Shelled hemp seeds are becoming a popular dietary supplement because of their high protein content and healthful fatty acids. Hemp seeds come from the same plants, Cannabis sativa or C. indica, that produce marijuana, although the plants are cultivated and processed differently so that hemp seeds contain very low levels of psychoactive cannabinols such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Shelled hemp seeds are generally safe, but some people may experience some undesired side effects.
Hemp is used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products, including rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel. The bast fibers can be used to make textiles that are 100% hemp, but they are commonly blended with other fibers, such as flax, cotton or silk, as well as virgin and recycled polyester, to make woven fabrics for apparel and furnishings. The inner two fibers of the plant are more woody and typically have industrial applications, such as mulch, animal bedding and litter. When oxidized (often erroneously referred to as "drying"), hemp oil from the seeds becomes solid and can be used in the manufacture of oil-based paints, in creams as a moisturizing agent, for cooking, and in plastics. Hemp seeds have been used in bird feed mix as well. A survey in 2003 showed that more than 95% of hemp seed sold in the European Union was used in animal and bird feed.
In the United Kingdom, cultivation licences are issued by the Home Office under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. When grown for nondrug purposes, hemp is referred to as industrial hemp, and a common product is fibre for use in a wide variety of products, as well as the seed for nutritional aspects and for the oil. Feral hemp or ditch weed is usually a naturalized fibre or oilseed strain of Cannabis that has escaped from cultivation and is self-seeding.
Hemp rope was used in the age of sailing ships, though the rope had to be protected by tarring, since hemp rope has a propensity for breaking from rot, as the capillary effect of the rope-woven fibers tended to hold liquid at the interior, while seeming dry from the outside. Tarring was a labor-intensive process, and earned sailors the nickname "Jack Tar". Hemp rope was phased out when manila rope, which does not require tarring, became widely available. Manila is sometimes referred to as Manila hemp, but is not related to hemp; it is abacá, a species of banana.
The process to legalize hemp cultivation began in 2009, when Oregon began approving licenses for industrial hemp. Then, in 2013, after the legalization of marijuana, several farmers in Colorado planted and harvested several acres of hemp, bringing in the first hemp crop in the United States in over half a century. After that, the federal government created a Hemp Farming Pilot Program as a part of the Agricultural Act of 2014. This program allowed institutions of higher education and state agricultural departments to begin growing hemp without the consent of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Hemp production in Kentucky, formerly the United States' leading producer, resumed in 2014. Hemp production in North Carolina resumed in 2017, and in Washington State the same year. By the end of 2017, at least 34 U.S. states had industrial hemp programs. In 2018, New York began taking strides in industrial hemp production, along with hemp research pilot programs at Cornell University, Binghamton University and SUNY Morrisville.
Although hemp and marijuana are members of the same species, Cannabis sativa, they're in effect completely different plants. There are about a dozen varieties of hemp plants that are grown for food, and all of them contain about 0.001 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This means you can eat as much hemp as you want and you'll never have to worry about getting high or failing a drug test. Although certain states have begun to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in the last couple of years, the hemp seeds you can find at your grocery or health food store were likely grown in Canada or China.
In the United States, the public's perception of hemp as marijuana has blocked hemp from becoming a useful crop and product," in spite of its vital importance prior to World War II. Ideally, according to Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the herb should be desiccated and harvested towards the end of flowering. This early cropping reduces the seed yield but improves the fiber yield and quality. In these strains of industrial hemp* the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content would have been very low.
There are no known allergic reactions to hemp seed, but the contact that the seeds may have had with THC-covered plant parts could result in small residues of THC on the seeds. This means that you could possibly experience the feeling of being “high” or under the effect of the psychotropic chemical. This effect of hemp seed is quite rare and isn’t harmful, but it can be an uncomfortable feeling if not anticipated.
Hemp is the common term for a variety of plants in the Cannabis family. This beneficial and versatile plant can be turned into fibers, oil, wax, resin, cloth, fuel, and a wide range of other useful products. Hemp grows all over the world, as it is a very resilient plant which can grow in a variety of environmental conditions. The main concern that people have with edible hemp products, is that it comes from a cannabis plant. However, hemp seeds that are sold for consumption have less than 0.5% THC and are safe to eat.