What is the difference between Marijuana and Hemp?
This is a classic common misconception when it comes to the topic of Cannabis. People do not know the difference and commonly misuse the words causing even more confusion and unintelligent conversations to happen.
Marijuana….hemp…..isn’t it all the same? Well, no…it isn’t.
The classification for Cannabis is actually still unclear! Cannabaceae has been said to be the FAMILY and Cannabis being the Genus. It is unclear on if the species is only Sativa and then broken into subspecies of Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis and then Hemp and Marijuana are subspecies of those:
Or if the species itself is All three Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis; and Hemp and Marijuana are the subspecies (1):
Wow. That was a lot of info, right? Regardless of how we decided to scientifically classify the species and subspecies of Cannabis, one thing remains true; Marijuana and Hemp are two totally different Sub-Species of the Cannabis Plant. We will get into the species break downs in another article, for now, let’s just talk basics.
For over 10,000 years Cannabis was farmed and used in medicine and religious practices in a majority of the world. They knew the differences between Hemp and Marijuana. Although the plants look very similar, Hemp has a tall and skinny stature, even with skinny leaves, compared to its sibling Marijuana, with a more Short and bushy appearance, and big wide leaves and buds. It was actually illegal not to grow Hemp in the 1600s because it was so versatile in textiles and medicine!
Not only are the looks different, but the uses are different as well, from ingesting to creating everyday products. Inside of a Cannabis plant contains over 100 of what scientists call Cannabinoids. The reason you want cannabinoids in your body is because you already have cannabinoid receptors all over your body and in your brain! This “biochemical communication system” is called the Endocannibinoid System, and it plays a vital role in regulating our physiology, mood, and overall every day experience(2). This is a scientific FACT! These cannibinoids are attracted to those receptors and can build bridges and help someone live a healthier life in many different ways depending on the receptors effected. This all is a very personal experience and depending on your individual body chemistry determines which strain of Marijuana and Hemp you will have different reactions to.
Many of the cannibinoids found in cannabis have not been found in any other plants! The two most prominent and mostly studied of the 100s of cannabinoids found in Cannabis are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannibidiol). THC is the psychoactive component that is found in Cannabis, but Hemp only contains .3% while Marijuana contains 30%+. A person would need to ingest at least 7% of THC to FEEL any type of reaction. Your body still absorbs all of the nutritional benefits of THC even though you can not feel the effect. This is why people prefer to purchase Marijuana’s Buds/Flower to get the “high” feeling, and not Hemp. THC also includes many medicinal benefits, other than a euphoric feeling. It is the better of the two cannibinoids in relieving pain since this gives a head high, and will help block the pain receptors causing people with seizures, epilepsy, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and spasms, and many other medical issues get some relief in a way that is more organic than other forms of traditional medicine today. The THC cannibinoids will bind to the brain cells responsible for controlling excitement and regulating relaxation. The flowers are not the only part of the plant that has benefits either. The stalk and leaves all contain amazing components of CBD and other cannibinoids that give nutrients and healing properties to the human body that has been recognized for centuries, and it grows right out of the ground!
CBD is completely non-psychoactive and found in high concentrations in both the Hemp and the Marijuana Plants. CBD has been known to treat anti-inflamatory, pain, anxiety, side effects of chemo therapy in patients like nausea, and many more. I like to refer to it as more of a nutritional supplement like any other vitamin you would take every day. It has also been used to help stimulate and protect the immune system in patients with low immune systems. People who suffer from PTSD have claimed it helps with their anxiety. It even works in our furry friends that can get anxiety during fireworks or separation…bacon flavored! Like Marijuana, the entire Hemp Plant contains nutritional cannibinoids, stalk, leaves, and very high concentrates in the flowers, especially. You can’t physically feel anything happening, but a whole plant extract is high quality and is a great shot of vitamins whether you drink it, eat it, or swallow it in pill form.
Now that you know the basic differences between HEMP and Marijuana when it comes to the effects of the THC and CBD cannibinoids if you inhale or ingest either plant, what about other uses?
Hemp is an amazing agricultural crop that could and has been used to treat over farmed or contaminated soils, and even everyday items like paper, building materials, fuel, beauty products, clothes, textiles, plastic substitutes, and nutrition. Before 1883, 75-90% of paper was hemp based and hemp was used in 80% of the world’s textiles. The seeds alone contain Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids, Protein, Vitamin E, and can be eaten raw, made into an oil, of ground into flour. Farmers could use Hemp as a rotational crop to plant between seasons because of its decontamination properties and ability to add nutrients back into the soil. It does not require pesticides to keep alive either! It does such a great job of decontaminating soil that it has been used for over 20 years to help rid the soil of toxins in and around Chernobyl.
All of these amazing benefits, and the government is finally getting on board. In 1970 Cannabis was listed as a SCHEDULE I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Back then, there was no separation of the Cannabis plant. It was assumed the entire Species was “Bad” because Marijuana was claimed to have caused “Reefer Madness”, but now people are realizing that was all a sham, and the only “madness” caused by smoking or ingesting too much THC is fear of time travel and an overkill of the munchies and sleep. Finally, over 30 years later, President Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill which legally gave a difference between Marijuana and Hemp, thus legalizing Hemp to be cultivated for RESEARCH and COMMERCIAL Purposes. This opened the door to the newest bill, 2018 Farm Bill, signed by President Trump December 2017 to allow industrialized Hemp to be grown and sold to consumers without the farmers losing any government benefits (3). The bill is not perfect. Neither was the last one or the one before that. There was a lot more in the Farm Bill than just legalizing Industrialized Hemp, and they still have a lot of work to do, but at least we are getting there.
To the people who say the US government doesn’t make progress, BOO YAH! Yeah, it’s slow…but a little at a time! We didn’t earn our independence in a day, and we didn’t become the most amazing country overnight. I have faith we will continue to make progress toward the full legalization of CANNABIS and finally will be able to make good choices about our overall health. Keep sharing the education, that is the only way we will win. Knowledge is power!
Now that America can grow and produce Hemp products, there are a lot of companies popping up all over wanting you to buy. DO YOUR RESEARCH!! Any company you buy from should not be using pesiticides or GMO products. They will have this clearly labeled on their site or product. Many companies also offer heavy metals testing, mildew/mold, E. Coli, etc testing. Also, just because it is cheap, does not mean it is good! But if it is expensive, that does not mean it is the best! So buy your Hemp oil, CBD oil, etc from a company that doesn’t take the cheap and easy way out, but also is not charging a ridiculous amount. I am currently working with a grower and manufacturer and will hopefully be offering GMO free, pesticide free, triple lab tested CBD oil for the whole family, including your pets. Stay tuned for more related articles!
- The Endocannibinoid System. 2019. Project CBD. https://www.projectcbd.org/science/endocannabinoid-system-0.
- Mason. 2018. The Future of Cannabis Genetics. https://slideplayer.com/slide/12506665/.
- FarmAid.org. December 20, 2018. What’s in the 2018 Farm Bill? The good, the Bad, and the Offal. https://www.farmaid.org/issues/farm-policy/whats-in-the-2018-farm-bill-the-good-the-bad-and-the-offal/.
- Marijuana Image. Chicago AP. March 1, 2019. http://www.14news.com/2019/03/01/study-illinois-legal-marijuana-demand-would-outpace-supply/.
- HEMP IMAGE. Lee, Martin A. March 28, 2016. https://www.projectcbd.org/politics/sourcing-cbd-marijuana-industrial-hemp-vagaries-federal-law.