There’s a lot of confusion around hemp, cannabis, the uses of these plants, and their impact on climate change. So we’ve put this handy FAQ together for you. If there’s a question that you’d like us to add to this resource, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is hemp?
Hemp is a plant that has been cultivated by humans for about 10,000 years for its useful fibre (think paper, fabric, rope, sails); and also for its oils, which can be used for food and as moisturisers; and for its CBD, which is undergoing multiple clinical trials on its medical potential; and for its conversion to fuel by fermentation (think ethanol). You can also make hemp beer by fermentation, it’s up to you. Hemp can be used to make plastic. In 1941, Henry Ford unveiled a car made almost entirely of hemp, which ran on hemp fuel. Hemp can claim to be the most versatile and useful plant in the world.
Can hemp help stop climate change?
Yes. The key problem in climate change is the carbon dioxide (CO2) that we emit into the atmosphere by burning oil, gas and gasoline. There lots more contributors, including methane emitted by livestock, but CO2 is the single biggest problem. Hemp, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. The CO2 is combined with water (H2O) inside the plant, to form carbohydrates. Oxygen (O2) is left over, so the hemp releases new oxygen into the air. One acre of hemp can absorb 10 tons of CO2 from the air.
Is hemp the most effective plant at absorbing CO2 from the air?
Yes. Hemp grows fast, with two crops a year possible in hot climates. It has a dense fibre and wide, lush leaves. We’ve calculated that planting hemp on just 5% of the world’s agricultural land will absorb enough CO2 to prevent us going over the 2C degree tipping point into environmental catastrophe.
What other environmental benefits does hemp have?
Hemp needs less water to grow, 50% less water than cotton for example. Hemp needs less pesticides. Hemp renews the soil in which it grows, making it the perfect rotation crop.
Is hemp the same as cannabis?
Hemp and cannabis/marijuana are, taxonomically speaking, the same plant; they are different names for the same genus (Cannabis) and species. But, in terms of utility, the plants are entirely different. Hemp typically contains less than 0.3% THC. Cannabis, whether used for medical or recreational purposes, contains THC in the 5 – 20% range. Hemp containing higher levels of THC was bred into cannabis by humans, starting thousands of years ago, to create the different varieties we see today.
What is THC?
THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – is the psychoactive chemical in cannabis (marijuana, weed, grass) that gives feelings of elation and euphoria, the ‘high’. THC also has medical benefits, used in treating multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and the side effects of chemotherapy. Clinical research into the medical benefits of cannabis continues around the world.
What is CBD?
CBD – cannabidiol – is a chemical found in hemp, and also in cannabis, that may have multiple benefits. In the United States, the cannabidiol drug Epidiolex was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2018 for the treatment of two epilepsy disorders. Clinical testing of CBD continues around the world.
Where is cannabis legal for medical use?
So many countries and states recognise the potential that cannabis has to alleviate pain and suffering. At time of writing (October 2019), cannabis is legal for medical use in Ireland, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. It is also legal in 33 US States, led by Colorado, and DC. (Source: Wikipedia.)
Where is cannabis legal for recreational use?
Things are changing fast, with the number of countries legalising recreational cannabis use accelerating. It is currently (October 2019) cool in Canada, Georgia, South Africa, and Uruguay, plus eleven states and the District of Columbia in the United States and the Australian Capital Territory in Australia. (Source: Wikipedia.) Possession in small amounts has been decriminalised in many other countries, including Ireland for a first offence.
Where does possession of cannabis still carry severe penalties?
Some countries still mandate the death penalty for possession of even personal amounts of cannabis. Cannabis can get you the chop – literally! – in Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. Singapore doesn’t even need evidence of drug possession to jail a foreigner. The wealthy island nation appears to be the world’s only anti-drug system that gives drug tests to visiting foreign nationals in the arrival airport, and then arrests anyone who fails. Seems a bit harsh, a bit 1984, as hemp/cannabis is just a natural plant. And isn’t nature everything?