Flower, concentrate, shatter, CBD, CBG, THC, full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, isolate, distillate…
The cannabis industry has become a complex web of laws and businesses. The cannabis plant’s variety of uses lend to the diversity in both ways to consume it and ways to manufacture it.
Leave it to stoners to figure out so many creative ways to use the byproducts of hemp production. For example, the parts of the hemp plant left over after CBD extraction are collected and processed to create hemp biomass.
Hemp and marijuana differ in their THC content—hemp contains less than 1% and marijuana can contain as much as 40%. Hemp biomass contains different amounts of CBD depending on the strain and quality of the source hemp, which means different grades are better for different products.
So come along! We’ll tell you 5 things about hemp and hemp biomass, the ways you can use each, and the impact they could have on the future.
1) Hemp vs. Marijuana
The difference between hemp and marijuana is so hard to define that even state and federal authorities are struggling to form solid laws about it.
Hemp is a close cousin to marijuana which contains a much higher concentration of CBD and little to no THC. There are minor differences in the way marijuana and hemp plants look. Hemp plants have larger leaves, thinner stalks, and taller plants, but the primary difference is the amount of THC they contain.
Without an efficient way to test for THC, crossing state lines can be difficult. Minor differences in the way the two plants look aren’t enough to convince federal or state authorities, so the change in laws across state lines makes the transport of hemp, and thus hemp biomass, complicated.
2) What Is Hemp Biomass?
Hemp biomass is a by-product of cultivated hemp plants. Unlike marijuana, hemp doesn’t contain much THC—the psychoactive chemical that causes people to get high. Because of this, the stalks, leaves, and roots aren’t useful for consumption (unlike THC biomass).
While most chemicals used to make CBD oils and CBD isolate (sometimes called CBD distillate) have been removed from biomass, there are tons of ways to use it!
Hemp is a great source of protein, unsaturated fat (read good fats, like avocados), fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s no secret that the meat industry is very damaging to the environment, so the use of alternative proteins would help reduce the impact of the beef industry specifically.
One of the most compelling reasons for mass legalization (if only for the sake of making hemp production easier) is biomass’s potential use as a fuel. While, yes, it does produce energy when you burn it, it’s also a great candidate for conversion to biofuel.
3) How Can Hemp Biomass Be Used?
Hemp biomass is used for textiles, flooring, beauty products, building materials, and more.
While the production of biofuel itself is still no more eco-friendly than petroleum refining, anything that can turn us away from fossil fuels is a step in the right direction. Hemp could also help the world turn away from deforestation, and decrease the reliance on coal and natural gas.
Since hemp biomass is made of the leftovers from other processes, it helps reduce waste. Hopefully, this will inspire other industries (we’re looking at you food service) to reduce waste in their own processes.
Hemp Biomass Quality Standards
While the standards for hemp aren’t as grueling as the ones for marijuana, there are specific things that qualify hemp biomass grades and usage.
To be able to identify high-quality CBD biomass, you first have to make sure the sample you’re analyzing is a good representation of the batch as a whole (called homogenizing among industry professionals).
It’s easy to identify high-potency strains of marijuana just by looking at them. But when you’re dealing with THC and CBD biomass, you’ll have to inspect much closer to be able to determine how well the buds were trimmed, trichome density, odor, and the composition of the biomass itself.
- Inspecting bud trim: if the buds aren’t leafy and they’re an appropriate size for the strain, you’re golden
- Judging trichome density: trichomes live in the colas which produce cannabinoid and terpene compounds that give hemp and marijuana potency and smell, so the more the merrier
- Odor: if the biomass smells strongly of alfalfa or is hard to recognize as hemp, you’ll want to avoid it
- Composition of biomass: the more buds you see, the more trichomes there are, which means the more potent it will be; more leaves indicate mid-grade, more stems indicate low quality
- Color: hemp should be vividly green, so avoid anything that looks pale or chalky, or feels like hay to the touch
No one is surprised that most standards applied to hemp are also applied to marijuana. Nor is anyone probably surprised at the similarities between flower and biomass standards.
4) Purchasing Hemp Biomass
The methods of purchasing biomass depend on what you’re going to use it for. There are ways to buy wholesale CBD hemp biomass that are secure and efficient, often even online and with delivery. THC biomass is trickier because of the varying laws associated with it across the country.
Hemp biomass is usually purchased wholesale when it’s being used for industrial purposes, like the stuff used for building. Even when it’s for food or textiles biomass is much easier to purchase wholesale. You usually won’t see biomass in dispensaries, as it takes up too much space and doesn’t cost much.
However, hemp biomass is also used extensively for the production of isolate and extracts, such as CBG isolate and CBD isolate.
5) Growing and Harvesting Hemp Biomass
If you’re really interested in growing your own biomass, know it has both its challenges and rewards. There are those who grow it casually to use in CBD edibles or to use as fuel. There are also those who sustain themselves and their families on the growth of hemp and hemp biomass.
Growing hemp biomass is a science and can’t be broken down adequately here, so we’ll focus on the harvesting as an alternative to purchasing it.
To harvest biomass, you’ll need:
- cutting utensils, like shears
- storage location
For CBD biomass, you’ll also need a drying location and processing equipment, and for industrial biomass, you’ll need a retting location and a decorticator.
You’ll need several people as well—2 per acre—to be able to harvest. Once done, you’ll have to process it as well and if you miss out on the harvest season because you didn’t have enough manpower, you may lose moneymaking plants.
Hemp Biomass for the Good of the Future
No one can deny that biomass is a great way to use the byproducts of hemp and marijuana production. With the advances in processing, hemp biomass is a material of the future. It’s highly sustainable and renewable and can be used for a variety of things.
If learning about biomass has made you curious about the other ways humans are improving the planet for future generations, head on over to our other pages like education, technology, games, and software!