Cannabis Sativa is one of the longest-used herbs in human history. Special long fibers in the stems are suitable for fabric and paper making. It is an annual plant, not a tree. Its durable and long fibers are used in coarse weaving. Its leaves are used in the medical and cosmetic industries. Its seed is also used in our country as food thanks to its nutritious content.
Drugs are made from some Cannabis Sativa plants. These drugs, called marijuana or weed, are mainly derived from the flower of female cannabis plants. Cannabis has an ingredient called THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Special THC receptors (receptors) have been identified in the brain. THC interacts with these receptors. On the other hand, the Cannabis Sativa plant, which is grown for raw material production in the industry, has no narcotic effect. In these cannabis strains, the drug-acting psychoactive substance (THC) content is very low and can be considered non-dangerous. Industrial Cannabis Sativa is used in many areas from the construction industry to the paper industry.
Morphology of Cannabis Sativa
Cannabis is an annual, herbaceous plant with a thin, upright, and long stem that can branch more or less depending on the purpose of growing.
Cannabis has a pile root system. It consists of a main taproot and secondary and lateral roots emerging from it. The taproots can go down to depths of 3 – 4 m under suitable moisture and soil conditions. The root system has spread in the form of a net from 15-20 cm below the soil. Its strong roots go deep into the soil. However, if the soil conditions are unfavorable, the main root remains short and the lateral roots develop more.
Hemp stalks have a hard, herbaceous structure and the white wood part is surrounded by a green shell. Depending on the environment and the variety in which it grows, its diameter can vary between 4-20 mm and its length between 1-6 m. The length is longer in males than females. Cannabis stalks, which are juicy in the first development period, become woody as they age. The cross-section of the stem is round in the hypocotyl part, four on top of it, and hexagonal above it. In fact, each of the 4 corners creates three protrusions, resulting in a 12-corner shape on the upper parts of the stem and a grooved appearance of the plant stem. The stalk of the plant, which is full of wood at the bottom, becomes full of the essence as it goes upwards and finally becomes empty in the middle.
The hemp stalk is made up of nodes between 9 and 11. Since the number of knuckles is not much variable, the knuckles are also long in tall hemp. In this plant, the internodes are the longest in the middle of the stem; it gets shorter towards the top and bottom. The length of the knuckle distance is important in determining the fiber length. The distances between the knuckles vary between 3-40 cm. In hemp, the technical stem length refers to the length from cotyledon to the point where branching begins or the leaves change from mutual to alternating state. This length varies according to the variety and growing conditions.
Hemp singular fibers are found in beams in the shell part of the stem. In the hypocotyl part of the stem, the number of fiber cells is low. The number of primary fiber cells increases from the 4th node to the 7-8th node. As one moves up from these nodes, the number of cells and beams decreases. The number of primary fiber cells between the 6-9th nodes of the stem is 8000-10000, and the number of fiber beams is 600-700. The number of fiber cells in the base of the stem is approximately 3000 and 4000-5000 at the tip. Hemp fiber cells are polygonal (2-7 corners). The length of these cells is 5-100 mm, average 40-55 mm, and the thickness is between 18-50 microns. Fiber cells become thinner towards the tip.
In females, the stalk is thicker and the fiber yield is higher; In male hemp, the stem is thinner, the fiber yield is low, but the fiber quality is higher. Fibers occur in 3 stages within the shell. It is more desirable as the first formed fibers are longer. The spindle-shaped fiber cells come together and adhere with pectin to form fiber beams. Hemp fibers contain more lignin than flax fibers, and no matter how often they are planted, they are not as thin as flax fibers. The fiber ratio of hemp stalk is 16-20%; 65% of the fiber product is female hemp fibers.
Cannabis leaves are opposite to the technical stem length; above this, they take place alternately. While the leaves show continuity intensively in the most extreme inflorescences in female plants; In male plants, the flower at the tip is much less sparse leaves. Cannabis leaves are formed by the combination of 3-11 narrow leaflets at the bottom and at the same point, on a stalk, with their lengths shortening to both sides, with the longest in the middle. Leaflets are narrow and long; roughly toothed edges. The number of leaflets is between 9-11 in the middle of the stem; as it goes down and up, it goes down to 3. Even simple leaves can be found at the tip. The length of the leaflets varies between 5-12 cm and width 1-2 cm.
