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By Alex Middleton

The CBD market is witnessing an upward trend owing to the growing realization of its commercial potential. CBD has been garnering a lot of attention from a medicinal perspective. The legalities surrounding CBD are shifting, paving a path for the flourishing industry.

The drift is visible in states in the US and across a substantial number of countries around the world. The global Cannabidiol (CBD) market is expected to gain further traction in the coming years due to its versatility.

Research that is still in preliminary stages points to the possible use of CBD in relieving chronic pain, anxiety, and stress. There are promising studies indicating that CBD could play a significant role in controlling or reducing seizures in epileptic patients.

New studies are constantly evolving, suggesting the relief that CBD can provide in cases of depression. Additionally, clinical trials are underway in assessing CBD’s possible use in improving the quality of sleep and, more importantly, to gauge its potential in addressing other ailments that stand to benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD.

Contrary to marijuana, CBD is non-psychoactive. It does not make people high (or stoned). The really low levels of THC in CBD take care of this aspect. Users ingest it more so for the fact that it eases pains, aches, and stress.

Before all the benefits or the so-called therapeutic effects are fully realized, ensuring CBD gets absorbed in the body, specifically in the bloodstream, is essential. Route of administration is the key – this is where the concept of bioavailability comes into the picture. Bioavailability is the rate or degree at which the substance is absorbed, and yields expected results.

Every day a new, innovative product gets launched – oil, tincture, cream, gummies, etc. What sets the products apart is the amount of CBD absorbed. Extracts or oil, tinctures (placed under the tongue briefly before swallowing), and topical products are available.

However, CBD flower steals the show. It has been observed that inhaling has a bioavailability rate of 34% to 46%, at times as high as 56%, while for oral ingestion, the number is 10% to 20%, with tinctures being somewhere in between.

Hemp bud or CBD rich flower contains high CBD and low THC (less than 0.3%). The hemp plant is bursting with compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes that are believed to possess the ability to produce incredible effects. The CBD rich strain being bred is sold legally in the United States. Obtaining it is as simple as visiting a dispensary in states where it is recreationally legal, while in other states, it can be ordered online.

Let’s face it, with a new company emerging every other day, wanting a share of the lucrative industry, choosing the right one becomes an arduous task – myriad sources and a plethora of products at competitive prices. That is precisely why we compiled this list that serves as a guide, providing answers to questions revolving around buying hemp flower online.

Our favorite brands of hemp flower based on relevant criteria are graded and listed here:

Top 3 CBD Flower Brands Online

  1. Cheef Botanicals – High Quality & Editor’s Pick
  2. Cannaflower – Wide Variety
  3. CBD American Shaman – Best CBG Flower

Parameters for Picking CBD Flower/Bud Brands

Various criteria feature when choosing a product. Narrowing down to the top few involves scrutiny and comparison of all aspects. We rated the brands based on some critical parameters – methods adopted to grow, the brand’s reputation, traceability, transparency, and finally, ease of shopping.

Methods Adopted to Grow

With growing awareness regarding pesticides, there is an inclination for organic products. Organically grown ones take precedence.

When purchasing any product, factors such as small amounts of chemicals that may have inadvertently gotten in the hemp flower during cultivation are considered. We’ve probed into the methods used by the brands in growing their hemp.

Reputation of the Brand

Reputation sheds a lot of information regarding a business, its practices, and its approach to many things. The CBD market is booming, attracting a lot of newcomers into the industry, offering numerous products. We’ve investigated criteria such as reliability and trustworthiness of brands, with input from customers.

Traceability and Transparency

Being knowledgeable about the product being purchased is a good practice. It does not necessarily apply to the buyer. Sellers also benefit from adopting a total transparency approach. It helps the brand win the customer’s trust and, in turn, enhances sales.

We’ve reviewed brands, checked the degree of traceability being offered by the brand, implying, disclosing information pertaining to the source of products – where it is grown and whether the product is tested.

Also, its in-house testing or testing done by an external laboratory and whether reports are available. If available, are they accessible to the buyer, or at least can they be procured upon request.

Ease of Shopping

With most legal issues out of the way, CBD products are treated on par with other consumer goods. Thus, a good purchasing experience comes into play, which involves marketing and customer care in addition to a user-friendly online store.

Additionally, we will discuss the aforementioned critical parameters for each of the brands listed here and provide our verdict that highlights the specific characteristics of the products and what makes each of them unique. Having said that, let’s get started and discuss our top picks of hemp bud brands.

Best CBD Flower Brands & Strains Available Online

1. Cheef Botanicals – High Quality & Editor’s Pick

Cheef Botanicals is the outcome of an effort to offer natural, organic products putting to good use the experience accumulated over 25 years from the organic food industry in combination with hemp aficionados.

The organic approach is what is making them a superior brand. Artificial additives are a strict no, while gluten-free and devoid of lactose aspects are prioritized. The entire line comprises premium products. And what serves as the icing on the cake is the money-back program being offered.

