While both industrial hemp and marijuana come from the Cannabis Sativa L species, this is where the similarity ends, in the contention of the NZHIA and many in the academic world. There are some 600 germ plasms (cultivars) of industrial hemp, from one of these cultivars over many generations of selective breeding by humankind, marijuana is obtained, (1 in 600!). There are many examples of such issues whereby hysteria and misinformation has been utilised in order to ban an entire species, the NZHIA suggests that industrial hemp should not continue to be a victim of the same lack of discernment.
Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp both derive from the species Cannabis sativa, and contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), they are distinct strains with unique phytochemical compositions and uses. Hemp has lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which decreases or eliminates its psychoactive effects.Wikipedia: (Swanson 2015, p. 602.)
To put it bluntly, the THC levels in industrial hemp are so low that no one could get high from smoking it. Hemp also contains a relatively high percentage of another cannabinoid, CBD, that in addition to it’s health benefits, actually blocks the psychoactive “high” caused by the THC in marijuana. Hemp, it turns out, is not only NOT marijuana; it could even be called “antimarijuana.” (Dr Dave West)
Another way to look at it, is that there are hundreds of species of “Beans”, the base genre; broad beans, butter beans, soy beans, runner beans, baked beans, human beans (sic) and of course hallucinogenic beans (Coca et al.) Of course, the genre “Beans” itself is not illegal in any country, the only beans deemed illegal are those that have psychoactive properties and or hallucinogenic properties. Furthermore, there are a huge quantity of hallucinogenic plants within NZ (Broom, Borage, Datura, St Johns Wort and others), none of which are illegal in the ordinary course of events, (as they stand in the paddock). Ken Shirley (ACT) pointed this anomaly out to the NZHIA in 1997.
NZHIA have a strong policy regarding the debate with regard to marijuana*, and only now are people seeing the lack of logic in banning a whole plant species rather than the actual substance perceived as a problem. This misconception has not been assisted by some pro-marijuana legalizers insisting that they are one and the same. NZHIA and many other legitimate industrial hemp proponents disagree with their stance as is pertains to industrial hemp.
* To clarify the NZHIA standpoint with an excerpt from the incorporation rules: “NZHIA has no interest in the recreational cannabis debate, except where it may impede industry development“.