Hemp is a dioecious plant. So male and female flowers are found in separate plants. However, monogenic forms are also encountered. In male plants, sparse inflorescences consisting of yellowish-green male flowers; In female plants, dense bunches of flowers, also consisting of green-looking female flowers, are located in the leaf seats. The flowers on the male plant are joined to the panicle stalk with short stalks. Male cannabis plants end in a rich inflorescence. In male flowers, 3 protective leaves on the outermost, 5 perianth remnants inside them; They have thin filaments, white round anthers (anther), and 5 stamens. Stamens hang out of flowers through perianth leaves.
The anthers are also covered with very small warts. Flower powders in white or yellow color are easily carried by the wind. The female flowers are located on female plants, sessile, dense, spike-like, on the axis of the flower position mutually in pairs. In each pair, often only one flower binds fruit; the other is barren. The female cannabis plant ends in a dense and rich spike-like flower community with lots of leaves. In female flowers, the protective leaves are united and over the perianth, the flower is clearly surrounded. The perianth leaves combined to form a cup-shaped, uninterrupted sheath around the ovary. The female organ, which has a single-chambered ovary and forms a single seed inside it, has two large stigmas extending upward through the protective leaves. Stigmas have a hairy structure suitable for open fertilization.
Cannabis seeds are egg-shaped, hard, and brownish-greenish in color (achene). The seed in the walnut is endospermic and the embryo is curled in the fruit. The seed is used as a seed in the cultivation of cannabis and is practically referred to as cannabis seed, as it contains a single seed and the shell is hard and unbreakable. Depending on the variety, the length of the seeds is 4.0-6.0 mm; 1000 grain weight of cannabis seeds with a width of 3.0-3.5 mm varies between 9-27 g. Hemp seeds contain 30-32% oil, 22-23% protein, 35-35% carbohydrate, 1.5-2% sugar, 5-6% ash and 21% carbohydrate.
Systematics and Subspecies of Cannabis Sativa
Although not fully compatible with taxonomists, cannabis is the only species within the Cannabis genus in the Cannabinaceae family.
- Team: Urticales
- Family: Cannabinaceae
- Genus: Cannabis
Cannabis systematically has the following varieties:
- Cannabis sativa var. vulgaris L.
- Cannabis sativa var. indica Lam.
- Cannabis sativa subvar. gigantica
- Cannabis sativa var. ruderalis
The cultured cannabis plant has a diploid structure and 20 chromosomes. Cannabis sativa L. ssp. vulgaris was used for fiber production in the past. Cannabis sativa L. Indica subtype, on the other hand, was used for narcotic purposes as it contains more THC. Wild cannabis that grows spontaneously in nature is Cannabis sativa L. Ruderalis. However, all these subspecies, which are taxonomically differentiated in this way, can easily cross each other and give fertile offspring. These subspecies, which are easily separated from each other physically, chemically, and genetically, have nowadays interbred intermediate forms.
Therefore, it has become almost impossible to determine exactly which subspecies the existing genotypes belong to. For example, although there are many sources of the use of the Indica subtype in the production of illicit substances, it is currently thought that the most THC-containing types belong only to the Indica (cannabis) subspecies. This claim is an untrue opinion. Because the genes of the Skunk variety (type) come from 75% Sativa, 25% Indica subtype. Also, genotypes with very high THC in some countries are commonly referred to as “Skunk”. This statement is also not correct. Because “Skunk” is a hybrid variety obtained for special purposes. Therefore, it is not the name of the subspecies that is essential in cannabis, but for what purposes it was developed and used.
Industrial Cannabis Sativa Usage Methods
Cannabis sativa can increase its contribution to the world economy with rational and dynamic approaches and contribute to the formation of new sectors in the world today, where more than 25,000 products are used as raw materials in the world and the commercial size of industrial cannabis has reached 4 billion dollars in the world as of 2018. Below are the uses for cannabis Sativa:
- Textile (Fabrics, bags, shoes, clothes, socks, etc.)
- Technical Textiles (Carpet, net, canvas, rope set, etc.)
- New Usage Areas of Industrial Products (geotextile, biocomposites, Automotive, Nonwovens, Profiling, Compression coating)
- Building Materials (chipboard, insulation, plaster, etc.)