It is a 100% money-back guarantee program wherein the entire money is returned within thirty days of delivery if one is not satisfied with the product purchased. They are a leading brand for the last couple of years, setting an example for new entrants with their strict adherence to an organic, gluten-free approach, also providing a money-back guarantee plan.

Here is the list of the company’s CBD flower products:

Hawaiian Haze

Hawaiian Haze is a tropical flavor strain. It has a citrus touch to it. Being fruity and earthy with 18% CBD, it is a winner for a regular care routine and evening gatherings.

Lifter

Lifter can be labeled as a sweet-sour strain possessing the lemon’s zesty hints and a little bit of redwood. Similar to Hawaiian Haze, the strain here is also 18% CBD.

Sour Space Candy

Sour Space Candy is richer in CBD when compared to Hawaiian haze and Lifter. This particular strain has about 20 percent CBD and THC content as low as 0.06%. This product rich in CBD helps to improve focus and also instantly lifts your mood.

Sour Diesel

As the name suggests, it is a sour flavor strain. This product is one of the most sought-after strains of the hemp flower. THC content is limited to 0.094%, while the CBD content is as high as 20.165%. It is a fast-acting product. One feels energetic on consuming this strain, can also be called a mood booster.

CBG Flower

On the lines of CBD, CBG has surfaced and gained popularity, whether for recreational purposes or as a potential candidate in medical applications. Owing to the low THC content, it is bereft of the ‘high’ factor and has advantages just like CBD.

An important point to be noted, highlighting the fact as to why this brand is so popular, is that they were the only ones to offer the strains that are CBG dominant until maybe a couple of months back. Other companies have only recently included similar products to their product portfolio.

Methods Adopted to Grow

This company is committed to a pesticide-free approach, not to mention GMO-free. The company roped in sustainable growers based out of Oregon and Colorado that ensure the criteria are met.

Reputation of The Brand

Despite being a relatively newer brand, their reputation or the status, they achieved in the industry through their practices is commendable.

Traceability and Transparency

Right there, on the product page, lab reports are available. Lab test results of the products can be accessed by anyone, anytime. Also, they share the source of their hemp, emphasizing the confidence in the quality of their product and assuring customers of the strict standards they promised.

Ease of Shopping

The company website is simple. It walks you through the process of shopping and checking out without any hassle. The company website is not complicated, encouraging one to visit again. Customer care is robust, willing to address any issues or answer any questions.

Verdict

This brand, without a doubt, tops the list. They have an attractive refund policy. They are dedicated to offering premium products. Quality is at the core of their mission. The hemp flowers are grown organically.

Being pesticide-free, limiting the usage of chemicals, and above all, the affordability factor makes them unique. The credit for the industry’s steady growth can be attributed to Cheef Botanicals making a conscious effort to retain premium quality yet being simple and practical.

2. Cannaflower CBD – Offers A Wide Assortment Of Strains

What makes Cannaflower exceptional is the degree of transparency the company projects. There is deep traceability – a detailed stepwise breakdown of methods used for growing and implementing all the processing techniques.

They host a wide spectrum of strains, which are of premium quality. The pricing is also reasonable, making for a great combination. The integrity of their products and transparency is vital to the company.

Methods Adopted to Grow

They have embraced natural practices. The company grows its own hemp. The entire process is sustainable. The brand adheres to strict organic methods. The brand is proud of the techniques they have adopted for growing and processing their product – their soil practices are such that therapeutic cannabinoids and aromatic terpenes are created and plants without the use of herbicides.

The company claims the product is a representation of the commitment to their farms, the expertise of its trimmers, and the patience of their slow curing process.

Reputation of The Brand

The business practices of the company are noteworthy. They demonstrate exemplary practices – a trait that the brand mastered and is deeply ingrained in the company owing to the fact that they have been in the cannabis industry for a long time.

Traceability and Transparency

They vouch for quality and transparency – promise to supply a federally legal hemp product. The quality guarantee is evident in their approach towards testing the products and making the results available for customers.

The lab test is conducted by an external testing firm that does all the testing for each and every product. Upon completion, the lab provides a certificate of analysis. The brand offers a detailed analysis certificate to customers.

Ease of Shopping

Cannaflower website is minimal. It is a pleasant shopping experience, as the process is smooth and straightforward. For orders exceeding $50, the company offers free shipping. Every order gets processed with heat-sealed packaging. A URL is provided that directs customers to the online COA (certificate of analysis).

Verdict

Cannaflower CBD offers a natural experience, one that can be achieved without emptying pockets. The brand carries a good collection of hemp flowers. A unique feature that lets you shop based on the effect the product offers is available. The feature assists in finding the right product. A genuine and dependable brand for one’s hemp bud needs.

3. CBD American Shaman – Finest CBG Flower

CBD American Shaman finds a spot in the list of the top few CBD brands. Their products are rich in terpene, which is super concentrated. The CBD strains offered by the company are diverse and potent. The company plays a significant role in pushing the industry to a better position through participation in various industry-related endeavors.

Methods Adopted to Grow

The company grows and harvests its own plants. The main goal of the brand is to ensure consistent quality. The brand assures 100% organic, non-GMO, free of gluten products devoid of insecticides.

