What Is The Difference Between Marijuana And Hemp?
Anyone can get confused between the differences between marijuana and hemp, the two types of the cannabis plant. Many people are still oblivious to the fact that both these are the types of marijuana. Both the terms are often used interchangeably in spite of differences between the two related plants.
It is important first to get to know more about that both Hemp and Marijuana are the members of same species of plant i.e. Cannabis sativa L. Both these plants are genetically different and they also have unique chemical makeup, owing to which they are used for varied reasons. Let us get familiar with the differences between Marijuana and Hemp.
Wait, before we go ahead and discuss the differences between both of them, let us first get familiar with both of them.
What Is Hemp?
Hemp is a cannabis plant, and it is yielded commercially for both its stalks and seeds. Some products are produced using both its seeds and stems including medicine, paper, textiles, food nutritional supplements, plastic composites, biofuels, body care products, and building materials.
Since it thrives under natural conditions, owing to this, it is mainly grown outside. To encourage wind pollination, both male & female plants are grown close to each other, and this helps in increasing seed production as well. The hemp plant grows tall and sturdy; the maximum height it stretches to is 4 meters. Moreover, it does not require any pesticide or herbicide.
For cannabis to be acknowledged as hemp, it is important it contains no more than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) per dry weight. It is the presence of THC (active compound) in Marijuana that leads to the euphoric effect. As per the level of THC in hemp, it is not possible for you to get high.
Unlike Marijuana, hemp enjoys the larger quantity of CBD (cannabidiol). CBD is totally non-psychoactive, and thus it won’t cause a high, making it safer to use by anyone, irrespective of age.
What Is Marijuana?
Marijuana is a cannabis plant, and it is yielded mainly for two reasons – psychoactive and euphoric properties, these are the reasons you feel high. Marijuana’s stalks and fibers are not used commercially. Instead, the main reason for growing Marijuana is mainly for its flowers, which is known to have high levels of THC in the plant.
To increase the THC levels in Marijuana, the plant is grown indoors. The plant grows indoors is done mainly to monitor the conditions such as temperature, humidity, and light. Male Marijuana plant is removed to avoid the female plant from becoming fertilized, which end up lowering the concentration of THC in the plant. As compared to Hemp, Marijuana is much shorter, but it is more bushy with lots of flowers.
It is believed that Cannabis is one of the oldest domesticated crops. History tells us that humans have grown a wide variety of cannabis and they have used for both industrial and medical applications. Helping in making a variety of textiles, foods, and oils, early civilizations used to grow tall & sturdy plants.
As far as other plants are concerned, they were acknowledged for being psychoactive and were also bred selectively for both religious and medical reasons. This led to the unique varieties of cannabis that we are familiar with as Marijuana.
Cannabinoids are unique compounds present in cannabis plants. It has been found that there are more than 60 different cannabinoids so far and THC is the most popular amongst them. It is the presence of THC in the Marijuana that causes the feeling of high. While the percentage of THC in Marijuana plants are quite high, on the other hand, hemp has fewer amounts of the psychoactive chemical. This is the one single element that is relied on to distinguish between hemp and Marijuana.
For instance, in Canada, there is a set maximum THC content to be used in hemp i.e. 0.3%. Any cannabis having high levels of THC in it is considered Marijuana instead.
As you might be aware of the fact that producing cannabis is against the law in some US states. As per Controlled Substances Act, both Marijuana and hemp are categorized as Schedule I drugs. At the moment, hemp is grown in over 30 nations across the globe. In 2011, China was the leading producer of hemp, surpassing both Chile and the European Union.
In 2013, the production of hemp in Canada touched a record high of 66, 700 acres as the nation’s annual crop. What’s interesting is that the hemp products can be legally imported to the United States. As per Hemp Industry Association, around $500 million worth of hemp is imported on a yearly basis.
Marijuana, on the other hand, remains illegal in most of the nations around the world. Of late, few countries including Canada and Israel have regulated Marijuana as a medicine. However, the legal production of Marijuana has some strict rules attached to it than hemp as it is considered as a narcotic.
In-depth research work is hampered due to the strict laws & barriers related to both Marijuana and Hemp. Regardless of the obstacles, researchers are continuing to make progress comprehending the ways in which Marijuana can prove helpful in managing a variety of disorders. Also, various developments in the hemp technology have revealed fresh and exciting methods in which this industrial plant can be of great help to the society in the coming times.
Of late, researchers at the University of Alberta have successfully made a supercapacitor with the help of raw hemp material. This invention has made the production of fast and cheaper batteries, using hemp, a reality. New forms of renewable plastic are also being made using hemp fiber which is a standard material in the industry of car accessories. With the legalization spreading around the globe, the chances of exploring the capabilities of cannabis will also increase.
By Emma Brown