The demand for CBD has skyrocketed and the industry has become a unique market that is independent from but still closely related to the cannabis industry. As you can imagine, this can cause controversy based on the reputation of cannabis and the ever-changing legalities surrounding it. The confusion surrounding hemp and cannabis can be a complication for those interested in using CBD. Therefore, understanding the difference between hemp and marijuana and how they relate to Cannabis has become increasingly important.
Even though marijuana and hemp come from the same cannabis sativa family, they are completely different. The look of the plants are different but what really sets them apart is their chemical composition. There are more than 100 chemical cannabinoids found in cannabis, but the amounts of these cannabinoids is dramatically different between hemp and marijuana.
What is Hemp?
The legal definition of the word “hemp” comes from the Agricultural Act of 2018. The term hemp is used to classify varieties of cannabis that contain 0.3% or less THC content. Generally, hemp has been used to describe cannabis that is non-intoxicating and is harvested for industrial use of its derived products.
Although hemp won't get you high, it does contain significant amounts of another cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), which is also found in marijuana. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, and its interaction with receptors in the central nervous system and immune system can offer medicinal benefits, making hemp-CBD concentrates popular ingredients.
Many believe that hemp was the first crop ever cultivated by mankind! There is evidence that it was used throughout history over 10,000 years ago. Hemp has the capability to produce crucial resources such as food, rope, clothing, paper, even housing materials! It is the strongest natural fiber in the world and is known to have over 50,000 different uses.
What is Cannabis Marijuana?
Similar to hemp, “cannabis” is a variation of the Cannabis plant, however it contains more than 0.3% THC and induces psychoactive effects on the user. It is popularly referred to as marijuana but informed individuals and organizations in the Cannabis industry refuse to use that term as they consider it to be a word with negative connotation.
Cannabis is made up of more than 120 components, better known as cannabinoids. Although a lot of research still needs to be done on all the different types, we have a pretty good understanding of two of the main components, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The Confusion of Hemp vs Marijuana
The defining difference between cannabis and hemp is based on the amount of THC in the plant and whether it will get you high.
Hemp and marijuana can both produce high amounts of CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabis compound; however, THC is produced at very different levels.
While hemp can contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, cannabis can contain up to 30% THC content.
Due to the difference between their levels of THC, hemp and marijuana are regulated very differently under the law.
While hemp was previously regulated as an illegal substance under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, it was removed as an illegal substance under the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. This federally legalized hemp and hemp-derived products that contain no more than 0.3% THC.
On the other hand, marijuana is still treated as a controlled substance and is federally illegal under the Controlled Substance Act.
Hemp Derived CBD vs Marijuana Derived CBD
CBD is derived from hemp which contains no more than 0.3% THC, it would not be regulated as a controlled substance and is federally legal.
The keyword here is “derived from hemp.”
The 2018 Farm Bill explicitly applies to “hemp and hemp-derived products.”
It does not include marijuana-derived CBD, which remains under the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a controlled substance.
Even if the CBD contains 0.0% THC, if it is derived from marijuana, it is not legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.
The subject of hemp vs. cannabis is obviously complex and can be confusing! Hopefully this article helped you gain some clarity on the subject and properly explained the major differences. The terms “hemp”, “marijuana” and “cannabis” have become deeply ingrained in our culture and society and there is a need to re-educate. Of course, this will take time!
But for now, make sure you understand how these terms are used in a legal context, what they mean, how they’re different, and how they relate to cannabis. This is important to understand your rights and avoid potential legal complications when using CBD products.
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