Explained: Here's why hemp will probably be the next big thing in India
When I first came across the concept of hemp products, there was very little knowledge around it. I had a vague idea that hemp was a close relative of cannabis, and many often reconfirmed the thought. But the one question that continued to bother me was -- why were hemp products making it to the markets when consuming cannabis is illegal in the country?
Considered to be the first-ever crop cultivated by man, hemp comes with a long history of over 10,000 years old. Despite being an old companion, the difference between hemp and marijuana is a subject that is often improperly explained.
But as Indian industries are now newly rediscovering the goodness of this naturally available resource and exploring its potential, there is still a lot of confusion that exists within customers.
Despite the religious and cultural sanctions that are enjoyed by cannabis in India, its consumption (funnily enough!) remains illegal. This sour emotion also affects consumers from exploring the benefits of hemp-based products.
"Hemp" is a term used to classify varieties of cannabis that contain 0.3 per cent or less THC content. The term "hemp" is otherwise used to describe non-intoxicating cannabis, that is harvested for the industrial use of its derived products.
Hemp is rightly called the 'first-ever crop cultivated by man' considering the plethora of products that can be made from the weed. Begining from cloth, paper, industrial textile to food and body care products - hemp is one of the cleanest (and green) option available.
Considering the recent controversies around CBD oil, it is essential to understand what CBD oil is, and how is it extracted. The Food and Drug Authority permits the use of cannabis which has no more than 0.3 per cent THC.
CBD hemp oil which is extracted from such kind of cannabis does not cause a high and is used in beauty and skincare products which are non-psychoactive.
This gives industrial hemp a legal status in most parts of the world. Similarly, CBD hemp oil much like hemp has a similar composition and achieves a related legal status.
Many homegrown companies are now promoting hemp products and concentrating on the aspect of hemp being a clean and environment-friendly option.
The Bridge Chronicle spoke to the co-founder of The Bombay Hemp Company about the situation of hemp products in India to gain a better understanding of the matter.
Talking about the prejudices associated with marijuana affecting the consumption of hemp-based products, Yash Kotak said, "Occasionally, people do get confused. However, some knowledge on this subject is always better than none at all -- its a fun place to start. We often get asked, 'Can I smoke this tee and will I get high?'
The Bombay Hemp Company is an agro-based enterprise reimagining the future of Indian agriculture and sustainable living with hemp as the lens. The company produces hemp-based cloth, wellness, Health and Nutrition products."
Explaining that education is the foremost pursuit, he said, "The aim has never been to ask people to purchase hemp, but rather tell the story of hemp, and then leave it on people to decide."
But since very few states allow the production of commercial hemp, he says the country is taking baby steps into achieving the goal. Uttarakhand has a first-of-a-kind policy, but science hasn't kept up with it.
"There have been a fair few licenses that have been given out but the full-throttle cultivation hasn't begun owing to the right kind of licensed seed not available in the state for the farmer to grow," says the founder.
Currently, in India, there are few states -- Manipur, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh -- that are now opening up to the benefits of working with industrial hemp.
But in the coming years, we can expect a change in the attitude of people. Hemp is on a journey to becoming a household commodity very soon. Thanks to the legalisation efforts of various industry players and plenty of positive information available about the crop, people are waking up to the infinite possibilities of this wonder crop.
Mr Kotak says, "The overall category awareness is very low at present but it's definitely on the rise. Not just because of the benefits of hemp alone but even the upcoming trends such as organic, veganism, mindful consumption, natural products, etc., hemp plays an important role occupying space in all of these trends because of which the penetration will only be better."
Apart from the health benefits, hemp has also made the headlines as environmental preservation is the need of the hour. Now, and the choices we make, is all we have to slow down and possibly reverse the damage that the consumerist economy has caused the environment.
Hemp requires less water, no pesticides, has soil-remedial properties, removes five times more CO2 from the air and can make almost everything that can be made from trees. Growing hemp reduces water and soil pollution, limits soil erosion, helps restore soil properties, and can save our precious trees.
Talking about the benefit of #Vocalforlocal movement Ms Deepika Sharma, Founder, Hempstrol said, "I see more hemp brands coming up, and everyone is doing great work and contributing well towards the growth of the industry."
Hempstrol is a medicinal Hemp-based company that explores the therapeutic aspect of hemp. They believe in the power of hemp and work to promote a healthy lifestyle. Hempstrol's carefully curated, issue-specific product provide wellness solutions.
"Oftentimes, people aren't aware that even the cannabis plant finds its origins in the Himalayan Mountain range. Apart from that various product level ministries such as the Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of AYUSH, have helped immensely cannabis-based cannabis-based products to the fore in India," added Yash Kotak.
Since the origin of hemp is plant-based, it is a solution and a sustainable answer for our everyday needs.
According to Mr Kotak, "Through hemp-based products, we promote a sustainable lifestyle. A remedy that has always been around and is actively employed by people living in the Himalayas. We hope that more people in cities will now see and sense and power of our everyday choices. Given hemp's social, economic and environmental impact, we are certain that there is no better crop to bring together community, impact and value."