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Craft Hemp: The Evolution from THC to CBD

Craft Hemp: The Evolution from THC to CBD

The evolution from THC to CBD has been an interesting transition on many levels from a social perspective and understanding to government and medicinal oversight. Craft hemp flower is a type of industrial hemp that is grown to produce high-quality flowers that are rich in cannabinoids and terpenes. Hemp is a very interesting type of cannabis because it naturally produces very low and non-intoxicating amounts of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and large amounts of the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD).

But how did cannabis become craft hemp flower? And what is the difference between regular industrial hemp and industrial hemp that has been bred to be craft hemp flower? To understand this, it helps to know a bit about the history of hemp and cannabis and the many uses for it. 

THC to CBD – Cannabis and Hemp Strain vs Species

There are three different species of cannabis- Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis [5]. These differ in their genetic makeup as well as their specific growth habits and growth morphologies. 

Hemp, for example, is a type of Cannabis sativa. It is the same species as marijuana varieties but has a completely different cannabinoid profile. However, there are no types of hemp in the Cannabis indica species. All C. indica plants are marijuana.

This can be very confusing for people because on top of confusion over species, there are many cannabis strains. Most modern cannabis strains are hybrids. These have parent genetics from both C. indica and C. sativa species of Cannabis. Hemp can also be hybrid, but it can never be an “indica.”

What is a Hemp Strain?

The cannabis plant is very complex, and there is a lot of potential for variation within the three species and among hybrids [5]. Some call these different variations “strains.” The best example to use to understand how strains of the same species can be radically different is that of hemp varieties versus marijuana varieties. 

Although the two varieties are considered to belong to the same species due to the similarity of their genetic makeup, their growth characteristics and cannabinoid profiles show obvious differences. Hemp has less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana has much much more and produces psychoactive effects.

The evolution form THC to CBD has led to thousands of different strains of cannabis and hemp. Some are found in nature, while others have been selected for their specific traits. If you’ve ever bought marijuana, you may have noticed that each type has its own name: Deathstar, OG Kush, Lemon Haze, to name a few. Each strain has a set of different qualities, specifically developed by a breeder.

Why Does Hemp Exist?

Cannabis is best known for its psychoactive effects due to the THC content of the resin produced by its flowers. But THC and the marijuana plants that produce it are illegal in most countries. Hemp is a very old plant though, with a history dating back to ancient China and Egypt [3, 8]. Hemp contains the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD, along with other minor cannabinoids and terpenes. Before cannabis was used for medicine, it was cultivated as hemp for other purposes. In modern times, both old and new uses for hemp have re-emerged:

  • Fibrous hemp stems for the manufacture of textiles and biodiesel
  • Hemp seeds are a rich source of vegetable proteins and fatty acids
  • Craft hemp flowers are rich in cannabinoid compounds such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabichromene (CBC)

The Re-Emergence of Hemp

Shortly after the prohibition of THC and the plants that produce it, it was discovered that certain cannabis species had no psychoactive effects. As these species were researched, the path from THC to CBD saw a shift in oversight and saw them classified in the “hemp” category. To be legally considered US hemp, a variety must produce less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.

Hemp, in some form, is legal in most countries around the world. However, some countries classify it differently as a dietary supplement, pharmaceutical, or unclassified agricultural product. Marijuana, on the other hand, is regarded as a recreational drug, and its culture is extremely restricted. Most CBD supplements on the market are therefore produced from hemp in order to be legally sold as a retail product.

 

Hemp: The Sustainable Plant With Many Uses

Hemp is like a cousin to marijuana. Hemp itself will not work to get anyone “high” but has an incredible amount of uses that span many industries. The shift from THC to CBD began to see hemp become more widely cultivated and easy to access. But, because of bad information and unclear regulation, hemp and CBD products remain contentious. The uses that could be made of them are so numerous that it is not possible to list them all. Here are just some of the uses and supposed benefits of hemp. 

Craft Hemp as a Home Remedy

Unlike the industrial hemp grown for fiber and stem production, craft hemp flower is grown for the purpose of harvesting the cannabinoid-rich flowers of the plant. Hemp owes its beneficial health properties to the cannabinoid compounds it contains [5]. These are mainly CBD (in large quantities), other minor cannabinoids, and non-cannabinoid compounds like terpenes.

Unlike other industrial hemp, craft hemp flower is not ideal for uses like making paper, plastic, fabric, or for hemp seed (for food). Craft hemp flower can be smoked, used in a dry herb vape, or extracted for use in CBD products. Using craft hemp flower does not get you high. Some users do feel that certain strains help them feel more calm or energized, or promote balance and homeostasis.

The quality of craft hemp flower depends a lot on the strain and how it is cultivated. Craft hemp products are artisanal and naturally vary from batch to batch. Even two batches of the same craft hemp strain, grown from the same seed, under the same conditions can have different cannabinoid potency and terpene profiles.

When comparing THC to CBD, we know this because all cannabis plants have a highly variable genome. The natural inconsistency of hemp is part of what prevents it from being considered an actual medicine, and is why producers cannot make claims about what it will feel like to smoke craft hemp. Still, some individuals do use craft hemp flower as a type of natural home remedy. 

