What Exactly is Hemp and is it the sustainable wonder crop?
Cannabis Sativa is a versatile plant. One strain gives you marijuana. Another gives you hemp. But there are many differences between varieties of cannabis. Those grown for hemp and those grown for marijuana. Most importantly, hemp strains contain almost no THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol is the active ingredient that makes cannabis a drug.
Hemp varieties also looks different, being skinnier and taller. Marijuana growers have to carefully control the plant’s environment as it’s a delicate little flower. Able to thrive pretty much anywhere, hemp is hardy.
History of Hemp
Cultivated by humans, hemp was the first plant used as a textile fibre. Archaeologists discovered examples of hemp cloth in ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iran and Iraq). Thought to date back to 8,000 BC!
Here at Home
Hemp was widely cultivated in England, right up to the mid-nineteenth century. Its vital importance to the shipping industry played a significant part in this. Hemp was used in several ways. In ships’ sails, rigging, ropes, sacks. Sometimes even the clothes and uniforms of sailors.
Back then, hemp was so valuable. In terms of its importance to the naval and commercial performance of the nation. Battles were occasionally fought over it!
A Controversial Product?
Unfortunately, over time, the plant’s close association with marijuana, led to hemp’s vilification. Mostly in the media and in the political world. Ultimately resulting in its cultivation being prohibited for much of the previous century.
There was a slight relaxation in the law in 1993. It is now permissible to grow hemp under certain conditions. It is now a licensed activity. Farmers have to obtain a license from the Home Office in order to cultivate the plant.
Creating Hemp Fibre
Hemp fibre grows on the outside of the plant. Traditionally, the plant is harvested in August and then left to 'rett' for five weeks. Retting is a biological process that naturally weakens the bond between the fibre and the remainder of the stem. After retting is complete, the bales of hemp straw are then fed through a mechanised process. This separates the hemp fibre and cleans it, making it ready for use. And from there the fabric can go on to a multitude of uses, such as fillings for a mattress...
Benefits of Using a Hemp Mattress
Hemp is breathable, naturally resistant to mildew and mould. It is also three times stronger than cotton.
Hemp is also hugely beneficial for the environment. It really is the sustainable wonder crop. Hemp products can be recycled, reused and are completely biodegradable. The plant also absorbs more carbon dioxide per acre than most plants when being cultivated. Thus meaning it can help tackle the problem of global warming. Furthermore because it’s so tough, hemp also requires less herbicides and pesticides, meaning less pollution within local habitats.
So in summary as a plant, it really has it all!