What to know about hemp plants?

hemp plants

Know about Hemp Plants


Hemp is a term for certain varieties of the Cannabis sativa species. In contrast to “marijuana,” — which is a common word for cannabis that is relatively abundant in THC — hemp has relatively little THC

Humans have cultivated hemp plants for thousands of years for food, medicine, and textiles. Hemp may be one of the oldest known plants that humans cultivated for medicinal and nutritional purposes. People in ancient China appear to have started cultivating hemp around 2,700 BCTrusted Source. According to historical records, hemp spread to Europe after expanding across Asia some 2,000–2,200 years ago.

The human relationship with hemp is a multifaceted one, with humans using hemp and parts of the hemp plant in many ways. Some records claim the spine of the first copy of the Bible, and even Christopher Columbus’s ropes and canvas sails, were made of hemp fibers. Keep reading to learn more about the hemp plant and its uses, including its current legality, health benefits, and other uses.

The major difference between hemp plants and other cannabis plants comes down to their cultivation, use, and most importantly, the levels the compound delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is what causes the “high” that cannabis is famous for.

To be legally classified as a hemp plant, a cannabis plant must contain no more than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis. In contrast, most other cannabis plants contain between 5–30% THC. The Cannabis sativa species contain some 480 natural components, out of which over 100 belong to a group of compounds called cannabinoids. Some cannabinoids, primarily THC, are intoxicating, meaning they can cause someone to feel “high.” While hemp plants are low in THC, they may be abundant in other cannabinoids such as Cannabidiol (CBD) which is non-intoxicating. So far, THC and CBD are the two most widely researched cannabinoids, and both may have medicinal value.

Learn more about the differences between THC and CBD here.

Identifying factors for hemp plants Cannabis plant, especially in their natural wild state, can all look similar. However, hemp and other varieties of the cannabis may look quite different when industries cultivate them for specific purposes.

Anecdotal evidence claims that cannabis plants for hemp production tend to:

  • have skinnier leaves mostly concentrated at the top of the plant

  • have little branching or leaves below plant top to facilitate long stalks rich in hemp fibers

  • be tall, up to 20 feet

  • look like a weed and actually grow naturally in several states including Kansas and Nebraska

  • grow very close together

  • grow under a lot of different conditions and require minimal care

Meanwhile, cannabis plants grown primarily for their THC content tend to:

  • have leaves that are tightly budded, broad, or feature tiny nugget-like buds covered with small crystals or hairs

  • look like a short, fat bush from a distance

  • be heavily branched to encourage flower and THC production

  • require a controlled, humid, warm environment to grow

  • grow spaced out from other plants

Are hemp plants legal?


For a long time, hemp plants were illegal alongside other forms of the cannabis plant such as “marijuana,” and they were classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S. Control Substances Act.

However, the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, legalized industrial hemp and removed hemp as a controlled substance.

Under the new rules, farmers with USDA-issued licenses may produce hemp under tight regulations. In some cases, people may also grow hemp with state or tribal approval, or for certain permitted research projects.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) passed a final rule outlining national hemp production regulations in early 2021.

While approved growers may produce and sell hemp legally in the US, plants that contain more than 0.3 % THC when dry are illegal because they are classified as “marijuana,” not hemp, plants.

Disclaimer: This article is published on https://www.britannica.com/plant/hemp

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