Hemp cultivation in Europe dates back hundreds of years, and it is estimated that 25% of the world’s hemp is grown in this region. France alone accounts for 40% production in Europe, and there are twenty additional countries that are known for hemp production in bulk. Over the past few years, the hemp cultivation has boosted, and both the consumers and producers are interested in utilizing these resources.
Over time, Europe has seen a sudden growth in the processing infrastructure, and they have finished a good industry where hemp fibers are produced for industrial applications. Hemp can be utilized in paper and pulp industry and is also used in biocomposites, which are used in the automotive industry and for making insulation material. The fiber extraction processes also make use have several commercial uses such as for animal bedding and in the construction industry as well, especially for insulation.
It is has been observed that the last few years have seen an increase in the overall cultivation, and there has been a growth in the seeds and flowers that are grown in the various regions around Europe. Also, the applications of the hemp components are such that it is highly useful. In a study conducted by the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), it was found that Europe produced 11,500 tonnes of seeds in 2015 and imported around 10000 metric tones from China.
In the earlier decades, the hemp seeds were primarily used as animal feed for fishes and birds. EIHA has estimated that around 60% of this crop is used as human food, and the rest 40% for feeding animals. This particular shift is going to continue in Europe as people become more aware of the application of hemp and the amount of omega fatty acid that it holds. Over the last four years, there has been a sudden increase in the harvest of hemp flowers and leaves for food and medical application, which are basically meant for CBD applications.
With the hemp cultivation kicking in, the CBD sales have also increased in some of the European countries despite of the confusion that is prevailing in the European Food Safety Authority. Most of the countries such as the UK and Italy have stopped enforcing guidelines on the CBD production, whereas some others, such as Austria, Spain, and France, have brought down the CBD sales over the course of time.
You will notice that the CBD products have been widely distributed across Europe – right from the vape stores, tobacco shops as well the supplement in the UK, especially in Barrett and Holland. You can also find the CBD material in the supermarkets, with online retailers, as well as the medical stores. However, there has been a restriction on the use of CBD across various countries, and there is a possibility that it might hamper the growth of the hemp plant in several countries. In areas such as Germany and Romania, it is easy to harvest the plant. Moreover, in areas such as the UK, France, and the Netherlands, it is easy to grow seeds and fibers. In recent times, the production of the hemp seeds has gone down to a significant extent, and it is important to build up an industry that is quite strong and diverse when it comes to the growth of hemp seeds.
As hemp is one of the best sources for CBD, it can be extracted for use in a wide variety of food supplements such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. As you know, CBD is legal cannabis, its market in Europe is targeted towards the medical consumers, and the consumption of the same is meant for those who want to invest in cosmetics, food supplements, and pharmaceuticals. The legal cannabis market is infused with products that are meant for recreation activities. According to recent research, it was found that the European market is going to make around 450 million out of the CBD market, and after that, North America will have a market share of 40%. Europe is surely going to reign in the cannabis market and will have a profound impact on the CBD market. In Switzerland, the sale of CBD is permitted along with the consumption of legal and recreational CBD, which has high THC content. CBD is also available for use in the tobacco shops.
Hemp cultivation in Europe surely has a bright future as more and more people are opting for it due to the multiple benefits that it has to offer and the cure that it provides against a lot of issues.
How can hemp push the European Economy forward?
Industrial hemp can play an important role in the economic revival as the European countries are taking on the economic challenges in the coming years. Citing the huge potential of the European Hemp industry in speeding up the transition towards an environmentally sustainable economy, European Industrial Hemp Association’s (EIHA) hemp strategy emphasizes on hemp’s contribution towards economic sustainability in the rural development.
The economy of the rural areas could be impacted positively, considering the potential for the use of the whole hemp plant. EIHA wants European Union policymakers to see hemp as a potential catalyst for reviving rural areas following the economic downturn.
How could Hemp benefit the Economy?
EIHA, in a manifesto, said the industrial hemp could deliver long-term sustainable growth and create many job opportunities across the European Union rural economies, while the whole world is trying to navigate the road to the revival of the economy.
EIHA believes that the hemp could be Europe’s catalyst for the recovery of the sulking economy. During the hard times, after the pandemic outbreak, industrial hemp has the potential to save the European economy in the rural areas.
As the hemp industry is implementing sustainable approaches towards hemp agriculture and focusing on multiple applications like food and manufactured products, the hemp industry can help the economies of rural areas to recover, according to the EIHA.
