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Hemp vs Marijuana : What are the differences?

Hemp and marijuana, what’s the difference? It’s understandable that even in 2020 this is a subject that is all often very badly explained. Due to the confusion and complications that…
Republished by Plato




Hemp and marijuana, what’s the difference?

It’s understandable that even in 2020 this is a subject that is all often very badly explained.

Due to the confusion and complications that this can present for CBD, cannabis, or hemp users and people just caused.

It has become increasingly important to understand the difference between hemp and marijuana and how they relate to Cannabis.

What’s the difference between Hemp vs Marijuana?

Cannabis is a genus of plants specifically in the Cannabaceae family. This consists of three primary species – Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

Hemp and marijuana are regularly referred to as strains of Cannabis, however this is not true.

It might surprise you to learn that technically they’re not plants at all.

Hemp and marijuana are really just broad classifications of Cannabis adopted into the popular consciousness. This also leads to huge confusion in regards to the difference between CBD and hemp oil.

But it’s not the taxonomical difference. Let’s take a closer look.

What is Hemp?

“Hemp” is used to classify varieties of Cannabis that contain 0.3% or less THC content.

Hemp has been used as a term to describe non-intoxicating cannabis harvested for industrial use for a long time.

But you can find evidence of its’ use recorded throughout history. This includes the discovery of material made from hemp over 10,000 years ago.

There are those that believe that hemp was the first crop ever cultivated by mankind.

With the capabilities to produce crucial resources such as food, rope, clothing, paper, housing material, and more, hemp has been the catalyst for man’s earliest innovations.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is used to classify varieties of Cannabis that contain more than 0.3% THC. It’s also known as weed, herb, pot, grass, bud and a whole slew of others.

The THC present in marijuana can induce psychoactive or intoxicating effects on the user. THC is primarily found in resin produced in leaves and buds of the female plant.

While there is a lot of focus on THC it is not the only cannabinoid present in marijuana. In fact, there are over a hundred more.

Confusion of Hemp vs Marijuana

The defining characteristic between the hemp and marijuana is based on a single factor. What is that factor? The amount of THC involved.

However, this is faulty logic. To base an entire plant on one characteristic is a misstep.

Categorising Cannabis as either Hemp or Marijuana is similar to saying all fruits in the citrus genus are either sweet or sour. This does not acknowledge the diverse characteristics of each fruit.

Hemp and marijuana

In addition, hemp and marijuana can often appear indistinguishable from one another. This can lead to many complications for business’ as law enforcement don’t seem to know what CBD is exactly.

This has already led to numerous issues of law enforcement officers making arrests and seizing hemp that is 100% legal because it looks exactly like “marijuana.”

The classification of hemp or marijuana absent of a true understanding of Cannabis presents a clear issue of function.

The obvious solution is for these words to have never existed; however, now that these terms have become deeply ingrained in our society, this problem will be difficult to reverse.

The only realistic solution is to re-educate our society over time.

In the meantime, it’s probably best to stay informed about what hemp and marijuana mean and how they are used in our society and legal system to know your rights and avoid any complications when using hemp or CBD products.

The main differences in Hemp vs. Marijuana

As we’ve stated, hemp and marijuana share a lot of similarities and even appear very alike.

But you definitely do not want to get these two confused. Each one has entirely different legal ramifications and physiological effects.

Let’s look at four key differences between hemp and marijuana.

1 – Hemp vs Marijuana: Composition

What’s the defining characteristic between hemp and marijuana? That’s simple, it’s the chemical composition within each plant.

Both hemp and marijuana can produce high amounts of CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabis compound; however, THC is produced at very different levels and no THC and CBD are not the same things at all!

While hemp can contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, marijuana can contain up to 30% THC content.

2 – Hemp vs Marijuana: UK Legality

Due to the difference between their levels of THC, hemp and marijuana are regulated very differently under UK law.

In the United Kingdom there are three main categories for illegal drugs – Class A, B, or C. Possession of a Class A, for example, carries the most serious punishment and fines.

These are the classifications set out in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Marijuana qualifies as a Class B drug and as such is labelled a ‘controlled substance.’

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it is an offence to:

  • unlawfully possess a controlled substance
  • possess a controlled substance with intent to supply it
  • supply (sell/give/share) a controlled substance
  • allow premises you occupy or manage to be used for the smoking or use of controlled substances

Like many European countries, hemp is legal in the United Kingdom as long as its THC content is below 0.2%. Farmers, however, are required to hold a specific license in order to grow the crop. Medical cannabis is now available in the UK

3 – Hemp vs Marijuana: Cultivation

Hemp and marijuana are harvested for entirely different reasons, so, this means they require different growing conditions.

Marijuana varieties are selectively bred in controlled environments. These are designed to optimize the breed’s characteristics and create female plants that yield budding flowers.

To cultivate a marijuana or cannabis plant precisely, a grower must pay close attention to the plant at each stage of its life cycle. They also must maintain exact conditions in its environment, such as proper temperature, lighting, and humidity.

In contrast to this, hemp is grown to maximize its size and yield. Hemp is typically grown outdoors for best results and does not require the level of control and attention necessary for marijuana.

4 – Hemp vs Marijuana: Usage

Hemp and marijuana each offer a range of usages which are unique to their composition.

As a powerful psychoactive agent, THC can directly bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the Endocannabinoid System, which induces the mind-altering, euphoric effects referred to as being “high.” We here at The Extract have written a guide of CBD and drug tests which is a must-read it these tests are something that concerns you.

While marijuana is commonly recognized for its recreational uses, studies have revealed its potential in a wide variety of therapeutic applications.

In comparison, hemp is harvested to produce a wide variety of products including, but not limited to:

  • Industrial products such as paper, clothing, building materials, and plastic
  • Food products such as cooking oil, hemp flour, and hemp seed-based products
  • Medicinal products such as Cannabidiol (CBD), which is then used to produce a variety of items including CBD vape juice, CBD tinctures, CBD topicals, and other CBD-infused products.

Hemp-Derived CBD vs Marijuana derived CBD

When it comes to CBD and the case of hemp and marijuana, we are faced with yet another confusing situation.

CBD is derived from either hemp or marijuana. But given the unique characteristics of each plant we’ve seen, you’d assume that the CBD would be different – depending on the plant origin.

Surprisingly, they aren’t.

Jeremy Riggle, Chief Scientist at Mary’s Nutritionals says that “the CBD molecule and its associated pharmacology are the same, whether it was extracted from hemp or from marijuana.

“CBD is CBD, regardless of where it originally derived from.”

So if CBD is the exact same at a molecular level then it should be legal whether derived from hemp or marijuana, right?

If it only it were so easy.

Hemp vs Marijuana: Conclusion

We don’t deny the subject can be a bit complex and quite confusing.
There is a lack of nuance when it comes to using the terms ‘marijuana’, ‘hemp’, and ‘cannabis’. It’s our hope that this will change in future with more education.

When these terms are used in a legal context, it’s especially important to understand what they mean. It’s also necessary to understand all the rights and avoid potential legal complications when using CBD products.



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