If online Google searches are anything to go by, it seems like the general populace doesn’t know the difference between hemp and marijuana:
So let’s address the elephant in the room: Hemp, marijuana, and Cannabis are all different names for the same species of plant belonging to the Genus Cannabis. Cannabis, in all its different forms and different strain names, is the same species as hemp.
Once more: Hemp is the same species as Cannabis. Biologically there is no difference.
So why do people treat them differently?
Well, the simple answer is that the cannabis people use to smoke joints and get high off of has a slightly different chemical composition than industrial hemp. Cannabis that is grown for its flowers and buds typically has a high concentration of THCA, the acid precursor to THC. THC is short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, and is the primary psychoactive ingredient that gets users “high.” Generally these varieties of Cannabis have anywhere from 2% to 30% THC in them.
Hemp products, unlike smokeable Cannabis products, generally have less than 0.3% THC in them. This means that Hemp flowers/buds are virtually useless to anybody who is trying to get high off of them. You would have to burn a lot of these flowers to feel even a minute effect.
Unlike the early 1900s, we know which chemical is the source of the buzz, and governments around the world have recognized this fact. Hemp is making a major resurgence as an agricultural product, because the entire plant can be used to make a variety of different products:
- The seeds are edible and high in caloric content.
- The stalks and stems are very high in fiber content, and can be used to make textiles, cordage, and even construction materials.
- The flowers and plant material can be chemically extracted for a variety of different chemical compounds that play a role in medicine, including CBD.
- Cannabis roots are edible and used in old, traditional medicines.
- Cannabis leaves can be used to make a juice that is supposed to help people with IBS and Crohn’s Disease.
- The entire plant, when dried, can make excellent kindling and fire material.
In fact, Cannabis is so useful that the NCBI has a rather lengthy review of the plant’s different applications.
I hope that answers your question! Hemp is the same species as Cannabis, and the only real difference is in THC concentration. If you have any other questions, why don’t you let us know in the survey below, or join the community to discuss it on our forums?
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About the Author
Hunter Wilson is a community builder with Growers Network. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 2011 with a Masters in Teaching and in 2007 with a Bachelors in Biology.