Hemp And Marijuana: What Are The Differences?

Cannabis has many other slang names and common words used in media platforms, referring to a genus of plants used as herbal drugs. Similar to animals, plants are also categorized into different taxonomic groups. This plant genus is divided into three species: indica, ruderalis, and Sativa. Although there are countries supporting the legalization of these drugs, especially for medical usage, there is still insufficient public knowledge about cannabis. The DEA or Drug Enforcement Agency categorizes cannabis as a substance with no accepted medical use because of its high potential for abuse.

Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis but of different strains. There are still some people who believe that hemp and marijuana are the same, but these two are not the same at all. Hemp, also called industrial hemp and marijuana, are closely related but differ in significant ways. The main difference between these two is the species they belong to. Hemp plants belong to the Sativa cannabis species, while marijuana, on the other hand, belongs to either Sativa or indica species. Marijuana and hemp both belong to the cannabis genus, but despite having similar smells and appearance., these two are recognized legally as two different plants. Just as humans, we all belong to the same species, H. sapiens, yet each of us still possesses unique appearances, behaviors, and characteristics. Aside from qualities and characteristics, each of these species has different effects and outcomes on individuals.

Another difference between hemp and marijuana is their psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. TCH is also considered a cannabinoid and interacts with receptors in diverse bodily functions. Clinical researchers state that cannabinoids effectively treat a handful of medical conditions, such as epilepsy. It can help with nausea, opioid-dependency disorder, pain and reduces anxiety. Hemp has only 0.3% or a lesser amount of TCH, which means that it does not contain a significant amount of TCH to make an individual “high” compared to marijuana which contains a higher level of intoxicating TCH at around 30% with an average of 5-20%. Marijuana provides a sense of euphoria, as well as a delay in motor responses; it slows down the activity of the central nervous system and delays messages sent from the brain to the body. Therefore, hemp does not cause any mind-altering effects because it does not have psychoactive properties. Another difference is that hemp has a high CBD concentration while marijuana has a low concentration. Despite that, medical research on marijuana is still restricted by federal law.

Another big difference between hemp and marijuana is the laws linked to them. Though marijuana remains illegal federally, about 15 states in the United States have already legalized recreational marijuana, which indicates that the citizens who possess marijuana in weed state can still be punished. The usage of marijuana is limited to using it recreationally or medically. On the other hand, hemp is very versatile and was legalized in 50 states and is allowed to be grown and sold in the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill removed the plant from the Controlled Substances Act; as a result, legal cultivation on the federal level was allowed. 

The hemp fibers contain cellulose making it an ideal material for textiles such as cloth and rope. Clothes made from hemp are incredibly soft and durable, which makes them a feasible alternative to cotton. Paper, bio-concrete, bio-plastics, fuel, and even food can also be produced from hemp. Other than that, seeds of this plant can also be extracted and used for their nutritional value, such as complete amino acid profiles and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

In one recent study, it was stated that Americans recognize hemp to be similar to-the-counter medication and marijuana to be more like a drug that requires a medical prescription. The average person does not view hemp and marijuana the same way as they view illicit substances such as meth and cocaine despite being classified as having a lower potential for abuse.

Hemp and marijuana also differ in cultivation methods, although they are of the same species. Marijuana cultivation must be done carefully with the constant monitoring of its temperature and humidity level and trimming the plants at every stage of growth. Hemp, on the other hand, thrives in almost all conditions and can grow very close to each other. This plant only requires little care.

Despite coming from the same genus, hemp and marijuana are two different plants. It is easy to get confused with their appearance since they are very similar. Nevertheless, it is crucial to understand that there are still significant differences between the two.

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