Hemp: What Is It, How It’s Used, Where to Purchase Online [2020 Guide]

Hemp has been explored for centuries, used by individuals all over the world for a variety of purposes: paper, textiles, cordage, nutrition and so much more. Now, in modern times humans have discovered even greater uses for this powerful and revolutionary crop – yet strangely enough, it has been outlawed for the better part of the last century.

With the new Hemp Farming Act signed into law by President Trump back in December of 2018, however, you can expect to start seeing a much broader use of hemp products not only in the USA, but across the globe as well.

With the new Hemp Farming Act signed into law, Americans can expect to see hemp products and cultivation regain a foothold throughout the country.

But what does this mean for you, the average customer who may be interested in buying USA-made hemp products, using its fibers to make (or construct) your own hemp creations, or even growing a small crop of the plants yourself?

Believe it or not, most are not familiar with the thousands of practical uses of hemp, let alone what the characteristics of the plant actually even are.

In this article,  in addition to discussing how to use hemp nutritionally and how to go about buying it (no matter what state you live in), we aim to answer the simple question of, “what is hemp?”


What Is Hemp? (How It’s Used, and Where to Buy It Online)

Simply put, hemp is a variant of the Cannabis plant species. Actually, to be more “scientifically accurate,” the term ‘Cannabis’ refers to the plant genus, while the terms ‘sativa,’ ‘indica,’ and ‘ruderalis’ refer to the actual plant species.

In other words, there are three separate species of cannabis plants, which are correctly identified as follows:

  • Cannabis sativa (includes both ‘marijuana’ plants and ‘hemp’ plants)
  • Cannabis indica (includes marijuana plants)
  • Cannabis ruderalis (a primitive, relatively rare species of cannabis evolved to endure harsh, cold climates)

*[Note that the genus ‘Cannabis’ is capitalized, while the species ‘sativa/indica/ruderalis’ are lowercase. The entire name is italicized. This is the proper taxonomic way to identify ALL living organisms on earth. You can also abbreviate each as: C. sativa / C. indica / C. ruderalis.]

As such, hemp is simply a variation of the Cannabis sativa plant – a large classification of plants that includes most all ‘regular’ marijuana strains that people use to get high.

This is where the majority of confusion takes place; people assume that ‘hemp’ and ‘marijuana’ are two completely different plants, but this is not true. There are in fact some radical differences between hemp and marijuana, the major one of course being that hemp plants do not produce a high.

Both marijuana and hemp fall under the category of ‘cannabis’, with the major difference being that hemp does not get you high.

We understand that this can be a bit confusing without a basic understanding of biological classification (aka ‘taxonomy’), but the general take away is this: both hemp and marijuana are the same species of plant (C. sativa), even though they possess very different properties in terms of use and effects on the human body.

Think of it this way: a black person and a white person both belong to the same exact genus and species (Homo sapiens), even though they may possess very different outward appearances, genetic traits, etc. Let’s try and break the whole thing down even more, placing an emphasis on what actually defines hemp as a specific variation of the C. sativa plant species.

What Exactly Is Hemp?

Hemp is best defined as a hardy version of Cannabis that historically has been used for nutrition and fiber. The plants can grow extremely tall (upwards of 15 ft), and the stems produce extremely tough fibers that can be used to make heavy-duty rope, paper, clothes, etc. Seeds of the hemp plant are also incredibly nutritious, and historically have been used for livestock feed (though they are an excellent source of nutrition for humans as well).

If Hemp “Is” Cannabis, Why Doesn’t It Get You High?

The compound in cannabis that gets people high is THC, and simply put, the reason hemp doesn’t get you high is because it barely produces any THC at all. On average, standard marijuana plants (i.e. ones that people smoke to get high), contain an average THC content of about 12-25%. Hemp on the other hand (including ‘industrial hemp’), is defined as having 0.3% THC or less – not nearly enough to produce any kind of a high.

Why Is Hemp so Important — and What Does It Have to Do with CBD?

Hemp has been of crucial importance throughout history due to the reasons mentioned above (nutrition, textiles, construction, etc). More recently, however, hemp is being valued for its CBD content. While hemp plants produce almost no THC, some varieties can produce copious amounts of CBD – a natural plant component that possesses most of the health benefits of cannabis, and none of  the mind-altering effects.

all about hemp

Why Grow Hemp?

The historical uses for hemp are actually rather mind-blowing. One of the oldest known uses of hemp was to reinforce pottery, with artifacts dating to 8,000+ B.C. having been discovered in what is now present day southeast Asia. Also, ancient hemp fabric for clothing has been dated to at least 4,000 B.C., which is one of the oldest relics of human industry. Today, people grow hemp primarily for livestock meal, seed production (nutrition), and more recently, the production of CBD oil (CBD can be extracted from the flowers, leaves, and stalk of the plant).

How Is Hemp Used?

According to scholars, hemp has more than 25,000 possible uses. Also, it’s important to remember that the plants can be cultivated as a renewable resource – which makes hemp prohibition over the last 100+ years seem even that much more absurd. Hemp crops and raw hemp materials can be incorporated into a nearly countless amount of products (ranging from cosmetics to construction), and it is our hope that the crop regains importance in the U.S. and globally with the recent passing of the Hemp Farming Act.

What Is Hemp Used For? (Discussing the Importance of Seeds and Flowers)

This fibrous section of the hemp plant is primarily used for cosmetics, as well as food. In food, hemp is produced into bread, cereal, hemp milk (a healthy dairy replacement), all-natural protein powder, vitamin and mineral-rich oils, margarine, dressings, and flour and granola – just to name a few things.

