Marijuana, and its closely related cousin, the hemp plant are both variations of the Cannabis plant and provide the raw materials for many industrial uses.  While the industrial uses of marijuana are typically limited to medical and recreational use, variations of the plant are key components used in many different products.

A driving force behind the movement to legalize marijuana and hemp in Florida is the usefulness of the marijuana plant that goes beyond ingestion.  Marijuana and hemp can be used to make twine, fabrics, clothing, paper, paints, varnishes, and even cement blocks.  It is currently illegal to grow Hemp in Florida, but our local industries are able to legally import hemp from our neighbors from the north and south.

The plant has many uses in the construction industry where it is used to create cement blocks, stucco and mortar for building brick structures. In a stroke of genius, some industries have even begun using a product called “hempcrete” to serve as the foundation of buildings.

Industrial Uses of Hemp

Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana

There are a few distinct differences between hemp and marijuana that dictate the industrial uses for each variety.

Marijuana contains a higher concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that gives the plant its psychoactive properties.  For this reason, marijuana is typically viewed only as a drug whereas hemp is seen as a raw material more suited for industrial usage.

The hemp plant is used for the production of rope, soaps and skin care products and in some foods such as protein powder and nutrition bars.  The hemp variety has been used throughout history.  Early on, the Cannabis plant was used as anesthesia that Chinese surgeons used on their patients to alleviate pain during surgery.

While hemp is more often associated with industrial uses due to its abundance of fiber, oil and malleable properties, marijuana has many industrial uses in its own right.

Doctors have prescribed marijuana to treat a variety of diseases and medical conditions.  It has been used to treat muscle spasms, nausea induced by chemotherapy, seizures, Chron’s disease, and even weight loss derived from chronic illness.

Legal Issues Relating to the Industrial Use of Marijuana in Florida

Growing, selling, and using marijuana is illegal in the state of Florida and most other states in the United States.  However, many states allow the production of hemp for industrial purposes.

In February of 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law, the 2014 Agricultural Act.  The act makes it legal, under Federal law, for state agricultural departments and universities to grow and research the industrial properties of hemp without the threat of penalty.  The law only applies to states where growing hemp is already legal (California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Washington, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia at the time of this writing).  Many other states have bills in the legislation process that would allow the growth of hemp as well.

However, even if more states pass legislation that allows farmers to grow hemp for industrial purposes, the growth of marijuana will continue to be outlawed.  It does bode well for the likelihood of legalizing the growth of marijuana for industrial purposes in the future.  In theory, every new law allowing the growth, sale or distribution of marijuana or hemp is another step toward legalization.

The Economic Impact of Industrial Uses of Marijuana

The industrial uses of marijuana and hemp make the Cannabis plant a powerful raw material for a variety of uses.  The legalization of marijuana could provide a boost to the economy of the United States and the state of Florida.  If it were legalized, it would increase the tax revenue from the sale for recreational and medical purposes as well as for the sale of products that use the raw materials from the plant.

This article touched on a few industries in Florida that are already taking advantage of the industrial uses of marijuana and hemp.  The use of hempcrete has provided another option for building material to be used in the construction industry in Florida.  The medical use of marijuana in Florida is not currently allowed, doctors in other states are currently using the plant to help patients with treatment and recovery from a number of conditions.