The Proposed Manifesto of EIHA
The manifesto by EIHA offers 10 proposals for the European Union policymakers and lawmakers to consider:
- The policies should promote the usage of hemp in animal feeds, manufactured products, and food. Besides, these policies should focus on financing the development of sustainable value chains. The hemp operators should be permitted to register protected destinations of origin, as well as geographical indications.
- The hemp’s contribution to the environment should be recognized, and the hemp used for carbon farming needs to be encouraged. The farmers should be provided with compensation for positive environmental externalities, possibly with a new or existing emission-trading scheme. To leverage the investment, the companies which develop or implement clean products or technologies should be rewarded with incentives.
- The member states of the EU should not apply the drug control legislation to hemp and hemp-derived products as long as the THC content limits are respected. Products derived from hemp are not drugs, and they do not have the potential to relieve pain, nor are they narcotic as they do not have the potential to abuse, create dependence, or misuse.
- The maximum level of THC allowed should be restored to 0.3%. This will allow the hemp industry to align with international standards and start breeding more adaptive varieties to satisfy the farmers’ practices and consumer trends.
- The hemp operators should be allowed to harvest and produce from all parts of the plant, including seeds, leaves, and flowers. They should also be allowed to market any kind of product while maintaining the THC content within limits. The real added value of hemp is the possibility to be used as a whole plant. However, many EU countries are still forbidding the use and marketing of flowers and leaves. By giving the permissions to market the whole plant, plant wastage will be reduced and will help maximize the profitability, resulting in higher income for farmers and operators along the value chain.
- Hemp and its preparations containing naturally-occurring cannabinoid content should not be considered as a novel food. Records show that the hemp flowers, leaves, and hemp extracts that are naturally rich in cannabinoids were consumed widely until 1977. Hemp has been an integral part of the human diet for many years. There is no health-based justification for reducing consumer’s access to hemp products.
- Reasonable guidance values for THC in food and animal feed should be established. The risk evaluation by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) on THC intake through hemp-based foods does not meet scientific standards. The current BfR guidance and EFSA recommendation values for THC in food are unnecessarily strict, outdated, and should be urgently revised based on scientific evaluations. This evaluation will create fair competitive opportunities for the European hemp industry.
- All hemp-derived raw materials must be permitted as an ingredient for cosmetics production. The EU Commission takes some of the hemp-derived products used in cosmetics as falling under narcotic control measures. While hemp is not narcotic, the cosmetic ingredients should be changed accordingly to permit the use of hemp-based products. There is no reason to limit the use of natural cannabinoids in cosmetics while authorizing synthetic cannabidiol. There has been no health risk derived from the use of these ingredients.
- EU should promote and value the use of hemp fiber to produce long and short fibers for textiles. It should favor the establishment of sustainable value chains. European countries have replaced the use of natural fibers with more affordable synthetic fibers during the past few decades. This led to the shutting down of almost all the hemp fiber-processing companies. EU should promote the production of fiber to rebuild the value chain and should avoid delocalization. The transformation of fiber should be incentivized through financial aid, and the hemp operators must be provided with professional training for the same.
- The use of hemp-based building materials, like hempcrete, should be incentivized both in private and public sectors, with clear goals for partial or total substitution of less sustainable alternatives. The EU should impose strict requirements in public procurement and set goals to achieve zero-emission in the EU and national administrations. The operators and consumers should receive economic benefits for using hemp-based sustainable building material alternatives.
The manifesto by EIHA is focused on promoting hemp and hemp-based products to revamp the economy in these challenging times. The manifesto also demands the removal of restrictions and many hemp-friendly measures. This includes limiting the content of THC to 0.3% in seeds, which would allow the farmers to compete with international standard.
All You Need To Know About Import And Export Of Cannabis
Cannabis, due to its ever-growing health benefits, is getting popular. It can be found in various forms in a number of industries. Over the past few years, an immense increase has been registered in the import exports of medical cannabis. Among many countries, the suite of clients related to cannabis is expanding. For this purpose, one needs a thorough, detailed legal advice related to manufacturing, overseas hemp import-export issues, and legal procedure or customs.
Due to cannabis being a drug, the import and export of the products of medical cannabis internationally, including the ones made of low THC cannabis, are highly administered and subject to International Drug Convention.
It requires a legal approval of the national governments of both of the countries that are importing and exporting the products before the shipment can proceed. Some of the countries are lenient about food or nutritional products having cannabis, but it depends on the laws of different countries.
