute to local supply chains. Hemp was grown and used in the manufacturing of important products like rope, sails, flags, paper and more. But the prolific use of hemp predates colonial times; translations of ancient Chinese texts mention various hemp products, while many other civilizations have continued to cultivate hemp over the millennia. To give the full story of hemp today would entail an incredibly complex, scientific, and legal discussion, one that is rapidly evolving as ongoing interest and research into hemp and cannabis expand. To keep things simple, we can start with some basics. Hemp is a variety of cannabis, a genus of flowering plants. One of the active compounds in cannabis that produces a psychotropic “high” is THC. One of the active compounds found in hemp is called CBD. It is not psychotropic and has been approved as a food additive and supplement in some states. THC and CBD are the most well known cannabinoids, aka chemical building blocks, found in cannabis and hemp. CBD oil has broken onto the popular scene within the last decade for its touted health benefits when consumed or applied to the skin. Today CBD can be found in tinctures, topical creams, health foods, nutritional supplements, and snacks. Here’s a good, nonscientific way to remember the difference between cannabis and hemp: THC from cannabis will get you high, hemp products do everything else! World’s most versatile plant? Hemp has two main varieties: one is harvested mainly for its cellulose, fiber and seed, while the other is grown for its oil and flower content. Hemp flowers don’t resemble the 48 plenty I Summer growing 2020