Understanding Hemp

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Hemp’s place in society has been the subject of much scrutiny over the past century. The common misconceptions surrounding the relationship between hemp used for industrial purposes and the abuse of the drug marijuana have come about due to both plants belonging to the same plant family, cannabis. This article aims to explain to you why these beliefs are incorrect, and will properly distinguish the two plants.

Firstly, it is important to note that the cannabis family is made up of three distinct types of plant: cannabis indica, cannabis ruderalis, and cannabis sativa. The sativa plant is the focus of this article, known colloquially as €industrial hemp’.

The cannabis family is unique in that it is the only plant species that contains the molecular compounds known as €cannabinoids’. Two of these compounds are known as cannabidiol (or CBD) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly referred to as THC. THC is widely known as the central component of the illicit marijuana drug, and is the psychoactive ingredient central to giving the €high€ feelings the user of this drug desires.

The three members of the cannabis family all contain both THC and CBD, however they are of greatly differing levels. THC’s role in the marijuana drug is to act as the €psychoactive’ and €harmful’ ingredient. Without being overly technical, CBD acts in direct contrast to THC, performing almost completely opposite functions.

The most important fact about these cannabinoids to note is that they are present in all members of the cannabis family. Whilst approximately 90% of these plants have high levels of CBD and low levels of THC (and are thus effectively harmless), it is the other 10% with inverse ratios of these cannabinoids that are considered harmful.
It is the 90% of cannabis plants considered harmless that are very beneficial for commercial use, with potential to boost economic, environmental, and personal health. The low levels of THC in these plants are effectively €blocked’ by the CBD, and smoking these plants that contain around 0.3% THC will not result in any kind of €high’ or harmful effects.

These common misconceptions surrounding the industrial use of hemp has plagued the intentions of those who recognise the versatility of the plant, along with both the economic and environmental benefits that the hemp seed and plant itself has to offer. Not to mention its amazing benefits to our very own health and well being.

By: Adrian Bond

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