It’s not rocket science to know the differences between hemp and marijuana. People say that it’s easy to determine the differences. When you smoke it and you get the high then it is marijuana but if you don’t then it’s hemp. These two belong to the same plant the cannabis sativa but they have different legal implications. Certainly, you cannot associate cannabis with plastic materials, highly durable paper, and military fabric. The following are some of the factors you need to look into to figure out the differences between marijuana and industrial hemp:
Manner of Cultivation
First off, marijuana and hemp are cultivated for different purposes. This requires them to have different growing conditions. Medical cannabis has been selectively bred over the years. It is made sure that the environment is well adopted for it to produce female flowering plants that produce flowering flowers during the flowering stage of this plant’s life cycle. Hemp plants on the other hand are male and they don’t have a flowering stage in their life cycle. Hemp’s selective breeding for generations resulted to low concentrations of THC and growing tall and quick to grow plants that are meant for higher stalk harvests. It is quite tricky for you to achieve maximum THC levels for marijuana and it requires a specific room condition. Often the growers have to maintain stable light, exact humidity, temperature, CO2 and oxygen levels, etc. Hemp on the other hand is grown outdoors to make sure that its size and yield are maximized. The individual plants don’t need much attention from the growers.
Cannabis plants are known to possess cannabinoids. Research revealed that there are about 60 cannabinoids but THC is the most popular. THC is known for giving the high. Marijuana plants have high THC but hemp has a limited amount of this psychoactive substance. Another cannabinoid that both marijuana and hemp possess is CBD. Hemp produces more CBD than THC while marijuana produces more of the latter than the former. Research has also showed that CBD can reduce the psychoactive effects of THC which sets off a huge difference between the two. The combination of THC and CBD creates an entourage effect which where the CBD extract improves anti-inflammatory and anti-pain response.
It is common knowledge that in the United States it is illegal to produce both marijuana and hemp. Both are considered as Schedule I drugs which means they are put under the Controlled Substances Act. Outside the United States, however, hemp is grown in over 30 countries. China was the top-performing country in hemp production in 2011. It was followed by Chile and the European Union. Hemp production has also been expanding in Canada. Its annual crop production reached 66,700 acres way back in 2013. The irony is that it is legal to import hemp products into the United States. The Hemp Industry Association revealed that about 500 million worth of hemp products are imported into the US every year. Marijuana has remained illegal in majority of countries. Israel and Canada have regulated its use for medical purposes only. Legal production of marijuana has to follow stringent rules compared to hemp since it is still considered a narcotic substance.
Application and Uses
Hemp and marijuana are too different in how they both are used. Hemp is known to have multiple applications. Its extracts are used in the production of hemp oil like in the production of premium tinctures. There are also hemp seeds which can be used to produce hemp seed oil. There are also hemp protein powders, hemp shirts, and hemp organic soaps. In fact, every part of the hemp plant from the stalks, leaves, to its seeds can be used for different consumer products. Marijuana in contrast is grown mainly for its extracts which are used for medicinal and recreational purposes. It has psychoactive properties which make its cultivation and use restricted. Its deregulation however is gaining speed in many places. There were 29 states that have legalized marijuana in 2017. Among the 29 states, 8 of them legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.
Researches for both marijuana and hemp are both difficult to accomplish due to the strict regulations. There are thousands of academic research proposals from the US and Canada for agricultural or medical purposes but only 40 actual research licenses were given for studying the plant in a limited context. Despite all the legal barriers the research studies on medical marijuana have been expanding and its list of disorders has also been extended. There are also several studies on the development of hemp technology to find ways in which the plant can contribute to the society in the near future. For instance, just recently researchers from the University of Alberta manufactured a supercapacitor that uses raw hemp in the production of cheaper and fast-acting batteries. Hemp fiber is also being used to come up with new forms of renewable plastic which can be used commonly in car manufacturing.