Cannabis, A Brief History

Let’s start with a bit of history about cannabis in general. The genus Humulus belongs to the Family of Cannabaceae, which evolved from the Family of Urticaceae about 34 million years ago. Today in the genus Humulus we find species associated with Hops for beer. The genus Cannabis is believed to have diverged from the genus Humulus about 28 million years ago. Evaluation of fossilized pollen has found high levels of the genus Humulus alongside pollen from the genus Cannabis in China and Taiwan about 20 million years ago. Cannabis was not domesticated until about 12,000 years ago in central Asia. No thought was given as to what family, species, subspecies, etc. these plants belonged to. That systematic, scientific thinking didn’t begin until a more recent time in our history, i.e., 1753 when Linnaeus published his works. People thousands of years ago were only interested in what these plants could be used for, such as for clothing/textiles, food, oil from the seeds, and, at times, the physical/mental altering effects provided from the plant. In China and Tibet, there are texts which indicate the use of the Cannabaceae plants as an anesthetic for medical procedures. The plant was found to be prevalent in India’s culture also and was named ganja and in one of the ancient Sanskrit Vedic poems cannabis was translated to mean the “Science of Charms” for its physical/mental altering affects.

Cannabis Species

Hemp and marijuana are part of the hierarchal genus Cannabis. There are three species in the genus of Cannabis. These are Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. The name for each species can be shortened to C. sativa, C. indica, or C. ruderalis. There are several subspecies for each of these species, such as C. sativa L, referred to as Hemp. The L designation was provided to identify this as a subspecies in honor if Carl Linnaeus. He is considered the “Father of Taxonomy and wrote the manuscript “Systema Naturae” and the corresponding article named “Species Plantarum”. An example of a subspecies for C. indica is C. indica Lam, named for the discoverer Jean-Baptist Lamarck. A subspecies example for C. ruderalis is C. ruderalis Janisch, which was named in honor of Dmitrii Janischewsky, its discoverer. The taxonomic classification of all the varieties of Cannabis plants has been difficult, due to its genetic variability, subspecies, varietals, strains, etc. Due to easy crossbreeding and genetic manipulation all three species, sativa, indica, and ruderalis could be high in THC or CBD or be devoid of cannabinoids altogether. A more simplified way to discriminate between all these variations of Cannabis is by a means of chemotyping. On the basis of cannabinoid profiles, five chemotypes have been recognized. Chemotype I is comprised of plants with a predominance of Δ9-THC. Chemotype II comprises plants with high levels of cannabinoids that are non-psychoactive such as CBD. Chemotypes III and IV are plants containing intermittent level of THC and CBD. They may be useful in the medical and recreational cannabis markets but are not viable for the CBD market due to the level of THC present. Chemotype V is composed of fiber type plants which contains almost no cannabinoids, including CBD or THC. C. sativa L is an example of chemotype V. Both chemotype II and V are classified as Hemp since the level of THC is <0.3% on the dried weight basis. However, only chemotype II would be viable for CBD commercialization.

Chemotypes Explained

C. sativa L is an example of a chemotype 5 plant. Sativa plants grow very tall, about 10 – 18 ft high. Both THC and CBD content in this chemotype are well below 0.01%. This subspecies of sativa is valued for its long fibers called “Bast” fibers and “Hurd”, short fibers. Seed from the plant is used for resowing as well as food supplements, and hemp oil. C. sativa (no L) and C. Indica can be classified as chemotype I plants depending on how they have been modified for their cannabinoid content. To qualify as a chemotype I, the THC content has to be high while the CBD is low. While C. sativa is very tall, C. indica is somewhat shorter, about 6 to 12 feet and bushier. Both C. sativa and C. indica typically are used for medical and recreational cannabis. All the species of in the genus of Cannabis can also labeled as chemotype III and IV depending on their ratio of THC to CBD content. C. ruderalis generally falls into this chemotype III or IV category but is rarely used for the medical field due to its limited content of both THC and CBD. C. ruderalis is short in stature, about 5 – 7 ft high, and somewhat slender. This plant has very short fibers, hurd, and is usually produced to provide seed for resowing, seed and seed-oil for animal and human consumption, short fibers for animal bedding and insulation, as well as other applications. C. ruderalis is also used as a cover crop to inhibit the formation of weeds while fields are laid fallow before the next planting season.

Not All Cannabis Plants Are Equal

So, not all plants of the genus Cannabis are equivalent. There are Cannabis plants that are used for industrial, farming, and commercial applications, while others, are used for the medical applications of CBD and or THC. We mentioned a few minutes ago that the seed from the plants can be used for feed, either animal or human. You might think consuming the seed from the plant may be a good means of taking CBD. Unfortunately, you would be mistaken. All Cannabis seeds share similar properties. They are high in protein, iron, and contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils. While there are some terpenes found in the seed, there are virtually no cannabinoids present. The seeds can be eaten raw, ground into hemp flour, sprouted or made into dried sprout powder. Hemp seeds can also be made into a liquid and used for baking or for beverages such as hemp milk. Hemp oil is cold-pressed from the seed and is high in unsaturated fatty acids. All these factors make hemp seed and hemp oil a valuable commodity. In 2011, the US imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products, mostly driven by growth in the demand for hemp seed and hemp oil for use as ingredients in foods for animal and human consumption.