- Industrial Products (animal litter, mulching, boiler fuel, chemical absorbent, etc.)
Whole Hemp Stalk (Fiber + Sap)
- Paper (printing, cigarette, filters, newsprint, packaging, cardboard, etc.)
- Energy and Environmental Products (ethanol, biofuels, pellets, briquettes, erosion control mats, automotive, etc.)
- Food (bread, dessert, ice cream, milk, cereal, protein powder, cake, etc.)
- After pressing (pulp for the feed industry, flour rich in protein, etc.)
- Foods (Margarine, salad oil, cooking oil, EFA food supplement, etc.)
- Personal Care and Cosmetics (soap, shampoo, hand cream, make-up, lip balm, etc.)
- Technical products (oil paints, solvents, varnishes, lubricants, printing ink, biodiesel, coating, etc.)
Cannabis Sativa Cultivation
Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) is one of the first cultivated plants in human history, one year with 2n = 20 chromosomes, long and strong from the C3 group, grown for its seeds and fibers. As a result of archaeological research, remains of fabric made of hemp dating to 8000 BC were found. Hemp fibers have had a very important place in textile production throughout history and shaped the economies of the country. So much so that until the end of the 19th century, hemp fiber was the raw material of 80% of all textile products in the world.
With the technology developed in the early 20th century, with the use of cotton fiber, thinner yarns could be produced and lighter clothes were possible. With the anti-cannabis laws enacted in the 1930s, hemp agriculture was severely disrupted, and in addition to this, hemp textiles began to lose their former importance with the synthetic fibers developed in parallel with the war industry.
Cannabis naturally contains THC and is a dioecious plant, very sensitive to environmental conditions such as day length and temperature. It shows different development and reaction according to changing environmental conditions. For this reason, according to the expectation of using cannabis; The expected benefit is obtained by cultivating under different environments and conditions. While Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ratio remains low in fiber-purpose (frequently grown) cannabis, several times the THC can be obtained from the same hemp genotype, which is grown infrequently, receiving a lot of daylight, or even grown under an additional light source.
Research on hemp focuses on cultivation technique, textile industry, biopolymer – bioplastic, and breed breeding. Nearly half of the 69 cannabis varieties registered in Europe so far have been realized in the last 10 years. Most of the registered varieties are monodic (hermaphrodite) varieties. In addition, dioic varieties have also been developed. Most of the cultivars developed are industrial-grade cannabis containing low THC. The upper limit of the THC rate in industrial-grade cannabis should be 0.3% for Canada and 0.2% for the European Union. As a result of the use of varieties with low THC ratio, hemp cultivation areas have started to increase in Europe and America.
Cannabis Sativa as Biodiesel Raw Material
Biodiesel is a product that comes out as a result of the reaction of vegetable oils or animal oils obtained from oilseed plants with short-chain alcohol (methanol or ethanol) in the presence of a catalyst and is used as a fuel. Today, commercially biodiesel is obtained from soybean, palm oil, and rapeseed, although it varies depending on the region. Besides these plants, another promising source of biodiesel is industrial hemp, a fibrous plant. Having a high percentage of oil (26% -38%) in its seed, hemp also has content that can produce low carbon biofuels (bioethanol and biobutanol).
In fact, hemp is one of the few plants that can produce both oil and biomass at high yields. A feasibility study was conducted as a biodiesel source of oil obtained from hemp seed. The oil obtained by cold pressing was transformed into biodiesel by a two-step transesterification reaction. As a result of the reaction, a conversion rate of more than 99.5% and a product recovery efficiency of 97% were obtained. This high recovery yield indicates that the loss of product is minimal due to saponification during the production of biodiesel from hemp. The distinguishing features of the produced cannabis biodiesel are low cloud point and low kinematic viscosity.
It has been shown as a biodiesel source recently, as it contains 30-35% oil in cannabis seeds. In a market where the seed amount obtained from the cannabis plant is low, the oil ratio is medium and the seed price is $ 30-35, it is calculated that 1 liter of biodiesel is obtained from 3.3 kg of cannabis seeds, and it does not seem possible to make biodiesel production in the short term. The high amount of seeds taken from oilseeds such as rapeseed, sunflower, soybean per unit area, especially the high oil ratio of rapeseed and sunflower seeds and low product prices show that it is very attractive against hemp.
