The past hundred years in the U.S. have seen the evolution of hemp and cannabis take over. Little do most people know, however, cannabis and hemp are wildly different despite common misconceptions. While some may believe that there are many similarities between cannabis and hemp, the two plants have different characteristics and different legal standings as well.
First, we should define the differences between the two substances. Cannabis by itself has two different defining families that it can come from. Those two are known as Sativa and Indica. Hemp is classified as part of the Cannabis Sativa family which does give it close ties to its illicit brother.
From an more scientific standpoint, cannabis visually is very different than hemp in its raw form. Marijuana for one has much larger leaves as well as the dense buds that individuals can dry and smoke to become intoxicated. To those who don’t know, the two may seem visually similar, but there are some stark differences to look out for.
Hemp, on the other hand, is a plant with much skinnier leaves that grow upwards and are in greater density toward the top of the plant. Hemp also grows much taller than cannabis which can be one of the biggest giveaways of difference between the two.
Where the difference really lies, however, is in the chemical makeup of the two substances. Cannabis contains hundreds of different chemical compounds within it that are widely known as cannabinoids. This is everything from the psychoactive component THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, all the way to CBD or cannabidiol which holds a large amount of medicinal proprieties within itself.
CBD differs from the former in that it does not get the user high. Cannabis plants usually contain a higher amount of THC which is why individuals use it to feel the ‘high’. On the other hand, hemp usually contains an extremely low amount of THC somewhere in the range of 0.3% or less. Marijuana, on the other hand, can have anywhere from 10% to 40% depending on the strength of the individual strain one is smoking.
While we know that hemp really does a pretty poor job of getting someone high, it actually has a large amount of industrial uses. Hemp has been used for centuries as a way to produce everything from paper to clothing, building materials, and biofuel. Of course, there are many more ways to use hemp, but these are just to name a few.
Hemp is being used in the modern day to produce CBD as it holds a solid amount of the substance and is usually much cheaper to derive from than marijuana. CBD has become extremely popular as a medicine for healing everything from anxiety to pain management.
Right now, lawmakers around the U.S. are working to put in legislation to allow the propagation of industrial hemp as it is not a mind-altering substance. While this is still very much in the works, it seems as though this could become a big stepping stone for the world of marijuana as well. The future hopefully holds a large amount of promise for these two different but very similar plants.