Law No. 242 of December 2, 2016, enacted provisions for the promotion of hemp cultivation and agro-industrial supply chain. This law applies to cultivation for industrial use and Cannabis light. We discuss it in this article on our blog.
Historical background on Cannabis
Cannabis cultivation has ancient origins. In ancient times, it was used, mainly, in medicine, textiles, in the preparation of oils, but also for recreational purposes. The first certain information on theuse of cannabis in medicine dates back to China 2,000 years ago; here it was used to treat a great many ailments, particularly those related to stomach problems. At the same time, in India, it was considered a sacred plant and, therefore, used during religious ceremonies. According to some studies, it was imported to Europe by nomadic tribes from the Middle East, probably on the Silk Road, around the 5th century B.C. Over the centuries it was used in a variety of fields, ranging from liquor production, Muslim origins, to oils and ropes. In the early 1900s, and with the advent of Prohibition, the use and consumption of cannabis was banned, before regaining new vigor and impetus from the mid-1990s onward to the liberalization of the present day.
The effects of Law 242/16
Law No. 242 of December 2, 2016, kicked off the cultivation of hemp in Italy for fiber production or other industrial uses with seeds certified according to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry. The varieties of hemp that can be cultivated are those listed in the Common Catalogue of Varieties of Agricultural Plant Species. As for the possible uses of the product resulting from cultivation, Article 2(2) of the law specifies that hemp can be obtained from:
- foods and cosmetics;
- semi-finished products, such as fiber, hemp, powders, wood chips, fuel oil, for supplies to industries and handicrafts in various sectors, including the energy sector;
- Material intended for green manure practice;
- organic material intended for bioengineering work or useful products for green building;
- Material aimed at phytodepuration for the remediation of polluted sites;
- crops dedicated to educational and demonstration activities as well as research by public or private institutions;
- Crops intended for floriculture.
Hemp for industrial use
The uses of hemp in industry have found several outlets. Its fiber, for example, is very similar to that of flax, thus, there is growing interest in it from the textile industry. Not only that, the food industry has also begun to look with interest at its properties, because hemp seeds contain high levels of protein and significant amounts of fiber, vitamins, Omega-3 and minerals. As a result, hulled, they can be used in our diet, while whole they are used as animal feed.
Given the potential of hemp in the Green Deal, the construction industry, seeking construction practices and materials that are carbon-neutral, is also making extensive use of hemp-based products, three in particular:
- Hemp concrete;
- lime (LHC);
- Hemp wool and wood fiber insulation.
The same has been done by the paper industry, which uses hemp fiber because its stalks take only up to five months to mature and do not require toxic bleaching chemicals, moreover, and hemp paper can be recycled seven to eight times.
As a substitute for plastics, products derived from this plant are used in various industries such as automotive, railways, aviation and aerospace. Other uses include cosmetics (oils, lotions, shampoos, etc.) and energy production (biofuels).
Law No. 242, Dec. 2, 2016, in Article 4, Paragraph 5, sets a bar for the sale of light cannabis in Italy. The sale is allowed for cannabis that has THC (the active ingredients that generate psychotropic effects) between 0.2 percent and 0.6 percent. But light cannabis is also used for the benefits brought by cannabidiol (CBD), an important, non-intoxicating compound it contains. CBD use has been shown to be beneficial in multiple states of neurodegenerative impairment (Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's diseases), neuroinflammatory (sepsis-induced encephalopathy), and neurological disorders (ischemic brain damage). Cannabidiol also can treat some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, including cognitive deficits (learning and memory disorders). Further studies have shown that light cannabis use may also be useful for complex problems such as arthritis, Crohn's disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and cancer treatment. Finally, many people use it to treat milder everyday problems such as sleep disorders, anxiety, and general pain.