If you’ve been keeping up with our Leafly series about hemp, you know that the industrial properties of the cannabis plant are widely misunderstood. In an effort to help set the record straight, here is a breakdown of the top 10 misconceptions we hear about hemp.
1. Hemp, Medical, and Recreational Cannabis are All the Same
Although industrial hemp, medical marijuana, and recreational marijuana are all members of the cannabis family, hemp is distinguished from other cannabis species by its extremely low THC content. While medical and recreational cannabis often contain THC levels upwards of 25%, hemp varieties contain less than 1%. Hemp is also cultivated in very different ways from medical and recreational marijuana, mostly at commercial scale for industrial purposes ranging from health food to building materials.
2. Hemp is the Male Cannabis Plant
Just like all cannabis species, hemp plants can be male or female (or both, in monoecious species). It is the female plants that are grown to full maturity and harvested at the end of the season. Male plants die off shortly after they have completed pollination.
3. Hemp Can Get You “High”
Because hemp varieties contain such low amounts of THC, the human body processes it faster than it can be absorbed. As a result, there is no way a person can get high on hemp. None. Don’t bother trying!
4. Hemp Foods Can Cause You to Fail a Drug Test
Hemp foods don’t contain any more THC than the plants they come from, so it is impossible to fail a drug test from ingesting them, even in large quantities. Hemp is a superfood that will provide your body with all the essential omegas necessary for a healthy diet. Eat all you want!
Keep in mind that there are other food products that can make you fail a drug test. For example, eating too many poppy seeds can make you fail a test for opiates!
5. Hemp Is Only Good for Making Rope
Although the value of hemp fiber has been recognized for centuries, other parts of the plant have become valuable in the modern era: seeds, core, and flowers. Today, many thousands of uses for the plant are well known, and what was once seen as plant waste is now seen as valuable commodities.
See our article about hemp being the “Green Buffalo” of plants to view the extent to which the hemp plant can be used!
6. People Will Hide Illegal Cannabis Plants in Their Hemp Fields
The idea that “pot farmers” will hide their illegal plants in hemp fields is ridiculous. Pollen from industrial hemp can ruin the THC quantity and quality in marijuana. Experienced cannabis growers know this and actually see hemp as a threat, not as a camouflage crop.
7. Legalizing Hemp Will Ruin the Medical and Recreational Industry
While it is true that hemp pollen travels long distances and can threaten the integrity of medical and recreational cannabis plants, hemp need not ruin the industry. An organized infrastructure can be developed to keep different cannabis grows properly separated. With cooperation, different cannabis industries can flourish simultaneously.
8. Buying, Selling, and Transporting Hemp is Legal in the US
This one is a bit tricky. Just like all cannabis varieties, hemp is still illegal at the federal level. It is completely legal, however, to buy hemp products in their final form (e.g., soap, clothes, health food products, etc.). So, dealing in raw hemp is illegal, but dealing in hemp products is legal. As a result, most hemp products sold in America are made from foreign hemp. Only when Congress legalizes hemp will American farmers be able to grow hemp for American consumers!
9. Hemp Research is Not Necessary
Hemp research is crucial for the success of the re-emerging hemp industry. We can’t just dust off some old books from last century and pick up where they left off! Modern hemp research will provide invaluable insight into agronomy, cultivation, harvesting, and processing, all necessary precursors to building the essential infrastructure for a modern hemp industry.
10. Hemp Will Save the World
While hemp provides clean, sustainable alternatives to many products and practices that are currently devastating our planet, it cannot solve all the world’s problems. Industrial hemp is a valuable crop for American farmers and it can greatly benefit our economy and our environment. It’s good to be enthusiastic about hemp, but don’t burden the plant with responsibility for saving the planet!
As all forms of cannabis spend more time in the spotlight these days, it is vital that the general understanding of each type is improved. We hope that clearing up these misconceptions about hemp can help elevate the conversation about hemp and increase support for its legalization at all levels.