As a plant, cannabis is a pretty tough customer. It’s sturdy, relatively drought-tolerant, and grows quickly. These are all characteristics that make for a great cash crop that might just be able to make a variety of industries cleaner, greener, and more profitable.

Hemp is a competitor for fibers like bamboo and cotton, among others. Cotton requires lots of fertilizer, chemicals, and water to grow– the amount of cotton found in a t-shirt requires nearly a third of a pound of pesticide to reach maturity, and about 700-2000 gallons of water. Bamboo is fast growing and tolerant of many conditions, but requires harsh chemical processing to achieve its softness. Hemp doesn’t require the same amount of chemicals as cotton, or the same processing as bamboo. It’s durable, doesn’t stretch out, grows softer as it’s worn, and resists mold and mildew. Hemp fiber can also be used to make paper and cardboard, helping to save trees. In fact, it would take four acres of trees to equal the pulp production of one acre of hemp! It sees like the perfect alternative fiber… So why don’t more industries rely on it?

Hemp’s relationship to other cannabis strains means that its legality is tenuous. Even though hemp and marijuana are both cannabis sativa, the similarities end there. Organic hemp seeds are used to grow strains which have low-THC and a taller growth habit that produces longer fibers. Cannabis seeds are used to grow strains with a higher THC content, and bushier growth that produces a lot of buds.

Hemp has the ability to change how we make clothing, paper, and even food and oil, but anti-cannabis fear threatens its use. Supporting companies that use hemp can help cement its viability as an alternative to cotton, bamboo, and wood.

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