What Is Hemp?


What comes to mind when asked “What Is Hemp”. Does marijuana and drugs come to mind? But this thought could not be farther from the truth.

Industrial Hemp ( iHemp) is the non Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant. The Cannabis family contains numerous varieties, yet it is mostly known for psychoactive cannabis (marijuana or “weed”). iHemp contains negligible amounts of THC, less than 0.3%, of the chemical in “marijuana” which is psychoactive and gets you “high.”

iHemp has lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which decreases or eliminates its psychoactive effects. This is the main reason why people confuse the term hemp with marijuana.

iHemp is grown specifically for it’s industrial uses.

iHemp is a very hearty plant and grows very quickly in very diverse soil conditions and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 12,000 years ago. iHemp plants will grow 2-4 meters tall without branching. In dense plantings, the bottom leaves fall off due to lack of sunlight and the male plants die right after shedding pollen, generally 4-5 weeks into the growing cycle, lasting approximately 1 week. The female flowers and seeds are indeterminate, meaning that there are both ripe and immature seeds on the same plants at the time of the grain harvest. The stem has an outer bark that contains the long, tough bast fibers (cellulosic fibers obtained from the outer bark of a ihemp plant). They are similar in length to soft wood fibers and are very low in rigid, woody content.

iHemp has been illegal for anyone to grow in the United States because of the marijuana prohibition act. Now that the Farm Bill of 2018 passed, ihemp is now being grown in most states. The “re-“growth of ihemp in the United States is heavily regulated, although the neighboring nation of Canada successfully grows ihemp commercially and on a fairly large scale. Since becoming legal to grow again in Canada, the crop has taken off and has become a booming multi-million dollar export.

iHemp is making a major comeback and is emerging as one of the most rapidly growing agricultural and industrial markets that has emerged in decades.

The two species of the Cannabis genus (common characteristics) that are most commonly grown are Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. A third species, Cannabis ruderalis, is very short and produces only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and thus is not commonly grown for industrial, recreational or medicinal use.


Cannabis ruderalis – By H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Cannabis sativa – By H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Cannabis indica – By H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0