Oranges and Lemons…Marijuana and Hemp

It's simple.

Hemp is not marijuana and marijuana is not hemp. They are both Cannabis.

Cannabis is a category of plant species that includes both hemp and marijuana.  For a lot of people, the best way to think about cannabis is with an analogy: hemp and marijuana are to cannabis as lemons and oranges are to citrus. Two related but different plants, from the same "family."

Bottom line. Hemp cannot get you high – no matter how much of it you take!

Hemp plants typically contain elevated levels of health-enhancing Cannabinoids (CBD – the buzz word in medicinal cannabis), but by definition contain only trace levels of THC (the stuff that gets you high).

The popularity of CBD nutraceuticals is most likely because of their efficacy in providing relief for suffers from a chronic disease, their affordability, and the wholly organic nature of the product.  Nutraceuticals are available over the counter and don't require a doctor's prescription.

Beyond the rich CBD properties, it contains, Hemp is also used for paper, textiles, plastic, building materials, food products and even fossil fuels. OK, so it doesn't get you high and is massively valuable in all areas of human life, so why is it illegal to grow for industrial purposes?

For that, we need to go back in time.

In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act strictly regulated the cultivation and sale of all cannabis varieties. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified all forms of cannabis — including hemp — as a Schedule I drug, making it illegal to grow.  One of the oldest crops known to have been harvested was now banned and all production ceased.

In the early 1990's the hemp industry started up again – for research purposes – and has actually existed in the US for quite some time now. However, only in 2014 when federal laws were passed via the Farm Bill, was cultivation legalised.

The times they are a changing.

Just recently, Senator McConnel from Kentucky introduced The Hemp Farming Act of 2018. A bill that would legalise Hemp for industrial use at the federal level. Not only has the Senate Majority Leader introduced the bill, he has used his influence to get it straight to the Senate Floor, bypassing the usual committee process. He means business and the hemp industry is on the verge of legalisation.

And with good reason. It's a pretty awesome crop.

As hemp grows it's "oxygen" is CO2 which detoxifies the soil and when the harvest is complete, the remains actually provide nutrients to the soil. No pesticides or insecticides required. Its minimal THC content does the trick in repelling wanting insects.  It also requires less water and thrives in the sunshine, radically reducing the costs (both financial and from a carbon footprint perspective)

And as a commodity?

Well, let's start with paper. It can create a better quality and longer-lasting paper – tick the environmentally friendly box – and uses less acreage than trees (a quarter actually) and hence would significantly reduce deforestation.

Many industries are threatened by Hemp. Take the non-organic cotton industry for one. It requires two times the amount of space to grow and uses 50% more water. In addition to that, hemp fibre lasts longer, will not mildew, and is much stronger and softer than cotton. And non-organic cotton requires the use of continuous pesticides. This is the industry most threatened by hemp. After all, 78% of all manufacturing textiles are made from – you guessed it – non-organic cotton.

And plastic. Hemp is more cost-efficient to produce and is completely biodegradable. Lego just invested $150 million to research a more sustainable plastic (read hemp). Hemp Lego will be legalised one day, watch this space.

The market is opening up and the boom is coming. This is now a true Cannabis Green Rush, as both oranges and lemons become booming industries.

And they told you money doesn't grow on trees.

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Mark Bernberg
Mark Bernberg

Mark Bernberg is a long-time cannabis investing enthusiast and founder of The Green Fund, Asia Pacific's preeminent media house, positioned at the forefront of the global cannabis industry.

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