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Hemp is also known as industrial hemp, hemp is a specie of the cannabis sativa plant grown specifically for industrial uses.

In March 2020 the president of Ghana legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes; with the passing of the Narcotics Control Commission Bill, 2019. This meant that the growth and cultivation and use of industrial hemp for medical purposes is allowed.

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CBD basically means Cannabidiol, CBD is a component of marijuana plant, while CBD remains a major component in marijuana, most CBD oils used for medical puposes are extracted from Hemp.

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For thousands of years, hemp was traditionally used as clothing. Synthetic fibers and cotton currently meet the bulk of textile fibers’ demands. Fiber hemp may be an alternative to cotton and synthetic fibers as a raw material for textile (Westerhuis 2016). Hemp is lightweight, with three-time the tensile strength of cotton. Clothes made from industrial hemp have many good qualities. They are antibacterial, anti-static, and warmer (Brady 2003). Also, hemp fabrics dry faster and provide excellent protection from UV rays. The porous nature of hemp fabric makes it more absorbent. Compared to cotton, hemp is environmentally friendly. Brady (2003) noted that industrial hemp requires little or no pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Considering the climatic conditions in Ghana, clothes made from hemp fiber are more suitable. Hemp also serves as a rotational crop and can be intercropped with other crops. It protects the surface of the soil and prevents erosion. Also, hemp fiber is recommended for the making of sound absorption fiber because it exhibits a robust acoustic performance (Liao et al. 2020).

Existing research suggests that cannabis was introduced in Ghana by ex-servicemen who fought in World War II (Bernstein 1999; Mensah and Adu-Gyamfi 2019). The usage was common among ex-servicemen and certain strenuous and dangerous jobs such as stevedores, fishers, prostitutes, criminals, farmers, and night-soil men (Akyeampong 2005). These groups of people are often regarded as low class. However, the usage of cannabis in Ghana has evolved. The substance has become common among all classes, including students in tertiary institutions (Adu-Gyamfi and Brenya 2015) and secondary schools (Adu-Mireku 2003).

The records of the existence and uses of cannabis date back to over 6000 years (Sawler et al. 2015). The plant was a very legal one, and early colonists in Northern America were required to grow it (Deitch 2003; Segal 2014). The 1937 Marihuana Tax Act effectively outlawed cannabis in the USA by imposing strict regulations and prohibitive taxes that increased the cost of legally trading in cannabis (Johnson 2018). However, there has been a gradual shift, with more states relaxing the laws on cannabis. The Farm Bill 2018 legalized industrial hemp production at the federal level. Cannabis has been a popular plant among the Chinese. Tourists who visited the Yunnan province due to the “open door policy” began secretly smoking the flowers for the psychoactive effect. As a solution to preventing the abuse and ensuring the locals still grew hemp for fiber, the local government introduced industrial hemp. Notwithstanding China being a major world producer of industrial hemp, the regulations vary in different provinces. Several other countries have revisited the legal status of cannabis as a result of developments in cannabidiols (medical cannabis).

Hemp for paper

Industrial hemp production. Source: adapted from Kraenzel et al. (1998)

The information on industrial uses and comparative legislations of cannabis was identified in search terms, which excluded Ghana. News articles, blogs, or non-academic articles on cannabis and hemp that provided the author’s information (at least their first name) were considered.

Although several researches have explored the use of cannabis in Ghana, there has been little or no documentation on cannabis as an industrial agricultural crop. This has been so mainly due to the effect and abuse associated with the use of marijuana in Ghana. As a result, more theoretical and empirical researches are needed to ascertain the use of cannabis as an agricultural crop in Ghana. In this regard, this study contributes to the literature by exploring hemp as an industrial agriculture crop in Ghana. Additionally, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, no study has been conducted on hemp as an industrial agricultural crop in Ghana following the enactment of Act 1019.

Although the new legislation has economic prospects for the country, there is a need to consider the industry entry requirement carefully. Ghana should draw lessons from current licensing regimes in Africa, which seems to be a disadvantage for local farmers and investors. Licensing fees should be flexible and a framework that will allow local entrepreneurs to have a foothold in the hemp industry. For instance, in Lesotho, only big corporations can afford the heft $37,000 license fee and small-scale farmers are still growing hemp illegally. Evidence from Malawi and Eswatini suggests the African cannabis industry is dominated by foreign countries (Prohibition Partners 2019). There is also a need for strict supervision of the cultivation to prevent the abuse of license granted.