Reputation of the Brand

Owing to the quality standards, premium offerings, and good business practices, the company has established itself as a reliable brand offering a multitude of products – a one stop-shop for buyers.

Traceability and Transparency

The company website carries results of tests related to each product offered. They test every batch of the products they offer with help from an external laboratory and also perform in-house lab tests. After making a purchase, the buyer is provided a batch number to view the test results.

Ease of Shopping

CBD American Shaman website offers a simple and easy check out process with a good shopping experience. The support team, being knowledgeable, is ever ready to help with any concerns.

Verdict

A great brand with good products boasts of a transparency policy that stands as an example for other brands. We recommend trying the CBD flower if you are looking for variety.

4. Secret Nature: Offers Best Hemp Buds

A brand one would not have missed when looking for CBD flowers. They have a reputation for keeping the entire process simple. The flowers are of superior quality, and the business practices adopted by the company are basic, simplifying the process of any transaction with the company.

Secret Nature grows its own hemp. Complete processing is also done by the company themselves. It is, thus, in complete control of quality and is capable of enhancing the quality.

Secret Nature is an eco-friendly brand. In an effort to explore the full potential of hemp and provide the customer with maximum benefits, the company upgrades its practices constantly. The CBD flower offered is natural, with nearly non-existent THC.

With a wide range of CBD content (15.44% to 24.442%), Secret Nature boasts of 12 distinct strains. They host a wide variety of oils, vape pens, tinctures, and numerous other hemp-based products.

Methods Adopted to Grow

The terpene infused hemp grown by Secret Nature is grown indoors. The eco-friendly approach is what the company is lauded for.

Reputation of the Brand

The company is known to charge higher than most brands. Their attention to detail and green practices, in addition to exceptional quality add to the high cost.

Traceability and Transparency

The company offers a detailed, full lab test report of all products. They are happy to share their process details, highlighting the efforts put into the high-quality product. The company wants its customers to know in detail about the flowers and the processing involved.

Ease of Shopping

Secret Nature has a highly evolved website, modern and elegant, yet easy to navigate, shop, and check out, ensuring a good shopping experience.

Verdict

The brand leads in quality. It is organic and cannabidiol-rich. For all the fantastic features offered, the price is also premium, justifying the product and service.

5. Tweedle Farms

Tweedle Farms is based in Oregon. It is a family-run company. Most vape cartridge companies use hemp from Tweedle Farms, including many top CBD oil manufacturing companies. They produce good quality hemp that is sought after by many big brands.

What sets the company apart or the unique aspect of the brand is availability and emphasis on strains of CBDa and not just CBD. CBDa stands for cannabidiolic acid, which is an organic and raw form of the final CBD. It has potential medical uses.

Some of the top sellers are:

4 Strain Mystery Sampler

For the shoppers that are confused, the company offers a product called flower mystery pack with four strains of total 4 grams. You can get it from the freshest batch. It is a great way to try different types of CBD flowers – an amazing offering. The variety offered can be a good change from the usual you try.

Special Sauce

A special flavor of sweet berries, it is indeed a unique strain, as the name suggests. It contains 19.66% of CBDa. They use 100% plant-based packaging for the products.

Methods Adopted to Grow

They follow a pesticide-free approach, which is also GMO-free. Tweedle Farms grows their flowers in Northwest Oregon on a farm that the company owns, just like Secret Nature, that operates its own farm.

Reputation of the Brand

Since 2016, the company has gradually built an exemplary reputation. The company assures that its hemp is sustainably grown, and the hemp flowers are responsibly sourced for good quality final products.

Traceability and Transparency

In what appears to be complete transparency, Tweedle Farms provides a terpene analysis in addition to a detailed lab report covering CBD, THC, and CBDa.

Ease of Shopping

For simple purchases, the website is designed to be user-friendly. The vast amount of information on the website provides answers to many questions in the CBD arena. With regard to customer care, the owners have taken it upon themselves to be the point of contact and ensure a quick response is provided to any query.

Verdict

Everything is confined to their own farm. They are in complete control of every aspect and every minute detail gets attention – a very unique feature to Tweedle Farms. The brand is a buyer’s go-to store for good quality CBD products.

How Are Hemp Buds Different from Marijuana?

Marijuana is very different from the hemp flower. Marijuana has high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is rich in THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gives consumers the infamous high.

Both marijuana and hemp belong to the cannabis plant family. However, the differentiating criteria are CBD and THC levels. Hemp contains large amounts of CBD and very small amounts of THC. The amount of CBD present in hemp is the primary reason it is used to create CBD products. Also, most importantly, hemp is legal on a federal level and is not considered a drug.

Marijuana has greater than 0.3 percent THC, the chemical that causes the intoxicating effect. Marijuana is not legal in all 50 states of the US. It continues to be considered a drug, a substance that is controlled by the federal government. Some states have legalized recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.

Hemp flowers are low in THC content, not exceeding 0.3%. They are known to be CBD rich. Legally, the aforementioned percentage needs to be strictly followed to qualify as a legal hemp bud. Farm Bill of 2018 classified hemp as non-intoxicating, implying the THC content is negligible – little or no THC.

