Hemp seeds are produced from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa L. While hemp is commonly confused with marijuana, as it belongs to the same family, the two plants are quite different. Most notably is the level of THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Hemp contains less than 1% of the psychoactive drug while marijuana contains up to 20% or more.
Hemp plants are cultivated for industrial use and harvested for their fibers, seeds, oils, and meal. Industrial hemp seeds are available in different forms. They can be sterilized, toasted, roasted, or cracked. Hemp can be pressed into oil or hulled into meal. Hemp thrives nearly anywhere, tolerating a variety of growing conditions. It’s rarely affected by pests or disease, making hemp quite hardy. In fact, the plant provides numerous benefits.
Industrial help has many uses, from paper and textiles to plastic and fuel. In fact, it can even be used in place of traditional paper made from trees, as hemp paper can be recycled more times than that made from wood. Hemp also yields nearly four times as much as trees. Plastic produced from hemp is also biodegradable, making it better for the environment. Hemp seeds can be used in a variety of food products as well.
Hemp seed food products are also considered more allergy-free than many other seeds. Hemp seeds contain the perfect balance of essential amino acids for sustaining good health. In addition, hemp seed oil contains necessary fatty acids, also known as good fats. Not only can hemp seeds provide valuable nutritional benefits to people, but they can also be used in pet foods and taste good too.
While hemp seeds are grown in many parts of the world, its major producers include Canada, France, and China. Hemp has been prohibited from cultivation in the United States since about 1950. Despite its value, the U.S. government doesn’t recognize the differences between industrial hemp and marijuana. In fact, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, classifies all varieties of Cannabis as marijuana, making industrial hemp just as illegal regardless of its use.
Considering its popularity from long ago, when even our forefathers appreciated the value of hemp seeds, it seems unusual that the plant would have such a bad reputation today. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp plants in their gardens. Hemp paper was even used for the Declaration of Independence, and Benjamin Franklin produced hemp paper at his mill. The environmental advantages and nutritional benefits of growing industrial hemp seem to many to be worth lifting its restrictions.