Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a botanical class of Cannabis sativa cultivars grown specifically for industrial or medicinal use. It can be used to make a wide range of products. Along with bamboo, hemp is among the fastest growing plants on Earth. It was also one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 50,000 years ago. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, rope, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.
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Although chemotype I cannabis and hemp (types II, III, IV, V) both are Cannabis sativa and contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), they represent distinct cultivar groups, typically with unique phytochemical compositions and uses. Hemp typically has lower concentrations of total THC and may have higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which potentially mitigates the psychoactive effects of THC. The legality of hemp varies widely among countries. Some governments regulate the concentration of THC and permit only hemp that is bred with an especially low THC content into commercial production.
In 2020, the United Nations recommendation to remove hemp, and cannabis in general, from Schedule IV prohibition was successful. But completely removing hemp products containing predominantly cannabidiol and not more than 0.2% of THC from Schedule I was rejected by a majority of votes, meaning that hemp and extracts thereof will remain in some legal ambiguity under the current UN conventions.