Hemp Seed Vs Hemp CBD

But here is the important factor to understand. Hemp seed has NO CBD or any other cannabinoid content. And since Hemp “OIL” is produced from Hemp “SEED”, it too does not have cannabinoid content. The seed and oil may have many health benefits when taken or applied but you will not be consuming CBD, and therefore; not obtaining the health benefits that CBD and other cannabinoids offer. Therefore, if you see hemp oil advertised or sold as an equivalent to CBD or containing cannabinoids, be wary. Unless the oil is spiked with CBD, you are not getting any benefits of CBD or other cannabinoids. And if it is listed as present, be sure to understand just how much they have added. Advertising may say CBD or cannabinoids are present in the seed oil and that may actually meet the definition of “Truth in advertising”. However, if the amount is small, then you may be spending a lot of money for the proverbial “snake-skin oil”.

Hemp for CBD vs. Hemp for Seed/Oil/Fibers (CBD A-Z Video Series)

Understanding CBD Labeling YouTube Video

Summary

To summarize, there are three different species in the genus of Cannabis. These include sativa, indica, and ruderalis. There are multiple subspecies and further divisions of varietals that use the term “Sativa”.  All these species can be genetically edited to either be loaded with varying amounts of THC or CBD or to a virtually devoid of any cannabinoids. Trying to keep this all straight using the Kingdom hierarchy has now become too confusing. With gene editing, each of the species could be assigned varying amounts of cannabinoids from virtually zero content to a maximum content comprised solely of THC or CBD and anything in-between. To simplify what we want to know, we need to use the chemotype rating system. Chemotype I plants are Cannabis that contain high levels of THC and low levels of CBD and are used for the medical and recreational marijuana markets. Chemotype II has high CBD and low THC content and is generally used for the CBD commercial, unrestricted market. Chemotype II plants are definitionally identified as “Hemp” since the THC content is less than 0.3% on the dried weight basis. Chemotypes III and IV are those Cannabis that have varying amount of THC and CBD and again are primarily targeted for the medical/recreational marijuana markets. Chemotype V is Cannabis that has virtually no cannabinoids including THC and CBD. These plants are generally used for their fiber and seed. Both Chemotypes II and V are definitively called Hemp since the THC level is less than 0.3%, however; only chemotype II is used for the CBD industry. Chemotypes III and IV could also be called hemp provided the THC levels are less than 0.3%. However, if the THC levels are acceptably low, <0.3%, their use in the CBD industry could still be limited unless the CBD content is greater than about 10%. Otherwise, it would not be economically feasible to use such strains for commercialization. Just not enough profit to be had. It goes without saying that all plants of the genus Cannabis produce seeds. These seeds can be used for animal and human food consumption, used for production of cold-pressed Hemp oils, and a wide variety of other uses but not for cannabinoid-based markets such as CBD or medical/recreational marijuana markets based on THC. Regardless of which chemotype plant chosen, trying to obtain CBD, or any cannabinoid, from the seed is impractical. The cannabinoids are just not there, including THC and CBD. And remember, hemp oil comes from cold-pressed hemp seeds. Do the seeds and oils have health benefits?In my opinion the answer is yes in their own way. But if you want the health benefits provided by CBD, then you need to go to a CBD vendor that is well-regulated and has high quality control standards. American Green is one of those companies that has the desired attributes of regulation and quality. I urge you to look at the American Green product line and talk with a support specialist to see which version of CBD might be right for you.

Article FAQ

What Is Industrial Hemp?

Industrial Hemp is defined as any Cannabis sativa L. (C. sativa L) plant that contains a concentration of less than 0.3% THC on a dried weight basis.
Industrial Hemp, for CBD production, is typically made available from chemotype II plants.
Chemotype II plants contain high levels of cannabinoids that are non-psychoactive.
Both chemotype II and V are classified as Hemp since the level of THC is <0.3% on the dried weight basis.
However, only chemotype II is viable for CBD commercialization.

What Are Chemotypes?

A more simplified way to discriminate between all the variations of Cannabis is by a means of chemotyping. A Chemotype is a chemically distinct entity in a plant.
On the basis of cannabinoid profiles, five chemotypes have been recognized.

Chemotype I is comprised of plants with a predominance of Δ9-THC.

Chemotype II comprises plants with high levels of cannabinoids that are non-psychoactive such as CBD.

Chemotypes III and IV are plants containing intermittent level of THC and CBD. They may be useful in the medical and recreational cannabis markets but are not viable for the CBD market due to the level of THC present.

Chemotype V is composed of fiber type plants which contains almost no cannabinoids, including CBD or THC.

Chemotype II is the only chemotype viable for CBD commercialization

Is Hemp Seed The Same As Hemp CBD?

No, Hemp Seed Oil is derived from cannabis plants in Chemotype V, which are grown for their seed and fibers.
Hemp CBD is derived from cannabis plants in Chemotype II, which contain high levels of cannabinoids like CBD, terpenes and flavonoids, without significant levels of THC.

What Are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids are a complex mixture comprising anthocyanins, Flavan-3-ols, Flavanones, Flavones, Flavanols, Isoflavones, and other categories.
They are responsible for making up the color pigments in plants.
Flavonoids have also been shown to have health boosting benefits independent of either terpenes and or cannabinoids
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Hemp for CBD vs. Hemp for Seed/Oil/Fibers