Hemp Plastics

Generally, to design plastic, the raw material used is a derivative of crude oil (cellulose). We also find a variant of this raw material in plants (cellulose of plant origin). With vegetable cellulose, it is possible to produce resistant and very good quality plastic. Interestingly, hemp is one of the richest plants in cellulose, with a composition of up to 85% (especially in its stems). It is, therefore, an ideal alternative for long-term plastic manufacturing.

Plastic made from hemp (or any other plant containing cellulose) is fully biodegradable. Unlike traditional plastic, it does not pollute the environment. Hemp is also an economical and widely available source for plastic since it can be cultivated easily everywhere and in large quantities (as opposed to petroleum, which is a dry resource).

Some giants in the automotive industry, namely BMW, Ford, and Honda, have already started the industrial use of the hemp raw material. They use it in particular to make plastic components (doors, hoods, etc.) for their vehicles.

Hemp as a Food Supplement

Hemp is highly prized for its nutritional benefits [7]. The hemp seeds, in this case, contain nutrients beneficial in every way for the body. These are mainly:

  • Proteins (mostly essential amino acids)
  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids
  • Vitamins (B1, B2, E)

These different nutrients are useful not only for maintaining vital functions but also for strengthening the metabolism. So much so that some nutritionists may even recommend hemp seeds as a food supplement for their patients. Also, it should be noted that hemp seeds contain soluble fibers that regulate the cholesterol level in the blood.

Consumers should be careful when purchasing hemp oil products. Hemp seed oil does not contain significant amounts of CBD and will not impart any CBD benefits. CBD products are made from the extract of craft hemp flower, not from extracting seed!

How is hemp consumed?

Like any other dietary food, hemp seeds can be consumed in different ways. The most common mode of consumption is using the seeds in their raw form. They are very appetizing and can be crunched as a snack or added to smoothies. Additionally, hemp can also be consumed in the form of:

  • Hemp seed oil (the oil obtained from hemp seeds is not used for cooking, but it can be used to make a homemade vinaigrette or to season an already cooked dish)
  • Hemp butter
  • Hemp milk 
  • Added to drinks (lemonades, teas, beers, syrups)
  • Powders (crushed and refined hemp seeds are very good food supplements)
  • Animal feed
  • Pet supplements

Hemp as a Fabric

Hemp can also be used as a raw material for the textile industry. This is possible thanks to the long fibers very rich in cellulose that the plant contains [8, 9]. These offer vast possibilities for creation. You can make super-strong strings, silky sheets, comforters, and soft, comfortable clothing. The textile produced from hemp is of optimal quality and has nothing to envy to other materials.

The use of hemp in the textile industry is nothing new. Thousands of years ago, hemp fibers were already used to make tents, fabrics, boat sails, and canvases. In the 19th century, hemp was even the most widely used raw material for the textile industry (around 75% of world production at the time).

Hemp is thought to be better than cotton. During hemp prohibition, cotton took over the textile industry. However, when comparing the two plants, hemp seems the most advantageous in many aspects. In particular, it consumes less water. It can grow almost anywhere, even in the harshest conditions (without the use of pesticides). Cotton, on the other hand, is a plant whose cultivation requires abundant water reserves as well as chemicals harmful to ecosystems. Its yield is also minimal, compared to that of hemp. Besides, hemp fibers are much more resistant and longer than those of cotton.

Hemp Biofuel

Another interesting fact about hemp is that it can be turned into fuel, namely biodiesel. Biodiesel can be directly used by conventional diesel engines. Biofuel made from hemp has many advantages. Indeed, it does not produce toxins like gasoline and is very pure. Its combustion also does not produce sulfur dioxide (usually produced by other fuels). It is, therefore, not particularly harmful to humans. 

Also, the environmental impact of hemp production nationally and internationally is extremely low compared to that of fuels produced from petroleum. In the long term, it is a solution that could replace some use of oil on a long-term basis.

It should be noted that most of the engines available on the market today are not originally designed to operate on biodiesel or any other vegetable-based fuel. It is, however, possible to carry out conversion by modifying the feeding device slightly and adding a specific kit to it.

Hemp Paper

Hemp has been used in papermaking since ancient Egypt [2, 8]. Until the 1880s, the vast majority of the paper used in Europe and the Middle East was made from hemp. It was only after its prohibition that it gradually gave way to wood. Compared to wood, the paper obtained from hemp stems is by far the best. This is mainly due to the fact that the composition of a hemp stalk is more conducive to the production of paper than that of wood pulp.

Indeed, the content of lignin (vegetable component preventing the extraction of paper pulp and which must be eliminated during production) of a hemp stalk is very low, unlike a wood chip which can contain up to 35% lignin. The production of hemp paper, therefore, requires much less chemical treatment. In other words, it is less polluting and costs less. In addition, the paper obtained from hemp is much more resistant than that produced from wood pulp. Therefore, it is durable and better resists the wear of time.

Also, from a quantitative point of view, hemp also prevails over trees. Note that it takes around twenty years for a tree to mature and be used to make paper. This is not the case for hemp stems, which ripen in just four months and are ready for use.

