What Is The Difference Between the Hemp and Marijuana Plant?
Hemp and marijuana are different species of Cannabis sativa and bred for different purposes. Industrial hemp is exclusively produced by Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be derived from Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. Both hemp and marijuana contain CBD, but there’s a much higher percentage in hemp. Hemp also has much lower levels of THC (less than 0.3%) than the marijuana species. Industrial hemp is grown to be durable, have very long stalks and as few flowering buds as possible—this can make it easier to extract the high amounts of CBD and smaller amounts of THC. Hemp’s chemical profile means that you can’t get “high” from it, and it is used to create medicinal remedies, food and oil, as well as other products, including rope, bricks, natural polymers, fiber, clothes and many more. Marijuana strains of cannabis are typically smaller, flimsier and have many flowering buds with the sole purpose of maximizing the concentration of THC. Marijuana is used recreationally and medicinally only.
Is CBD the only cannabinoid in the hemp plant?
No. CBD is one of many cannabinoids within the hemp plant, but it’s currently the most popular one being researched for potential wellness benefits.
How does CBD get incorporated into beauty products?
Once extracted, CBD can be combined with a carrier oil, which is then incorporated into topical creams, lotions and more.
In what ways are the Hemp and Marijuana plant different?
Hemp is different from marijuana in its function, cultivation and application. But these differences didn’t stop our political leaders from getting confused and accidentally grouping all forms of cannabis as a Schedule I Drug and banning it in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act.
Psychoactive cannabis, or “marijuana” as it is widely known, is used for medicinal or recreational purposes. Many states are slowly legalizing recreational marijuana, but marijuana remains federally illegal. An amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp in the U.S.
Today, hemp can be used in a variety of ways that marijuana cannot. These include healthy dietary supplements, skin products, clothing, and accessories. Today, you can buy legal hemp products not just online, but in many grocery stores and everyday businesses. Overall, hemp is known to have over 25,000 possible applications.
Even after almost 50 years, the government still seems to have some confusion in distinguishing the two plants. Despite the recent legalization, federal policies surrounding hemp growing and sales of hemp products are often still up in the air, and banks continue to treat hemp businesses like criminals. In some rare cases, there are still arrests over hemp, such as truckers arrested while transporting completely legal hemp. Recently, people have started smoking hemp in the form of pre-rolled cigarettes, or bought as “buds” that look similar to marijuana. Smoking “hemp flower” can be very relaxing, but it won’t make you “feel high” like smoking marijuana. That’s because these legal hemp buds are high in a compound called CBD, but extremely low in the compound THC. Keep reading to learn more about these cannabinoids.
The main difference between the two is in its chemical composition, specifically in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the chemical responsible marijuana’s psychological effects. An average batch of marijuana contains anywhere from 5-20% THC content. Some premium marijuana can have up to 25-30% THC. Legal hemp, on the other hand, has a max THC level of 0.3%, essentially making it impossible to feel any psychoactive effect or get a “high.” This threshold is heavily regulated in other countries that have legalized hemp. Hemp also has high cannabidiol (CBD) which offers numerous unique benefits.
Marijuana often looks different from hemp. When you observe their leaves, marijuana’s shape tends to either be broad leafed, a tight bud, or look like a nugget with tiny hairs or crystals. Hemp, on the other hand, has skinnier leaves that’s concentrated at the top. Few branches or leaves exist below the top part of the plant. When you observe the plants from afar, marijuana looks like a short fat bush. Hemp, especially hemp grown for fiber or seed, is typically skinnier and taller (up to 20 ft). At times, it almost looks like long ditch weed – hemp was actually found to grow among weeds in Nebraska, Kansas and many other states. In general, when you compare a marijuana farm with those of industrial hemp, you’ll notice that they are clearly very different from one another.
The environment in which hemp and marijuana are grown are often strikingly different. Hemp is grown closely together (as close as 4 inches apart) and are typically grown in large multi-acre plots. It can also grow in a variety of climates and its growth cycle is 108-120 days. There are numerous varieties of hemp, which can be grown for fiber, seed, or CBD content. Unlike hemp, marijuana requires a carefully controlled, warm, and humid atmosphere for proper growth. Its growth cycle is only 60-90 days. Medical cannabis also cannot be grown too close to each other. They are typically grown 6 feet apart. Hemp and marijuana can’t be grown together: if marijuana grows among (or close to) a hemp field, the hemp’s pollen would immediately ruin the marijuana crop, diluting marijuana’s psychoactivity. Both crops would become useless.
Always be careful about what you end up putting inside your body and always double check when you get it.