For millennia, hemp has served as a raw material for the manufacture of countless products.
Its legacy can be traced to cultures as diverse as ancient China or the Vikings. These societies were able to appreciate and exploit the notable properties of textiles made from hemp fibers, such as their resistance and heat retention or their ability to absorb moisture.
However, the usefulness of hemp is not limited to the textile world.
Virtually all the components of this plant can be transformed into highly useful products for industry and human consumption, making it a natural resource of singular interest for industrial production.
Despite its versatility, global hemp production and the development of hemp-based products suffered a setback in the 20th century. At the beginning of this century, the United States banned its cultivation to curb marijuana consumption; It was a variety of Cannabis Sativa L., the same species as hemp, but with high levels of the psychotropic cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), European countries and others, including Ecuador, joined this movement.
For almost a century, these restrictions limited and penalized hemp production worldwide.
However, recently, both the United States and several European countries have implemented new laws, seeking to capitalize on the advantages of industrial hemp, as long as its composition does not exceed a certain THC limit. Ecuador has joined this initiative and, since 2020, has regulated and permitted economic activities related to industrial hemp, as long as the THC content, per unit of mass, does not exceed 1%.
This new reality represents a significant opportunity for Ecuador and the different actors interested in the research, production and marketing of hemp-based products. This edition of CONNECT magazine offers the reader an insight into the exciting world of hemp and its various fields of application.
TECHNOLOGICAL TRENDS IN THE SECTOR
Hemp has very varied applications.
According to an expert committee at a US Congressional hearing, it is estimated that there are around 25,000 industrial products
that can incorporate hemp in their manufacturing.
These products are divided into four main categories:
Hemp in Construction and Textiles
Hemp fibers are suitable for the creation of textile and construction products.
These inherit properties such as resistance, absorbency, long-lasting color and the absence of
In the United States, for example, there are companies like Americhanvre that have innovated with their construction solutions with materials generated from
Hemp in Biomass and Sustainable Materials
Compared to its fibrous counterparts, such as cotton, hemp cultivation is
more sustainable and has a lower environmental impact.
Its yield per hectare is also higher.
They are an important source of nutrients;
They contain the highest concentration of healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids among all seeds suitable for human consumption.
For example, companies like Terrasoul Superfoods in the United States sell
hemp seeds in snack form.
Hemp in Medicine
Hemp flowers are rich in non-psychotropic cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol
(CBD), used in a variety of health and wellness products.
The interaction of these cannabinoids with the human nervous system is an intriguing area of research, especially after the discovery of specialized receptors in our body. In Ecuador, companies like Hampi are pioneers in the sale of products made from non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBD.