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Hemp Lexicon launched to help standardize industry terminology


The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is advocating for hemp industry terminology to be standardized.


According to an update written on behalf of the organization, a consistent use of terminology across the industry can “encourage clear, consistent communication” for those working in the hemp industry, as well as those overseeing the hemp industry. It can also “provide consumers with a common understanding of the diverse terms used in the description, marketing, and labeling of hemp products as well.”


To support this initiative, the AHPA published a Hemp Lexicon on April 5. Promotional materials state that the organization hopes its Lexicon will serve as a reference tool for those working in the cultivation, processing, manufacturing, and labeling of hemp products, as well as for those working in jurisdictions that oversee the hemp industry and for consumers who may purchase hemp products.


“As the hemp industry continues to expand, all hemp stakeholders will benefit from the standard terminology established in the Lexicon,” Asa Waldstein, Chair of the AHPA’s Cannabis Committee stated in a promotional update.


Who created the Lexicon?


The AHPA is a national trade association within the herbal products industry. It is made up of more than 450 member companies that provide herb-related goods or services in the Unites States and abroad. The organization’s mission is “to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products to ensure that consumers continue to enjoy informed access to a wide variety of herbal goods.”


The Hemp Lexicon was created by the organization’s Cannabis Committee. This working group reportedly includes hemp growers, manufacturers, processors, and product marketers.


According to AHPA documents, the hemp industry terms listed in its new lexicon had been previously established in other documents that the organization has released. Many of these definitions were reportedly established in consultation with a group of global botanical experts. Many of the definitions were also selected because they aligned with definitions that have already been adopted by national governments and regulatory bodies.


This means that the Hemp Lexicon is unlikely to include extreme changes to any of the terms that are already commonly used in the hemp industry. However, the AHPA stated that suggestions are welcome and it intends to make revisions to the Lexicon as needed.


“Where current hemp industry usage of specific terms for marketing purposes differs from the long-established botanical industry definitions, the Lexicon acknowledges those differences and recommends alternate terminology that may be integrated by the hemp industry as it matures,” AHPA documents state.


What is included in the Lexicon?


The Lexicon lists general industry-related terms, as well as four categories of terms, which include words related to extraction methods, chemical complexity, other extract-related terms, and hemp-related extract terms. The Lexicon includes definitions of terms such as activated cannabinoid, biomass, cannabidiol (CBD), dab, distillation, broad spectrum extract, full spectrum extract, live resin, strength and terpenes.


The Lexicon also includes recommendations regarding the use of certain terms.

For example, the Lexicon states that some members of the hemp industry use the word extract to describe a fixed oil that came from plant material that was pressed with mechanical pressure. It notes that this use is inconsistent with the way regulators define the word extract, and it recommends that users replace their usage of this word. The document suggests that pressed oil or expressed oil may be terms that are more appropriate.


“AHPA strongly encourages the hemp industry to utilize terminology consistent with established botanical industry usage whenever possible,” AHPA documents state.


Consistent use of language can be important for any industry, but it could prove to be especially valuable for the hemp industry. A consistent use of terminology can help prevent confusion and miscommunication, which might otherwise be common in a new industry. Consistent use of terminology could also make it easier to educate customers about products they may not otherwise be familiar with, and it could make it easier to understand relevant regulations.


Because the hemp industry is relatively new, now may be the perfect time to set industry-wide standards. A tool like the AHPA’s Hemp Lexicon could be a solid launching point for this new industry to set terminology standards that could streamline industry communication for decades to come.


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