The oil from hemp seeds also makes for the perfect material to produce things like sustainable fuel, ink, varnish, paint, and organic body products.

And best of all, hemp is suitable for animals and is capable of providing them with well-balanced nutrition when processed into fodder.

What’s really fascinating, though, is that hemp seeds are actually one of the healthiest snacks available, packed full of rich essential fatty acids, such as Omega 6 and Omega 3. Additionally, hemp seeds have shown to be a wonderful protein source, with more than 25% of calories arriving from high-quality protein (a considerably greater amount than chia or flax seeds).

Furthermore, hemp seeds are a brilliant source of Vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, sulfur and phosphorus – all of which are essential supplements necessary for human survival.

Hemp Stalks

The stalk of hemp is more traditionally utilized for industrial style products such as clothing, cordage, construction materials, paper, fuel and much more. All of the materials and products produced from hemp are surprisingly biodegradable, and produce far less pollution than other contemporary processes.

With the hurd of the hemp stalk, it is possible to produce concrete (also known as hempcrete), animal bedding, mulch, quality insulation, fiber board and even chemical absorbent, the perfect products for those working on construction or who own livestock.

The fiber of the stalk is better suited for its ability to be processed, as it is a strong useable material, perfect for producing exquisite ropes, various types of cordage, clothing, canvas, netting, carpet, shoes, bags, non-wovens and biocomposites.

Finally, the stalk itself of the hemp plant is what can be used to produce environmentally friendly biofuel, ethanol, paper products, filters and cardboard.

With So Many Uses, Why Was Hemp Illegal?

Did you know that the estimated retail value of all the hemp products sold in the United States is approximated around $620 million? Strangely enough, virtually all of these products in recent years have been imported from other countries. Why is this the pattern?

Shockingly, prior to 2014 it was illegal to grow hemp in the United States. The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act strongly regulated the cultivation of cannabis – all varieties included (this also meaned hemp, of course).

Furthermore, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 decided that all species of cannabis would be recognized as Schedule I drugs, which required virtually all hemp fiber and hemp products sold in the U.S. to be imported from other countries.

Not only did this cause a negative stigma regarding the beautiful and useful hemp “miracle plant,” but it also made many forget about the practical – and possibly revolutionary – uses of all parts of the crop.

[Related: The Future of Legalized Marijuana is Now Here!]

This regulation was such as shame, because hemp is actually an extremely attractive rotation crop for farmers globally due to its ability to breathe in CO2, prevent soil erosion, and detoxify soil for future plants to grow happily.

Once harvest is over, in fact, all of the leftovers from the hemp crop break down right into the ground, providing essential nutrition for future generations of plants. Furthermore, hemp requires very little water for growth and absolutely no harmful pesticides or chemicals, proving to be intensely environmentally friendly and sustainable for our planet.

Fortunately, with the new Hemp Farming Act now passed, American farmers will once again be able to take full advantage of this robust crop, as will the American economy in general as we (hopefully) will no longer have to import hemp products into the U.S. from other countries.

How to Buy Hemp Online (Top Products for Sale)

Thankfully, there are a handful of good resources online that make it possible to allocate the exact type of hemp you’d like, for any variety of purposes. The most commonly purchased form of hemp of course is hemp seeds, since they provide a valuable protein content, are absurdly nutritious, and are tasty and simple to consume. Hemp milk, hemp oil, hemp cosmetics, and hemp cloting are also all popular products. that are available online in the US.

1. Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds Raw Food

These hemp seeds are in their completely natural form, allowing you to experiment with them as much as desired. Add these tiny snacks into your favorite recipes and dishes, your smoothies in the morning, or even mix them up with pudding for a healthy dessert. The ones available on Amazon qualify for Prime FREE 2-day shipping, and are extremely affordable.

2. All-Natural Dairy Replacement Hemp Milk

Hemp Seed Milk

Hemp milk is like one of the many other available dairy replacements (soy, almond, rice, quinoa, oat milk, etc.), except many have claimed that hemp milk is the healthiest of all non-dairy options due to its high Omega-6 and Omega-3 count. The listing above, produced by Tempt, offers two 32 oz. containers of hemp milk in the flavor vanilla for a reasonable price.

3. Organic Cold-Pressed Hemp Oil

Organic Cold Pressed Hemp Oil

Hemp oil, although having a stronger flavor than hemp seeds, is a healthy addition to any meal. Simply drop a tablespoon of this oil into any dish once a day, and quickly receive the healing benefits of this nutrient-rich crop. This oil is affordable and arrives to your doorstep quickly with Amazon Prime FREE 2-Day shipping.

4. Organic High-Fiber Hemp Protein


With 23 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber per serving, this protein powder makes a wonderful addition to any smoothie. Keep good health or even lose weight with this filling, yet low in calories protein powder, that will provide you will your daily nutritional needs. On Amazon, it’s easy to purchase a 3 pound bag for cheap, and get it shipped quickly.

Final Thoughts on Hemp: Where to Buy and More…

We hope you’ve learned everything you desired to know about hemp within this informative article. Though hemp is classed taxonomically with cannabis, it is crucial to remember that these are very different plants that produce very different effects.

It is our hope that with the passing of new federal legislation, hemp will once again become a staple crop in the USA. Not only can it be used therapeutically and for nutrition purposes, but it is also a very environmentally-friendly crop that has the potential to greatly reduce global pollution.

If you have any additional comments or concerns about what hemp is, how to grow it, or what it’s used for, be sure to leave your thoughts down below!

Interested in more Hemp Products? Check out our complete : 4 Best Selling Hemp Seeds on Amazon | Review