On the other hand, agricultural wastes, which pose a problem for producers and factories, are material resources that can be used in biomass energy. The remnants of agricultural products are substantial and cannot be collected or evaluated regularly. Approximately 160 million tons of waste is generated in our country every year. These wastes are either treated as stubble in our country or disposed of by being thrown into landfills. The main limitation of their evaluation is the high cost of transportation and storage due to their low bulk density and irregular shape. It will be possible to overcome this limiting factor by compressing agricultural residues and converting them to high density.
Biomass energy is a strategic energy source that is produced using modern technology, has a place in the energy portfolio of developed countries, and has been tried to be expanded with serious policies. Hemp is a world-renowned fiber and oil plant. The fiber and seed of the cannabis plant are used for a wide variety of purposes. After the fiber is removed, the remaining stems can be used as firewood. It is an important fuel source especially for regions with fuel problems. Increasing hemp cultivation areas in provinces where production is permitted will mean an increase in the amount of stalk as well as seed and fiber production, and an extremely high-quality biomass resource will be gained.
Cannabis can be considered as an important biomass plant. In recent studies, it was determined that the cannabis population has a very dense biomass yield. In the study conducted to determine the calorific value of cannabis, it was determined that it has an average calorific value of 4,400 calories (cal / g). In addition to its high calorific value, it has been determined that the ash content is extremely low, around 1% in the analyzes made by the experts. These data reveal that cannabis stems are an extremely high-quality source of biomass. Flue gas emissions that occur during the combustion of hemp pellets were also determined. When the table in which flue emission values are given is examined, it is seen that especially SO2 value is zero. It is known that sulfur-induced air pollution is extremely important and can even lead to acid rain. The fact that the pellets from hemp stalks do not release SO2 into the atmosphere after burning is an extremely important plus for the environment.
Apart from biodiesel and biomass, it is possible to obtain biofuel from hemp. Studies on this subject generally focus on bioethanol and biogas. In addition, the effect of pre-treatment conditions and cultivation style (traditional and organic) on hydrolysis and ethanol yield was also examined. In the study, hemp dried in the open air was treated with dilute acid and steam. The highest glucose yield (73% -74%) and ethanol yield (75% -79%) were obtained in hemp samples pre-treated with a 1% sulfuric acid solution at 180 ºC.
The traditional or organic nature of cannabis did not have a significant effect on the effectiveness of the pre-treatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, and fermentation. When hemp processes are considered; Storage in the ethanol plant from the field, pre-treatment of field-dried hemp under optimal conditions shows positive economic results. Utilizing by-products from ethanol production can increase economic profits. In this study, by-products formed after ethanol production contain lignin between 14.5% and 20.5%. It is concluded that lignin residues can be used for heat and/or energy generation.
Cannabis Sativa in the World: Prohibitions and Regulations
Cannabis sativa L., which has been frequently discussed recently, is a versatile plant that uses both its fibers and stems, seeds, leaves, and flowers. Cannabis is an annual, summer plant, and the plant can grow 0.5-4 m and usually branches from the middle and upper parts. The leaves are opposite in the lower parts and alternate in the upper parts. The leaves are fragmented, dark green, and long-stemmed. Hemp has two tadpoles. So male and female flowers are found in separate plants. The flowers are found in the upper parts of the plants. Fruits (Seeds) 3-6 mm long, oval or round in shape, grayish, blackish, and greenish-brown in color and have a thin rind.
Cannabis is a cultivated plant known in Asia and Europe for a long time. Its history goes back to 5.000 BC. It can be said that no plant has had an impact on human culture as much as cannabis. It is stated that cannabis is used in religious ceremonies, festivals, weddings, and witchcraft in India, and this usage method continues even today. The bans on cannabis can be divided into two categories:
1- Ban due to marijuana
2- Prohibition of hemp cultivation completely
These are partly intertwined and partly independent from each other. However, the main consideration in banning is to reduce and prevent cannabis harm. First attempt to ban cannabis internationally, 1911/12 in The Hague. By the Italian Government, the rules and punishments stipulated for opium, morphine, and cocaine were applied to cannabis.
