What Is Cannabis Hemp?

The Hemp plant, or as it was called in ancient times, Cannabus, is known for its many uses throughout human history and was common mainly in Central Asia.

Most of the uses of the Hemp plant throughout history focused on fiber and seeds which were produced by this plant. Only in the past two decades has there been an increased demand for CBD (Cannabidiol) and other cannabinoids, which were found to have a number of therapeutic effects.

Industrial Hemp plants are actually Sativa cannabis plants that have been refined and selected in order to increase strong fibers at a high-density creation rate. The plant parts used for industrial purposes nowadays are seeds, fibers, plant material for the ecological building industry and cannabidiol (CBD).

Besides CBD and minor concentrations of other cannabinoids including THC, the hemp plant also contains secondary metabolites such as terpenes and phenolic compounds. The THC content in these plants is less than 0.3%, although several hemp strains contain a relatively high concentration of THC, just like Cannabis. Since industrial hemp genetics were selected for high production yield of fibers, it’s cannabinoids and terpene concentrations are generally low due to the fact that naturally, most of the plant’s energy is directed to fiber and seed production.

In contrast to regular cannabis plants such as Sativa and Indica hybrid strains, where only female plants are cultivated, male and female plants grow together, among other things, in order to produce seeds. High-CBD Hemp plants that are not used for fiber and seed production purposes are used to produce CBD as a raw material for cannabis-based products.

Until 2014, about 80% of global hemp farming was concentrated in China. Most of the hemp in China is genetically modified, and due to not implementing safe and good agriculture practices, in many cases, is often contaminated with heavy metals and pesticide residuals and therefore, for export purposes it is used for CBD isolate manufacturing only.

Since it is considered illegal to grow in the US, most of the cannabis imported to the US comes from European countries. In 2014, during President Obama’s era, the Agriculture Act was modified and it became possible to cultivate hemp in the US, initially in Colorado and Kentucky.

Hemp cultivation for CBD extraction

As the global demand for CBD products increased, a significant improvement in hemp breeding techniques has led to higher quantities of CBD produced per dunam of land.

Unlike the industrial hemp corps used to produce fibers, which are characterized by dense and high plants, most hemp plants used for the production of CBD are less tall and therefore are sowed in less density and quantity to allow ease of access for harvesting and enable sufficient light penetration.

In the US, hemp farmers tend to grow hemp for CBD purposes, in roughly 1000-2000 plants per hectare plots.

The normal CBD concentration in hemp plants is 6-12% in dry weight and in specific strains can even achieve up to 18%.

Hemp harvested flowers should be dried before being used as a plant raw material for CBD extraction.

The hemp plant is very resistant and can grow in various types of soil, but requires airy soil, not saturated with water or acid. Hemp is a short-day plant and should be sowed at low temperatures.

Most of the CBD extracted from hemp is in its acidic form, known as CBDa. Just like cannabis, in relatively “young” hemp plants, CBDa content will be higher than CBD. In order to turn CBDa into the non-acidic form CBD, a high-temperature or intensive light will be required for the decarboxylation process.

The extraction and purification of CBD from hemp can be performed using various extraction methods such as organic solvent extraction, like ethanol, or gaseous extraction such as CO2 extraction. After extracting the CBD oil, it is possible to concentrate and purify it through a number of additional extraction stages. We can also go further and produce >99% CBD isolate crystals by additional cleaning and purification stages such as Winterization and Dewaxing.

For CBD produced using organic solvents, it is necessary to test for residues of solvents in the final product in order to minimize patients and customer’s side effects and health risks.

CBD oils should also be tested for pesticides, heavy metals, and microorganism levels.

Based on the “entourage effect”, consumers tend to prefer whole plant and full spectrum CBD products to pure CBD products.

Production of Hemp-based products

There are not many hemp cultivators that manufacture CBD products by themselves. There are additional companies involved in CBD production and distribution chains such as extraction, formulation, filling and labeling, storage, marketing, and transportation. CBD-based products can range from CBD oil, through to creams, sprays, food, CBD e-liquids, and more.

The total CBD we see in the CBD certificate of analysis includes the CBD and the CBDa, which during heating will become CBD during the decarboxylation process. As part of the decarboxylation process, the carboxylic group is separated from the cannabidiol and the carbon dioxide molecule is emitted and about 12% of mass loss is usually taken into account in the price calculations per gram.

While the CBD mass is the main factor determining CBD products’ prices, the technology used to extract and concentrate the CBD from hemp plant materials is important.  As the CBD concentration in the product is higher, so the price will be higher as well due to additional concentration and purification stages that will be needed.

The advantages of hemp over normal cannabis is that hemp is relatively easy to grow and inexpensive due to the fact it can be cultivated outside. In addition, hemp contains minor THC concentrations and therefore is illegal in many countries. There is no difference between CBD produced from hemp or CBD from Cannabis. Moreover, in hemp, the other parts of the plant can be used for a variety of industrial applications such as fibers, textiles, light construction, and seed cultivation.

About Cannabis GxP consultancy

Cannabis GXP is proud to stand at the forefront of the Cannabis industry in Israel and worldwide thanks to many years of experience in these areas.

Our team is compelled to spread the message of the importance of cannabis science, regulation and standardization as the world enters a new era of cannabis legislation.

We aim to position our clients with their best foot forward when it comes to anything and everything cannabis related.

Our vast expertise allows us to assist companies in a wide range of services and needs: Anything from Cannabis R&D, growing and manufacturing, new products development, facility design, technology, Quality Assurance, Good Practices (GAP/GMP/GLP/GDP/GCP), staff training, local and global regulations.

Cannabis GxP is a subsidiary company of Bio-Chem Ltd. (2007), a consultancy firm for the Pharmaceutical field, medical devices, Cosmetics and food supplements industry based in Israel.

Our cannabis consultancy services include:

  • Product development, delivery system & clinical trials
  • Growing, Manufacturing and Lab Facilities Design
  • Quality Assurance and Good Practices (GxP)
  • Cultivation & Product Manufacturing Technology
  • New product Regulations and Submissions
  • Qualification & Validation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Staff training

If you need one or several of our services, we will be more than happy to assist.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.