The American hemp industry sells $450 million a year of product from hemp-oil to Wave Tribe surf gear. Yet most of the raw material used to produce these products is still illegal to grow in the United States.
I didn’t know that either, and in 2007 when I took a surf trip to Mexico with six surf mutants pulling a trailer with seventeen surfboards, fifteen wetsuits and three cases of Sierra Nevada, I had no idea that I’d be starting an eco revolution in the surf industry.
Hemp plants grown to produce oil or fiber are of the same species as cannabis grown for marijuana, BUT their genetics and the way they are cultivated are as different as a whale and a dolphin. Cannabis plants grown for marijuana are bred for high THC and given enough space to branch out so they can produce buds.
Cannabis plants grown for hemp have much lower THC and are packed densely—typically 35 to 50 per square foot—the hemp stalks are the most valuable part because this is where the fiber and oils are extracted.