Few people know that marijuana and hemp are two different subspecies of cannabis. The name cannabis is usually associated with a bong filled with smoke or a simple joint. In fact, these images can be equated only to marijuana. But hemp is also cannabis though it is not grown for getting high, instead, it is used for industrial purposes. So, how can we differentiate between recreational pot and industrial hemp?
The main difference is that hemp and marijuana differ on the genetic level. Since ancient times, people have been growing these crops. Hemp was considered as a useful material for ropes, fabrics, and oils. It was bred with other similar plants. Marijuana was recognized as psychoactive and used for religious and medical purposes.
The amount of unique compounds called cannabinoids in these two plants also differs (and that is probably the most important characteristic). The most famous one is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that causes the “high”. Marijuana has very high THC levels, thus it is being used as a drug. Hemp, on the contrary, has extremely low levels of this chemical. This factor usually determines whether a plant can be used legally—in Canada, for example, the highest level of allowed THC content is 0.3%. The further difference is shown in the amount of Cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp contains more CBD than THC, thus reducing the psychoactive effects of the latter. Marijuana, even medical, has pretty high levels of THC—from 5% to 30%.
Considering the nature of these two species, they are cultivated for different purposes and require different conditions. Hemp is grown outside and requires minimum attention while marijuana is very tricky and needs stable light, temperature and humidity levels.
The legal status of cannabis is also a complicated question. In general, hemp is cultivated in almost 30 countries, including China and many European countries. The U.S. allows only to import hemp products to the country. Meanwhile, marijuana remains illegal almost everywhere, with the exception of its legalization for medical purposes.
Considering all the legal restrictions, the research of all kinds of cannabis is very limited. Only a limited number of scientists are able to advance medical marijuana.1 comment