Along with the discussion of the legalization of marijuana, there is also a lot of discussion about the production of hemp as a resource to be used, so people ask whats the difference between hemp and cannabis?. Hemp has been made for bracelets and necklaces for years now, and some people even use hemp seeds in their smoothies. Most people associate hemp with marijuana but there’s actually quite a few differences between hemp and psychoactive marijuana.
Whats the Difference between Hemp and Cannabis?
Cannabis is believed to be one of the oldest crops in the history of humanity. Early on, it was often used to make ropes and oils. When certain strains of the plant were discovered to contain psychoactive qualities, people begin breeding the psychoactive strains for recreational (and religious in some cultures) purposes. This became the plant commonly called marijuana today. Genetically, there is quite a bit of a difference between hemp which was used for textiles and marijuana.
Marijuana has several cannabinoids which are compounds which activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the human brain. The strongest of these compounds is the cannabinoid known as tetrahydrocannabinol commonly abbreviated as THC. THC produces the mind-altering effects normally associated with marijuana. Hemp normally contains very little THC. However, hemp usually does contain quite a bit of cannabidol (CBD). CBD is a compound believed to lessen the psychoactive qualities of THC. It is also commonly used for its various medicinal qualities.
Because marijuana and hemp have completely different uses, they are also grown differently. Marijuana has been grown for its psychoactive properties so the plant is bred through generations to produce mostly female plants containing high amounts of THC. Hemp, however, is cultivated from mostly male plants containing little amounts of THC. Marijuana is normally grown indoors in greenhouse situations while hemp is grown in fields like other crops used for industrial purposes. Hemp also grows extremely fast.
Both hemp and marijuana are listed as Schedule 1 narcotics under the controlled substance act which makes it illegal to produce either in the United States under federal law. It is not illegal to import hemp from other countries into the United States for sale or distribution. China is currently the number one producer of hemp in the world. Much progress has occurred in attempts to decriminalize or legalize marijuana in the states. For instance, Washington , Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., and Colorado have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Other states have made efforts to decriminalize marijuana but it is currently still an illegal substance under federal law even though some progress is being made in Washington D.C. where marijuana was also recently decriminalized.
As more and more progress is being made to legalize cannabis, many academics have increased their studies on cannabis, both marijuana and hemp. CBD is currently used to treat epileptics and some studies suggest that it can be used to treat alcoholism and PTSD. Almost every month, a new study is released detailing potential medicinal uses for marijuana while hemp’s potential industrial use has grown to such a point that it is already commonly used for automobile parts as it can be used as a plastic.