What is the Difference between Hemp and Cannabis

February 26, 2019

Differences between Hemp and cannabis

One of the biggest questions in the cannabis consuming community is – Is cannabis, hemp and marijuana the same thing? While, we could provide lots of texts and references to show just how different they are, the short answer is No. These three terms are not the same and are used technically to represent different meanings.

To put them very simply, cannabis is a plant that has two specific classifications. These are the cannabis Indica and cannabis sativa. Marijuana is a member of the cannabis family and can either belong to the indica or sativa specie while hemp is a plant in the sativa family. Of course, all of these could be very new and confusing to a first timer. However, the most common way to differentiate them from one another is their effect when consumed (this is due to their varying content of THC). Seeing as both marijuana and hemp are classified under the cannabis family, it is only logical that there be a distinction between the two.

While Marijuana (a member of the indica specie) produces a strong psychoactive effect, hemp does not and would rather deliver a relaxing/calming effect. Another very important distinction is the availability of both plants. Hemp would typically grow in just about any climate as it is more adaptable and can survive in unfavorable weather conditions. Marijuana on the other hand requires a lot of care and tending and can only grow in regulated and controlled atmospheres. This makes it very difficult to tell their differences as hemp has become a more available option giving marijuana the impression of being “very strong hemp”. Yet, it is still true that they are quite similar and can deliver similar effects when consumed.

How marijuana and hemp got mixed up

The war on drugs was signed into law in 1970. This led to the formation of the drug enforcement agency to help combat the rise in drug trafficking of all cannabis related substances, including hemp. The controlled substance act created a criminalization of all cannabis related substances and prohibited their growth or consumption in the US. While hemp doesn’t contain the reactive component that makes marijuana a drug, its legality became mixed up with marijuana leading to its ban.

Physical difference between Hemp and Marijuana

The anatomy of marijuana is a lot different from hemp. To a person who is not familiar with either of these plants, they may look a lot identical, however, they actually have very clear differences if you know exactly what you to look out for.

Hemp being a member of the cannabis sativa family, has the typical features for which all members of the sativa family are known for. These include, skinny leaves, taller frame and overall lengthier branches. Marijuana on the other hand comes with broad leaves, dense buds and has a really bushy appearance. This provides a stark contrast that makes it very easy to tell one from the other.

When both of these plants are placed side by side, it becomes a lot easier to tell which is which. Aside from the physical differences, there are a lot of other features that further emphasizes the distinction between them.

Composition differences

Hemp contains very minute amounts of THC that it becomes almost impossible to get the same highness from it. Marijuana on the hand has THC as its predominant component with strains containing 15-40%. This makes it very potent and effective for use as a recreational drug and also in medicine. Hemp is cultivated primarily for industrial purposes such as the production of body products, foods plastic and clothing.

Differences in applications and uses

As a result of the abundance of THC in marijuana, it has been widely adapted strictly for its “highness” effect. Typically, it can be ingested, inhaled, smoke and even injected. The reactive component may also be extracted and used in vaporizers and capsules.

Hemp is used primarily for industrial production. Seeing as CBD products are fast gaining acceptance around the world, manufacturers are more likely to turn to hemp to produce CBD products that are THC-free. Common uses for hemp in production include; biofuel, food products, clothing, paper and so much more.

Are hemp and marijuana both legal?

There is a lot of controversy and debate regarding the legality of cannabis in general. However, with the political landscape changing, the conversation is beginning to improve around the plant and people are more willing to discuss the bad and good sides.

For both plants, the presence of THC is a really big deal. It greatly affects the legal status of both and determines whether or not it is legal. In fact, the content of THC is what determines its use, consumption sales, cultivation and transportation in just about any country on earth.

Generally, cannabis plants containing less than 0.3% are considered to be legal in almost all parts of the world. In areas where it isn’t, the penalty isn’t very heavy. Marijuana on the other hand remains highly outlawed in many regions.

Even in the United States, more states are beginning to allow marijuana as the argument for its medicinal benefits helps to change the impression around the plant. Unfortunately, most countries of the world remain adamant on this stance and marijuana continue to remain a highly regulated and illegal substance.

In conclusion, it is quite apparent that marijuana, hemp and cannabis all refer to different things and should not be mixed up with one another. While they all belong to the same family, their effects are often very different alongside their uses and applications.