Hemp is awesome. We should all learn more about hemp. We should all eat hemp, wear hemp and sleep in hemp. We should all grow hemp. OK, I might be getting carried away, but hemp is still awesome. The possible applications for this plant are nearly endless and it’s ridiculously sustainable and easy to cultivate.
Australia has had a strong hemp prohibition since the 1920s and the use of this plant has been severely limited as a result. But times are changing, and there are a few savvy entrepreneurs at the forefront of the hemp movement exploring new ways to make old products with natural and sustainable materials.
“Basically it’s impossible to get high off it [hemp], let alone testing positive for a drug test”
Arms catches up with Matt Box, founder and director of Humble Body, a Melbourne-based hemp skincare company, to talk about the wonders of hemp and the ever-growing Oz industry.
Matt’s story is one of discovery, learning and passion. He was studying abroad in the US when he first came into contact with hemp products and started learning about the boundless possibilities of hemp.
“I learned about hemp soap, then I came back [to Oz] and I was at uni and I was super bored so I just started looking up hemp and got crazy passionate about it, and then we started a business with it,” he tells me.
And thus, Humble Body was born. Since then the company has grown to develop a range of hemp skincare products, including body spray, healing oil and lip balm, to name a few.
The reason that hemp is so good skincare is the similarities between hemp and skin oils. “Hemp oils are basically identical to your skin’s oil – they’re the same thing,” says Matt. “There’s a thing called comedogenic rating that rates oils from zero to five – your skin is zero and so is hemp oil.
To put this into perspective, coconut oil that people use as a moisturiser has a rating of three, so it clogs your pores and stuff.”
But it’s not just about skincare or turning a profit. Humble Body is part of a larger movement for natural and sustainable consumption, and Matt tells me Humble was primarily started “just to spread the word about what hemp can do because, you know, it has infinite possibilities.”
One of said possibilities is hemp food products. Hemp is jam-packed with protein, and can provide a lot of the necessary nutrients that we humans thrive on. “Hemp is a superfood so it has all the essential fatty acids that you need,” says Matt. “Omega-3, 6 and 9.
“One hemp seed is 33% protein and that’s like the most out of anything really. It’s the highest amount of protein in a naturally occurring plant.”
Sadly and stupidly, hemp is illegal for consumption in Australia and NZ. Advocates for hemp have been pushing to change this for years, but have met a lot of resistance.
“Since 1998 they’ve been trying to change the law and it usually comes down to things like the roadside drug tests: they [legislators] think that the THC is gonna impact that, but it’s basically impossible because to grow hemp in Australia it has to be below 0.03% [THC]. So basically it’s impossible to get high off it, let alone testing positive for a drug test — there’s more chance of you testing positive for poppy seeds,” says Matt.
There are ways around these laws, like labelling hemp foods as body scrubs and skin products. However, that might not be necessary soon as the laws around hemp food products are set to change in October. Matt is, of course, hugely excited about this, and has big plans.
“I’m actually setting up three separate hemp farms at the moment – one in NSW, one down here in Red Hill, and another in the Dandenongs … It’s really good to grow basil with weed and hemp. You can replace the pine nuts in pesto with hemp seeds. So I’m gonna try to grow some basil and make pesto with hemp seeds.”
Other than that, Humble Body has some new products in the pipeline: a day moisturiser, a night moisturiser and a goat’s milk and lemon myrtle soap. They’re yet to be available in their online store, but will be soon enough.
We really like the work that these guys are doing in bringing to light the many potentials of hemp. There’s still a way to go until Australia recognises the benefits of this plant, but companies like Humble are at the vanguard of the movement trying to make this happen.
Check out their website here, and have a browse of their shop. We’re sure you’ll find something good.