Strap in everyone! This article is going to fill you in on the history of hemp in addition to describing all the wonderful uses for hemp products.
We’re also going to investigate the often quoted statement that hemp has 25,000-35,000 uses.
What we do know at the moment is that hemp is a seriously versatile plant that can be used in many ways. While this article can’t list all its uses, it can serve as a cool, quirky source of info for all the amazing ways hemp can enrich our lives.
So whether it has 25,000 uses or 250, it can be said with certainty that hemp is truly an awesome plant!
What is Hemp?
You probably already know what hemp is, but in case some details are missing here is a quick summary in the form of a story:
There once was a plant family called Cannabis, and it had many children. Two of the most popular were marijuana and hemp.
Marijuana and hemp looked and smelled a lot alike, but marijuana was the shining star because it gave people blissful feelings due to its abundance of a special chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in its flowers and leaves.
Hemp didn’t have enough THC to get people high, and for this reason, it didn’t shine as bright as marijuana. Despite that, hemp still became very popular because it’s stems, leaves and flowers had many uses.
Unfortunately, marijuana got everyone into trouble because of its psychotic effects, and this led to the prohibition of the entire cannabis family in the 20th century.
Marijuana went underground during that time and hemp’s usefulness became suppressed for almost one hundred years…
The Rise of The Mighty Hemp Plant
Hemp has had many historical uses: from clothes to textiles to food to medicine. This prompted many people to begin lobbying for its legalization, and in the early 2000s many countries began relaxing the laws around its medical use due to its key chemical called cannabidiol (CBD).
From there, a revolution began. Many people believe that it started with a little girl named Charlotte Figi that had a terrible disease called Dravet syndrome, causing her to suffer hundreds of seizures per week from the time she was a newborn infant, confining her to a wheelchair.
After researching many medical treatments her mother finally sourced a high-CBD/low-THC strain. Shortly after commencing treatment, her seizures went from hundreds per week to 2-3 per month.
This spearheaded the medical marijuana movement while opening up huge avenues for hemp to finally re-emerge as a versatile plant with thousands of uses.
25,000 Uses For Hemp Products?
“Hemp has 25,000-35,000 known usages. That means it is going to be something that will replace plastics and styrofoam and concrete.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner (United States)
The time has now come to explore this famous quote made by Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried in 2019.
Where did the 25,000 quote come from? Hemp has a multitude of uses for sure, from its use in cars, clothes, medicine and even home insulation…but the 25,000 figure seems to be a bit of stretch.
It appears that Commissioner Fried found this figure in a very old article from an issue of Popular Mechanics magazine published in February of 1938, less than 6 months after the passage of the marijuana tax act.
The title of the article was “New Billion-Dollar Crop” and you can find the original text and pictures here.
Hemp: The Standard Fiber of the World
Popular Mechanics declared that hemp is the “standard fiber of the world” with great strength and durability.
With potential uses in thousands of products ranging from heavy rope to delicate laces, hemp was also reported to be useful in creating thousands of more products from dynamite to cellophane.
Hemp: A Farmer’s Friend
Popular Mechanics also described the hemp growing process, describing it as “easy” to cultivate in any part of the United States.
Boasting a short growing season, it can be planted after all the other crops. Healthy for the earth, hemp is described as having long roots that penetrate the soil and break it up, leaving it in “perfect” condition for new crops.
Hemp: Saving Our Planet
The Popular Mechanics article was written in 1938, almost 50 years before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The writers back then probably had no idea about the heights of human innovation – or the lows.
As part of the environmental cleanup efforts around Chernobyl, scientists planted hemp around the site of the disaster and discovered that it was able to remove heavy metals. The process, called phytoremediation, occurs when plants remove radioactive toxins and other chemicals from the soil.
A Final Word: Does Hemp have over 25,000 uses?
Whether or not hemp has 25,000 uses probably depends on how someone defines the word “use”.
It could be said that hemp has one use in making clothes, or five uses in making shirts, pants, coats, underwear and hats, or ten uses in making long-sleeve shirts, short-sleeve shirts, summer pants, winter pants, winter coats, fall coats, men’s underwear, women’s underwear, baseball hats and beach hats.
It seems to be about the context of how the use is being described.