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January 23, 2019

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Living the cannabis lifestyle: You don’t have to smoke it to reap the benefits of marijuana and hemp products

marijuana products

Wade Vandervort

Clockwise from top left, a transdermal path, bath bomb, topical relief cream, body lotion and vaporizer pen are all ways to experience marijuana.

Made from the same cannabis sativa plant as many marijuana products, industrial hemp has myriad uses beyond oral consumption. From clothing and shoes to protein powder, lotions and even milk, hemp's uses are widespread. Here are a few common examples of the dozens of cannabis and hemp lifestyle products available:

Hemp beer: Sold in an increasing number of grocery and liquor stores across the U.S., hemp-infused beer is available in a variety of brews. The most popular, New Belgium’s “Hemperor” Hemp Pale Ale, emulates hemp terpene flavors, which are designed to complement the inclusion of hops and hemp seeds in the beer. $8-$12/six pack. Where to find: Lee’s Discount Liquor, Total Wine & More

Hemp animal bedding filler: Absorbent and biodegradable, hemp animal bedding is marketed to reduce odor more efficiently than regular straw or pine animal bedding. Products using hemp flakes also produce less dust than traditional animal bedding. $5/1.7 lb. Where to find: AmericanHempLLC.com

Hemp protein powder: Hemp is a high-quality vegan protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, plus fiber, healthy fats and minerals. “Hemp-tein” is made by grinding pressed hemp seeds and has an earthy, nutty taste often added to shakes or smoothies. $11-$50. Where to find: Trader Joe’s, Amazon, Vitacost.com

Hemp bed sheets: Sheets made from hemp are heavier than regular cotton, linen or silk sheets but are woven for softness and breathability and marketed to be more durable. $75-$200/set. Where to find: Amazon, Etsy, Jungmaven.com, Hemptopia.com

Hemp shoes: As an antimicrobial and soft natural material, hemp makes shoes more durable and comfortable while helping to control odor. $40-$140. Where to find: Amazon, Vans, Toms, Nike, Zappos.com.

Hemp mulch: Makers of hemp-based biodegradable mulch claim the product provides a variety of benefits, including increased moisture levels in soils and reduced garden weed growth. Because of its thick, fibrous composition, hemp mulch decreases evaporation more than its wood-based counterpart. $18-$35 for a 33-pound bag. Where to find: AmericanHempLLC.com, Amazon, ColoradoHempProject.com

Vaporizer pen: Contains Nevada-cultivated THC and CBD in packaging that marries innovation and design. Offered in seven varieties. Available at: MedMen cannabis dispensaries

Body lotion: Anti-aging, antioxidant-rich moisturizing body lotion contains hemp seed oil and CBD with notes of rose, citrus, lily, jasmine and orchid. Available at: MMJ America

Topical relief cream: For inflammation, spasms, bruises, headaches, strains and more. Lightly scented with eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary essential oils. Available at: MedMen cannabis dispensaries

Bath bomb: Hot Mess Kushmetics’ Malibu Mary cannabis infused bath bomb moisturizes users’ skin while releasing 50 mg of CBD into your bath water. Soak for at least 20 minutes. Available at: MMJ America

Transdermal patch: Discreet transdermal patch adheres to your skin for 8-12 hours, providing relief for aches and pains. Available at: MMJ America

The war between hemp and cotton dates back to the 1600s

Some of the early American colonies in Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut and other locations mandated hemp farming and growth as early as 1621 because of the plant’s value in producing textiles, paper and medicines, among other products. It was used for centuries before the United States slowly moved to the cheaper, more easily produced cotton.

Did you know?

Hemp was used in sails of large ships during colonial times. The word canvas comes from the term cannabis.

With the 1858 declaration of U.S. Sen. James Henry Hammond, cotton became “king,” and production increased throughout the next several decades with the use of millions of slaves. Cotton gradually took control of the textile market.

Asia Jade, guide at Las Vegas’ Cannabation Museum in Downtown Las Vegas, gives tours to dozens of daily visitors, explaining the history of marijuana prohibition and its resurgence this past decade.

Hemp was all but eliminated from the U.S. market in 1937 when the U.S. Marihuana (yes, with an “h”) Tax Act was passed, making both marijuana and hemp illegal. According to Jade, the sweeping regulations included the harmless hemp plant in part because of business interests and strong political influence of cotton companies. Even business owners in the construction and automotive industries, who were threatened by hemp’s potential as a motor fuel and building material producer, joined the charge.

But as hemp has re-emerged with state-by-state legalization in the 21st century, its benefits as a more sustainable option have made it popular once again, Jade said.

States on board

Thirty one states, including Nevada, allow for some form of in-state hemp farming and production.

More than 5,000 gallons of water are required to produce enough cotton for one T-shirt and a pair of jeans. Research from the Stockholm Environment Institute found about one-third the amount of water is required to produce that from hemp plants. And while only about 30 percent of the hemp plant is suitable for fiber production, the rest of the plant can be used for CBD extraction and consumable health products, Jade said.

In addition to clothing, hemp fiber can be woven into strong ropes and cables for heavy lifting and pulling, and can even be used for commercial industrial-grade insulation.

Hemp is also being developed as an eco-friendly component of buildings. “Hempcrete,” used for construction and insulation, is 1/20th the compressive strength of residential grade concrete, but is toxin-free, airtight, breathable and resistant to mold and pests. The cement-like mixture composed of hemp hurds—the inner two fibers of hemp that give it a sturdy and woody component—is mixed with lime.

As hemp is grown naturally rather than mined like cement or manufactured like fiberglass, some experts say the plant could have a role in the future of eco-friendly buildings.

“Hemp was our cash crop in the United States for centuries,” Jade said. “And it’s on its way back to being that again.”

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.