In this installment of “Cannabis Crossroads,” we take a closer look at the hemp revolution, and more specifically, academic hemp research. Here Dr. Jiangnan Peng, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Morgan State University, discusses the pioneering efforts in hemp information sharing going on at Morgan State.
In this installment of “Cannabis Crossroads,” we take a closer look at the hemp revolution, and more specifically, academic hemp research. I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Jiangnan Peng, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Morgan State University (MSU). MSU is pioneering efforts in hemp information sharing.
Hemp requires minimal care and grows in most climates, whereas medical cannabis is nurtured in a much more controlled environment. Additionally, hemp applications span from paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, body care products, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, semiconductors, and automobile parts to animal feed. In fact, hemp seeds, bast fibers (fibers that may be stronger than steel), and hurds (soft inner core material) are proposed to have more than 25,000 applications (1).
There seem to be many opinions related to hemp, but almost everybody agrees that hemp has the potential to become a massive market within the next few years. Hemp is vastly different from medical or recreational cannabis in terms of its cultivation and application. Despite these differences, there has been much confusion and many misunderstandings which resulted in hemp being grouped with all cannabis as a Schedule I Drug until the 2018 Farm Bill was introduced and passed.
Can you describe what makes the 2018 Farm Bill and the cultivation of hemp so important to the U.S.?
Dr. Jiangnan Peng: Hemp is a miracle economic plant that can produce a wide variety of products, from textiles and building materials, food and health products to industrial products such as fuel. However, the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act and the 1970 Controlled Substances Act banned the production of hemp in the U.S. The 2018 Farm Bill could unleash a hemp renaissance in the coming years. Some analysts estimate that hemp could grow into a $20 billion industry by 2022. It benefits our farmers and entrepreneurs. It also benefits the public, not only by providing a large number of jobs, but also by producing various new products, which may include construction material made from hemp, cosmetic products containing hemp ingredients, biofuel from hemp, and new medical applications for the treatment of unmet diseases. These products may have significant impact on our daily life. In addition, hemp is an environmentally friendly and sustainable crop.
How important is hemp research, and where do you see research advances in the coming years? Any comments on some of the challenges that we will need to overcome?
Peng: The enormous opportunities in hemp research is in the field of new biomedical application, nutrition, material, and biofuel. The success of hemp renaissance depends on the breakthrough of research in these fields to provide better cost-effective products. In the coming years, new seeds and strains of hemp will be bred to provide better yield in cannabidiol (CBD), oil, protein, fiber, and biomass. Many bioactivities, which may be used for the treatment of diseases or improve health conditions, will be discovered. Technologies to remove or totally block the biosynthesis of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and generate strains totally free of THC will be needed.
Joshua Crossney is the columnist and editor of “Cannabis Crossroads” and a contributing editor to Cannabis Science and Technology magazine. Crossney is also the president and CEO of CSC Events. Direct correspondence to: [email protected]
How to Cite This Article
J Crossney, Cannabis Science and Technology 2(2), 36-37 (2019).