In 2014, I founded New Frontier Data, an analytics and business intelligence reporting group dedicated to the global cannabis industry, after more than 20 years in finance, industry analytics, intelligence reporting and emerging markets. As such, I have had the privilege of following hemp’s emergence and evolution. Half a decade later, this robust, environmentally friendly, low -cost-to-produce plant has become one of the most diversely applied and globally significant natural resources in the world. Here is a look at its applications across several mature industries:
There are also other difficulties in researching the effects of cannabis. Many people who smoke cannabis also smoke tobacco. This causes confounding factors, where questions arise as to whether the tobacco, the cannabis, or both that have caused a cancer. Another difficulty researchers have is in recruiting people who smoke cannabis into studies. Because cannabis is an illegal drug in many countries, people may be reluctant to take part in research, and if they do agree to take part, they may not say how much cannabis they actually smoke.
The objectivity of scientific evaluation of the medicinal value of marijuana to date has been questioned. In the words of Hirst et al. (1998): “The ...status of cannabis has made modern clinical research almost impossible. This is primarily because of the legal, ethical and bureaucratic difficulties in conducting trials with patients. Additionally, the general attitude towards cannabis, in which it is seen only as a drug of abuse and addiction, has not helped.” In a recent editorial, the respected journal Nature (2001) stated: “Governments, including the US federal government, have until recently refused to sanction the medical use of marijuana, and have also done what they can to prevent its clinical testing. They have defended their inaction by claiming that either step would signal to the public a softening of the so-called ‘war on drugs.’... The pharmacology of cannabinoids is a valid field of scientific investigation. Pharmacologists have the tools and the methodologies to realize its considerable potential, provided the political climate permits them to do so.” Given these current demands for research on medicinal marijuana, it will be necessary to produce crops of drug types of C. sativa.
CBD Oil, derived from agricultural hemp, has been widely recognized for its many benefits on human health. It has grown in popularity amongst the medical community as a key supplement for maintaining homeostasis. Because CBD oil has the ability to talk to nearly every organ system in the body via the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) this plant-based nutrient plays a key role in optimizing balance and enhancing quality of life.
In Western Europe, the cultivation of hemp was not legally banned by the 1930s, but the commercial cultivation stopped by then, due to decreased demand compared to increasingly popular artificial fibers. Speculation about the potential for commercial cultivation of hemp in large quantities has been criticized due to successful competition from other fibers for many products. The world production of hemp fiber fell from over 300,000 metric tons 1961 to about 75,000 metric tons in the early 1990s and has after that been stable at that level.
Finally, the entire marijuana flower structure is coated with resinous crystals called trichomes. Trichomes are translucent, mushroom-like glands that form on the entire flowering structure and even the stems of the marijuana plant. These bulb-shaped glands secrete the rich, aromatic essential oils that give cannabis its smells and flavors. Trichomes also contain cannabinoids.
The most pressing need of the hemp industry in North America is for the breeding of more productive oilseed cultivars. At present, mainly European cultivars are available, of which very few are suitable for specialized oilseed production. More importantly, hempseed oil is not competitive, except in the novelty niche market, with the popular food oils. As argued above, to be competitive, hemp should produce approximately 2 t/ha; at present 1 t/ha is considered average to good production. Doubling the productive capacity of a conventional crop would normally be considered impossible, but it needs to be understood just how little hemp has been developed as an oilseed. There may not even be extant land races of the kind of hemp oilseed strains that were once grown in Russia, so that except for a very few very recent oilseed cultivars, there has been virtually no breeding of oilseed hemp. Contrarily, hemp has been selected for fiber to the point that some breeders consider its productivity in this respect has already been maximized. Fiber strains have been selected for low seed production, so that most hemp germplasm has certainly not been selected for oilseed characteristics. By contrast, drug varieties have been selected for very high yield of flowers, and accordingly produce very high yield of seeds. Drug varieties have been observed to produce more than a kilogram of seed per plant, so that a target yield of several tonnes per hectare is conceivable (Watson and Clarke 1997). Of course, the high THC in drug cultivars makes these a difficult source of germplasm. However, wild plants of C. sativa have naturally undergone selection for high seed productivity, and are a particularly important potential source of breeding germplasm.
