Cannabis is a family of plants with its primary classifications being Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. Cannabis used for its psychoactive qualities is referred to as marijuana while Cannabis grown for industrial use is called hemp. Hemp is of the Cannabis Sativa family while Marijuana is of either the Cannabis Sativa family or the Cannabis Indica family. Hemp was one of the oldest plants to be cultivated. It was grown to make paper, clothes, ropes and as food. It is not known when hemp use began precisely as most of its applications were probably passed down through oral traditions. Ancient China was using hemp in 6000 BC to make clothes, food, medicine, and tools. In 2000 BC, it was used to make ropes, and in 100 AD, China made the first paper using hemp fiber. By 1150 AD, the first paper mill was built by the Muslims and its paper was used for more than 700 years. In the past, sailors used hemp to make ropes and canvas sails for their ships. They also used it to make clothes for sailors, and hemp seeds were carried as food due to their nutritious value. Many societies used it in the past, and it is noted in the histories of the Middle East, China, Indians, Greeks, and even Egyptians.
Hemp made it to England as time went by and by the 16th Century; it was one of the main crops grown there. By the 17th century, its use made it to North America, and there were even strict laws mandating its growth by farmers for example in Massachusetts and Connecticut. At the turn of the 19th century, hemp use for medicinal purposes declined because of the increasing use of opiates and syringes, but it had gained popularity for treating pain, tumors, convulsions, insomnia, gout and even depression. As the war on drugs kicked in in the 1970s, its use began to decline sharply. This was mainly due to the interchangeable use of the words marijuana, hemp and cannabis.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
When the war on drugs began, it led to the ban of cannabis altogether. This was despite the rich history that hemp had. The plant that was the real culprit in the ban was Marijuana which is the variant of Cannabis cultivated for its psychedelic qualities. Cannabis is a family of plants from which Marijuana and Hemp are derived. They are aptly named as they contain hundreds of cannabinoids, but the two main ones are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp and marijuana, however, have distinct physical and chemical characteristics.
Marijuana appears like a small bushy plant while Hemp is a tall, lanky plant with leaves prominently at the top of the plant. Marijuana has broad leaves while hemp has narrower leaves. Concerning growth, Marijuana grows in controlled conditions several feet apart while hemp grows very close together almost like a weed,
Hemp is cultivated outside and it grows in almost all climates. Chemically, they both have numerous cannabinoids, but Marijuana has 5-40% THC, and hemp has less than 0.3% THC. THC is the component that causes psychoactive symptoms. The low amount of THC in hemp is counteracted by its high CBD content, so hemp doesn’t necessarily make you high. Furthermore, regarding usage, hemp is cultivated for its vast industrial and medicinal uses while marijuana is grown mainly for its medicinal and psychoactive qualities.
|Tall, thin plant||Short plant with a bushy appearance|
|Skinny leaves at the top of the plant||Broad leaves|
|Less than 0.3% THC||5 – 40% THC|
|Grown outdoors||Grown indoors under controlled conditions|
|Grown for medicinal and industrial purposes||Grown for medicinal and recreational purposes|