- an annual,
- herbaceous - denoting or relating to herbs (in the botanical sense),
- usually dioecious - either exclusively male or exclusively female,
- or monoecious - having the stamen (male, pollen-containing anther and filament) and the pistil (female, ovule-bearing) in the same plant (hermaphrodite).
|Cannabis Sativa Botanical Illustration|
John Sowerby 1883
The international definition of hemp was developed by a Canadian researcher, Ernest Small, in 1971. His arbitrary 0.3% THC limit became standard around the world as the official limit for 'legal' hemp, after he published a little-known, but very influential book, The Species Problem in Cannabis. In his book, Small discussed how “there is not any natural point at which the cannabinoid content can be used to distinguish strains of hemp and marijuana,” despite this he continued to “draw an arbitrary line on the continuum of cannabis types and decided that 0.3% THC in a sifted batch of cannabis flowers was the difference between hemp and marijuana” and this continues to add to the controversy and confusion as to what truly constitutes the difference between cannabis and hemp.
Popular Mechanics dubbed hemp “the new billion dollar crop” in 1938, claiming that it “can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to cellophane.” And when World War II demanded the full industrial might of the US, hemp restrictions were temporarily lifted and production reached its peak in 1943 when American farmers grew 150 million pounds of hemp. It was manufactured into shoes, ropes, fire hoses and even parachute webbing for soldiers fighting the war. After 1943, production plummeted and the anti-narcotic regime kicked back into effect.
Hemp or industrial hemp is a Cannabis plant species (Cannabis sativa). Historically, hemp has been used as a source of fibre and oil. Cannabis extracts have also been used in medicine for a variety of ailments. Hemp is different to other varieties of Cannabis sativa, commonly referred to as marijuana. Hemp contains no, or very low levels of THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical associated with the psychoactive properties of marijuana. Hemp is cultivated worldwide, including in Australia and New Zealand (under strict licensing arrangements) and is currently used in Australia as a source of clothing and building products. Hemp seeds contain protein, vitamins and minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp seed food products may provide an alternative dietary source of these nutrients. At present, hemp cannot be used in food in Australia and New Zealand as it is prohibited in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. However, hemp oil has been permitted in NZ since 2002 under the New Zealand Food (Safety) Regulations.
Hemp is used in other countries, including in Europe, Canada and the United States, in a range of foods including health bars, salad oils, non-soy tofu, non-dairy cheeses and as an additive to baked goods. It can also be used as the whole seed, raw or roasted.
But this was the answer to the question of re-legalising hemp for human consumption (January 2015);
Review of Low THC Hemp as a Food. Application 1039 – low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) hemp as a food. The Forum in December 2012 requested FSANZ review its decision. FSANZ has reviewed its decision and re-affirmed its support of variation to the Code. The Forum noted FSANZ found foods derived from seeds of low THC hemp do not present any safety concerns as food and concerns regarding the impact on police THC drug testing fall beyond the remit of FSANZ. The Forum resolved to reject the proposed variation to Standard 1.4.4 (Prohibited and Restricted Plants and Fungi) resulting from Application A1039. Several concerns were raised by Forum Members, including law enforcement issues, particularly from a policing perspective in relation to roadside drug testing, cannabidiol levels as well as the marketing of hemp in food may send a confused message to consumers about the acceptability and safety of cannabis. The Forum agreed further work would be undertaken promptly to consider law enforcement, roadside drug testing and marketing concerns in consultation with relevant Ministers.
Cannabis Sativa Botanical Illustration