Hemp vs Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

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A lot of people mistake hemp for marijuana, and marijuana for hemp. Here is the deal: While they are both members of the cannabis family, hemp and marijuana are variants of their own, containing their own individual characteristics and effects. Both plants contain CBD, but because the legal system isn’t yet convinced that CBD does good rather than harm, we have to play by their rules.

CBD is a powerful antioxidant and neuroprotectant that naturally works with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates and harmonizes immune function, appetite, pain, sleep and mood. With CBD, you essentially get all the benefits of cannabis without the high.

We are going to discuss the differences among the two, regarding their appearance, composition, cultivation method, legal status and health effects, wrapping up with their position on CBD.

Because hemp and marijuana both contain cannabinoids CBD (non-psychoactive component of cannabis) and THC (psychoactive component of cannabis), they have both been found to be effective in improving a wide range of bodily functions which include reducing pain, inflammation and anxiety. Both also act as supplements in helping a slew of conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and many more.

However, hemp and marijuana are different in many ways, which need to be addressed.

Here, we give a comprehensive comparison between hemp and marijuana.

But first, let’s explain what cannabis is, as that is the mother plant where both variants stem (pun intended) from:

Cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. It belongs to a group of flowering plants called Cannabaceae. It is wind-pollinated mostly found in tropical and temperate regions, but it can also be cultivated indoors with proper conditions and equipment.

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There are three main types of cannabis:

  • Sativa: The preferred type for cultivating hemp due to its low THC and high CBD and fiber levels
  • Indica
  • Ruderalis

Indica and Ruderalis contain more THC, so they are typically transformed into marijuana plants for recreational purposes.

Throughout history up until today, different varieties of cannabis have been grown for industrial, medical and recreational purposes. Among these different varieties are hemp and marijuana, which brings us back to our main discussion:

What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?

Appearance

  • A hemp plant is skinny and tall, reaching a maximum of 20 feet
  • Marijuana is a short, fat plant that usually doesn’t grow past five feet

Chemical Composition

  • Marijuana produces greater psychoactive effects because of its high THC content
  • Hemp typically contains less than 0.3 percent THC, making it impossible for users to feel “high,” and is also richer in CBD

Cultivation method

  • Hemp plants are usually cultivated close together (as close as four inches apart), and can grow well in a variety of climates with a growth cycle of 1080120 days
  • Marijuana plants need carefully-controlled environments with precisely the right temperature and humidity, and have a shorter growth cycle of 60-90 days

*Note on cultivation method: The purpose of the final product also has an influence on the cultivation method, whether you are growing for recreational or industrial purposes, for example.

Use

  • Hemp has a much wider application than marijuana –
    Due to its high fiber content, it has been used in the manufacturing of tons of products that we rely on daily, including clothes, plastic, automobile components, construction materials, paper, body care products, fuel and food
    In addition to all of that, studies found hemp to help with certain health conditions due to their lack of psychoactive effects (typically sold in the form of health supplements)
  • Similar to hemp, marijuana has been found to be an effective healing agent and sees significant use in medical settings
    Marijuana also is a very popular recreational substance (which you probably are already aware of), even though it is illegal in most countries

Health Effects

Both hemp and marijuana possess healing properties, but their health effects may differ due to the different CBD and THC levels in them.

According to Dr. Mercola, hemp can help with many health conditions, including:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Blood Clots
  • Heart Disease
  • Skin Disorders
  • Digestion Problems
  • Premenstrual Syndrome

An article published in DrugeAbuse.gov claimed marijuana can alleviate these symptoms and conditions:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Seizure
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Addiction
  • Legal Status

THC is the determining factor when it comes to the permissibility of industrial cannabis. Current standing on hemp and marijuana is this: Hemp is legal in the United States, as well as many other countries around the world (because it contains less than 0.3% THC and is used for so many different purposes keeping the economy going). Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but it’s legal in a number of states including Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts and Alaska (Many other states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes only)

To get the skinny on the legality of CBD, check out our “Is CBD Legal?” post.

Speaking of CBD! Let’s wrap up with hemp CBD vs marijuana CBD

We are living in a period of history where the legality of the CBD molecule is determined by the method of extraction from the plant. The CBD products you have your eye on could be either legal or illegal, technically speaking, depending upon the laws of your residing land.

The hemp plant is definitely the more socially acceptable choice than marijuana. As we learned earlier, both plants have numerous health benefits, and the success stories of people using both hemp CBD and marijuana CBD continue to roll out – But, again, marijuana is not legal in most states.

As of current legislation, to legally obtain CBD across the 50 U.S. states and beyond, the cannabinoid must be extracted from hemp. If it’s marijuana-extracted CBD you’re searching for, you will need to be in a legal state like Washington, Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska or Maine.

Put simply, hemp CBD won’t get you in trouble with the law.

According to Franjo GrotenHermen from the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines, CBD is still CBD regardless of where it comes from. He said “CBD is CBD. The human body does not care where the molecule comes from.”

This means that hemp CBD and marijuana CBD are the same – It’s just that hemp is a safer option because it’s legal.

Another thing – It isn’t just a matter of whether CBD came from hemp or marijuana – Users also need to take into account the presence of other compounds when choosing CBD products like terpenes, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and other cannabinoids. These all partner with CBD and THC to produce a greater, more enhanced effect.

Conclusion

If you wish to get maximum health benefits from the cannabis plant, it is recommended that you purchase hemp-based CBD products. These products are legal, non-psychoactive and loaded with beneficial compounds used for helping specific conditions and improving your general health and wellbeing.

Takeways

  • Both hemp and marijuana produce health benefits
  • Hemp has a mucher wide application than marijuana, making it an overall diverse and helpful plant for many reasons
  • Hemp CBD is legal in all states, while marijuana CBD is illegal in most states
  • Hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC, whereas marijuana contains much more
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