When people think of cannabis, most immediately think of marijuana and often overlook marijuana’s close relative: hemp. Compared to marijuana, the complete hemp plant possesses immense utility, and its uses continue to diversify as new products that contain hemp-derived cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (“CBD”), emerge and grow in popularity. Notably, all portions of the hemp plant can be used in some way, including in consumer goods, topicals, foods and beverages, textiles, bioplastics, biofuels, and building materials, to name a few. In addition to its utility, hemp’s sustainability and versatility are also attractive as hemp presents a viable option to combat climate change as hemp is affordable, grows quickly, and can be used as an ingredient for biodegradable and eco-friendly products.
The Parts Of Hemp Plants
The hemp plant breaks down into four general sections – the seed, the roots, the stalk, and the leaves and flowers. Each portion of the hemp plant offers utility; however, the most commonly used portions of the hemp plant are the stalk for fiber and leaves and flowers for extraction of cannabinoids such as CBD, cannabinol (“CBN”), and cannabigerol (“CBG”). There is a variety of hemp types that can be cultivated and each of which can be grown to produce fiber, cannabinoids, or a hybrid of the two. Hemp producers must be mindful of the end utility of the particular harvest to ensure that the cultivated hemp will meet the intended purposes. In addition to ensuring that the end purposes are met, producers must also monitor the market to guard against and pivot in response to fluctuations within the market.
Hemp Roots and Hemp Seeds
Of the four portions of the hemp plant, hemp roots are the least commonly used, and hemp seeds are becoming increasingly popular. Hemp seeds can be used in different forms, particularly hemp seed oil, hemp seed cake, and hemp nut. Hemp seeds contain healthy fats and high amounts of vitamin E, fiber, potassium, iron, and other nutrients. Hemp seeds are also a source of protein as hemp seeds contain amino acids. Each hemp seed variation can be used in cooking and baking, protein powder, cosmetics, animal feed, hemp milk, and even beer. Although not as popular, hemp roots can be converted into organic compost to decompose other organic materials and can then be added to soil to nourish plant growth.
Hemp Stalk, Leaves, and Flowers
Although these particular products are growing in popularity, hemp roots and seeds are not as versatile as the stalks, leaves, and flowers. Hemp stalk, leaves, and flowers contain the plant’s cannabinoid concentrations. Hemp stalk offers extremely diverse uses since hemp fiber and hurd can be used to create a variety of eco-friendly and sustainable products, including, but not limited to, textiles, rope, building materials, organic compost, and paper. These products can disrupt and/or replace existing consumer products that do not offer the same degree.e of sustainability. In particular, hemp textiles and building materials are becoming an extremely attractive and popular choice to replace traditional materials. Optimistically, consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable materials and products to drive supply; however, the infrastructure necessary to replace traditional materials with hemp to scale is currently lacking and must be improved to meet demand.
Beyond hemp stalk, the leaves and flowers offer the most presently sought-after component of the hemp plant: its cannabinoids. Processors must extract cannabinoids from the hemp plant and then infuse the extracted oils and/or isolates into various finished goods. The extracted cannabinoids vary in form: full-spectrum extract, broad-spectrum extract, or isolates. Full-spectrum extract contains all components of the plant, including its cannabinoids, terpenes, and other naturally occurring components. Importantly, full-spectrum extract contains tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) and must contain less than 0.3% THC to meet the definition of hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill. Alternatively, broad-spectrum extract contains cannabinoids, terpenes, and other naturally existing components; however, broad-spectrum extract does not contain THC and presents an attractive option for manufacturers to infuse into “THC-free” consumer products. Isolate is the purest of the three forms and is not in oil form, but a powder. Unlike full and broad-spectrum extracts, isolate is the purest and highest concentration of CBD, typically 98%+ pure. The variations of hemp extract can each be infused into dietary supplements, beverages, foods, cosmetics, and topicals, each of which presents varying characteristics and uses.
Any and all production of hemp extract and products that contain hemp-derived ingredients must be compliant hemp products. That is, all hemp produced must contain less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. Finished products must also contain less than 0.3% THC. Additional regulatory requirements are imposed by the Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) and the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) to protect consumers from risky and mislabeled products. The FDA and FTC impose these regulatory standards upon any consumer product; however, hemp products are subjected to increased scrutiny given the lack of scientific knowledge to support the safety and efficacy of these products.
Here at the Hoban Law Group, we possess the expertise to assist you in developing, packaging, marketing, and selling hemp and finished hemp products. We understand the requirements of compliant products under existing laws and regulations and encourage you to contact our office to schedule a consultation to discuss your unique needs.