What is Hemp?

Botanically, the genus Cannabis is composed of several variants that have been difficult for taxonomists to classify into species. Applied plant breeders generally use a biochemical method to classify these variants along utilitarian lines. Cannibus it the only genus to contain cannabinoids, of which 40 have been identified. There are 6 main ones:
  • D9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). All cannabis plants contain some D9 THC – industrial hemp contains infinitesimal amounts while dried flower tops (buds) of potent marijuana contain up to 25 percent D9 THC. This is the main ingredient that gets people high.
  • D8 THC. This cannabinoid is found in very low concentrations in cannabis in very low concentrations – too low in most cannabis to get one high.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is also present in almost all varieties of cannabis although the amount varies from a trace to more than 95 percent of all cannabinoids present in a plant. When combined with THC, CBD tends to postpone the beginning of the high, but can make it last twice as long.
  • Cannabinol (CBN). CBN is produced as THC oxidises or degrades. High levels of CBN generally make the user feel disoriented and often sleepy or groggy.
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). THCV is associated with the fragranceof the plant, ie if the marijuana is pungent, it contains THXV.
  • Cannabichromene (CBC). CBC makes up to 20 percent of the cannabinoid in a plant. It is unknown what effect CBC has but it is thought to interact with THC to make the high more intense.

Hemp and marijuana are the same genus and species (Cannabis sativa). They are different cultivars. Hemp is the fibre producing strain while marijuana is the narcotic strain of Cannabis. All cultivars of marijuana and most cultivars of hemp produce cannabinoids but hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC w/w. In theory the ripened seeds of hemp contain no detectable quantity of THC, however because of the nature of the material it is almost impossible to obtain the seeds free from extraneous THC in the form of residues arising from other parts of the plant which are in close proximity to the seeds. Very careful cleaning of the seeds is necessary to ensure all other material is removed.

If the seeds are not cleaned sufficiently there is a risk from the remaining THC and other cannabinoids. THC and many other cannabinoids are fat-soluble ie can be stored in the fatty tissues of the brain and body, and small amounts ingested regularly can be harmful. Fat soluble substances accumulate in the body. THC has a half-life of approximately seven days ie half the THC entering the body stays in the brain and/or body fatty tissue for seven days.