Hemp is the fiber and seed part of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, opposed to the flower part of the plant which is “legally considered” marijuana. The fiber and seeds are incredible valuable and is why hemp is often called a “cash crop”. Hemp is a very hearty plant and grows very quickly in very diverse soil conditions. Cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes has been done by many civilizations for over 12,000 years. Industrial hemp was the desired fiber used to manufacture rope, canvas, paper, and clothing until alternative textiles and synthetics for these purposes were discovered. Although China has been the largest hemp producer over the years, other countries such as Australia and Canada are catching up. It has been illegal for anyone to grow hemp in the United States as hemp is illegal under the marijuana prohibition act but Colorado has changed the laws and paved the way for industrial hemp production again in the United States(see hemp history). Now hemp oils, hemp plastics, hemp building materials and many hemp fiber products can be seen and purchased on the market. Hemp is truly an amazing plant with the potential to help “green up” many industries.
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The endocannabinoid system is believed to be centrally involved in the regulation of mood and the extinction of aversive memories. Animal studies have shown CBD to have anxiolytic properties. It was shown in rats that these anxiolytic properties are mediated through unknown mechanisms. Anxiolytic effects of CBD have been shown in several animal models.[53,54]
CBC is another lesser-known yet still crucial cannabinoid in marijuana, especially from a therapeutic perspective. While bereft of the psychoactive quality of THC (and to a lesser extent THCV), CBC is gaining popularity as an anxiety reducer. While research on cannabichromene lags behind others, there’s good reason to continue looking into its potential as a medicine.
Selection for fiber has resulted in strains that have much more bark fiber tissues and much less woody core than encountered in narcotic strains, oilseed strains, and wild plants (Fig. 12). In non-fiber strains of Cannabis, bark can be less than one quarter of the stem tissues (i.e. more than three quarters can be woody core). By contrast, in fiber strains half of the stem tissues can be bark, and more than half of this can be the desirable long primary fibers (de Meijer 1995). Non-fiber strains rarely have as much as 15% fiber in the bark.
THC and its major (inactive) metabolite, THC-COOH, can be measured in blood, urine, hair, oral fluid or sweat using chromatographic techniques as part of a drug use testing program or a forensic investigation of a traffic or other criminal offense. The concentrations obtained from such analyses can often be helpful in distinguishing active use from passive exposure, elapsed time since use, and extent or duration of use. These tests cannot, however, distinguish authorized cannabis smoking for medical purposes from unauthorized recreational smoking. Commercial cannabinoid immunoassays, often employed as the initial screening method when testing physiological specimens for marijuana presence, have different degrees of cross-reactivity with THC and its metabolites. Urine contains predominantly THC-COOH, while hair, oral fluid and sweat contain primarily THC. Blood may contain both substances, with the relative amounts dependent on the recency and extent of usage.
In some areas where cannabis use had been historically tolerated, new restrictions were instituted, such as the closing of cannabis coffee shops near the borders of the Netherlands, and closing of coffee shops near secondary schools in the Netherlands. In Copenhagen, Denmark in 2014, mayor Frank Jensen discussed possibilities for the city to legalize cannabis production and commerce.
In Canada, the methodology used for analyses and sample collection for THC analysis of hemp plantings is standardized (at the Health Canada/Therapeutics Program/Hemp web site at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hpb-dgps/therapeut/htmleng/hemp.html, see “Industrial Hemp Technical Manual” for procedures on sampling plant materials and chemical procedures for determining THC levels). The regulations require that one of the dozen independent laboratories licensed for the purpose conduct the analyses and report the results to Health Canada. Sample collection is also normally carried out by an independent authorized firm. The Canadian system of monitoring THC content has rigidly limited hemp cultivation to cultivars that consistently develop THC levels below 0.3%.
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Of course, the easiest solution, advocates say, is for the federal government to legalize cannabis completely. If cannabis were legalized—the whole plant and all its extracts, no confusing singling-out of specific compounds or anatomical features—then U.S. drug companies would be able to carefully cultivate and research its medicinal properties, and submit their findings to regulatory bodies like the FDA for trials and approval.
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But recent activity in Washington has legislators in every aisle waving banners for hemp. So far, 20 states have stepped up to encourage industrial hemp production.5 On February 7, 2014, the 2013 Farm Bill6 was signed into law, legitimizing industrial hemp as distinct, and authorizing university and State departments of agriculture (where it’s legal) for research or pilot programs. On January 8, 2015, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, S. 134, was introduced in the U.S. Senate.
In the mid 1990s, the EU provided subsidization for hemp cultivation of ca. $1,050/ha. This support was instrumental in developing a hemp industry in western Europe. However, no comparable support is available in North America, and indeed those contemplating entering into hemp cultivation are faced with extraordinary costs and/or requirements in connection with licensing, security, THC analysis, and record keeping. Those involved in value-added processing and distribution are also faced with legal uncertainties and the regular threat of idiosyncratic, indeed irrational actions of various governments. Simply displaying a C. sativa leaf on advertising has led to the threat of criminal charges in the last decade in several G8 countries. Attempting to export or import hemp products among countries is presently a most uncertain activity.
CBD’s potential usefulness in treating certain conditions is yet another argument in favor of legalizing the entire cannabis plant. Removing cannabis from the federal list of Schedule I narcotics that are illegal under the Controlled Substances Act would allow scientists to research its full medical potential and pharmaceutical companies in the United States to develop marijuana-based drugs and submit them for FDA approval. Government-regulated labs could test products like CBD oil to ensure safety and quality. Doctors could prescribe marijuana- based medicines with full knowledge of potential side effects and drug interactions, and without fear of losing their medical licenses or being thrown in jail.