As a plant, Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is a fast growing, herbaceous annual with a deep tap root originated from the Himalayas. As one of the oldest crops cultivated by man there are over 2,000 varieties of Cannabis sativa, that (although alike in physiology) differ markedly in their chemical structure. With 90% of these varieties containing the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in levels in leaves and flowering heads at harmless concentrations. As a crop, the hemp plant has three main useable parts. This includes the hurd (the inner fibre), bast (the outer fibre) and the seeds. All of which are utilised in a range of applications including paper, rope, fuel, oil, textiles, food, building materials, cosmetics, inks and feed. In fact, it has been estimated that hemp can be utilised to make over 25,000 different consumer products.
Within Western Australia, the industry is currently regulated under the Industrial hemp Act 2004 with THC levels in crops regulated under 0.35%.