Essential (volatile) oil in hemp is quite different from hempseed oil. Examples of commercial essential oil product products are shown in Fig. 42. The essential oil is a mixture of volatile compounds, including monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and other terpenoid-like compounds that are manufactured in the same epidermal glands in which the resin of Cannabis is synthesized (Meier and Mediavilla 1998). Yields are very small—about 10 L/ha (Mediavilla and Steinemann 1997), so essential oil of C. sativa is expensive, and today is simply a novelty. Essential oil of different strains varies considerably in odor, and this may have economic importance in imparting a scent to cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, creams, oils, perfumes, and foodstuffs. Switzerland has been a center for the production of essential oil for the commercial market. Narcotic strains tend to be more attractive in odor than fiber strains, and because they produce much higher numbers of flowers than fiber strains, and the (female) floral parts provide most of the essential oil, narcotic strains are naturally adapted to essential oil production. Switzerland has permitted strains with higher THC content to be grown than is allowed in other parts of the world, giving the country an advantage with respect to the essential oil market. However, essential oil in the marketplace has often been produced from low-THC Cannabis, and the THC content of essential oil obtained by steam distillation can be quite low, producing a product satisfying the needs for very low THC levels in food and other commercial goods. The composition of extracted essential oil is quite different from the volatiles released around the fresh plant (particularly limonene and alpha-pinene), so that a pleasant odor of the living plant is not necessarily indicative of a pleasant-smelling essential oil. Essential oil has been produced in Canada by Gen-X Research Inc., Regina. The world market for hemp essential oil is very limited at present, and probably also has limited growth potential.
The genus Cannabis was formerly placed in the nettle (Urticaceae) or mulberry (Moraceae) family, and later, along with the genus Humulus (hops), in a separate family, the hemp family (Cannabaceae sensu stricto). Recent phylogenetic studies based on cpDNA restriction site analysis and gene sequencing strongly suggest that the Cannabaceae sensu stricto arose from within the former family Celtidaceae, and that the two families should be merged to form a single monophyletic family, the Cannabaceae sensu lato.
To illustrate how hemp programs can wither without proper support, she pointed to California, where regulators continue struggling to keep up with rules and infrastructure for the more potent (and popular) marijuana industry, from lab tests to license approvals; the state's hemp operators, meanwhile, are still waiting for their official license application to come out.
The scientific debate regarding taxonomy has had little effect on the terminology in widespread use among cultivators and users of drug-type Cannabis. Cannabis aficionados recognize three distinct types based on such factors as morphology, native range, aroma, and subjective psychoactive characteristics. Sativa is the most widespread variety, which is usually tall, laxly branched, and found in warm lowland regions. Indica designates shorter, bushier plants adapted to cooler climates and highland environments. Ruderalis is the informal name for the short plants that grow wild in Europe and Central Asia.