Hemp, also known as Cannabis sativa, is one of the oldest cultivated plants that has been utilized throughout history in various ways, including as a food source and in a wide range of products such as textiles. Hemp has three different cultivated varieties based on its intended use: oil hemp, fiber hemp, and cannabis cultivated for psychoactive purposes. Each variety has different breeding goals. Only the basic appearance traits are common among the different varieties of hemp. For instance, oil hemp varieties bred for food use practically do not contain psychoactive compounds, or cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids and related legislation in Finland
Hemp naturally contains cannabinoids, which are compounds that have medicinal effects on the human body. There are numerous different cannabinoids, but the most important ones are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), and cannabidiol (CBD). Among these compounds, THC is the one with psychoactive properties. THC is classified as a narcotic substance in Finland, and it is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
A less well-known compound found in hemp is hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), a derivative of THC, which has a similar psychoactive effect. The production, import, sale, distribution, and storage of HHC are prohibited in Finland, but its use and possession are not restricted.
Cannabidiol (CBD) does not have any psychoactive effects, but it has been reported to have relaxing effects on the body and to reduce pain and anxiety. Products containing cannabidiol are classified as prescription medicines in Finland, and CBD is often used for medical purposes. Importing a CBD-containing product classified as a medicine requires a prescription.
CBD is commonly used in many cosmetic products, where it may have the potential to soothe and treat the skin. CBD can be extracted from hemp plant stems, leaves, flowers, and buds, or it can be produced synthetically. CBD is often in the form of oil, but it should be distinguished from hemp oil, which is obtained from hemp seeds. CBD-containing cosmetics are subject to pharmaceutical legislation in Finland, like other CBD products.
There are also food products on the market containing CBD, which are classified as novel foods. Novel foods can be used only if they have been granted a novel food authorization. Currently, no CBD product has this authorization. However, it was recently decided that hemp leaf tea does not require a novel food authorization and can be sold freely. Hemp leaf tea contains CBD, but it must not contain THC.
Food-grade hemp does not have psychoactive effects
The oil hemp varieties used for food differ from the so-called recreational cannabis varieties, starting with their different breeding goals. In addition, the oil hemp varieties must comply with regulations set by the EU for industrial hemp cultivation. This means, among other things, that the THC content of these hemp varieties must remain below 0.3 percent. This marginal amount of THC, as well as other cannabinoid compounds, is found only in the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant, so hemp seeds intended for food and feed do not naturally contain these compounds. Due to contamination risks, small amounts of THC may end up in them, but EU legislation sets limits for these amounts, within which oil hemp can be used as food. The maximum allowable THC content is 3.0 mg/kg in dried products made from hemp seeds and 7.5 mg/kg in hemp oil. For example, a THC concentration of 3.0 mg/kg in hemp seeds is one thousandth of the 0.3 percent concentration allowed in hemp plants intended for food use. These concentrations are so small that products made from hemp seeds do not have any psychoactive effects.
Versatile oil hemp ingredients for food use
Oil hemp and products derived from its seeds are true superfoods. Oil hemp’s fatty acid composition is excellent, containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in an optimal ratio for the human body. Oil hemp also complements the selection of plant-based protein sources, as it contains all the essential amino acids for humans. Various products such as hemp oil, hemp flour, and different hemp proteins are made from hemp seeds – you can explore FoodFarm’s oil hemp ingredients here.