Since the dawn of civilization, marijuana, through its natural form, the hemp plant (cannabis sativa), has continuously asserted itself as one of the most relevant farming crop in the world. The esteemed that the plant is historically held is probably owing to the numerous attributes and usage it offers.

A Psychoactive Agent

The hemp plant is the source for the marijuana drug, famed for its relatively benign psychoactive effect. Its sensory altering properties has been long known in ancient cultures, and apart from its obvious use a recreational drug, it is also used by priests and cleric during religious or spiritual ceremony as an experience enhancer for their followers.

An Edible Crop

As far back as 12,000 years ago, the hemp plant has been farmed as a food produce. While modern science has conclusively shown us that the hemp seed, by far, has the highest concentration of naturally forming amino compounds and fatty acids among food crops, as well as the second highest protein content behind soy seeds, our forefathers have apparently known of the fact and used the seeds very generously in their daily cooking. In addition, the seed is also the source of cooking oil, an exceptionally healthy substitute at that.

A Manufacturing Crop

The plant is renowned for its light and hardy fibers, which can be utilized for a host of products, ranging from cotton substitute for textile materials, raw ingredient for paper, ropes and decorative ornaments, among others. It is also a very viable source of cellulose, a primary ingredient of consumer plastics. Researchers have shown that cellulose harvested from an acre of hemp plant is equivalent to the production from 4 acres of trees!

Environmental Benefits

The hemp plant is an exceptionally fast developing plant, with full growth cycles of approximately 3-4 months. Considering their relative ease of planting and positive harvest yield of almost 400%, it defies belief why this plant has not unilaterally destroyed the timber, cotton and edible oil industry, despite the well documented environmental devastation caused by the timber industry, the 50% pest-related failure rate of the cotton industry and the expensive ‘healthy’ oil derivates from flowers seeds and soy. The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act in the United Stated has paved the way for a host of other legal decision that effectively ensures that the plant will continue to remain in the sidelines of the masses, despite its enormous benefits.

Medicinal Agent

Marijuana, a by-product of the hemp plant, has been used as a medical agent as early as 3,000BC, based on written records from the period in China. It was noted as the chief herbal remedy for nausea, eye related pain and loss of appetite, among others. Throughout history, its place in the annals of medicine has always remained constant. In fact, modern science has discovered a host of other chemical and therapeutical medical benefits of marijuana and there are growing calls to allow the plant to be legalized for medical purposes, despite recent rulings by the United States Supreme Court and the federal governments’ continuing classification of marijuana, and consequently, marijuana, as a Schedule 1 drug.

Origin

The first point of domestication of the hemp plant has been hypothesized to be in Central Asia (in the region surrounding modern Afghanistan) and China, based on botanical, etymological and archaeological data. Climatic and meteorological factors also support this theory.

The most telling evidence lies in the written works of Herodotus, an ancient Greek scribe, who over two thousand years ago narrated the Scythian (ancient horse riding nomads of Central Asia) ‘enclosed tent’ ritual, where the plant is burnt within, and its trapped smoke generates the common psychoactive reactions to those inside. Needless to say, the practice was quickly adopted among the Grecian literati and soon after, the common citizens.

Hemp Agronomics

Characterized as a bast fiber plant similar to jute, chiefly owing to the fibers observed on the phloem (inner layer of the bark) of the hemp plant stalks’, the plant is a bi-annual harvesting crop that requires very little management, especially from common crop pest as it has a natural resistance against them. A properly irrigated, non-acidic area, coupled with an adequate sunshine would see the plant growing to maturity in under six months. Fiber harvesting can immediately be performed upon flowering of the plant, normally 4 months after sowing. Seed harvesting, on the other hand, is only done after the plants’ pollination is completed, which normally takes an additional month.






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