Hemp: What is it?

At Bluestem Prairie Farm, we produce high-quality, USDA-certified organic hemp. Though there has been an uptick in hemp farming in the United States in recent years, the cultivation of hemp is nothing new. Hemp has been used for thousands of years to produce textiles, rope and paper, as well as a great many other products. 

What Is Hemp? 

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, but hemp is not marijuana. Though they’re related, hemp and marijuana are not the same.  The main difference is the amount of  tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in each variety. Hemp contains a concentration of less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana contains much higher concentrations of THC.

What is THC? 

Tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, is the chemical responsible for marijuana’s  psychoactive effects — it’s what causes a “high.”

THC is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are naturally-occurring compounds that are found in cannabis plants. Another prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis is cannabidiol, which is commonly referred to as “CBD” and has become a popular hemp product in recent years. CBD does not cause any sort of “high” and is praised for its therapeutic properties.

Can hemp get you high?

“Hemp” refers to varieties or “strains” of cannabis that contain 0.3% or less THC, which is the psychoactive component that causes a “high” in marijuana or “weed.” The THC concentration of marijuana typically falls somewhere above 15 percent. In short, hemp cannot get you high. 

What is hemp used for?

Hemp has been used for a wide variety of products for thousands of years. The plant can be used for textiles, paper, building materials, and other industrial products. One hemp product that has become popular in recent years, CBD oil, is known for its relaxing properties. 

Is it legal to grow hemp?

As of April 1, 2020, farmers in Iowa can apply for permits to grow industrial hemp. 

In May 2019, Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds, signed the Iowa Hemp Act, which allows farmers to grow up to 40 acres of hemp. The Iowa hemp plan was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in late March of 2020.  To legally grow hemp in Iowa, producers must comply with Iowa law and with federal law.

The United States Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act.  The bill defined hemp in these words: the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

Under both Iowa and federal law, a hemp plant must have 0.3% THC or less.  If the THC level is higher than 0.3%, the law requires that the hemp be destroyed. 


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