In the past couple years, the hemp and CBD industries saw an explosion in demand. In fact, the US Department of Agriculture reports that American farmers more than quadrupled the amount of land planted with hemp just between 2018 and 2019, from 27,424 acres to 128,320 acres. But why is the hemp plant gaining so much traction today? And how is it revolutionizing the modern world?
Hemp and CBD Explained
Unfortunately, there are still some people who don’t fully understand hemp or the chemical compound it contains. The plant’s close association with marijuana has created a negative stigma that led many to dismiss it for years. However, there’s an important distinction that separates hemp from its Cannabis cousin.
While hemp is a type of marijuana plant, it cannot get you high. The chemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), associated with producing a “high” sensation, is found only in trace amounts in hemp. In fact, the North American Industrial Hemp Council cites that hemp only contains 0.5 percent THC. The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre adds that marijuana plants used as recreational drugs usually have close to 15 percent THC.
Instead, hemp produces a totally different cannabinoid: CBD. The chemical compound CBD is not psychoactive and actually prevents the high commonly associated with marijuana. Although hemp and the chemical compound it produces cannot be used recreationally, there are a myriad of practical uses that are revolutionizing our economy.
Health Benefits of Hemp & CBD
CBD has proven to be highly beneficial in the medical world. For example, the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that the chemical helps patients who suffer from murine collagen-induced arthritis. Other studies show that CBD helps people who suffer from lymph node problems.
The US Health and Human Services also found that the antioxidant properties in CBD help minimize neurological damage following a stroke or other incidents that form blood clots in the brain. In addition, they discovered the chemical also assists patients with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Aside from medical uses, hemp also provides health benefits for everyday life. By steam distilling the upper leaves and flowers of the hemp plant, some have been able to extract an essential oil. Hemp essential oil contains no THC or CBD and can be used in a variety of ways to relieve stress and help people relax. Some popular uses of hemp essential oil include aromatherapy candles, body wash and massage oil.
The Versatility of Hemp
The CBD chemical is far from the only practical use of hemp. The versatile plant can also be used in many other products ranging from clothing to automobiles. Companies are now discovering just how impressive hemp-made products can be.
For example, clothing made from hemp fabric has multiple features that make it superior to other materials. Because hemp fiber is the most durable fiber of any plant, no other material protects your clothes from rips better. To make things even better, the increased strength of hemp clothing doesn’t even impact comfort. The fibers are porous, meaning air easily gets through and allows your skin to breathe. It’s also eco-friendly and uses 50 percent less water to grow than cotton.
The eco-friendly nature of hemp also translates to the world of transportation. The plant can be used to create a biofuel that’s even greener than driving an electric car. In fact, studies show that hemp biofuel works in every car that runs on traditional gasoline. This creates the potential for an alternative fuel source that wouldn’t require people to buy new cars.
Hemp’s impressive strength can also be used to build the body of a car. In 1941, Henry Ford himself built a car out of hemp plastic. The material is even stronger than steel. Not even smashing the car with a hammer could create a dent.
Clothes and cars are only two examples of hemp’s industrial uses. The plant’s versatility and strength has been proven effective in a number of other uses including construction. A material known as hempcrete has been used to build houses. Hempcrete is not only strong, but it also acts as a natural insulator. Homes built with hempcrete have the potential of reducing annual energy costs by as much as 70 percent, while also reducing carbon emissions.
Cannabis is Creating Jobs
With hemp’s expansive list of uses, it’s no wonder the cannabis industry is growing at a rapid speed. In fact, Leafly reports that cannabis is America’s fastest-growing industry. As of February, the industry supported a total of 321,000 full-time jobs. That marks a 32 percent increase of 2020’s 243,700 jobs. Taking the global pandemic into account only makes the numbers more impressive.
Even among hiring freezes and layoffs, the cannabis industry still thrived during the pandemic. One reason for the industry’s rapid growth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is the “essential business” designation given to marijuana companies in almost 30 states. Paired with the increased popularity of online orders and delivery, the cannabis industry boomed, allowing companies to hire more people.
Another cause for the job growth during the pandemic was the implementation of social distancing. To spread workers apart, cannabis companies needed to add additional shifts to the workday. This also created a necessity to hire additional managers and staff to keep up with productivity.
The Future of Hemp and CBD
In the post-pandemic world, these numbers are expected to grow even more. The high demand and sales for cannabis products and the industry’s increased funding are just two factors allowing companies to hire workers. Loosening legal restrictions across the United States also raises demand for cannabis-related jobs. Industry experts state that the yearly job growth will continue as more states legalize cannabis products.
Hemp specifically has massive potential to grow. Increased awareness of the plant and its properties led directly to its legalization in 2018. In the years since, knowledge of hemp and CBD became more mainstream. The popularity of CBD oil, alongside a wide array of other practical uses, create the potential for hemp to revolutionize the economy and the world we live in today.