Most people are unaware that hemp has been known to mankind for a very long time. Hemp finds numerous applications in various industries. The recent change in legal status, supported by ongoing research, makes CBD a likely candidate in medical applications in the near future.

Does Smoking the CBD Flower make you High?

The impairing effect of marijuana is due to THC. CBD flower, on the other hand, does not contain any THC or has very minimal amounts of THC. Legally, the number is 0.3% or lower THC. The really low values do not suffice to produce the ‘high’ effect. For that matter, you do not experience drowsiness, too; getting high or impaired is a far cry.

The positive characteristic of CBD flowers is that they boost your mood. Studies underway hint at CBD flower being a cognitive enhancer. The natural properties of CBD have the potential to help curb anxiety and fix sleep disorders, something that is still in the clinical trial stage and is not established yet. The FDA issued a statement that CBD should not be used to treat, diagnose, or cure any ailment.

Is Buying Hemp Flower Online Legal?

In the United States, hemp can be purchased without any qualms. Processing and purchasing are allowed post the Farm Bill passed in 2018. According to the bill, hemp products can be sold, and it is completely legal, provided the THC content is below 0.3%.

The point to consider is to ensure what is being purchased. Double-check to ensure what you are buying is hemp with THC content equal to or below 0.3%. – that is what distinguishes hemp from marijuana and is an important factor to always keep in mind when purchasing CBD products.

CBD Flower and Drug Test – Does It Show Up in A Test?

Workplaces, specifically in the US, require drug tests before hiring you. People are concerned about the CBD flower showing up in the test.

Pure CBD does not turn up on a drug test. However, THC does. Since the THC content of hemp flower can vary up to 0.3%, it is worrisome as the advanced drug tests do detect THC. There are many types of tests, and not all are capable of detecting THC. The answer is yes, some tests do detect, but it is based on the kind of test.

Characteristics of a Superior CBD Flower Product

The finest CBD is characterized by features such as terpenes, CBD levels, and processing methods. An exceptional quality flower can be distinguished from regular ones with the help of these criteria.

Terpenes

The hemp plant’s smell and taste are mainly dependent on the terpenes found in the hemp plant. They are aromatic molecules responsible for the characteristic taste and smell of the cannabis plant, in addition to its therapeutic benefits and medicinal values. It is the most significant feature that helps tell the premium flower apart.

CBD Content

CBD level contributes substantially to the benefit you are expecting from the hemp flower. In case of pain relief, the amount of CBD has to exceed a specific number to be effective. Typically, the value for an average bud is 10 to 15%. There are also specialty strains available that are rich in CBD and ensure CBD content greater than 20%.

Processing Methods

The processing method plays a pivotal role in the selection process or while purchasing CBD flowers. Checking if it has been seeded or checking if it has been cured properly and trimmed right is essential. This is particularly important when buying the flower and not so much when buying a product made from extracted CBD.

Most brands have transparency policies that let you access the processing method employed. However, a consumer purchasing a product online generally trusts the brand or counts on visual clues to identify premium products.

Always check the smell, look, and feel for anything that appears to be off from the usual. Alerting signs are having seeds, appearing moist or wet, and having a strange smell. Discard the low-grade stuff with these signs.

Conclusion – The Finest CBD Flower Online

With the numerous brands and myriad products out there, one does need help figuring out the finest brands. We recommend Cheef Botanicals. The positives that make it our preferred brand are the assurance of an organic product that is completely natural at an affordable price.

Additionally, the exceptional quality flower strains offered along with test results from an external laboratory helps make a confident purchase. The lactose-free and gluten-free lineup of CBD-rich products supported by a money-back program pushes the brand to the top spot.

Having made our verdict, we do believe your journey would encompass trying more than one option. Our top 5 brands list is definitely a good place to start, considering the overwhelming number of companies surfacing with the recent surge in the CBD market.

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Rapid Intensification and Number of Storms Make 2020 a Record Hurricane Season

By Astrid Caldas

As we reach the official end of hurricane season, 2020 will be one for the record books. Looking back at these long, surprising, sometimes downright crazy past six months (seven if you count when the first named storms actually started forming), there are many noteworthy statistics and patterns that drive home the significance of this hurricane season, and the ways climate change may have contributed to it.

Hurricane activity this year broke some records. As of today, we have had a record 30 named storms, of which 13 turned into hurricanes. The first two, Arthur and Bertha, even formed before June 1, the official start of hurricane season. The third formed on June 1 itself.

This is also only the second time in tropical storm naming history, the first time being in 2005, that the National Hurricane Center had to use the Greek alphabet letters to name storms after the regular list of names was exhausted. As the season progressed, storms generally got stronger – the image below gives a good idea of this progression. While a pattern like this is not unseen, it certainly is not usually this striking (for instance, see timelines of 2005, 2017, 2018, and 2019).

