And now, after years of major change for US agriculture and industry, real investment in this versatile crop stands to significantly elevate our economy and quality of life for generations to come.
The idea of upping hemp production is already common ground politically. As farmers have faced water shortages, unstable markets, and punishing seasonal conditions, communities around the country have pressured lawmakers to help them restore US agriculture with more profitable, sustainable plants.
Hemp has long been seen to fit that bill. Best known for its use in textiles, it offers wide-ranging applications that countless sectors are keen to get in on.
For example, hemp seeds in whole or processed form contain an impressive amount of protein, nutrients, and essential fatty acids, among other things — offering an efficient way to boost nutrition in human and animal diets — while hempseed oil has increasingly become a preferred ingredient in common food, beauty, and health products.
Its sturdy fibers have also been put to growing use in high-quality plastics and auto paneling, durable building materials, and other common industrial commodities. And when it comes to environmental impact, hemp is not only a low-fuss crop capable of flourishing in US farmland; it can also clean up tainted water and soil, bully weeds away, and be converted into biodiesel.
Unlike other Cannabis sativa varieties and hybrids, which are mostly grown for their chemically potent flowers (or ‘buds’), hemp is also legally distinguished from marijuana in the US as containing less than 0.3% of the cannabinoid chemical THC — considered to be the most intoxicating, psychoactive component in cannabis plants, as well as a treatment option for certain serious illnesses.
So while hemp crops can be used to extract the non-intoxicating chemical cannabidiol, or CBD, which has a demonstrated and growing list of compelling health uses, they can’t get anyone high.
In short, it’s no wonder that hemp has been described as an industrial ‘miracle plant.’