Hemp Products in US Supermarkets

Govcery Cart in Supermarket
Photo by: Makistock/Shutterstock

US supermarkets from Kroger to Walmart to Whole Foods are increasingly carrying a wider selection of hemp products and supplements. Yet many of us collectively know hemp is grown of the same plant as marijuana. Today we will be exploring the relationship hemp products, supermarkets, and a 2014 law, all while examining key differences between hemp and cannabis.

A Confusing Legal Status, To Be Sure

Categorical thinking has placed cannabis into a place of legal consequence for over 80 years, arrested as a narcotic with no medical use by first the US FDA and the DEA following the agency’s creation in the 1970s. Between the 1940s and 2014, US-grown hemp was scarce, with most hemp products only available from imported sources.

Then, in 2014, the Obama Administration signed into law the Agriculture Act of 2014, clarifying the Fed’s position on industrial hemp production, among other things.

The passage of the Agriculture Act of 2014, known as the “Farm Bill,” signaled to state legislatures that the federal government would consider industrial hemp farming, as well as the commercial sales of hemp products produced from such activity, as a different legally defined activity than growing marijuana (aka cannabis sativa L.).

The Farm Bill Renews Interest in US Hemp Production

 

Hemp Seeds Denver

Some marijuana plants are better suited for sunny, hot, and dry environments. Others can be grown in cooler, more seasonally temperate places roiled by humidity. With the introduction of the “Farm Bill,” and more specifically Section 7606, states could authorize hemp farming under the three following conditions:

 

First, only universities and state departments of agriculture may cultivate industrial hemp for limited purposes, such as in agricultural or academic research conducted as a pilot program.

Second, it is required by each state wishing to participate in the creation of industrial hemp products to create a legal pathway for universities and the state department of agriculture to begin such research. This means any research on hemp growing is not fully authorized until the state has passed laws allowing research to be conducted.

To date, 34 US states have passed such laws.

Third, among the comprehensive paperwork which must be submitted, the “Farm Bill” also requires all states with active hemp programs to certify and register each hemp grow site, keeping records throughout.

What Is the Hemp VS Weed Difference?

Lab testing must occur on all hemp and hemp products. This is largely due to another requirement specified in the 2014 “Farm Bill.”

Under the Agriculture Act of 2014, hemp derived from cannabis sativa L. produced legally within a legally registered, state-sanctioned research program must not have more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. This, of course, split the definition of cannabis as acknowledged by the FDA and all other relevant legal or regulatory bodies.

Now defined as “industrial hemp” rather than obtusely lumped with cannabis, the term includes the plant cannabis sativa L. as well as any derivative or part of the plant. This would include seeds, growing or not, used exclusively for industrial purposes.

All hemp would be allowed a tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) concentration of 0.3%, including all isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers of tetrahydrocannabinols.

Commercial Hemp Products Gain Steam

Many of us struggle to fully grasp the differences between cannabis used in hemp products and cannabis used as a medical or recreational substance. Dwelling within the genetics of the cannabis plant, just as humans, animals, and species of all variety, there exist variations adapted or selected for (perhaps through human manipulation) a complex geography and competitive environment.

After all, today there are thousands of varieties of cannabis strains available across the world.

The archaeological record on hemp use among humans comes as our species meandered throughout the world, as far back as 8,000 B.C.

Starting first as hunter-gatherer groups, later developing stone tools, domestication of animals, and, finally, agriculture, research suggests hemp became one of the first human agricultural products, spreading rapidly alongside the development of more stable living communities and a more sedentary, home-bodied lifestyle was chosen.

In time, society would grow, farms would become staples for life, and hemp would remain throughout it all.

An Ancient Herb In The Modern Market

Around the time of Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2,800 B.C., the healing potential of hemp products such as hemp oil was first widely acknowledged by the public. Emperor Shen Nung is cited for creating the Chinese pharmacopeia, an index of medical or therapeutic remedies for specific ailments.

In Buddhist texts dating from 700 A.D., stories of the Buddha (who lived between the 6th and 4th century B.C.) achieving both reliefs from pain and viable nutrition from consuming only one hemp seed per day.

While most of us in society today are not ascetics, practicing deeply focused withdrawal from self-indulgence as the Buddha did, the point is clear: hemp products can pack quite the nutritional punch. As more states have made hemp production and farming legal within their jurisdiction, the need for states to import hemp products from other countries was lessened by local supply.

Additionally, as all state hemp operations under the 2014 “Farm Bill” are required to perform research or tests as a requisite for the program, now more than ever before actual research is being funded towards examining the unique mineral and other nutritionally significant aspects of hemp products.

Bowl of Hemp Seeds
Photo by: sangriana/Shutterstock
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one tablespoon of hemp seeds, for instance, contains the following nutritional punch:

  • Protein: 9.4 grams
  • Fat: 14.5 grams
  • Saturated fat: 1.4 grams
    • Monounsaturated fat: 1.6 grams
    • Polyunsaturated fat: 11.3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 8.6 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 0.4 grams
  • Calcium: 21 mg
  • Iron: 2.38 mg
  • Magnesium: 210 mg
  • Phosphorus: 495 mg
  • Potassium: 360 mg
  • Zinc: 2.9 mg

Hemp products provide a variety of vitamins as well, including folate, vitamins A, B-6, C, D, and E, as well as several essential amino acids. Hemp products often contain large amounts of fatty acids, offering a boost to heart health and brain function.

Cashing In On Health, Sustainability

The benefits of hemp oil, hemp seeds, and a variety of other hemp products have been increasingly spread across the internet as more research is produced and expert opinions are placed in the public domain. The good news is that the combined effect of the research and “Farm Bill” will likely lead more and more supermarkets or big retailers into selling hemp-based products, changing industries from paper to clothing and nutrition.