The industrial hemp plant has been cultivated for centuries, but it wasn't until the 1900s that it was associated with its genetic sister, a drug-type cannabis species. Hemp, also known as Cannabis sativa, is a plant in the Cannabaceae family that is grown for its bast fiber or edible seeds. It is often confused with cannabis plants that are used to make marijuana and hashish, both of which contain the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, the hemp strain contains only small amounts of THC compared to marijuana or hashish.
Hemp can be used to make a composite material called hempcrete, which is similar to traditional concrete but is used in non-load-bearing applications. Hemp is used in the medical industry to provide marijuana for therapeutic THC and CBD, and hemp for CBD. Both cannabinoids may be present in marijuana and hemp. The term industrial hemp dates back to the 1960s and refers to cannabis varieties that are mainly cultivated as an agricultural crop, such as seeds and fiber, and by-products like oil, seed cake and hurds.
Harvesting hemp is labor intensive due to the possible degradation of plant material and requires drying to 10% humidity. Hemp can also be processed into fabrics for clothing. Hemp plants that are grown to flower are planted less densely and encouraged to become bushy with many leaves and wide branches to promote blooms and buds. Marijuana generally refers to the psychotropic drug, while hemp is cultivated for use in the production of a wide range of products, including food and beverages, personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, paper, construction materials and other manufactured and industrial products.
Industrial hemp and marijuana are two different strains of cannabis that have been selectively bred for different uses. When cannabis is grown to produce marijuana, female flowers are specifically selected to prevent the return of separate male and female plants.