Cannabis is globally cultivated and exported. In Europe, a government-controlled production of medicinal cannabis exists in the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland and, since 2017, also in Germany. In Great Britain, the pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals holds a licence for the cultivation of cannabis in order to produce the cannabis medication Sativex. Cannabis cultivation in most European countries often takes place in indoor systems, since higher crop yields can be generated through special breeding conditions than in outdoor cultivation. The cannabis flowers for medicinal use primarily come from specially selected varieties, which are grown in greenhouses.
Medicinal cannabis cultivation
The production of medicinal cannabis in Austria is reserved for the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES). The annual production volume is a matter of negotiation between AGES and the German pharmaceutical company Bionorica. The cannabis flos is purchased exclusively by Bionorica via a middleman, extracted and sold in the form of Dronabinol.
In the public discussion about hemp and cannabis a differentiation must be made between low THC and THC-rich hemp. THC-free hemp, so-called industrial hemp, only contains minimal psychoactive components. Use for industrial purposes is permitted in Austria. At the same time, only those varieties may be used that exhibit a maximum THC-content of 0.3 per cent and that are listed in the EU Common Catalogue of Varieties. The European Union only promotes those industrial hemp varieties that do not contain more than 0.2 per cent THC in the dry matter.
The raw material of the hemp fibres can be used to generate insulating materials; hemp is the foundation for numerous textile and paper products. Cosmetic preparations, but also foodstuffs can be made from the protein-rich hemp seeds. The hemp fibre is exceptionally elastic, tear-resistant and thus durable.
Hemp doesn’t place any special demands on the soil quality, but most suitable are deep, humus-rich, chalky soils with a good water supply, which should be neutral to slightly alkaline.