Cannabis plants are some of the most versatile plants on the planet; used for food, fiber, plastic, paper, building material, purification, biofuel, cosmetics, medication, and more. Cannabis is fast growing, renewable, and believed to be one of the oldest crops in the world. It was even subsidized under the Hemp for Victory campaign during World War II. Due to the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, U.S. Cannabis production declined drastically and has been the subject of controversy over the years. Science is still redefining the differences within the Cannabis varieties, and laws are slowly catching up. Currently, low THC Cannabis sativa “hemp” is now categorized federally as an agricultural commodity under the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.
Hemp is one of the world’s richest sources of polyunsaturated fats and includes omega 3, omega 6, and gamma linolenic acid, which are essential in helping maintain moisture content in the body. Hemp oil also contains Vitamins A, B, D, and E, and is rich in amino acids and proteins. The chemical makeup of hemp gives it anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Hemp oil is a gentle, non-greasy emollient that penetrates easily and “mimics human skin”. It is also non-comedogenic, which means it does not clog pores. These properties make hemp a very desirable ingredient in leave-on body products and the cosmetic industry is beginning to formulate more options using hemp oil.
Hemp oil is harvested by cold-pressing hemp seeds, and is often unrefined. The oil has as a green color and light nutty scent. Due to its fatty profile, hemp must be used in lower concentrations and is best used in combination with other oils. Though soap is a wash-off product and the leave-on benefits of Cannabis are not absorbed through the skin, even soapmakers are formulating with hemp oil. The color and scent of hemp can be highlighted in design techniques, and the unique fatty profile of hemp makes a fantastic soap with a stable and conditioning lather.
Whether in soap, cosmetics, food, medication, fiber, or more, hemp is a fantastic resource. Science and education are leading the way, not only for new uses, but for people to reconsider how they view Cannabis. Cannabis producers, distributors, and educators are breaking the stigma within their communities. In this bold new narrative of a humble plant we say, “Hemp, Hemp, Hooray!”