In most of the world the male-sexed plant, Cannabis sativa is grown as a source of biomass with a variety of uses.
While the female-sexed plant is well known for its psychoactive effects in Humans, the psychoactive agent in the male-sexed plant is nearly undetectable.
As of 2008, United States Federal statutes forbid the cultivation of any plant in the Cannabis genus for any purpose within the Borders of the United States or her possessions.
As many as thirty different plant species have Cannabis-like characteristics as it relates to cellulose density per unit volume. Like Hemp, these species are actively cultivated in most of the rest of the world, but commercial cultivation is forbidden in the United States despite the absence of psychoactive agents.
These species include: Musa textilis, Agave sisalana, Furcraea gigantea, Phormium tenax, Crotalaria juncea, Corchorus capsularis, Apocynum cannabinum, & Sansevieria cylindrica. Interestingly, the cultivation of Humulus lupulus, a member of the same Cannabaceae family as Cannabis is not forbidden in the United States, presumably because of its usefulness in the brewing process of ales.
Chemical composition of Industrial Hemp as compared to other plant matter
Cellulose Hemi cellulose Lignin
Hemp 64.8 % 7.7% 4.3 %
Wheat Straw 34% 27.6% 18%
Switchgrass 32.5% 26.4% 17.8%
Rice Straw 32.1% 24.0% 12.5%
Corn 28% 28% 11%
Hemp seeds and oil have been part of the human diet in Asia and Europe for at least 5,000 years. In China and in other hemp growing areas in Asia, hemp seeds remain as traditional foods.
Yet, worldwide the currently largest use of hemp seeds is as feed for birds and fish.
In Europe and North America hemp seeds for food were rediscovered in the mid 1990s – concurrently with the reintroduction of hemp as a technical fibre crop. Since then, several studies have confirmed the high nutritional quality of hemp seeds and their products.
Hundreds of such products are now available in stores and on the Internet, annual market growth is consistently more than 15 %. Today, the combined annual hemp seed production in Canada and Europe is more than 20,000 tonnes – and growing.
Clinical studies on actual health benefits from eating hemp foods are still rare.
Yet, their findings and the known nutritional composition of hemp seeds promises various health benefits, as part of a balanced diet.
African Governments can introduce hemp seeds as a modern food staple crop and for the commercial materials made from them: cold pressed oil, shelled seeds (or hemp nuts), flour and protein powder.
By Teacher Baffour