The supply of medicinal cannabis is not really affected, but it requires a legal import export license and permits to export.
There are several products of cannabis that are eligible for export with the license:
- Cannabis resin extracts that are manufactured under Narcotic drugs act 1967 license and permit. But, it is applicable for the one that is not in the form of final dosage.
- In Australia, medicinal cannabis products can be exported under a GMP license.
- Export-only enlisted medicinal cannabis products or products that are registered on the Australian Registered Therapeutic Goods may also be eligible.
How to ship medical cannabis internationally?
Before you start shipping cannabis internationally, here is what must be kept in mind:
- Try to start with countries having developed health departments and strong export authorities. For example, countries like Colombia, South Africa, Lesotho, Jamaica, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands would do great.
- Take a start in countries in which federal laws allow the production of cannabis. There are quite a few countries like Mexico, Switzerland, Luxembourg.
- There are countries that allow medicinal cannabis imports, especially in the E.U.; so, find such countries to trade.
- Acquire cannabis import and export permits and make suitable deals. And always make sure you report all imports and exports to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
For your information, The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is the “independent control body for international drug conventions” of the United Nations (UN). The 1961 Single Convention allows the manufacturing and administering of cannabis for research and medical purposes only, that too under certain conditions. The authorities decide a specific space or area where cannabis can be cultivated and has the exclusive right to import or export cannabis, trade at wholesale, and maintain supply. The countries having businesses related to cannabis have already taken such steps to proceed.
The import export market for medical cannabis is expanding considerably. However, apart from the difficulties regarding permits and other legal issues, there are many other important matters to work through. Especially the quality standards of the product matter a lot.
For that purpose, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) assurance is compulsory to trade medical cannabis. For instance, as such there are no designated standards of regulations between and among countries for medical cannabis quality check. That includes all contents, like adulterants, composition, ingredients, and the levels of toxic residues in the product. That is somehow scary thinking cannabis as a medicine. Supply chain integrity is also an issue.
International trade laws of cannabis
International trade is regulated by UN drug Control treaties (three-core), and notably by international trade and investment law. For instance, The UN drug control treaties like single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (amended later) deal with this subject. Specific UN control treaties make sure the international import export of cannabis restricts to medical and research purposes only. Moreover, they set measures for export import of cannabis, such as schemes for permits and licensing.
To be brief, the treaties provide for some of the following purposes related to cannabis trade or import export:
- The 1961 Convention includes cannabis and cannabis resin as a Schedule IV drug. Further, it restricts the import and export of schedule drugs for research and medical purpose only. This convention also limits the quantity of import of such drugs.
- The 1971 Convention includes THC and its isomers in Schedule II and prohibits the import and export of THC and similar drugs for research.
- The 1988 amendment conclusively requires parties to criminalize imports and exports done in infringement to permitted trade under the above (1961 and 1971) conventions.
Companies that legally supports the import export of cannabis
Lately, with the legalization proceedings in U.S and Canada, this industry has flourished. Companies are now legally trading from Canada to U.S.
The prominent companies that are legally trading medical cannabis are:
- Tilray (TLRY)
- Canopy Growth (CGC)
Hempcrete – A Comprehensive Guide to Hemp Building Material
The construction industry is consuming more than 40% of the total energy and resources across the globe. The construction industry must be moving towards more sustainable practices to face occurring climate changes. For this reason, the industry is stirring away from using building materials that are mined or harvested from the forests.
The industry is switching towards using renewable resources, and hemp is the perfect material that is gaining huge popularity in the construction industry, with a hemp mixture known as hempcrete.
Hempcrete is one of the bio-based building materials that can be used to restore, renovate, or build any kind of building from apartments to houses and from service to public sector buildings, and from listed historical buildings to traditional buildings.
What is Hempcrete?
Hempcrete or hemp-lime is one of the most incredible building materials made from industrial hemp. It is a bio-composite material, which can be used in the construction as an alternative to traditional building materials like concrete.
Hempcrete is made from the balsa wood-like core of the cannabis sativa plant. This material can be mixed with water and lime to form hempcrete. It has high silica content, allowing it to bind well with lime. Hempcrete is a lightweight material and only weighs approximately one-eighth as compared to concrete.
The material is widely used in construction for centuries across Europe. However, hemp is now grown widely by certified commercial growers. The strain of hemp plant contains as low as 0.3% of THC, the psychoactive substance found in cannabis. This is quite a low level when compared to those found in medicinal and hallucinogenic varieties of cannabis (contains 5-10% of THC).