Industrial hemp is a versatile agricultural plant which could one day be a valuable crop option for Pennsylvania farmers. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has taken some important steps toward making that a reality. Following Governor Wolf’s signing of the Industrial Hemp Research Act, Number 92 in 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program started issuing permits for research & growth of industrial hemp in 2017. Pennsylvania’s industrial hemp legislation was sparked by the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which gave federal permission for institutions of higher education or state Departments of Agriculture to research the cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. As part of Pennsylvania’s Research Pilot Program, industrial hemp was legally grown in the Commonwealth after an 80 years hiatus. The Department of Agriculture has issued 35 research permits in the last two years to institutions of higher education and to farmers, business or individuals in contract with the Department to participate in the research of industrial hemp cultivation and marketing in Pennsylvania. In 2018, 35 research permits were issued to researchers, who cultivated industrial hemp in 25 Pennsylvania counties.
The use of Cannabis as a mind-altering drug has been documented by archaeological finds in prehistoric societies in Eurasia and Africa. The oldest written record of cannabis usage is the Greek historian Herodotus's reference to the central Eurasian Scythians taking cannabis steam baths. His (c. 440 BCE) Histories records, "The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed [presumably, flowers], and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapour as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy." Classical Greeks and Romans were using cannabis, while in the Middle East, use spread throughout the Islamic empire to North Africa. In 1545, cannabis spread to the western hemisphere where Spaniards imported it to Chile for its use as fiber. In North America, cannabis, in the form of hemp, was grown for use in rope, clothing and paper.
Cannabinoids are known to interact with the hepatic cytochrome P450 enzyme system.[3,4] In one study, 24 cancer patients were treated with intravenous irinotecan (600 mg, n = 12) or docetaxel (180 mg, n = 12), followed 3 weeks later by the same drugs concomitant with medicinal Cannabis taken in the form of an herbal tea for 15 consecutive days, starting 12 days before the second treatment. The administration of Cannabis did not significantly influence exposure to and clearance of irinotecan or docetaxel, although the herbal tea route of administration may not reproduce the effects of inhalation or oral ingestion of fat-soluble cannabinoids.
The Gateway Hypothesis states that cannabis use increases the probability of trying "harder" drugs. The hypothesis has been hotly debated as it is regarded by some as the primary rationale for the United States prohibition on cannabis use. A Pew Research Center poll found that political opposition to marijuana use was significantly associated with concerns about health effects and whether legalization would increase marijuana use by children.
The main psychoactive constituent of Cannabis was identified as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In 1986, an isomer of synthetic delta-9-THC in sesame oil was licensed and approved for the treatment of chemotherapy -associated nausea and vomiting under the generic name dronabinol. Clinical trials determined that dronabinol was as effective as or better than other antiemetic agents available at the time. Dronabinol was also studied for its ability to stimulate weight gain in patients with AIDS in the late 1980s. Thus, the indications were expanded to include treatment of anorexia associated with human immunodeficiency virus infection in 1992. Clinical trial results showed no statistically significant weight gain, although patients reported an improvement in appetite.[9,10] Another important cannabinoid found in Cannabis is CBD. This is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, which is an analog of THC.
Hemp hasn't always been on the wrong side of the authorities. The Puritans brought hemp with them to New England in 1645 and Europeans were growing it even earlier in Chile. George Washington planted hemp as one of several crops at his Mount Vernon estate. However, hemp's popularity waned in America as other plants used for textiles such as cotton and jute became more widely available. The U.S. Navy briefly campaigned for more hemp farming during World War II to supply ropes for ships. But the federal government continued restrictions on hemp after the war.
A 100-gram portion of hulled hemp seeds supplies 586 calories. They contain 5% water, 5% carbohydrates, 49% total fat, and 31% protein. Hemp seeds are notable in providing 64% of the Daily Value (DV) of protein per 100-gram serving. Hemp seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber (20% DV), B vitamins, and the dietary minerals manganese (362% DV), phosphorus (236% DV), magnesium (197% DV), zinc (104% DV), and iron (61% DV). About 73% of the energy in hempseed is in the form of fats and essential fatty acids, mainly polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic, oleic, and alpha-linolenic acids.