6 surprising health benefits of hemp seeds

Sunday, Nov 1, 2015

Among the many benefits of the legalization of marijuana would be eliminating any lingering confusion about the legality of its close relation (read, basically the same plant), hemp. While the possession of industrial hemp, also known by its botanical moniker, Cannabis sativa, has never been illegal, the growing of industrial hemp was illegal until the recent passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. The hemp that is mostly illegal, with the exception, at this writing, of four states and the District of Columbia, the kind of hemp you smoke, put in brownies, and usually have a good ol' time after imbibing, contains a high concentration (three percent or more) of THC, the ingredient that induces the familiar Rocky Mountain high. Industrial hemp, on the other hand, has a very low concentration of THC (under three percent) and consuming it in any form won’t give you a buzz. That doesn’t make it worthless though. Turns out, just as actor Woody Harrelson says, hemp is a surprisingly valuable commodity.

In the 17th and 18th centuries in America, hemp was so valuable it was actually illegal not to grow it. You could even pay your taxes with hemp. Until the 1820s, with the invention of the cotton gin, more than three-quarters of the fabrics, textiles, ropes, sails, clothing, canvas, etc. in America were made from hemp. (In fact, the word canvas is derived from the Dutch word meaning cannabis.) In the 1930s, hemp was known as the billion-dollar crop, and during World War II, American farmers were actively encouraged to grow hemp to aid the war effort. A government film called Hemp for Victory extolled hemp’s value as a strong fabric for sails, ropes and clothing. A campaign against hemp had begun, however, even before the war.

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