Home » Hemp vs. Cannabis: 4 Things You Should Know

Hemp vs. Cannabis: 4 Things You Should Know

Cannabis, marijuana, hemp, CBD, and THC are some of the most popular terms you’ll encounter while reading a cannabis-related publication. The words can be a bit confusing too. And the ensuing confusion may make a huge difference, especially if you’re on prescription for cannabis-based products.

This post shall demystify the above five terms, with a particular focus on hemp and cannabis.

Introducing Cannabis and Hemp

Cannabis refers to a plant genus that produces several species. These species are sometimes also known as strains or cultivars. You’ve probably heard of cannabis Sativa and cannabis indica. Besides these two, cannabis produces scores of other species, including cannabis ruderalis and cannabis hybrids. 

One of the distinguishing features among the various cannabis strains is the number and concentration of cannabinoids that a species produces. Two of the most widely-studied cannabinoids in cannabis include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both CBD and THC offer immense therapeutic properties. The primary difference between these two cannabis extracts is that THC comes with additional psychoactive and intoxicating properties, whereas CBD does not. 

Now, the concentration of CBD and THC differ significantly across various cannabis species. Cultivars that produce significant levels of THC fall within the broader category known as marijuana. Succinctly put, marijuana is a type of cannabis that contains considerably high levels of the euphoria-inducing THC. On the other hand, strains that produce higher yields of CBD fall within the hemp category.

Four Fundamental Things to Know About Hemp and Cannabis

1. Both Have a Long History of Human Use

One of the fun facts about hemp and cannabis is that both have a long history of human use. Cannabis and hemp have been around for more than 2,500 years. Originally, the plants were mostly available in Central and Southeast Asia. These plants later found their way to the Americas in the 1500s and due to their resilience, they were able to thrive throughout the continent and are now available worldwide.

It’s also worth noting that originally, hemp and cannabis were popular for their fiber. Extracts from the plants were used in the textile industry for manufacturing rope, clothes, shoes, paper, and tents. 

Did you know that the word ‘canvas’ is closely related to cannabis? That only goes to prove how beneficial cannabis and hemp were in the textile industry back then.

2. Hemp Is Relatively High In CBD While Cannabis Contains a Cocktail of Cannabinoids

As we already pointed out, hemp is a cultivar of the cannabis plant with relatively high levels of cannabidiol and low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol. Hemp is so high in CBD that many cannabis growers usually cultivate hemp exclusively for CBD production.  

However, it’s important to note that it’s almost impossible to come by a cannabis cultivar that contains only one compound (cannabinoid). So, it doesn’t matter how low the levels of THC may be in a hemp plant; there will always be traces of THC in the plant. 

Even further processing may not completely get rid of THC and other compounds from the hemp plant. The only chance of having any product formulated with a 100% pure cannabis isolate is if the cannabinoids making up the isolate were synthetically developed in the lab. 

On the other hand, cannabis contains a host of other compounds besides CBD. While certain species, like Cannabis Sativa, are reasonably high in THC, nearly all cannabis species have significant levels of all the 480+ compounds in the plant.

3. Hemp Enjoys Higher Legal Backing Than Cannabis

Although hemp is a cultivar of cannabis, the plant enjoys a higher legal acceptance compared to cannabis. That’s precisely due to its high CBD and low THC levels. Remember that CBD is the compound in cannabis that has been widely-researched and approved for its medicinal properties. And since CBD mostly comes from hemp, that explains why many cannabis laws seem to favor hemp use. 

On the contrary, many opponents of cannabis legalization cite the plant’s psychoactive properties. As THC is the main cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, it’s clear to see why cannabis as a whole gets frowned upon while hemp gets more approval.

In the United States, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation, possession, and use of hemp provided that the products contain at most 0.3% THC.

4. Both Have Near-similar Uses

We’ve already indicated that both hemp and cannabis are crucial raw materials in the textile industry. The following are other notable uses of hemp and cannabis.

  • Manufacture of bioplastics and biofuel
  • Manufacture of insulating materials
  • Oxidized and used in the manufacture of oil-based paints
  • In creams as a moisturizing agent
  • Weed control
  • As animal feeds

When it comes to medical use, hemp and cannabis are mostly processed into cannabis oils, cosmetic products, edibles, and inhalable. Collectively, cannabis-based products can help treat the following medical conditions;

  • Acute and chronic pain
    Anxiety disorders
  • Inflammatory conditions like acne and cancer
    Mental problems like schizophrenia
  • Neurological disorders like seizures
  • Sleep disorders like insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal complications like nausea

Conclusion

Just remember that all hemp plants are also cannabis plants, whereas not all cannabis plants are hemp. If you’re a new cannabis grower or user, you should probably start with cannabis before specializing in hemp and other plant variants.

Reference Links

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/6/eaaw1391

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/20-medical-benefits-marijuana-you-probably-never-knew.html

https://www.greenentrepreneur.com/article/346914

https://www.britannica.com/plant/hemp

https://medium.com/cbd-origin/hemp-vs-marijuana-the-difference-explained-a837c51aa8f7

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