Fortunately, the high level of activity did not translate into a higher number of major hurricanes this season. The August updated forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had called for 19-25 named storms, with 7-11 turning into hurricanes, 3-6 of which would be major (Category 3 or higher). The total number of named storms and hurricanes went up, but the latter prediction did not change from the original forecast released in May (see infographics below).

So, even though 2020 surpassed the predicted number of named storms and hurricanes, as of today, six of the 13 hurricanes were major, still (barely) within the prediction. Of all the named storms, 12 made landfall in the U.S., six as hurricanes. As of today, the season was record-setting for named storms. It ranks second for hurricanes & major hurricanes.

A summary infographic showing hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms predicted from NOAA’s 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook. NOAA

The updated 2020 Atlantic hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms. NOAA

Both Gulf and East Coast states were affected by landfalling hurricanes, and, strikingly, very few coastal counties have not been affected by tropical storm winds this season. Many of the 2020 storms formed in the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico, hence nine out of the 12 U.S. landfalling storms targeting the Gulf states. Louisiana, for example, suffered five landfalls starting in May with TS Bertha.

This is the 6th year in a row that named storms formed before the official start of the season, and the 5th season in a row with at least one category 5 hurricane. It was also the first year to have two major hurricanes in the month of November (Eta and Iota, a Category 4 and 5 respectively), and September 2020 alone had 10 storms – almost equal to the number of total storms for the entirety of an average season, which is currently 12.

The 2020 season also had 27 named storms that hold the record for earliest formation by initial letter – most of the previous records were set in 2005.

A Bit of Science

One characteristic of the 2020 season that will be discussed for quite a while is the rapid intensification of storms. Ten storms so far this year have seen sustained winds gain 35 mph or more in speed within 24 hours or less, with Eta and Iota beating all records with 80 mph increases as they neared landfall on the coast of Nicaragua. The 1995 season also had 10 rapidly intensifying storms – but not at the same rate. Some scientists argue that rapid intensification is likely to become a more common feature of future storms, making forecasting trickier. Research has shown that rapid intensification, observed over the past 40 years, has become more frequent, a pattern that is not supported by models of internal climate variation alone, suggesting that human-caused global warming might be a factor. Another study determined that the chance of a hurricane intensifying went from 1 in 100 in the early 80s to 1 in 20 by mid-2005.

What we are seeing in the U.S. is also being seen across the globe. Rapidly intensifying typhoons have wreaked havoc in Asia this year, and we saw storms crossing the Caribbean and hitting Central American countries as major hurricanes formed in less than 24 hours. Nicaragua was hit by two category 4 hurricanes in two weeks, something never seen before.

I have previously written that hurricanes are becoming stronger, wetter, slower, and more destructive, and all these trends have been linked to anthropogenic global warming in one way or another. New studies since have also pointed to the fact that the link between heat and the intensity of tropical cyclones is becoming clearer, and that their intensity over the past four decades has increased.

Another new characteristic of Atlantic hurricanes determined in a study is that they are losing strength more slowly. Whereas in the 60’s hurricanes lost 75 percent of their strength within 24 hours of making landfall, today they lose only 50 percent in the same amount of time. That certainly contributes to a higher impact from rainfall and winds.

The very active forecast released in August by NOAA was based on some variables that historically affect Atlantic tropical cyclone activity. In addition to the abnormally warm sea surface temperatures, which act as a type of “fuel” to the formation of storms, there were other factors at play.

The establishment of a La Niña pattern, which historically affects high winds in the Atlantic, tends to diminish the vertical wind shear that could help prevent the formation of a tropical cyclone. Also, according to NOAA, a large-scale climate pattern called the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation has also been favoring more active hurricane seasons since 1995 by making wind conditions in the tropics more conducive to tropical cyclone formation. This favors weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon, which also affect Atlantic tropical cyclone formation.

Costs and Future of Hurricanes

Tropical cyclones are the costliest of weather and climate disasters, no doubt due to their widespread impacts: storm surge, wind, rain, all come together to create compound risks in the areas affected. In addition, hurricane recovery – ecological, structural, economic – tends to last for years, and health impacts add to the costs.

The trend in rapid intensification, especially as a storm approaches landfall, can make preparations and evacuations more difficult, if not impossible, and is bound to increase the danger to people and the costs of these disasters. Plus, we cannot forget that storms are more consistently forming before and after the official hurricane season, and that extension can signify a longer period of disaster recovery, as well as a longer period during which communities will have to stay in a state of preparedness.

Especially costly and worrisome from the point of view of preparedness and recovery is when storms hit the same area successively. Hurricane Laura hit the Louisiana Lake Charles area in August as a Category 4, one of the strongest storms to hit the state. Then Hurricane Delta hit the same general area only six weeks later, while many houses still had tarps covering their roofs, and people in the region, especially low-income segments of the population, were far from recovered.

Last but certainly not least, we are dealing with a pandemic that added to the challenges of evacuations, sheltering, and recovery. Because of the unprecedented confluence of hurricane season and the pandemic, many emergency preparedness officials learned on the fly how to best accommodate evacuees while trying to contain spread of the novel coronavirus.

