Cannabis is one of the oldest domestic plants in the history of mankind. It has been utilized for more than 10,000 years. The evidence goes back to the Stone Age.
Nathaniel Branden, a psychotherapist once said, the first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.
The change we will talk about in this post is about how we perceive Cannabis.
The recollection of the word cannabis is mainly associated with weed, bhang, ganja, marijuana, and the image of people smoking it. This perception mixed with the marketing campaign to make it infamous has created a taboo around it. Smoking cannabis can make you euphoric and lazy, that’s true, but so do lazy Sunday Instagram posts. On a larger scale, we are yet to explore the unlimited potential of cannabis. Cannabis is the answer to our need for a sustainable world. Moreover, it will not only arm us in the fight against climate change but also be useful in our day to day well being.
We have completely missed out upon knowing about Hemp.
The plant cannabis has mainly three species: Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, and Cannabis Ruderalis. Cannabis Indica is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, hence the name Indica.
Industrial hemp is a Cannabis Sativa plant with 0.3% or less THC. So what is THC? It’s an interesting character. THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is a chemical compound found in cannabis plants that is responsible for the euphoric feeling and getting people high. Since hemp contains a lesser amount of THC, hemp can’t get people high. Instead, hemp comes with the industrial and medicinal benefits of a cannabis plant.
Hemp is not new to us. We as a generation have failed to realize the potential of this God Plant. Cannabis is one of the oldest domestic plants in the history of mankind. It has been utilized for more than 10,000 years. The evidence goes back to the Stone Age.
It is mentioned in Atharvaveda, as one of the five most sacred plants for mankind. You should not be surprised if I say, Hempcrete, a combination of cannabis with lime or clay, was used to build Ellora caves, located in Maharashtra, India. It has helped in the preservation of ancient artwork for centuries. For Indians, bhang or cannabis has an even deeper connection because of its roots in spirituality. Bhang is directly associated with Lord Shiva. Last year, I visited Banaras, a holy city in India. One can easily find government authorized bhang shops here. In the holy temple, I even offered bhang with milk to Lord Shiva.
Not just in ancient history, cannabis was very much part of modern history as well. In 1941, Henry Ford made a car using Hemp fiber that ran on hemp fuel, this shows how remarkable Hemp can be.
This beautiful thing, (Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport) features composite doors that use an organic fiber mix derived largely from hemp and flax that take the place of traditional carbon fiber.
Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, cannabis has strong medicinal properties. That is why in the early 1900s at least 2000 Cannabis medicines were produced by over 280 manufacturers.
So far cannabis appears to be beneficial to us. The current mindset is stuck on the fact that all this was legal once but now it is illegal. Well, the paradigm is changing, and it’s changing fast. Dwelling into the past over the cause of prohibition will only prolong our target of making a sustainable world through Hemp usage. The past is bygone. You can always look for anti-marijuana campaigns but then they will raise questions that will take us in circles and conspiracies not worthy of our time. We don’t live there.
The entire globe has seen and felt the taboo around Cannabis. But time is changing. Good days are ahead. Not in the distant past, the United States of America passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which changed hemp from a substance of abuse to an ordinary agriculture commodity. The legalization came in different phases in the US, in 1996 California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis. Then over the period of time, other states followed. Eventually, the Farm Bill became an Act. In 2019, the states in India, Uttrakhand & Uttar Pradesh legalized the cultivation of hemp. Recently, the Madhya Pradesh government and the Manipur government have accepted that hemp should be used for its medicinal and industrial usage. Both these states have announced that they are working on the same path for legalizing the cultivation of hemp.
Let’s take a pause from the world of hemp, its history, and its policy. Let’s focus on our present and future. Our earth is going through a phenomenon of climate change. If I ask anyone to point out what caused it, we all can pretty much sum it up. We all have contributed towards it. What we are dealing with is not something that happened overnight. It won’t be miraculously gone the next morning when we open our eyes. We need to live in harmony with nature, by creating constructive solutions to overcome the upcoming challenges of the environment. We have dumped so much plastic out there that all we can do our whole life is to collect it back and put it in a no man’s land. We can’t afford to put more plastic out. But it is also used in our day to day life. If we look around ourselves, we will definitely find something made of plastic. The time has come to shift to greener alternatives. And in the same process let me tell you something interesting about hemp.
Hemp-derived bioplastics are 100% biodegradable. Hemp plants can grow to its full size in less than 100 days. In the process it absorbs more tonnes of C02 per hectare as compared to any other crop.
Hemp is a zero-waste plant. From seed to stem, every part of the god plant is useful. Seed oil can be extracted by cold pressing the seeds. The oil is rich in Omega 3s and 6s which is extremely good for rejuvenating our skin. Multiple Indian startups are making skincare products by infusing hemp seed oil. There are other startups that are focussed on various aspects of the plant. The same seed oil can be processed further to produce biodiesel as well. Hemp is also a rich source of plant-based protein-packed with antioxidants and fibers. From the stem of the plant, we can extract cellulose. This cellulose is further used for making bioplastics, an alternative that we desperately need as a society. We saw hempcrete used in Ellora caves, a new age of the home building is coming. Hempcrete based homes are carbon neutral. Hemp takes a lesser amount of water to grow as compared to a typical cotton plant. Our forefathers used hemp for clothing purposes.
Remember THC? The chemical compound responsible for euphoria. Let’s talk about the magic that happens behind it. Human body has an Endocannabinoid System(ECS) present throughout our brain and nervous system. ECS promotes reactions that help in maintaining balance in our bodies. It controls our sleep, appetite, pain, inflammation, memory, mood, reproduction and so on. Cannabinoids bind to small molecules in our body called endocannabinoids or ECS receptors which then cause the above-mentioned effects in our body. Interestingly, CBD and THC from cannabis plants mimic cannabinoids in our body and interact with the respective molecules or receptors and take control.
Along with its contribution to sustainable development, Cannabis has a major role to play in fighting major conditions and wellbeing. CBD Oil which is extracted from Cannabis — Hemp has proven significant in pain management, sleep improvement, fighting terminal illness like cancer, not only does it stop the growth of cancer cells but also kills them. CBD infused supplements have proven significant in dealing with anxiety and are much safer than prescribed medicines.
I am a 90s kid. I grew up watching the good old Cartoon Network. One of the shows I was hooked onto was Captain Planet and the Planeteers. In the show, 5 special youngsters were given 5 different rings to fight eco-villains. But when they can’t do it all by themselves they would combine their ring power — fire, earth, water, wind, and heart and Captain Planet would come to help them. The reason I told you this fiction is that there is no Captain Planet coming for us. Although the eco-villains are true. We are the Captain Planet for ourselves.
We have to push forward and build a world that resonates with nature and also caters to our present and future needs. Cannabis has its roots in our past, relevance to our present and it is needed for our future. Flourishment of hemp driven economy will strengthen the agriculture sector. It will enable consumers to use products that are not only environmentally friendly but it will also arm us to take on the fight against various illnesses and lifestyle challenges.
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