The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 could not differentiate between hemp and marijuana when it banned all cannabis products. Yet hemp is not the same as marijuana in many aspects, even though both may contain similar chemical components. As you may have noted, there is a high demand for CBD from the hemp plant amidst the confusion. Read along to understand and appreciate the difference between the two species.
How to Identify the Two Species
Both of them are varieties of cannabis, although they look different from each other. The hemp plant has comparatively thinner leaves, which are more at the top part of the plant than the bottom. Marijuana leaves are broader than hemp leaves and appear more “hairy.”
Here are other factors that can differentiate them:
- Both plants contain cannabinoid components like THC and CBD.
- You could mistake one for the other if you do not have prior experience with them. Several factors come into play during growth giving marijuana a psychoactive effect as opposed to hemp.
- Hemp is more versatile since it has more utility value, even in the manufacturing industry.
If we look at this in a better way, hemp and its CBD is suitable for people who want to benefit from medicinal purposes of cannabis but do not want to be high. Marijuana, on its part, is for those who fancy being high since it makes them feel good.
Differences in Composition
Both marijuana and hemp plants have THC and CBD but in varying degrees. The THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is higher than 0.3% in marijuana and lower than that in hemp. That is the reason why hemp does not produce euphoric feelings after use. Marijuana can have more than 25% THC content in some strains, depending on the growing process.
Hemp has higher concentrations of CBD (cannabidiol), which benefits the human body more than recreational effects. Notably, the chemical formula of CBD from marijuana is the same as that which comes from hemp. The difference is in concentration and the fact that CBD from marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
Differences in Legal Status
Marijuana still faces federal legal restrictions in the US, although some states allow recreational and medicinal use. However, they restrict it to persons who are 18 years old and above and licensed medical marijuana patients. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that was so punitive against any form of marijuana, is still in place.
Controlled Substances Act of 1970 delivered a killer blow to all cannabis products, including hemp. However, two legislations legalized the hemp plant due to its low THC levels. They are:
- The Farm Bill of 2014- it defined hemp as a plant with less than 0.3% THC.
- The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill 2018) legalized hemp use in 50 states leading to the heightened use of CBD oil.
Uses of Marijuana VS Uses of Hemp
Hemp has many applications, apart from producing a high concentration of CBD. It gives the following products, among others:
- Cooking oil
- Hemp flour
- Products derived from hemp seed
- CBD for medicinal use
- Building materials
Marijuana is useful in two main ways: recreation and medicinal relief. The high concentration of THC is responsible for its recreational effect and explains why people feel “high” after smoking. On the medicinal front, marijuana and its products provide therapeutic relief from chronic pains and some mental conditions like schizophrenia.
Differences in the Growing Process
Marijuana grows best indoors since it requires close attention from germination to harvesting. The concentration of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is crucial in commercially grown marijuana, and no condition gets a chance to compromise it. This concern is the reason why growers separate male plants from their female counterparts. If the male fertilizes the flowers in female flowers through pollination, the level of THC goes down.
The bud is the only part of the marijuana plant relevant to commercial and recreational marijuana growers. The size of flower matters since, in a particular strain, it determines how the yield will be. However, other parts of the plant contain THC, too, and can be relevant for medicinal extractions.
On the other hand, growers of hemp do not concern themselves with the THC level. That explains why they do not give it much attention, but allow it to grow outside under natural conditions. They do not separate the male plants from females. Hence, the plants fertilize and grow taller and more robust than marijuana.
Apart from the legislative concern, you realize that there is no major problem with cannabis and its products. However, there is some significant progress with the legalization of hemp nationally, and marijuana in some states. As more people continue to realize the medicinal benefits of both cannabis species, there would be some inevitable change in legislation. Many lives depend on the relief that they get from using marijuana and CBD products.