Hemp is a versatile plant that has been used for centuries to make a variety of commercial and industrial products, including ropes, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulators, and biofuels. Industrial hemp is defined as a non-pharmacological variety of Cannabis sativa with 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or less. THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana. A plant with more than 0.3% THC is still illegal under federal law.
The reintroduction of industrial hemp through state pilot programs has shown the potential of a crop that was last produced commercially in the United States in the 1950s. Industrial hemp, a crop historically cultivated for fiber, seeds, oil and now cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any of its components with a very low concentration of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Clearly distinguishing industrial hemp from marijuana was a fundamental legal step in allowing hemp production to resume in the United States.
Production levels grew rapidly with the entry of new producers into the market. The hemp industry faces several challenges, one of which is the lack of basic data and information on production and the market, essential for making informed decisions. For example, a lack of research on best agronomic practices for hemp or relative profitability with alternative products can lead to risky decision-making. Canada is perhaps the most relevant analogue for the U. S., as its modern hemp industry developed following a legislative and political trajectory similar to that of the United States. Hemp seeds are used as dietary flour, hemp milk, cooking oil and beer, as well as for dietary supplements.
Hemp seed oil is packed with omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, making it a healthier alternative to many other vegetable oils. Hemp production has a long history in Europe and was an important source of canvas and rope for European navies as early as the 18th century. In recent years, most producers in the United States have set out to grow and sell plants for their CBD, although some farmers grow hemp for its grain or fiber. Most of the hemp produced in China is likely to be retained for the domestic market and not exported. Due to various legal and logistical problems, such as lack of appropriate seeds, uncertainty in production methods, and other factors, not all authorized producers planted hemp or planted as many acres as they had authorized. California lawmakers are considering a bill that would harden the definition of “industrial hemp” by requiring hemp extracts found in stores to have a THC concentration of no more than 0.3%.After years of low commodity prices, many farmers were desperate to believe that hemp generated guaranteed revenues.
Hemp has virtually no trace of THC, while marijuana has about 10 percent; some marijuana varieties can have up to 27 percent THC.