Hemp and Marijuana Differences Explained

Hemp and Marijuana Differences Explained

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Most people think hemp and marijuana are different species of the cannabis plant, but that’s not the case. However, there are some legal and therapeutic differences based on the varying components of each plant that are important to understand.

Cannabis: History to Present-Day

Evidence suggests that people have been using cannabis medicinally for over 5,000 years. Its first documented use was in 2800 BC, as it was part of the pharmacopeia of the “father of Chinese medicine,” Emperor Shen Nung. Throughout history, the Chinese, Indian Hindus, Greeks, Assyrians, and Romans used cannabis to treat things like arthritis, inflammation, pain, asthma, depression, and as an appetite stimulant.

Cannabis arrived in Western medicine much later, in the middle of the 19th century. Then, near the turn of the century, its usage expanded to cannabis extracts, known as tinctures. Pharmacies sold cannabis tinctures freely over-the-counter. In other words, the potential health benefits of CBD oil were reaching people long before they even realized it. However, its medicinal use greatly declined throughout the 20th century when governments around the world began to prohibit its use.

When cannabis became illegal, that meant every kind of cannabis plant was illegal. This included both marijuana and hemp, because technically speaking, they are the same plant. The reasoning behind the laws prohibiting cannabis use had to do with its recreational quality of making users feel high. However, that was just marijuana, and hemp got lumped into those laws even though it is non-intoxicating.

Despite it being illegal, beginning mainly in the 1940s, scientists found a way to study cannabis, seeking out the chemical structure of its components as well as its potential therapeutic qualities. For example, in the 1960s, they discovered THC, the component of cannabis that makes users feel intoxicated, or “high.” It is one of over 100 phytocannabinoids within the cannabis plant. Others that were subsequently discovered include CBD and CBG.

That discovery then led to the 1988 discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Without cannabis, this mammalian system that maintains homeostasis in our bodies may not have been discovered. Its receptors, called CB1 and CB2, can be found in every organ of our bodies, in our connective tissues, immune cells, and glands. The ECS exists within our immune system as well as our nervous system.

Understanding the ECS and how phytocannabinoids, like CBD, trigger it could be key to connecting brain activity with physical health and disease.


What is Hemp?

Scientifically, there is no difference between hemp and marijuana. They are the same species of plant, both cannabis sativa L. The law is the reason we differentiate between hemp and marijuana. Hemp, by law, has 0.3 percent or less THC. Cannabis that has more than that quantity is automatically considered marijuana. As mentioned, THC is the phytocannabinoid in cannabis that makes people feel high. Because hemp has such a low THC-content, it doesn’t have psychoactive effects. People ask, “Can CBD oil get you high?” and the answer is no.

Historically, hemp has many uses. It is a nutritious, high-fiber food, it can be used to make paper, fabric, and building materials, and even has use as a biofuel. More recently, hemp has also been used therapeutically because of its higher concentration of the phytocannabinoid cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD. Clinical research has proven CBD’s effectiveness in treating rare forms of epilepsy, which led to the FDA approval of the CBD-based drug Epidiolex in 2018. The research for CBD’s other potential therapeutic effects, including anxiety, arthritis, inflammation, skin issues, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, is also promising.


What is Marijuana?

Marijuana, often referred to as “weed,” is cannabis that typically has a lot of THC in it, enough to make it a popular recreational drug because of its psychoactive effects. Now that cannabis has been legalized in many US states, many strains are bred specifically to contain high quantities of THC.

While many people use marijuana for recreational purposes, some research shows it may have many medicinal purposes as well, including pain management, nausea, migraines, glaucoma, and appetite.


The Major Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana

As mentioned, the major difference between hemp and marijuana is their THC-content. Marijuana’s higher THC-content has made it a popular drug for recreational use. Hemp’s lower THC-content has led to it being used for more practical purposes. Additionally, both hemp and marijuana plants contain a huge variety of phytocannabinoids, not just THC. In particular, hemp tends to have a lot more CBD than marijuana plants.

When looking at the two plants, a trained eye could differentiate between them, though they are not especially obvious. Marijuana leaves are wider and broader than hemp leaves. Marijuana plants are more often short and bushy, while hemp plants are taller and skinnier with most of their leaves growing at the very top.

In recent years, thanks to legalization and advanced research into cannabis as a whole, scientists have discovered the many potential healing uses for both marijuana and hemp. Most of the research has focused on THC and CBD, though studies into the therapeutic benefits of other phytocannabinoids have also been on the rise.

The majority of the research is still in its early stages, though that has not stopped people from using both marijuana and hemp-based products for medicinal purposes. Part of that has to do with the fact that CBD research has largely indicated that it is safe to use, even in high doses.

Furthermore, the widespread anecdotal evidence regarding the medicinal uses of cannabis, particularly CBD, has given people lots of confidence.


Is CBD Oil Legal in All 50 States?

As of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is legal across all 50 states. This means hemp-derived CBD is also legal in all 50 states. As of 2021, in 36 US states, marijuana is legal for medicinal use. In fifteen of those states, marijuana is legal for recreational use.

Regardless of this legalization, the research into the medical benefits of most cannabis products remains inconclusive. As such, the FDA prohibits marketing hemp or marijuana products (generally, those containing phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD) as dietary supplements. Additionally, the FDA prohibits hemp and marijuana products to state that they have specific health benefits.


The massive legalization and thus de-stigmatization of cannabis as a whole has made the plant extremely popular. Cultivation of both marijuana and hemp plants has sky-rocketed as a result. Marijuana strains are often cultivated with high-THC content in mind. Due to high demand, hemp cultivators often have CBD production in mind rather than the other uses of hemp.

That being said, CBD can be hemp-derived or marijuana-derived, as both plants can contain fairly significant amounts of both phytocannabinoids. CBD is extracted from either hemp or marijuana plants and can be classified in three ways: isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum.

CBD isolate is pure CBD. No other parts of the cannabis plant, no other phytocannabinoids or terpenes, remain. CBD isolate benefits include that the user can be sure of exactly what they are consuming. Broad-spectrum CBD keeps some of the other elements of the plant in it, excluding only THC. Full-spectrum CBD does not purify the extracted CBD, leaving remnants of the plant intact, including THC.

The idea of leaving some or most of the other elements of the hemp and marijuana plants in CBD is because of something called the “entourage effect.” The entourage effect asserts that the parts of the plant work together synergistically to enhance its therapeutic effects. In other words, the idea is that CBD works better when the remnants of other phytocannabinoids remain.


Clearing up Confusion

Legally speaking, it is important to understand the differences between hemp and marijuana. This mostly has to do with CBD products. Those that are hemp-derived are legal across all 50 states. Those that are marijuana-derived are only legal where marijuana is recreationally legal, even if the CBD product contains no THC.

Finding reliable hemp-derived CBD products is crucial when thinking about user safety. This means the product is not only legal, but the company also is transparent about its business practices by including independent third-party tests to ensure product purity and production in FDA-registered labs.

CannaSerene CBD is a high-reputable CBD brand that is the best place to buy CBD oil online

They built trust by its full transparency, and always providing independent third-party tests for each batch of CBD it produces. Purchase top-of-the-line CBD products from CannaSerene here to see for yourself. It comes in several strengths to fit the needs of every customer.

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