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Due to almost a century of misinformation about Cannabis, the distinction between Cannabis and its two primary species — hemp and marijuana — has become unclear to many and some even consider the three plants to be one and the same. Because of this, the three terms are often used interchangeably, which has created difficulties when understanding the usage and benefits of Hemp vs Marijuana and Cannabis in general.
So, what exactly is the difference between Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana?
First off, let’s be clear — Hemp, and Marijuana are Cannabis and they are not the same thing.
Cannabis is a family of plants with two primary classifications — Hemp and Marijuana both having Indica / Sativa and (Ruderalis- hybrid crosses developed from cross breeding Indica and sativa strains). While marijuana can be considered a member of either the Indica or Sativa families, Hemp is a member of the Cannabis Sativa family.
Because Hemp and Marijuana both derive from the Cannabis Sativa family, they do share certain similarities; however, due to each plant’s biological structure, they have several very distinct and crucial differences.
Cannabaceae is a family of flowering plants. As now circumscribed, the family includes about 170 species grouped in about 11 genera, including Cannabis (hemp, marijuana), Humulus (hops) and Celtis (hackberries). Celtis is by far the largest genus, containing about 100 speciesc, Marijuana and Hemp there are thousands of Strain variations and growing. Cannabis contains a variety of different compounds called Cannabinoids, and the most dominant are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
Both Cannabinoids have shown to provide profound benefits to the human body; however, THC induces psychoactive effects (gets the user “high”), while CBD does not contain psychoactive properties.
When comparing Hemp vs Marijuana, this is a huge distinction; while Hemp contains a very low concentration of THC (0.3% or less), Marijuana is abundant in THC with concentrations between 15% to 40%.
Because Marijuana is abundant in THC, it is naturally grown for its psychoactive properties, whether it be for recreational or medicinal use. Both Hemp & Marijuana can be smoked, inhaled, ingested or injected directly into the body. Both CBD & THC can be extracted from the plants and used in a variety of methods including vaporizers, capsules, edibles and more.
Hemp, on the other hand, is primarily used for industrial purposes as it is capable of producing hundreds of crucial resources such as paper, clothing, building materials, biofuel, food products, oils and more. With the fast-growing popularity of CBD across the globe, hemp is also used to produce a wide variety of THC-free CBD products.
The presence of THC in Hemp vs Marijuana not only plays a huge role in how each plant is used, but it is also the defining factor in the legality of each plant.
Each state/country will have varying laws based on the usage, sales, transportation, and cultivation of Hemp, which will widely depend on the THC-content of the Hemp plant.
In most of the United States, the allowed THC-content for hemp to be classified as legal is 0.3%, while in much of the rest of the world, it is 0.2%. Georgia is 0.330 Delta 9 THC
Because Hemp naturally contains very little THC, it is legal in most parts the world, and where it is not, the legal consequences are minor.
Marijuana is a different story.
Because of its high THC-content, in most parts of the world, including the US, Marijuana is illegal. Seeing the massive economic and medicinal benefits that Marijuana can provide, some countries and states in the US have legalized Marijuana as well as Hemp. As the political landscape changes, hopefully, more will follow, but as of now, Marijuana is generally illegal.
Federal and State regulation – GA House Bill 465. also known as the 2018 Farm Bill has again thrust cannabis into the spotlight. New regulations brought into effect by the bill allow for wide-
scale federal legalization of cannabis plants as long as these plants contain 0.3% Delta-9 THC or less –
the new parameters for industrial hemp and Ga state adopted these same limits based on the federal guideline. This classification allows for more widespread cultivation of
hemp and permits the plants and products derived from hemp flower to be transported across state lines for commercial use. This new distinction opens doors for consumers, retailers and a wide, exciting range of possibilities in commercial application.
CBD hemp flower can look and smell very similar to its psychoactive, THC heavy cannabis counterpart
but will not lead to any euphoric sensations associated with a common ‘high.’ The cannabinoid content
and chemical structure of CBD hemp flower also differ from more basic industrial hemp. Hemp intended
for strictly industrial purposes such as food, textiles, etc. has not been bred to have a high content of
cannabidiol (CBD). CBD hemp flowers have been bred to allow for terpene profiles with increased CBD
levels making this form of cannabis ideal for any application where high amounts of this compound are
desired. Highly refined CBD tinctures and oils can result in levels of CBD ranging from 3-25% of total
volume. While processed forms of CBD flower can yield high percentages, it is important to note that
using whole hemp flower can have synergistic effects along with other cannabinoids and compounds in the plant. Meaning a holistic approach to CBD consumption may lead to better results.
The current market for CBD flower is vast and growing. Reported benefits of using CBD are quickly
becoming mainstream with its many proven therapeutic effects and promise in treating a wide range of
disorders and conditions from seizures and cancer to anxiety and depression. These many health benefits,alongside an ease of regulations on cannabis, have led to more businesses procuring, producing and profiting from CBD products than ever before.
We seek to provide accurate, precise and dependable analytical testing. Our team is built around dedicated, passionate, and highly qualified individuals with years of experience in analytical testing and the cannabis industry.