Industrial Hemp in North America: Production, Politics and Potential

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Industrial Hemp in North America: Production, Politics and Potential

1. This article discusses the movement towards a renewed U.S. hemp industry and touches on the social, economic, and political considerations that are impacting its growth.
2. Historically, hemp a plant that has been cultivated for thousands of years, was primarily grown for its source of fiber.
3. The distinguishing characteristic between industrial hemp and marijuana is the THC content. It is generally accepted that THC content of less than 1 percent will not produce any intoxicating effect, as such the U.S. and Canada have set the threshold at 0.3% THC to define industrial hemp.
4. It is believed that hemp was, quote – first brought to North America in 1606 – unquote, primarily grown for fiber in the U.S. and Canada by European settlers.
5. From 1840 to 1860, hemp farming, quote – thrived in Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois - unquote. After the civil war, Kentucky emerged as the primary grower.
6. The Canadian Opium and Narcotics Act of 1938 effectively ended cultivation of Canadian cannabis. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1938 did not prevent growing the U.S., but it did introduce a requirement of permission from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (USDEA).
7. Both the U.S. and Canada saw an uptick in production during WWII, but laws shortly following the war created a nearly complete prohibition.
8. In 1970, the U.S. introduced the Comprehensive Drub Abuse Prevention and Control Act. The, quote – ACT did create a distinction between marijuana and hemp – unquote, but the USDEA policies treated the two as one.
9. As of 1994 in Canada and 2014 in the U.S. each government was issuing limited licenses allowing for industrial hemp grows for research purposes.
10. Of the, quote – 50,000 uses claimed for hemp products – unquote, there are three primary uses: fiber, oilseed, and pharmaceuticals.
11. Fibers of interest are found in the stalks of hemp. Phloem fibers tend to be longer and more valuable than their xylem relatives which are shorter and more woody.
12. Hemp fiber has many building material uses due to its light weight and renewable nature including hemp-lime concrete, natural fiber insulation, and hemp-lime stucco.
13. Over the recent few years, the hemp fiber market has remained stagnant. Most other natural fiber sources are more economical, and their process chain is better established. Even with widespread legalization it is not likely that hemp fiber demand will grow significantly.
14. Hempseed oil has many uses throughout its 3,000 years of human cultivation: for human consumption, as livestock feed, as lighting oil, in soap making, and in varnish and paint production.
15. Hempseed oil is produced through expeller pressing, n-hexane solvent extraction and supercritical
carbon dioxide extraction.
16. While hempseed oil is not economically competitive with other natural oils for manufacturing or an
edible vegetable oil, its U.S. market has grown significantly in the past few years and is expected to
17. Cannabis produces, quote – well over 100 different cannabinoids, ... a relatively unique class of
terpenophenolic compounds – unquote, including THC, cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabinol, (CBN), and Cannabidiol (CBD). The content of CBDs and THC is typically inversely related between different strains of Cannabis.
18. Cannabidiol (CBD) first isolated in the 1930’s has, quote – anti-anxiety, antipsychotic, and anti- depressant effects – unquote. It has also been shown to have potential as an anti-inflammatory agent.
19. Hemp cultivars bred for seed production have much more potential as a crop source of CBDs than those bred for fiber. CBDs are primarily located in the flowering portion of the plant, flowers which are much more prevalent in seeding varieties.

Source: Cherney J, Small E. Industrial Hemp in North America: Production, Politics and Potential. Agronomy.
2016;6(4):58. doi:10.3390/agronomy6040058.

Review by: SP

Industrial Hemp in North America: Production, Politics and Potential

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