Hemp is a common name for Cannabis sativa and the name most used when this annual plant is grown for non-drug purposes. These include the industrial purposes for which cultivation licenses may be issued in the European Union and Canada. In the United Kingdom licenses are issued by the Home Office under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. When grown for industrial purposes hemp is often called industrial hemp (or industrial cannabis), and a common product is fiber for use in a wide variety of products.


Hemp is used to make cordage of greatly varying tensile strength, clothing, food, and the oils from the seeds can be made into paint or used for cooking. In Europe and China hemp fibers are increasingly used in plasters and composites answering to many construction and manufacturing needs. Mercedes-Benz uses a "biocomposite" principally of hemp in the interior panels of some of its automobiles. Hemp use in the United States is severely depressed by laws supported by governmental drug enforcement bodies, which fear that high T.H.C. plants will be grown amidst the ultra-low T.H.C. plants used for hemp production. Efforts are underway to change these laws, allowing American farmers to compete in the growing markets for this crop. As of 2006, China controls roughly 40% of the world's hemp fiber. Hemp seeds are also found in wild bird seed mix.