Hemp, Industrial Hemp, Agricultural Hemp are all common names for a crop that is grown globally for food, fiber and industrial uses. Taxonomically, the crop is classified as Cannabis sativa L. This is where the controversy comes in as Cannabis has been wrongly and broadly characterized in the past century only as marijuana. In fact, Cannabis is a very diverse plant species that includes hundreds of identified varieties. “Marijuana” of course is a slang term for all Cannabis breeds that are legislated as a controlled substance.
It is crucial that people understand the difference within the species, despite apparent similarities among types. The good news is that most people now know there is a difference between hemp and marijuana.
Hemp is a crop that has been grown globally for millennia, principally for fiber and food. It is a field crop, not a horticultural one. Hemp has both male and female plants, as well as plants that have female and male characteristics. It grows best outdoors in well drained, dark, fertile soil, very similar to where corn thrives. The valuable parts includes the stalk, consisting of both long (bast) and short (core) fibers, used for diverse uses such as textiles, rope and twine, advanced composite materials, and hemp cement. The hemp seed is also prized, as it contains protein, dietary fiber and rich omega fatty acid oil. Hemp food products on the market today include cereal, snacks and bars, breads, milk drinks, protein powders and butter. The hemp oil is recognized as a valuable natural ingredient in body care products.
There is no GMO hemp. Hemp is readily adaptable to organic cultivation.
Marijuana is a slang term for cannabis cultivated exclusively for high levels of Tetrahydrocanninbol (THC), the chemical component that makes it desired for recreational and medical use. Breeding and horticultural growing methods have optimized this aspect while ignoring other uses of the plant.
In America today, growing hemp is prohibited, though it is legal to import, manufacture, purchase, and consume. The majority of hemp and hemp seed that is used in North America is grown and processed in Canada. Canada has developed its production rules from the standards developed by the European Union, and has arguably arrived at the highest global regulatory standard.
Here’s how it works north of the Border: Canada requires farmers and processors to acquire an annual license form the federal government, which includes a passing criminal record check. Local, including the RCMP, are looped in to the process, so they know exactly who is growing hemp, how much and where. All planting seed is Certified, so there is a paper trail in place; there is no “common” seed and no seed saving. During the growing season, a farmer has to expect mandatory and spot field inspections and possible testing of his plants. This over-the-board process ensures that the hemp being grown is in fact hemp.
Does hemp have THC? Yes, but not much at all. THC is produced by the plant’s glands and is not an intrinsic part of the fiber or the seed. According to the Canadian and European protocols, the allowed amount of THC is a field grown hemp plant is less than 0.3% (marijuana varieties are much, much higher). After harvest, hemp seed is cleaned of any resin and tested so that it meets federal and commercial standards. Any hemp that enters the market has non-detectable amounts of THC. It is a situation analogous to opium and poppy seeds. To sum up, hemp in modern food products has as much THC as corn and soybeans. It’s as much of a drug as those crops.
After years of education, most people know at this point that hemp will not get you high. And because of the seed controls and laboratory protocols that have been developed, eating hemp products won’t make you fail a drug test. A few years ago, researchers tried to get someone to fail a standard workplace drug test. Subjects were given large amounts of hemp foods to consumer over a period of time, but measurements failed to detect any trace (See Testpledge.org for more). This is good news for consumers who don’t want to worry about trading off their dietary health for job security, and good news for employers, who don’t have to waste resources checking in on their employees. Anyone who says that hemp foods made them fail a drug test is misinformed.
Hemp is an old crop, but it is making a comeback. There is a lot of good in the plant and Global Hemp wants to let you know all about it.