Industrial hemp is a botanical class of Cannabis sativa cultivars that are specifically cultivated for industrial or medicinal use. It has been replanted naturally and grown wild in states such as Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and Indiana. Along with bamboo, hemp is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth and was one of the first plants to become usable fiber 50,000 years ago. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items, such as paper, rope, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paints, insulation, biofuels, food and animal feed.
Hemp can also be used as a mop to remove impurities from wastewater. Hemp has been used for centuries to make items ranging from ropes to fabrics and industrial materials. It provides solutions to a variety of problems faced by current construction regulations. During World War II farmers were encouraged to grow hemp as a rope, replacing Manila hemp that was formerly obtained in Japanese-controlled areas.
The Soviet Union was the world's largest producer of hemp from the 1950s to the 1980s. In the early 1990s, industrial hemp agriculture in North America began with the University of Manitoba's Hemp Awareness Committee. Tasmania was the first to initiate modern research on the potential of cannabis. Hemp growth lasts approximately 100 days, a much faster period of time than that of an average tree used for construction.
The innovation of new food and nutraceutical ingredients derived from hemp requires the precise identification and quantification of the main bioactive ingredients and the standardization of products. Hemp seed oil is an ideal candidate for these interventions to increase its nutritional value and benefits. Hemp seed oil has potential as a nutraceutical due to its desired ratio of omega-6 PUFA and omega-3 PUFA and its bioactive CBD. In order to recover the weakened Portuguese naval fleet after the Restoration of Independence in 1640, King John IV placed renewed emphasis on the cultivation of hemp.
Hemp cultivation and production are making a comeback, so care must be taken to conserve genetic diversity to ensure the long-term survival of the crop. The development of standardized processing guidelines for hemp seeds and hemp seed oil will help ensure strict quality control.