Hemp’s high hurdles

ORLANDO, FLA. — Hemp ingredients may add protein, magnesium, phytosterols and fiber to products, said Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director for Datamonitor Consumer. Hemp is non-allergenic, and the plants are sustainably grown, he added.

Yet many people may associate hemp with marijuana, and that perception could put a buzz-kill on hemp’s entry into food and beverage product launches.

“Hemp is misunderstood,” Mr. Vierhile said in an April 9 presentation at Ingredient Marketplace in Orlando. “That is really one of the key problems with hemp going forward.”

Mr. Vierhile called hemp a cousin to marijuana as they are the same genus, Cannabis. Yet they differ in a crucial way. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana produces the psychoactive event, or the “high.” Levels of THC in marijuana range from 5% all the way up to 30% while hemp’s THC levels are less than 0.3%, Mr. Vierhile said. For another difference, hemp seeds...

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