Hempseed oil in a nutshell

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Hempseed oil in a nutshell ( hempseed-oil-a-nutshell )

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Hempseed oil in a nutshell J.C. Callaway Industrial hemp is as a class of non-drug Can- nabis sativa varieties, and hempseed is techni- cally an achene, or nut. Both the seed and hemp’s tall stalk provide significant carbohydrate feed- stocks for a wide variety of industrial purposes in several countries. The oil pressed from hemp- seed, in particular, is a rich source of polyunsat- urated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for human health. These same fatty acids in hempseed oil make it a fine drying oil that is used in the production of paints, varnishes, and other coating materials. Plastic flooring such as linoleum and similar materials have been made from hempseed oil, and other non-food uses of hempseed oil are similar to those of linseed oil (flaxseed oil). Flax, of course, also has a long history as a companion species that parallels hemp in the founding of our civilizations. Unfortunately, when one reads the Latin words Cannabis sativa these days, the !rst thoughts that come to mind may not be of hemp, or its nutritious seed, or useful oil products, or even the durable outer bast (stem) !ber or the cellulose core from the stalk of this old-world plant. These lesser-known features of Cannabis were certainly well known to Carl Linneaus when he assigned its name in 1753. The words “canvas” and “cannabis,” for example, both derive from similar-sounding words in Greek, Latin, and Arabic for the fabric and the plant from which it is made. The second part of the Linnean binomial, sativa, comes from the Latin word sativus, which means “sown” or “cultivated.” Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest cultivated crops, and no other plants can provide such easily available food, oil, !ber, and even medicine. The largest obstacle that currently prevents hemp from fully partic- ipating in modern industrial agriculture is its botanical association with the drug cannabis. In fact, the production of THC (tetrahy- drocannabinol) and other cannabinoids is under genetic control, so it would take an ambitious breeding project to convert a hemp variety into a drug variety, much like converting a dachshund into a Doberman pinscher. In other words, it would be much easier just to start with drug Cannabis seeds, if that were the objective. OUR HISTORIC FOUNDATIONS WERE BUILT ON THE FIBERS OF HEMP Ancient Asian mariners and more recent trans-Atlantic voyagers made good use of sturdy canvas sails made from hemp !ber. Fine linens were once made from both "ax and hemp, as the !bers from the male hemp plants were well known to produce the !nest linens. The oldest known paper from China was made from hemp, and many historical documents have been written and printed on paper made from hemp !bers. Even today, hemp !bers are found in such common products as tea bags, cigarette papers, and other specialty papers as well as paper currency. The connection between Cannabis and its misuse as a drug gained of!cial traction when the US Congress passed the Mari- huana Tax Act on June 14,1937; the Act included no practical exemption for hemp production. By that time, the United States was already importing most of its hempseed and !ber from coun- tries with cheaper labor, and the timber and paper industries in the United States were completely invested in the Kraft process for making newsprint. In 1937, commercial wild bird feed was primar- ily made from hempseed, and hempseed was also pressed for oil used in the manufacture of paints, varnishes, and other coatings. Industrial-scale hemp production mostly continued in the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and China until modern petroleum products slowly began to replace products previously made from hempseed oil and hemp !ber. At least in the days of the USSR, hempseed oil for human consumption was called “black oil,” because of its high chlorophyll content, which was espe- cially used by those who were too poor to afford butter. Hemp- seed appears as an ingredient in many spices and ethnic foods from Eastern Europe, India, and most parts of Asia. A !ne tofu can be easily made from just hempseed, water, and heat. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 had very little impact on the use of marijuana as a narcotic in the United States, if for no other reason than the Act did not penalize the possession or use of hemp, cannabis, or marijuana. It did, though, penalize persons dealing commercially in these products. Thus, the Act effectively brought all industrial hemp production in the United States to a grinding halt by the next year. Subsequently, the United States 130 March 2010 inform

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