History of Hemp
Welcome to the world of industrial hemp, CBD, and THC. What is it? What does it stand for? What’s in the plant? These answers and more will be revealed in this all telling article about the History of Hemp!
The first uses of hemp dates back to early Asia around 8000 B.C. for the purposes of making pottery and food (seed and oil). Eventually, people used the hemp for making paper, clothes, rope and shoes.
The first recorded medicinal use of hemp dates back to around 2700 B.C. Cannabis was introduced in South America in 1549. While hemp was a required crop for farmers to grow in the US during the 1700’s. This was due to the fact hemp produced 4X more paper per acre than trees.
In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act placed a tax on all cannabis sales (including hemp), heavily discouraging its production. The last commercial hemp field in the US was planted in Wisconsin in 1957.
In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act classified hemp as an illegal Schedule 1 drug, which imposed strict regulations on its cultivation.
In 2004, the Hemp Industries Association vs DEA ruling by the Ninth Circuit District Court permanently protected sales of hemp foods and body care products in the US.
In 2007, the first hemp licenses were granted in North Dakota for the first time in over 50 years.
The 2014 Farm Bill allowed research institutions to start pilot hemp farms. Most recently, the US Senate introduced The Hemp Farming Act in its version of The 2018 Farm Bill. This bill was signed into law in December 2018 and became the most important piece of legislation for the hemp industry in history. It allowed for the removal of hemp from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Schedule 1 classification for controlled substances and paved the way for hemp to be categorized as an agricultural commodity. Hemp is now considered to be legal on a FEDERAL basis nationwide. There are some states that are just now determining their laws with regard to hemp though, which may be in conflict with the federal view.
Difference between marijuana and industrial hemp?
There is much confusion regarding marijuana and industrial hemp. While they are from the same family of cannabis plant, there are some differences.
Strain – Cannabis Sativa or Indica
Contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)
Gives feeling of being “high”
Short bushy plant with broad leaves
Strain – Cannabis Sativa L
Contains not more than 0.3% THC on dry weight
Is the NON-PSYCHOACTIVE cannabinoid
Tall fibrous plant with thin leaves
What is CBD?
CBD stands for Cannabidiol, which is one of 104 cannabinoids that have been identified in hemp or cannabis. CBD is the second most prominent cannabinoid found in cannabis, Δ9-THC being the first. CBD lacks the cannabis-like intoxicating properties of Δ9-THC and, for this reason, has been traditionally considered non-psychoactive.¹
There are 4 formulations of CBD commonly found – isolate, broad spectrum, full spectrum and nano-emulsified. They can be defined as follows:
Isolate – CBD is isolated from other cannabinoids and terpenes (se below) and commonly labeled as being 99 percent or more pure CBD.
Broad Spectrum – CBD, along with additional terpenes and/or cannabinoids, are included to provide additional health benefits, without the presence of THC.
Full Spectrum – CBD, additional terpenes and/or cannabinoids and THC less than .3% of dry weight upon extraction are included. This provides the entourage effect, which is the enhancement of the overall effects of the CBD by any presence of THC.
Nano-Emulsified – CBD molecules are reduced in size to nano-particles and coated with microscopic balls of fat. This helps make the CBD water compatible or tolerable for greater bioavailability/absorption.
Natural compounds of the cannabis plant are also referred to as phytocannabinoids. The National Academies of Sciences’s Health and Medicine Division describes the cannabis sativa plant as having “more than 104 different cannabinoids.” They go on to state that “other compounds identified include terpenoids, flavonoids, nitrogenous compounds, and more common plant molecules”.¹
What does this generally mean? Well, basically that a full spectrum is better than an isolate because you’re getting so many other cannabinoids!
Zerrin Atakan from the Department of Psychosis Studies at King’s College London found that “Cannabidiol (CBD), is the most abundant cannabinoid in hemp.” He also describes how “in the plant, cannabinoids are synthesized and accumulated as cannabinoid acids, but when the herbal product is dried, stored and heated, the acids decarboxylize gradually into their proper forms, such as CBD”.²
A bit overwhelming, I know. Just think of it this way. You don’t get to eat the pizza until you put it in the oven! But, is this true for all cannabinoids? Do they all need to go through this “decarboxylization” process to be “beneficial?” Nope. Sure don’t. Many offer great results in their natural form!
What are some other cannabinoids, you ask? Well, THC is one. The one that gets you “high,” which you learned above. Some other main cannabinoids you’ll see are:
*Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
*Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
Now that you’re an expert, check out the lab results on every product to see what’s inside!
(1) National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 12. 2, Cannabis. Available from: NCBI.
(2) Atakan Z. (2012). Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology, 2(6), 241–254. Available from DOI.