I am constantly amazed by the misconception, which persists in the U.S. general population surrounding the difference between Industrial Hemp and Marijuana. More than half the time when I meet someone new and they inevitably ask, “What do you do” and I explain that I own a Hemp clothing and accessories manufacturing company then, either the jokes start coming… “Oh wow I bet you get really high in your warehouse”…. Or they just assume I am part of the new marijuana economy and start asking questions about that. This a result of the propaganda machine used to demonize marijuana in the U.S. It is interesting to me that a crop that was so much a part of U.S agriculture for over 200 years could be so easily forgotten and mixed up. I usually spend the next half hour of the conversation educating my new friend about the differences between these two cousins.
Dr. Dave, lead scientist at the Hawaii Industrial Hemp Project, wrote the following list of myths and Reality that is well worth reading:
Myth: United States law has always treated hemp and marijuana the same.
Reality: The history of federal drug laws clearly shows that at one time the U.S. government understood and accepted the distinction between hemp and marijuana.
Myth: Smoking Industrial Hemp gets a person high.
Reality: The THC levels in Industrial Hemp are so low that no one could get high from smoking it. Moreover, hemp contains a relatively high percentage of another cannabinoid, CBD, that actually blocks the marijuana high. Hemp, it turns out, is not only not marijuana; it could be called “anti-marijuana”.
Myth: Even though THC levels are low in hemp, the THC can be extracted and concentrated to produce a powerful drug.
Reality: Extracting THC from Industrial Hemp and further refining it to eliminate the preponderance of CBD would require such an expensive, hazardous, and time-consuming process that it is extremely unlikely anyone would ever attempt it, rather than simply obtaining high-THC marijuana instead.
Myth: Industrial Hemp fields would be used to hide marijuana plants.
Reality: Industrial Hemp is grown quite differently from marijuana. Moreover, it is harvested at a different time than marijuana. Finally, cross-pollination between hemp plants and marijuana plants would significantly reduce the potency of the marijuana plant.
Myth: Legalizing hemp while continuing the prohibition on marijuana would burden local police forces.
Reality: In countries where hemp is grown as an agricultural crop, the police have experienced no such burdens.
Myth: Feral hemp must be eradicated because it can be sold as marijuana.
Reality: Feral hemp, or ditchweed, is a remnant of the Industrial Hemp once grown on more than 400,000 acres by US farmers. It contains extremely low levels of THC, as low as .05 percent. It has no drug value, but does offer important environmental benefits as a nesting habitat for birds. About 99 percent of the “marijuana” being eradicated by the federal government-at great public expense-is this harmless ditchweed. Might it be that the drug enforcement agencies want to convince us that ditchweed is marijuana in order to protect their large eradication budgets?
Myth: Those who want to legalize Industrial Hemp are actually seeking a backdoor way to legalize marijuana.
Reality: It is true that many of the first hemp stores were started by Industrial Hemp advocates who were also in favor of legalizing marijuana. However, as the hemp industry has matured, it has come to be dominated by those who see hemp as the agricultural and industrial crop that it is, and see hemp legalization as a different issue than marijuana legalization. In any case, should we oppose a very good idea simply because some of those who support it also support other ideas with which we disagree?
Myth: Hemp oil is a source of THC.
Reality: Hemp oil is an increasingly popular product, used for an expanding variety of purposes. The washed Industrial Hemp seed contains no THC at all. The tiny amounts of THC contained in Industrial Hemp are in the glands of the plant itself. Sometimes, in the manufacturing process, some THC- and CBD-containing resin sticks to the seed, resulting in traces of THC in the oil that is produced. The concentration of these cannabinoids in the oil is infinitesimal. No one can get high from using Industrial Hemp oil.
Myth: Legalizing Industrial Hemp would send the wrong message to children.
Reality: It is the current refusal of the DEA and ONDCP to distinguish between an agricultural crop and a drug crop that is sending the wrong message to children.
Myth: Industrial Hemp is not economically viable, and should therefore be outlawed.
Reality: The market for Industrial Hemp products is growing rapidly. But even if it were not, when has a crop ever been outlawed simply because government agencies thought it would be unprofitable to grow?
Luckily, the public is (albeit slowly) learning about industrial hemp and all of its uses and its rich history in the United States. When I mention to people that even in some states with medical marijuana laws it is still illegal to grow industrial hemp with no THC, they begin to understand that these truly are two different crops in the same family. It is time to educate the general population on how Hemp can save the American family farm, build the soil, save old growth forests and stimulate a new industrial growth phase in the American economy.