Myths and Realities
The abstract below is copied in part from Dr.
Dave's Industrial Hemp Archives, Hemp and Marijuana:
Myths & Realities. This is a must-read for
anyone who is wants to learn the facts about industrial
Surely no member of the vegetable kingdom has ever
been more misunderstood than hemp. For too many years,
emotion-not reason-has guided our policy toward this
crop. And nowhere have emotions run hotter than in the
debate over the distinction between industrial hemp
and marijuana. This paper is intended to inform that
debate by offering scientific evidence, so that farmers,
policymakers, manufacturers, and the general public
can distinguish between myth and reality.
Botanically, the genus Cannabis is composed of several
variants. Although there has been a long-standing debate
among taxonomists about how to classify these variants
into species, applied plant breeders generally embrace
a biochemical method to classify variants along utilitarian
lines. Cannabis is the only plant genus that contains
the unique class of molecular compounds called cannabinoids.
Many cannabinoids have been identified, but two preponderate:
THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient of Cannabis,
and CBD, which is an anti-psychoactive ingredient. One
type of Cannabis is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid,
THC, and low in the anti-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD.
This type is popularly known as marijuana. Another type
is high in CBD and low in THC. Variants of this type
are called Industrial Hemp. In the United States, the
debate about the relationship between hemp and marijuana
has been diminished by the dissemination of many statements
that have little scientific support. This report examines
in detail ten of the most pervasive and pernicious of
Myth: United States law has always treated hemp
and marijuana the same.
Reality: The history of federal drug laws clearly
shows that at one time the U.S. government understood
and accepted the distinction between hemp and marijuana.
Myth: Smoking Industrial Hemp gets a person
Reality: The THC levels in Industrial Hemp are
so low that no one could get high from smoking it. Moreover,
hemp contains a relatively high percentage of another
cannabinoid, CBD, that actually blocks the marijuana
high. Hemp, it turns out, is not only not marijuana;
it could be called "anti-marijuana".
Myth: Even though THC levels are low in hemp,
the THC can be extracted and concentrated to produce
a powerful drug.
Reality: Extracting THC from Industrial Hemp
and further refining it to eliminate the preponderance
of CBD would require such an expensive, hazardous, and
time-consuming process that it is extremely unlikely
anyone would ever attempt it, rather than simply obtaining
high-THC marijuana instead.
Myth: Industrial Hemp fields would be used to
hide marijuana plants.
Reality: Industrial Hemp is grown quite differently
from marijuana. Moreover, it is harvested at a different
time than marijuana. Finally, cross-pollination between
hemp plants and marijuana plants would significantly
reduce the potency of the marijuana plant.
Myth: Legalizing hemp while continuing the prohibition
on marijuana would burden local police forces.
Reality: In countries where hemp is grown as
an agricultural crop, the police have experienced no
Myth: Feral hemp must be eradicated because
it can be sold as marijuana.
Reality: Feral hemp, or ditchweed, is a remnant
of the Industrial Hemp once grown on more than 400,000
acres by US farmers. It contains extremely low levels
of THC, as low as .05 percent. It has no drug value,
but does offer important environmental benefits as a
nesting habitat for birds. About 99 percent of the "marijuana"
being eradicated by the federal government-at great
public expense-is this harmless ditchweed. Might it
be that the drug enforcement agencies want to convince
us that ditchweed is marijuana in order to protect their large eradication budgets?
Myth: Those who want to legalize Industrial
Hemp are actually seeking a backdoor way to legalize
Reality: It is true that many of the first hemp
stores were started by Industrial Hemp advocates who
were also in favor of legalizing marijuana. However,
as the hemp industry has matured, it has come to be
dominated by those who see hemp as the agricultural
and industrial crop that it is, and see hemp legalization
as a different issue than marijuana legalization. In
any case, should we oppose a very good idea simply because
some of those who support it also support other ideas
with which we disagree?
Myth: Hemp oil is a source of THC.
Reality: Hemp oil is an increasingly popular
product, used for an expanding variety of purposes.
The washed Industrial Hemp seed contains no THC at all.
The tiny amounts of THC contained in Industrial Hemp
are in the glands of the plant itself. Sometimes, in
the manufacturing process, some THC- and CBD-containing
resin sticks to the seed, resulting in traces of THC
in the oil that is produced. The concentration of these
cannabinoids in the oil is infinitesimal. No one can
get high from using Industrial Hemp oil.
Myth: Legalizing Industrial Hemp would send
the wrong message to children.
Reality: It is the current refusal of the DEA
and ONDCP to distinguish between an agricultural crop
and a drug crop that is sending the wrong message to
Myth: Industrial Hemp is not economically viable,
and should therefore be outlawed.
Reality: The market for Industrial Hemp products
is growing rapidly. But even if it were not, when has
a crop ever been outlawed simply because government
agencies thought it would be unprofitable to grow?
Written by David P. West, Ph.D.
Lead Scientist, Hawaii Industrial Hemp Research Project
Hemp sprouts growing at the Hawaii Industrial
Hemp Research Project
Dr. Dave's entire paper is available with footnotes
by clicking here.
You can also download the PDF version by clicking here. (PDF file 92k)
Used with permission. Thank you, Dr. Dave!