Many people have a hard time understanding what the differences are between cannabis (marijuana) and hemp. This is understandable with laws like the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, which ultimately categorized hemp and cannabis as a schedule 1 drug and indistinguishable from one another. Even now, 45 years later, there is still confusion about what the differences between hemp and cannabis really are… and if there actually are any.
To add to the confusion, the definition of Hemp varies depending on what country you are in. For example, Health Canada defines hemp as: products of Cannabis Sativa, which contain less than 0.3 percent THC. The US, on the other hand, defines hemp as: all parts of any Cannabis Sativaplant containing no psychoactive properties, except for defined exceptions…
There is no doubt that the US has done a great job of keeping hemp and “marijuana” in a gray-area of understanding in terms of their relationship to one another. As challenging as it can be to cut through the legal jargon we do have helpful research that can assist cutting through all of the B.S.
A study published in 1976 by the International Association of Plant Taxonomy concluded that, “both hemp varieties and marijuana varieties are of the same genus, Cannabis, and the same species, Cannabis Sativa.” Unfortunately, given the previous definitions, it really comes down to how the plant is used and grown to determine which term is correct.
Simply put, the term Cannabis (also known as marijuana, pot, weed, ganja etc.) is used when describing a Cannabis Sativa plant that is bred for its high levels of THC and other cannabinoids that are often cultivated to generate a “high.”
Hemp, on the other hand, is used to describe a Cannabis Sativaplant that has only trace (basically non-existent) amounts of THC (the largest psychoactive cannabinoid found in Cannabis Sativa). A plant must have under 0.3% THC to be legal to sell, buy, consume, and possibly ship across state and country borders.
Hemp characteristics and structure are different as well. Hemp is generally very tall and gangly and can be used to produce things such as topicals, oil, fiber, plastic, and construction materials.
One very large misconception is that only male plants can be hemp. This is not true. “Just like all cannabis species, hemp plants can be male or female… or both, in monoecious species...” but that is a different topic all together… “It is the female plants that are grown to full maturity and harvested at the end of the season. Male plants die off shortly after they have completed pollination.”
So, which plant is best for medical use if they can both produce CBD?
In recent months I have been approached by many people regarding the difference between CBD oil produced by cannabis and CBD oil produced by hemp. Although hemp is defined as “hemp” because it does not contain any real psychoactive cannabinoids it does produce other cannabinoids like, CBD, CBN, CBG etc.
The reality is that CBD regardless of coming from cannabis or hemp is still CBD. The difference in argument is that the relationship between different cannabinoids can play a key role in symptom management. For example, some studies show that consumption of a CBD and THC infused medical product has a higher efficacy rate because the CBD and THC work synergistically within the body. In laymen’s terms THC (the compound that makes you feel “high”) has been associated with helping things like pain management.
And many people firmly believe that some small amount of THC along with CBD provides a better overall pain management solution. But it really is a matter of personal preference and ailment.
Regardless CBD is CBD. Hemp derived CBD may be different in effects compared to Cannabis derived CBD because of the varying cannabinoids and terpene profiles. This is and will continue to be a topic of discussion for a long time, especially in states that do not have any form of legal consumption or education. If you have any further questions please reach out to us. We believe in the power of cannabis regardless of form or function. We will continue to fight for the right to consume cannabis as a form of medical treatment for every individual in need of help.