The economic crisis from the pandemic is also leading to a lack of resources for both the people and the authorities to deal effectively with the disaster and take suitable action, something that could take years to resolve. The pandemic is of course a concern around the world, and everywhere people are scrambling to deal with these compound risks.

The Need for Action

There is an urgent need for policies and funding for equitable pre-disaster preparedness to help curtail post-disaster costs and recovery. Resources and technical assistance also must be allocated equitably so that those most in need and with the least capability of rebounding have the means to do so.

We know that human-induced global warming is making storms worse and bringing more destruction with them. We also know we have a path to reduce the carbon emissions that are driving our temperatures up. It is imperative that countries – including the U.S. – continue to increase the ambition of their pledges to reduce global warming emissions and cap warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, as promised in the Paris Agreement. Only by keeping the worst of climate change at bay will we also limit the wrath of hurricanes, saving lives, property, and resources.

But for now, any way you look at it, the unprecedented 2020 season is one for the history books.

The CBD market is witnessing an upward trend owing to the growing realization of its commercial potential. CBD has been garnering a lot of attention from a medicinal perspective. The legalities surrounding CBD are shifting, paving a path for the flourishing industry.

What’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?

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Contents

  1. What is hemp?
  2. Does hemp have THC?
  3. Can you smoke hemp?
  4. How are hemp varieties chosen?
  5. What is hemp used for?
  6. How is hemp used as a food product?
  7. What are hemp fibers and leaves used for?
  8. How is hemp processed?
  9. How is hemp cultivated differently than marijuana?
  10. Is hemp cultivation legal in the U.S.?
  11. World history of hemp

It’s fairly common for people who are unacquainted with cannabis to wonder: Is hemp weed ? Although hemp and marijuana are both classified biologically as cannabis, there are a number of important differences between them. These differences are evident in the way each variety is used.

The differences are also documented in the language, laws, and regulations that apply to both. We break down the anatomy, history, use, and legality of the hemp plant to get to the heart of not only what distinguishes it from marijuana, but also what makes it such a viable, versatile commodity.

What is hemp?

A variety of Cannabis sativa L, hemp is a dioecious plant, which means it can be separated into male and female plants. These plants have served a wide variety of purposes for more than 10,000 years: for fiber (from the plant’s stems), protein (from seeds), and oils and smokable portions (from the leaves and flowers). Hemp fibers can be used to make items including paper, clothing, furnishing fabric, rope, and building materials.

Hemp fibers can be used to make items including paper, clothing, furnishing fabric, rope, and building materials. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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The whole hemp plant , from stalk to seed, can also be used to make fuel and feedstock. For more specific applications, hemp can be divided into four categories:

  • Bast fibers
  • Hurds, or shives
  • Leaves and flowers
  • Seeds

Does hemp have THC?

The hemp plant produces a broad range of cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) , the intoxicating cannabinoid in marijuana. However, hemp does not produce enough THC to create intoxicating effects when consumed.

Although the hemp plant doesn’t produce a significant amount of THC, it is capable of producing the non-intoxicating and medicinally rich cannabidiol (CBD) in high concentrations. In fact, hemp-derived CBD is rapidly becoming one of the most popular forms of the therapeutic cannabinoid on the market today.

Many countries differentiate hemp vs. marijuana by the amount of THC produced per weight of a dry plant. In the U.S., industrial hemp is defined as a Cannabis sativa L. plant not containing more than 0.3% THC. The European Union has set the limit at 0.2%, while in Great Britain the limit is zero, unless growers have a cultivation license to grow industrial hemp with no more than 0.2% THC.

Can you smoke hemp?

Hemp isn’t completely absent of intoxicating compounds, but that doesn’t mean it will get you high. Hemp plants simply don’t produce enough THC to have an intoxicating effect. CBD, though psychoactive, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid and won’t produce any form of a euphoric high on its own.

Technically speaking, you can smoke hemp if really want to but it won’t get you high. In fact, smoking is not the best way to tap into the therapeutic potential of the cannabinoids that hemp is rich in, most notably CBD. For that, you’ll be better served by consuming a hemp-derived CBD product such as CBD oil or tincture.

Consuming a hemp-derived CBD product, such as CBD oil or tincture, is the best way to tap into the therapeutic potential of the cannabinoids that hemp is rich in. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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How are hemp varieties chosen?

Depending on the desired final product, hemp cultivars are chosen based on several factors, including:

  • Stem quality
  • Cannabinoid content
  • Resistance to disease
  • Time to harvest
  • Hemp oil content
  • Seed production per acre

CBD production, in particular, has become a major factor in recent years. As the CBD market continues to grow, more and more cultivars are also being chosen based on their CBD production and unique aromatic, or terpene , profiles.

What is hemp used for?

CBD oil is extracted from hemp leaves and flowers. The CBD oil extracted from hemp can be used for treating a wide variety of ailments, hence the ever-growing popularity of CBD-focused cultivation.

