Man, I'll give you the short version. You can do a Google on "Hemp Plant", without the quotes, and you'll get about a half million results.
Hemp is a plant that has been grown for thousands of years for the making of rope, paper, and about a zillion other things. In it's original form, the marijuana plant was just a very fibrous plant whose fiber was also very strong. It had virtually no THC in it. Through the centuries, the hemp plant has been used for ancient medicines, poultices and brews. It's potency has been purposfully increased through breeding for only the last few decades. The marijuana "hemp" plant has increased in potency 20 fold in just the last 30 years.
OK, that's the short version man.
You can still soak, roll, form and dry marijuana plant stems and make a hell of a tough weave out of them. Way back when, they weaved all kinds of shit out of it. Even some clothing. "Hemp rags" are referred to in literature in regards to the clothing worn by very poor people. To this day, hemp is still used in many countries in the far east for zillions of things. Roman scrolls were made from hemp matts.
OK, I got going again.
Hey, if you go to almost any Oriental store that has "homemade" stuff, you'll find hemp rope used in all kinds of ways right now today.
Personally, I like the version of "hemp" that I'm growing.
It's big. It's bad.
It's Big Bud.
Great weight, great high.
Did I tell you that the Chinese used hemp thread to sew up the wounds of their soldiers?
In some rituals in the far east, hemp wigs are used in ceremonies.
Hey man, let me smoke you hair man. Come on man, just a little.
Hemp belts were very popular among the impoverished.
Dudes pants fell off cause he smoked his belt, man.
OK, I could go on, but I said this was the short story.
It is. Hemp was used for thousands of years, for millions of things.
The main difference between what is classified as hemp and what is know as weed is the THC content. Marijuana is marijuana, but not all strains are created equally. Most hemp has less than 2% THC(If you could smoke that straight, you're a trooper) and weed is pretty much everything stronger. the closest strains to hemp that are still classified as weed are mostly mexican sativa and other central american strains. It's that bud that makes you cough, stones out your body for about 10 minutes and then gives you a wicked headache. You would never smoke hemp but like Stoney said, you can use any marijuana fiber to make clothing, paper, etc. Hemp growth was actually encouraged during world was 1 which is why there is still so much feril hemp growing in the ditches and fields of america today. If you find a hemp plant, you should cut it down so there's no chance it can ruin someone's outdoor crop.
If you really into what hemp can do. There is a manfuacturer of MDF which is Medium Density Fiberboard. It is amde from sawdust from trees and mixed with a formaldihide (embalming fluid). Intead of using Tree sawdust they are using hemp. It could take the place of Particle board and stuff. It is stronger and Hemp is easier/faster to renew than trees. They are alos researching ways to make lumber out of it, which would have a massive impact on building compnents. Imagine and entire house built with hemp which would be stronger than wood. (most pine trees for lumber are using a rapid growth method which make it less dense and structurally not as strong).
I''m going to do some research on it but I heard through NORML that there was an indian tribe some in the midwest I believe that made an ENTIRE house out of hemp and hemp created fibers(including bricks and roofing and even the nails and glue used in framing). And now there is an australian University that is doing the same. Here's a link
The draft of the U.S. Coinstitution was written on hemp paper.
The first U.S. flag (the one sewed by Betsy Ross) was made out of hemp fiber.
The word cannibus has the same root word as canvas, since all the canvas used in sails until the 1800's was made from hemp.
I disagree with the statement that pot has only been bred to increase THC for the last few decades.
People have been making hashish friom marijuana/hemp for hundreds of years at least. But these high potency strains were unknown outside of the middle east until the late 1800's.
Also, in many area's marijuana was eaten rather than smoked.
Our founding father's (like G. Washington) grew hemp, and there are receipe's for using hemp to cook with, which imparted a mild high.
Marijuana is one of mankinds first, and certainly safest, medicines.
My grandma grew up on a farm and they raised hemp. Her dad--my great-grandpa made twine from the stalk, and fed the seeds to the choickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys he raised for food.