Hemp Building Materials

Hemp is a revolutionary plant that can also be used in the construction sector [4]. The stems of hemp plants are made up of fibers and components useful for creating materials whose properties are similar to those of wood, concrete, and plastic.

Technically, all the construction of a house can be made from hemp products, from the foundation to the finish. You can get bricks, plaster, paint, and even floor mats from hemp. It’s very amazing versatility. Some specialists even consider that hemp concrete (material obtained from a mixture of lime and chenevotte), because of its insulation capacity, is an ideal solution to comply with current and future thermal regulations [10].

Due to its current legal status and newness, it may be very expensive to build your house with hemp derivatives. There may also be complications in insuring properties made of hemp.

Hemp Cosmetics and Topicals

The oil extracted from hemp seeds is highly prized for its cosmetic properties [Leizer]. It contains, in particular, mineral salts and nutrients beneficial for the skin and hair.

Among other cosmetic products that can be obtained from hemp oil, there are:

  • Anti-aging creams
  • Anti-acne creams
  • Body ointments and lotions
  • Lips balms
  • Eye creams
  • Haircare products

Hemp cosmetics contain fatty acids and lipids which can increase the shine, volume, and elasticity of the hair and skin. Note that despite the various controversies surrounding hemp, several large cosmetic companies use it in the manufacture of their products. Some companies have even made hemp cosmetics their specialty.

When purchasing hemp cosmetics and topicals, take care to note if it is made with hemp seed oil or with craft hemp oil. Craft hemp CBD extract is also a wonderful cosmetic and topical ingredient. However, if you are looking for CBD benefits, you will not find those in products made with hemp seed oil!

Hemp for Cleaning Contaminated Soil (Bioremediation)

Hemp plants can be used to clean (bioremediate) polluted soils unfit for agriculture. It is a process called bioremediation [1, 6]. Indeed, hemp plants, when present, absorb polluting metals and other substances contaminating the soil through their roots.

These harmful compounds are then gradually degraded by the plant and then are sequestered in the plant material. This purifies the soil and makes it operational again for agriculture. It is this bioremediation technique using hemp that was used to gradually purify the contaminated soil several years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Note that the hemp used in bioremediation should not be consumed, and all hemp must undergo testing to ensure it does not pass on accumulated pollutants to consumers.

Final Thoughts of Craft Hemp Flower

Craft hemp flower has been bred selectively from cannabis. While craft hemp flower for CBD is fairly new, the hemp plant itself is very old. Along with understanding the differences between cannabis vs hemp, CBD vs THC, and hemp seed oil vs CBD oil, it is important to realize that industrial hemp comes in many different strains and has many different uses. Remember though, when comparing THC to CBD, all hemp is Cannabis sativa, there is no such thing as “indica hemp. like marijuana has”.

References

  1. Anderson, T. A., & Coats, J. R. (1994). Bioremediation through rhizosphere technology. In ACS symposium series (USA). American Chemical Society.
  2. Andre, C. M., Hausman, J. F., & Guerriero, G. (2016). Cannabis sativa: the plant of the thousand and one molecules. Frontiers in plant science, 7, 19. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2016.00019 
  3. Clarke, R. C., & Merlin, M. D. (2016). Cannabis domestication, breeding history, present-day genetic diversity, and future prospects. Critical reviews in plant sciences, 35(5-6), 293-327. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07352689.2016.1267498 
  4. de Bruijn, P. B., Jeppsson, K. H., Sandin, K., & Nilsson, C. (2009). Mechanical properties of lime–hemp concrete containing shives and fibres. Biosystems engineering, 103(4), 474-479. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1537511009000543 
  5. Hartsel, J. A., Eades, J., Hickory, B., & Makriyannis, A. (2016). Cannabis sativa and Hemp. In Nutraceuticals (pp. 735-754). Academic Press. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012802147700053X 
  6. Linger, P., Müssig, J., Fischer, H., & Kobert, J. (2002). Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) growing on heavy metal contaminated soil: fibre quality and phytoremediation potential. Industrial Crops and Products, 16(1), 33-42. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926669002000055 
  7. Leizer, C., Ribnicky, D., Poulev, A., Dushenkov, S., & Raskin, I. (2000). The composition of hemp seed oil and its potential as an important source of nutrition. Journal of Nutraceuticals, functional & medical foods, 2(4), 35-53. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J133v02n04_04 
  8. Russo, E. B. (2007). History of cannabis and its preparations in saga, science, and sobriquet. Chemistry & biodiversity, 4(8), 1614-1648. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cbdv.200790144 
  9. Wang, H. M., Postle, R., Kessler, R. W., & Kessler, W. (2003). Removing pectin and lignin during chemical processing of hemp for textile applications. Textile Research Journal, 73(8), 664-669. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/004051750307300802
  10. Wood, B. M., Coles, S. R., Maggs, S., Meredith, J., & Kirwan, K. (2011). Use of lignin as a compatibiliser in hemp/epoxy composites. Composites Science and Technology, 71(16), 1804-1810. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0266353811002107