We get this question asked consistently… “Is hemp oil illegal?” The oil itself is perfectly legal. Hemp seeds are allowed in commerce if they have been sterilized in some way to prevent germination. This is usually done by subjecting them to heat. At the moment, the Ohio Hempery is importing sterilized seeds from Canada and extracting the oil here, but it hopes to get some sort of exemption from this requirement in order to be able to use the freshest seeds possible in the future.
Obviously, there is a political dimension to the appearance of this product. For many years, Cannabis sativa has been stigmatized as a satanic plant and its cultivation has been prohibited. As an ethnobotanist interested in the relationships between plants and human beings, I have always felt that making plants illegal was stupid, especially when the objects of these actions are supremely useful plants like hemp. The plant is not responsible for human misuse of it.
One of the questions that people are sure to ask about hemp oil is whether it has any psychoactivity. The answer is no. The intoxicating properties of Cannabis sativa reside in a sticky resin produced most abundantly in the flowering tops of female plants before the seeds mature. The main psychoactive compound in this resin is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Strains of hemp grown for oil production have a low resin content to begin with, and by the time the seeds are ready for harvest, resin production has dropped even further. Finally, the seeds must be cleaned and washed before they are pressed. As a result, no THC is found in the final product.
The efforts of the Ohio Hempery and other groups to promote hemp cultivation are part of a campaign to rehabilitate this plant and change society’s view of it. Whether or not you wish to join that campaign, it must seem counterproductive to deny ourselves access to the many benefits that hemp offers. Of those, the gift of an edible oil with superior nutritional and therapeutic properties is one of the most important.
Hemp oil contains 57% linoleic (LA) and 19% linolenic (LNA) acids, in the three-to-one ratio that matches our nutritional needs. These are the essential fatty acids (EFAs)-so called because the body cannot make them and must get them from external sources. The best sources are oils from freshly ground grains and whole seeds, but EFAs are fragile and quickly lost in processing. EFAs are the building blocks of longer chain fats, such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that occur naturally in the fat of cold-water fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, bluefish, herring, and, to a lesser extent, tuna.
Referenced: Dr. Andrew Weil teaches at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, has a private medical practice, and is the author of Natural Health, Natural Medicine.