What Is Hemp?

Hemp by pixabay.com_

What Is Hemp?

Hemp is a variation of the cannabis sativa plant and has been cultivated for its fiber as early as the Second Century B.C., first in China before reaching Europe in the Middle Ages. North America would not begin cultivating the crop until 1606, following South America, which began producing hemp-based products in 1545.

Often associated with marijuana, hemp is from the same Cannabaceae family of flower but contains very little THC. Although it may look and smell similar to marijuana, the two plants are vastly different chemically, and hemp’s THC won’t get you high, as it is not cultivated with that intention.

Despite its differences from marijuana, hemp was outlawed in America as part of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The government used a broad generalization of “marijuana” in its new law, and because hemp is part of the cannabis family, it was also banned.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 lifted the ban on a trial basis and allowed agricultural hemp to be grown again in America. And in 2018, the U.S. farm bill legalized hemp production again.

What Is Hemp Used For?

Hemp seeds by pixabay.com

In North America in the 1600s, the shipping industry was a booming business and the need for sturdy ropes and sails led to a demand for hemp, which produces a particularly strong natural fiber. States including Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois began pioneering hemp cultivation in America. Soon after, other U.S. states began cultivating hemp, and by WWI, the hemp industry was in full swing from Ohio to California.

Historians believe that hemp was also used in America’s early flags and as part of the panels in Henry Ford’s first cars. 

Hemp offers many benefits, and its leaves and seeds are used in many different foods because its seed oil has beneficial fatty acids that make hemp oil a healthier alternative to vegetable oil.

Today, hemp is still used in many different ways and is reportedly a key material in over 25,000 products, from the pulp of book pages and components in cosmetics to food, clothing and accessories like backpacks and handbags. 

Why Is Hemp Popular?

Although its production and retail cost may be slightly higher than cotton, hemp is a more versatile and practical material than offers a significantly stronger fiber and many uses. Hemp’s use in production of products has increased over recent years, with its popularity growing as its uses expand in the market.

Industrial hemp is a popular material used in paper products, lotions, oils, cosmetics, building materials, automobile production, food and even sunglasses, fuel, and bio-plastics.

What Types of Hemp Are There?


Hemp is a versatile flower that has three different species and hundreds of strains. The flower’s three species are:

  • Cannabis sativa: Cannabis sativa, a Latin term meaning “cultivated,” is an annual herb plant from Eastern Asia that is now cultivated around the world. The flower is a major ingredient in industrial fiber, food, and medicine.
  • Cannabis indica: Also an annual plant from the Cannabaceae family, cannabis sativa is cultivated for many purposes. In smokeable form, the strain is known for producing a sedative effect. In 1785, French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck noticed different properties among cannabis strains and was the first to differentiate the indica strain from sativa. 
  • Cannabis ruderalis: Native to Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, cannabis ruderalis is a plant species with weed-like characteristics that enable it to grow in harsh, remote, impractical environments. Because of this, cannabis ruderalis was initially classified as a wild breed of cannabis, and its name derives from the botanical Latin term for "weed” or “weedy.”

What Are the Best Hemp Products?

Hemp backpack - Slyng.com

In recent years, hemp has become a key ingredient used in many popular products. The hemp’s extracts, seeds, and oils provide calming and soothing benefits and is available in oil form for ingestible and topical use. In addition to helping to quell anxiety, hemp oil is believed to help ease symptoms related to epilepsy and cancer.

Hemp is also available in specialty gummies and teas. Bath salts is another popular retail item that is available with hemp infusion. A typical hemp-oriented gift basket could include everything from lip balm, shower gel, and cosmetics to protein powder, a blanket, and handbag,  

Where Can I Buy Hemp Products?

Products containing hemp material can be purchased at online stores and include clothes, backpacks, and over the shoulder bags, among countless additional retail items. Hemp-based products can be purchased via online stores like Slyng.

Photos: Pixabay; Slyng