What Is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
Hemp and marijuana are varieties of Cannabis sativa. However, there are some differences between them. The main one is the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the compound that makes people feel high. Marijuana can have high THC levels. Hemp, however, has only trace amounts of THC. Hemp and marijuana have many chemical and genetic differences.
Since both are varieties of Cannabis sativa, the leaves’ structure is the same. Historically, marijuana has had a negative connotation. Many consider marijuana a racist term. This expression was tied to an anti-Mexican sentiment. During the 1930s, cannabis was negatively linked to Mexican immigrants. This association was one of the reasons that later led to total prohibition.
THC Level: The Main Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis
The critical distinction is that hemp contains much less THC content than cannabis. By definition, hemp plants contain less than 0.3% THC, compared to the 5-20% THC found in cannabis. Although THC is known for recreational use, it can also have therapeutic purposes. Hemp can also hold more cannabidiol (CBD).
The Legality of Hemp and Marijuana
Authorities were slow to see the difference between hemp and cannabis. Many countries around the world still criminalize hemp production. From 1970 to 2018, the U.S. federal law classified all types of cannabis as a controlled substances. However, states pushed more and more for a legal distinction between varieties. Farmers can grow hemp for many purposes, as it is federally legal. Cannabis for recreation, however, is only allowed in a few states.
Hemp and Cannabis: Different Uses
Hemp uses are many, from industrial raw material to health supplements. The stems and fibers can be used for clothing, paper, hemp concrete, bioplastics, etc. Hemp seeds are highly nutritious and make hemp oil and foods. The flower buds are rich in CBD, which can help treat many diseases.
What about hemp oil? Does it have THC? Much like the hemp plant, hemp oil only contains traces of THC. It can’t cause psychoactive effects or make you fail a drug test. Hemp seeds and hemp oil are entirely legal and safe to purchase.
Cannabis planted for THC has limited uses and is not federally legal in the U.S. It is often used for medicinal and recreational purposes. The only part of the plant used is the buds to extract the CBD or THC content. The rest of the plant is unsuitable for use due to the amount of THC.
Final Thoughts: Distinguishing is Key for Legalization
Hemp and marijuana are both noteworthy varieties of cannabis. The distinction between them is crucial for hemp worldwide legalization. Seeing hemp and cannabis as the same means losing a huge opportunity. Allowing hemp could bring many benefits to the countries that do so. The ecological and economic gains would be only the start.
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