Hemp fibers are primarily used for textiles, paper, building materials, and other industrial products. Raw materials such as hurds, or shives, are short woody fibers typically found inside the stalk. They’re used for making bedding materials, absorbents, particle board, ceiling panels, compost, and other industrial products.

Bast fibers make up the outer portion of the stalk and are typically split into three categories — primary, or line fiber, secondary, and tow. They are categorized according to their cell strength and cell wall thickness, which will determine the fiber’s strength, durability, and ultimately what it can be used for.

How is hemp used as a food product?

Hemp seeds are rich in protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They contain an optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids for healthful consumption. A 2008 study also found that hemp proteins are more digestible for humans than common soy protein isolates (SPIs) used in food products.

Hemp can be used as a food product as either raw seeds or oils. Hemp oil is pressed from the seeds for a concentration of protein, meaning both food product forms are utilizing hempseed as a nutritional resource . Seeds can also be ground up for flour or mixed with water to create hempseed milk.

What are hemp fibers and leaves used for?

CBD oil is extracted from hemp leaves and flowers. The CBD oil extracted from hemp can be used for treating a wide variety of ailments, hence the ever-growing popularity of CBD-focused hemp cultivation.

Hemp fibers are primarily used for textiles, paper, building materials, and other industrial products. Hurds , or shives, are short woody hemp fibers typically found inside the stalk. They’re used for making hempcrete, bedding materials, absorbents, particle board, ceiling panels, compost, and other industrial products. Bast fibers make up the outer portion of the stalk and are typically split into three categories — primary, or line fiber, secondary, and the tow. They are categorized according to their cell strength and cell wall thickness, which will determine the fiber’s strength, durability, and ultimately what it can be used for.

How is hemp processed?

Many types of processing techniques are utilized to process hemp seeds and stalks. The technique used depends on the purpose of the final product.

Hemp seeds

Seeds can be consumed whole, or refined by being pressed or crushed to produce hemp seed oil and flour. These seeds are also hulled, or shelled, to make them more palatable. The remaining shells, which are rich in fiber, can also be used for making flour.

Seeds can be consumed whole, or refined by being pressed or crushed to produce hemp seed oil and flour. (Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

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Hemp stalks

Hemp stalks are processed through decorticating, a multistep method for removing the long fibers from the rest of the plant. The steps taken during the intermediate processing period include:

1. Retting

Hemp stalks have tough cellular tissue that makes up their surface and must be dissolved through a process called retting. There are three modes of retting:

  • Field retting: The plants are cut and laid on the field for four to six weeks, turned periodically. During this time, any bacteria on the plant’s surface will break down the outer layer of the stalk. The retted stalks are then dried.
  • Water retting: The stalks are immediately dried after harvesting, then placed into water for a few days. The water is used to soften the outer layer of the stalks and to help promote the growth of additional bacteria which helps accelerate the process.
  • Chemical retting: Acids, bases, and special enzymes are used to break down the compounds that hold together the strong bast fibers.

All retted stalks should be dried until they have less than 15% moisture. Anything above 15% can potentially harbor and promote the growth of fungi and bacteria. If the stalks get too dry, meaning less than 10% moisture, they can become too brittle to transport.

2. Decorticating

The decorticating process typically involves three stages:

  • Scutching: The stalks are passed through a series of rollers to break apart the hemp fibers. During this step, the woody core is pushed out and separated from the pliable fibers. This is another step where proper drying comes into play. The sweet spot is between 10% and 15% moisture and is key here. If the stalks are too dry, they will be crushed into a powder. If they are too moist, they won’t break and separate properly.
  • Hackling: The short and intermediate fibers are combed out of the stalk.
  • Twisting: The fibers are individually twisted into yarn.

Modern decorticating techniques employ steam explosion (treating the fibers with steam through a pressurized chamber) and ultrasonic breaking (breaking down fibers using ultrasonic waves) to maintain the integrity of the fibers throughout the process. These techniques are not as harsh on the stalks and allow processors to use the fibers on already fabricated cotton and wool processing machinery.

3. Baling and storing

Hemp stalk is baled for transportation and long-term storage using traditional farming balers. Large, round balers are best because they allow for more thorough drying as they don’t pack the hemp as tightly as square balers. Hemp bales should be stored in a dry environment in conditions intended to reduce as much humidity as possible. It’s also important to check for wet patches during baling to further avoid mold.

How is hemp cultivated differently than marijuana?

Other key differences between hemp and marijuana have to do with cultivation and harvesting. Male plants flower much faster than females and do not produce nearly as much fiber. In stark contrast to marijuana fields, most female hemp fields include sporadically placed males. The male hemp plants release pollen for the female plant to produce seeds that will either be used for future crops or sold as food.

In marijuana fields, male plants are typically eliminated to ensure the maximum production of sinsemilla flowers.

While marijuana cultivation requires ample spacing to reduce the risk of mold or bacteria, hemp can be planted more densely. Most marijuana crops are planted at one plant per four square feet. Hemp plants that are grown for oil are planted at roughly 40 to 60 plants per four square feet. Those grown for fiber are even more densely planted at a rate of about 100 to 120 plants per four square feet.

