Male hemp plants flower much faster than females and do not produce nearly as much fiber. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Hemp produces a broad range of cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the intoxicating cannabinoid in marijuana. However, hemp does not produce enough THC to create intoxicating effects.
There’s the added bonus of increased bioavailability. Through the act of inhalation, your bloodstream absorbs CBD much faster than it would after eating an edible or using a tincture under your tongue. Your body will also have access to a lot more of the CBD in the smoke or vapor when it’s inhaled. When consumed, a CBD edible goes through the digestive tract, and some of the potency is lost in the process.
Many countries differentiate hemp from marijuana by the amount of THC produced by the plant. In the US, industrial hemp is defined as Cannabis sativa L. that does not contain more than 0.3% THC. The European Union has set the limit at 0.2%, while in the UK the limit is zero, unless growers have a cultivation license to grow industrial hemp with no more than 0.2% THC.
Although hemp and marijuana are both classified biologically as cannabis, there are a number of important differences between them. Here we’ll break down the anatomy, history, use, and legality of the hemp plant to get to the heart of not only what distinguishes hemp from marijuana, but also what makes it such a viable, versatile commodity.
Exactly how and when hemp originated in the New World is still highly debated. Though long thought to be introduced to the Americas by Christopher Columbus, hemp has been discovered in Native American civilizations that predate Columbus’ arrival. William Henry Holmes’ “Prehistoric Textile Art of Eastern United States” report from 1896 notes hemp from Native American tribes of the Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley.
The 2014 Agricultural Act, more commonly known as the 2014 Farm Bill, includes section 7606, which allows for universities and state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp, as long as it is cultivated and used for research. Under the 2014 Agricultural act, state departments and universities must also be registered with their state, and defer to state laws and regulations for approval to grow hemp.
Many hemp products come in different forms, including:
Store hemp seeds and hemp oil in an airtight container. Keep these products in a cool, dark place. It is best to refrigerate hemp products after opening.
Cooking hemp seeds or heating the oil to temperatures above 350 degrees F can destroy the healthy fatty acids. Hemp seeds and oil are best eaten raw. If cooking with hemp oil, use low heat.
Can eating hemp cause a person to fail a drug test?
Hemp seeds contain many nutrients, including protein, minerals (such as magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc), and vitamins.
Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, roasted, or cooked with other foods. In China, hempseed oil has been used as food or made into medicine for thousands of years.
Are hemp seeds legal to ingest in the U.S.?
Hemp oil is also rich in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which has been linked to reduced symptoms of PMS. It appears that GLA reduces the effect of the hormone prolactin on the body. Prolactin is often identified as a major cause of the negative symptoms of PMS, especially breast tenderness, irritability, bloating, and depression. Hemp seed oil could be an important tool to help relieve these unpleasant symptoms.
Nutrition Reviews: “Health benefits of dietary fiber.”
Protein is critical for the health of your muscles and organs. Hemp seeds are one of just a few plant foods that are considered “complete” proteins, containing all the essential amino acids. Your body can also absorb hemp seed protein better than many other plant-based proteins. If you choose to follow a plant-based diet, adding hemp seeds to your food is a quick and easy way to get more protein.
The combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in hemp is good for more than just your heart. Early studies suggest that adding hemp seed oil to your diet may help relieve symptoms of eczema. It appears the oil in hemp seeds helps balance the lipids in your blood, reducing skin dryness and itchiness. While more studies need to be done, substituting hemp seed oil for other types of oil in your diet could be a safe and easy way to reduce skin irritation.
Hemp, also known as industrial hemp, can be seen by some people as a controversial plant, but it doesn’t need to be.