A look into the various uses for hemp. Marty Pearl/Louisville Courier Journal
So we’ll weed out the myths. And, uh, clear the fog.
Even if you smoke it, gulp its peppermint oil and munch on nutty hemp heart seeds and chocolate hemp bark until your belly aches, you’re not gonna binge your way to a buzz. Ever.
You can throw a party with hemp-laced brownies, but the most your guests can hope for is an extra dose of protein and omega 3’s. Or maybe a more restful sleep.
Hemp and marijuana are often confused. That’s because they’re “kissing cousins,” said Brent Burchett, head of value-added plant production for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
Both come from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa. They have the same pointy leaves and pungent smell. The key difference can’t be seen.
Industrial hemp grown in the United States since 2014 must limit the level of mood-altering Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol — a psychoactive compound better known as THC — to 0.3. That amount is minuscule. Even ridiculous, according to some hemp advocates who are pushing to increase the legal amount.
Pot is much stronger. How much? Marijuana on the streets today has an average of 42 times more THC, according to drugs seized by federal agents last year and analyzed for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Today’s pot is much more potent than what was available decades ago. The average pot seized by law enforcement in 1995 had about 4 percent THC. Even that was 13 times the current legal amount in hemp.
What hemp does offer is powerful cannabidiol oil, better known as CBD, extracted from the flower of the plant. For years, pain sufferers have touted its power to ease headaches, arthritis and other pain and inflammation. New research shows it has even lessened violent and potentially deadly seizures in children with a severe form of epilepsy.
Some farmers even allow cows to graze on the plant. Since the amount of THC is small, you won’t get high from hemp products with CBD oil, including sprays, pills, jams and jellies.
But taking CBD can cause you to fail a drug screening if it simply tests “positive or negative” for the chemical and doesn’t measure the amount. So you might want to take a doctor’s note to your employer.
So go ahead and drizzle your salad with hemp-seed oil dressing, chomp on a hemp burger and guzzle a hemp beer. You can snack on hemp products until the hemp-fed cows come home — without getting high.