Hemp plants are almost always cultivated outdoors , as opposed to marijuana plants, which are often planted in greenhouse or indoor settings. Because hemp is susceptible to the same predators, diseases, and insects that attack marijuana, many cultivators employ a technique called crop rotation , in which alternating crops are planted in the same place, to avoid any buildup of these organisms and to allow nutrients to return to the soil.

The specific order of crop rotation and types of crops being rotated with hemp will depend on the location of the farm. Hemp is also used as a rotational crop at farms where it is not the primary agricultural product.

Is hemp cultivation legal in the U.S.?

Federal Action

The 2014 Agricultural Act , more commonly known as the 2014 Farm Bill, signed by Democratic President Barack Obama, includes section 7606, which allows for universities and state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp, as long as it is cultivated and used for research. Under the 2014 Agricultural act, state departments and universities must also be registered with their state, and defer to state laws and regulations for approval to grow hemp.

As part of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 , or the 2018 Farm Bill, signed by Republican President Donald Trump, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 reclassified hemp (with less than 0.3% THC) from Schedule I, the most restrictive classification of controlled substances by the federal government, and are considered highly prone to abuse and to not have any medicinal benefits. This move to federally legalize industrial production of the plant allowed for cultivation and distribution as a legal agricultural product.

Under the Hemp Farming Act, hemp cultivation is no longer limited to state departments and universities. In addition, the act allows farmers rights to water, crop insurance, and federal agricultural grants, as well as legal access to national banking. Hemp may also be transported across state lines.

State Laws

Prior to the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, 41 states had passed industrial hemp-related legislation. Thirty-nine of those states legalized statewide cultivation programs that defined hemp specifically to differentiate it from marijuana, establish licensing requirements, and regulate production.

The Hemp Farming Act now requires state departments of agriculture to consult with their governors and chief law enforcement officers on a regulatory program, which will then be submitted to the United States Secretary of Agriculture for approval. According to Section 297B of the bill, state hemp regulatory programs must include a system to maintain information on all land where cultivation takes place, procedures for testing THC levels in hemp, and procedures for disposing of products that violate THC content restrictions.

World history of hemp

Hemp has been cultivated on a global scale for thousands of years. The oldest documented evidence of hemp cultivation is a rope, which dates back to 26,900 BCE, found in today’s Czech Republic.

Some of the earliest known prolific uses of hemp began in China about 10,000 BCE, where it was used for making clothing, rope, and paper. The Yangshao people, who lived in China from roughly 5000 BCE, wove hemp and pressed it into their pottery for decorative purposes. From about 5000 to 300 BCE, the plant was also grown in Japan and used for fiber and paper.

Cannabis played a large role in the Greco-Roman cultures as a source of fiber, intoxication, and medicine. Cannabis seeds were discovered in the ruins of Pompeii, and Greek rhetorician Athenaeus made note of hemp being used to make rope between 170 and 230 CE. Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder also made reference to a cannabis root decoction as a treatment for joint stiffness and gout in the first century BCE.

Exactly how and when hemp originated in the New World is still highly debated. Though long thought to be introduced to the Americas by Christopher Columbus, hemp has been discovered in Native American civilizations that predate Columbus’ arrival. William Henry Holmes’ “ Prehistoric Textile Art of Eastern United States ” report from 1896 notes hemp from Native American tribes of the Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley.

Hemp products from pre-Columbian native civilizations were also found in Virginia. Vikings, who used the plant for making rope and sails, may also have brought seeds with them when they attempted to colonize the New World.

Jamestown settlers introduced hemp to colonial America in the early 1600s for rope, paper, and other fiber-based products; they even imposed fines on those who didn’t produce the crop themselves. U.S. presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp.

Hemp was a prominent crop in the United States until 1937, when the Marihuana Tax Act virtually obliterated the American hemp industry. During World War II, the crop saw a resurgence in the U.S., as it was used extensively to make military items including uniforms, canvas, and rope. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) even released a short documentary, “Hemp for Victory,” in 1942, which promoted the plant as a useful crop for the war cause.

The World War II hemp resurgence was short-lived, though. Until the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 kept industrial production dormant. Today, hemp is rapidly becoming an indispensable resource for CBD oil and other CBD products.

Sources

Wang, Xian-Sheng, et al. “Characterization, Amino Acid Composition and in Vitro Digestibility of Hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.) Proteins.” Food Chemistry , vol. 107, no. 1, 1 Mar. 2008, pp. 11–18., doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2007.06.064.

Callaway, J. C. “Hempseed as a Nutritional Resource: An Overview.” Euphytica , vol. 140, no. 1-2, 2004, pp. 65–72., doi:10.1007/s10681-004-4811-6.

Ryz, Natasha R., et al. “Cannabis Roots: A Traditional Therapy with Future Potential for Treating Inflammation and Pain.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research , vol. 2, no. 1, Jan. 2017, pp. 210–216., doi:10.1089/can.2017.0028.

Although hemp and marijuana are both varieties of cannabis, there is a difference between them. The differences between these cannabis varieties are primarily evident in the way each plant is used.