Without arguing the merits of the above contentions, we point out that the legitimate use of hemp for non-intoxicant purposes has been inhibited by the continuing ferocious war against drug abuse. In this atmosphere, objective analysis has often been lacking. Unfortunately both proponents and opponents have tended to engage in exaggeration. Increasingly, however, the world is testing the potential of hemp in the field and marketplace, which surely must be the ultimate arbiters. De Guzman (2001), noting the pessimistic USDA report, observed that “Nevertheless, others point to the potential of [the] market. Hemp products have a growing niche market of their own, and the market will remain healthy and be well supported with many competing brands.”
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In a July 1998 study issued by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky, researchers concluded that Kentucky hemp farmers could earn a net profit of $600 per acre for raising certified seeds, $320 net profit per acre for straw only or straw and grain production, and $220 net profit per acre for grain only production. The only crop found to be more profitable was tobacco.
Cannabinoids are divided into three groups. The first are naturally occurring 21-carbon terpenophenolic compounds found to date solely in plants of the Cannabis genus, currently termed phytocannabinoids (Pate 1994). The best known analgesic of these is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (henceforth, THC)(Figure 1), first isolated and synthesized in 1964 (Gaoni and Mechoulam 1964). In plant preparations and whole extracts, its activity is complemented by other “minor” phytocannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) (Figure 1), cannabis terpenoids and flavonoids, as will be discussed subsequently.