Fully dried hempcrete blocks will float in water. The material is not used as a structural element but as an insulating infill between the frame members. All the load is carried by the internal framing. In Europe, as much as 10-story buildings have been constructed using hempcrete.
While hemp is grown legally in Canada and Europe, it was illegal in the United States for several decades. However, with the gradual liberalization of laws in the country, the hemp production is getting legalized.
How are Hempcrete Blocks manufactured?
Traditionally, the hempcrete blocks were prepared at the site by mixing the raw material and then placing it into the formwork, or by using the equipment. Initially, this process required highly qualified workers.
However, with advancements in technology and an increase in the demand for hempcrete, hempcrete blocks are manufactured at the industry level. The production process of these blocks are divided into three steps:
- Mixing: Hemp shives, water, and lime are mixed to create hempcrete. The raw materials are dosed proportionately and mixed.
- Molding: Hempcrete obtained from the previous step is poured into the blocks of varying widths using a special press.
- Open-air Curing: The frail blocks are placed on an automatic conveyor belt after some time, which takes the blocks to the storage area for open-air drying. Drying is done to add strength and hardness to the hempcrete blocks. Blocks require about 6-10 weeks to get ready for usage. This time duration varies with the width of the block.
Applications of Hempcrete
- As roof and floor insulation
- As plasters
- As internal and external wall insulation
- New buildings
- For insulating old buildings
Benefits of Hempcrete
- Naturally Sourced Material
Hempcrete is completely organic, and the manufacturing doesn’t involve any synthetic component. Moreover, it doesn’t need a huge amount of energy for production, making it a highly environment-friendly material.
On the other hand, traditional building materials such as concrete have a large carbon footprint and are a major cause of concern for the whole planet.
- Low Maintenance
Hempcrete is a very low maintenance material, and it requires little to no caring. Once used in insulation, the material lasts for years and can help protect the structure of the building from various elements in an effective way.
- Structure Strength
The material is substantially dense as compared to traditional insulating materials. Thus, the use of hempcrete can help reinforce the structural capacity of the building. Moreover, the material provides an excellent surface for plaster finishes.
Hemp building material is used extensively for constructing buildings in earthquake-prone areas as the low density of the material renders it resistant to breakage under movement.
- Breathable Walls
Walls made from hempcrete are highly breathable, and it allows the moisture to pass through. It also has low thermal conductivity and wind-resistant properties, which makes it an ideal insulating material.
- Handles Moisture Efficiently
Due to the porous nature of the material, hempcrete can absorb a large amount of moisture without causing damage to the building’s structural integrity. The plant fibers also have a huge amount of internal surface, which also acts as a storage for moisture. Once the conditions are favorable, the material releases the absorbed moisture content.
- Carbon Absorbent
The hemp plant is carbon absorbent, and this property is imparted to hempcrete. For every cubic meter of hempcrete, it sequesters about 100 kilograms of carbon. When compared to the conventional construction materials, this amount is huge, as the conventional materials contribute to carbon emission during the manufacturing process.
- Resistant to Hazards
The most important feature of hemp building material is its resilience to common problems faced by traditional building materials. It is highly resistant to flame, making the material an inherent fireproofing material.
As lime is used in the binding process, the material is also resistant to fungus and possesses antimicrobial properties. This leads to resistance from the formation of mold even in high humidity conditions. The material is also parasite-resistant.
- Excellent Insulating Properties
With its antifungal, moisture absorbent, and antimicrobial properties, the material is a great insulator during both cold and hot climates. The material is perfect to use in areas with extremely high humid climates.
Additionally, it also has outstanding soundproofing properties, making it an ideal material for blocking the external noise.
Hempcrete is an extremely lightweight material. As mentioned earlier, it weighs only one-eighth of that of concrete. Due to its lightweight, the material can be easily transported to greater heights.
- Recyclable and Non-Toxic Material
It is a non-toxic building material and doesn’t percolate any harmful substance into the building structure. Hence, the material doesn’t harm the construction and the inhabitants of the building in any way. Hempcrete is biodegradable, and it can be easily reused.
Due to the multiple benefits of hempcrete over traditional building materials, hempcrete is gaining huge popularity in the construction industry. More and more companies are coming forward to manufacture hempcrete blocks. The material can be used in a wide range of construction projects. The possibilities are endless, and so does the benefits of the material. Hence, it can be one of the best choices available for construction companies in the future.