The first ban on cannabis cultivation was passed in the USA in 1937. Before the ban, hemp cultivation was widespread in the US in states such as Kentucky, Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin. In the year of the ban, 38 varieties/brands of marijuana (cannabis) were being sold in this country, and the government was taxing high on these substances, just like monopoly items. With this law called the Marijuana Law, heavy penalties were imposed on illegal cannabis cultivation. States such as Canada and Australia followed the USA in the ban on hemp cultivation.
Despite this, cannabis cultivation maintained its importance in the world after World War II. The hemp cultivation area was 1,164,000 hectares as an average of 1948-1952. In the following years, hemp cultivation area started to decrease; It decreased to 919 thousand in 1957, 346 thousand in 1966/67, 250 thousand in 1972/73, 196 thousand in 1989-1991, 133 thousand in 1996/97, and 60 thousand hectares in 2008. The cultivation area for fiber in 2016 is 44,388 hectares. In the year when the TEK Convention was accepted, in 1961, the cultivation area was 473.273 hectares (22 countries in total), and the production was 299.919 tons of fiber and 79.746 tons of seeds. Undoubtedly, the most important role in this decrease was the banning of hemp cultivation in some states and cultivation under very strict control in others, but the replacement of natural fibers by synthetic fibers in many places in this process was also very effective.
In 1982, hemp cultivation was banned in all European Union countries except France. Commercial hemp cultivation has been eliminated in these countries regardless of the THC ratio. However, scientific studies have been made an exception. With a law passed in 1971, France allowed the cultivation of varieties with a low THC rate. Cannabis cultivation continued without a ban, especially in Hungary and Romania, and Russia, which were the Eastern European countries that were bound by the Warsaw Pact at that time. The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 dealt a heavy blow to the cannabis cultivation of Eastern European countries, and hemp cultivation decreased significantly.
At a time when cannabis completely lost its importance, it has begun to be emphasized again as a versatile plant all over the world, especially in the USA and other developed countries. Apart from France, Spain was the first country from other European Union countries to allow hemp cultivation in 1986. This was followed by the UK in 1993, the Netherlands in 1994, Austria in 1995, and Germany in 1996. As of 1997, hemp cultivation was permitted in other European Union countries, except Italy, which was the most important cannabis producer in Europe, and hemp was also included among the products whose cultivation was promoted with a premium. Later, hemp cultivation was allowed in Italy.
Although the idea of cannabis breeding that is not suitable for cannabis is quite old, after it became certain that the effective substance of cannabis was THC in 1965, breeding of varieties with low THC rate started in France and the then Soviet Union in the 1970s. This was followed by studies in Hungary and Poland in the 1980s. Today, varieties with very low THC ratio have been developed. The incentive premium given in 1995 and 1996 is around 75 Euros per decare and is valid for all European Union countries. Hemp is still supported in some countries.
However, some issues must be fulfilled in order to receive this aid and to make hemp cultivation. Farmers who want to grow cannabis with a low THC rate must apply to the Agriculture and Food Organization and obtain a “Useful hemp cultivation permit”. It is understood that there are three different practices regarding hemp cultivation in the EU. The first is the regulations made within the framework of the decisions of the EU Hemp-Flax Commission, the second is the regulations made according to the internal laws of each country, and the third is the regulations made for scientific breeding. The first two of these are the practice-oriented production method and although there are some differences, it is useful to draw attention to the following points.
- The cultivated varieties are varieties with low THC and can only be included in the EU variety catalog.
- Prior permission is obtained from the agricultural organization for planting.
- Later, the planting places are reported to the relevant organization.
- After harvesting, it is controlled by the sampling method whether the field has been harvested or not.
- It is reported to the relevant organization how many stalks, fiber, or seed is taken after harvest.
How long does industrial hemp continue, where does drug hemp start? This question is particularly important as cannabis farmers do not come into conflict with the law. Only certified seeds of varieties included in the EU common variety catalog for agricultural plant species can be used for the cultivation of cannabis. There is only one way a farmer can get support and avoid problems with industrial hemp. It is to grow the varieties in this catalog with a THC ratio below 0.2%. Hemp cultivation is also controlled within the scope of drugs. It is obligatory to apply to the authorities in writing and give information during flowering.
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