Cannabis, marijuana, and hemp are all the same thing. Right?
Disturbingly, you’ll find such misleading claims all over the internet.
This has been a common misconception for many years.
Funnily, even the government finds them confusing. Hence, they grouped them all as Schedule I Drugs banned in 1970.
This article settles common, widespread confusions between hemp and marijuana – discussing their unique chemical composition, legality, cultivation, and uses. It’ll help you understand legal and safety boundaries when using hemp and/or marijuana and enable you to make well-informed purchase decisions.
What’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?
Cannabis is a flowering plant from the cannabaceae plant family, broadly divided into Cannabis Indica, Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis ruderalis.
Hemp and marijuana are different plants but from the same Cannabis Sativa sub-family. Soo, while hemp and marijuana have their differences, they are both cannabis.
Let’s discuss four primary differences between hemp and marijuana
- Hemp Vs. Marijuana – Chemical Composition
One critical distinguishing characteristic between hemp and marijuana is their different chemical composition.
Both marijuana and hemp contain hundreds of chemicals – called cannabinoids, including CBD and THC – but in unique concentrations.
For instance, while hemp is typically rich in CBD and low in THC, marijuana plants are specially bred for higher THC and lower CBD.
Marijuana may contain as high as 30 percent THC, while hemp, according to the 2018 Farm Bill, must not exceed .3 percent THC concentration.
THC, the highly psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, binds directly to both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system to cause its range of effects, including the famous ‘high.’
- Hemp Vs. Marijuana - Legality
Talking legality, THC is the bone of contention across many legal jurisdictions.
Usually, hemp and marijuana are regulated differently.
In the US, all forms of cannabis (including hemp and marijuana) were initially treated as illegal substances, grouped under the Schedule I drug class, and regulated under the 1970 Controlled Substance Act.
Thankfully, in 2018, the Agricultural Improvement Act - popularly called Farm Bill, reclassified hemp and hemp-based products, making them federally legal. A proviso, however, is that their THC concentration does not exceed 0.3%.
Conversely, the feds still regulate marijuana and its product under the Controlled Substance.
- Growing conditions and cultivation purposes
Marijuana and hemp are grown under different conditions and, primarily, for differing purposes.
Marijuana is selectively grown under a controlled environment to sustain the breed’s features and achieve female plants with resin-rich budding flowers.
Experienced marijuana farmers know better to get certain factors right, including lighting, temperature, and humidity, to achieve success.
Conversely, hemp plants are typically bred to attain high yield and size. Hence, outdoor hemp farms are common, as they do not necessarily require as many selective measures as marijuana does.
- Different marijuana and hemp use
The different chemical compositions of hemp and marijuana make them suitable for many unrelated purposes.
Marijuana is widely desired for its recreational profile – it’s ‘high.’ However, research authors report that the same plant may contain a good range of therapeutic potentials. This makes medical marijuana a thing across increasing legal jurisdictions.
Besides its ‘stoney’ effects, marijuana can cause anxiety and paranoia – particularly with excessive doses.
Hemp, on the other hand, is grown for a long list of purposes. Some are:
- As raw materials for industrial intents, including production of building materials, raw material for textiles, plastic, etc.
- As food – CBD oil or hemp seed oil used for cooking or infused into prepared meals and beverages. Hemp flour and other hemp-based edibles.
- Potential medicinal applications, such as CBD oils and tincture, CBD-infused pills and capsules, e-juice for vaporizers, topicals – including creams, lotions, balms, and salves.
Marijuana-based CBD Vs. Hemp-based CBD
The difference between marijuana- and hemp-extracted CBD is another widely misunderstood concept.
Both marijuana and hemp are sources of CBD. But being two different plants, the CBD extracted from them should be different.
Interestingly, that’s not it.
CBD is CBD – whether from hemp or marijuana, the composition is the same.
However, while marijuana farmers and users are most concerned about their herb’s THC profile, hemp is widely bred for CBD.
Although the same CBD quality exists in both hemp and marijuana, hemp contains far more CBD than marijuana.
Marijuana Vs. Hemp – Take home
Those four components are basic points you should know about marijuana vs. hemp. We hope the terms are a bit clearer now.
In cases you forgot; a quick recap:
- Hemp and marijuana are both variants of cannabis.
- Hemp is legal federally in the US; marijuana remains under the Schedule 1 drugs, hence, considered illegal. The individual state laws vary, though.
- Legally, hemp refers to plants with less than .3 percent THC level. Cannabis plants with over .3 percent THC is, by US law, defined as marijuana.
- Marijuana is grown under more selective conditions than hemp
- While hemp is primarily used for industrial products, marijuana is widely recognized for recreational purposes. However, both hemp and marijuana have proven medically potent in several researches.
Now you know the differences between marijuana and hemp.
Ideally, when navigating the cannabis world, you should know precisely what you’re dealing with – particularly to guide against both legal and health complications.
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