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Burgeoning hemp industry faces growing pains

UGA researchers found a high level of inconsistency among hemp and marijuana plants
UGA researchers found a high level of inconsistency among hemp and marijuana plants(UGA)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 7:47 AM EDT
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ATHENS, Ga. (WALB) - When you buy something at the store, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting no matter where you buy it — a Coke is a Coke, Oreos are Oreos — and whether you buy them in Atlanta or Seattle doesn’t really change what you get. Farmers are in a similar position when they choose what to plant, but in the burgeoning field of industrial hemp, it turns out that things are much more complicated.

In a study on genomic and chemical diversity in industrial hemp published in Frontiers in Plant Genetics, 2020 doctoral graduate Matthew Johnson and Associate Professor Jason Wallace found “significant naming and quality-control issues” among industrial hemp varieties available to growers.

Hemp is the same species as marijuana (Cannabis sativa), and the difference is a legal one: Plants with less than 0.3% of the chemical that gives users a “high”— tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — are hemp, and anything over 0.3% THC is marijuana.

Hemp is the same species as marijuana (Cannabis sativa), and the difference is a legal one: Plants with less than 0.3% of the chemical that gives users a “high”— tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — are hemp, and anything over 0.3% THC is marijuana. Hemp has been grown for thousands of years for its fiber and seeds. Now, the biggest money-makers are health food supplements and herbal remedies based on cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical that won’t get you high but that is just one chemical reaction away from THC. That means the relative amounts of these two chemicals is crucial for how profitable — and legal — a farmer’s crop is.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the story from Maria M. Lameiras.

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