In the cannabis world, hemp vs marijuana is a regular topic of conversation. More often than not, the two plant names are used interchangeably, without realizing that hemp is a different species from marijuana.
In this article, we aim to separate hemp from the stigma of marijuana. It’s our goal to lay out the differences and similarities between both cannabis plants.
After reading this, we hope to make hemp and marijuana stand out as individual plant species, with their own version of high and benefits.
Hemp Vs Marijuana: Are They The Same?
Between hemp and marijuana, there is really no definite answer whether or not they’re the same or not. In terms of medicinal benefits, both cannabis plants offer relief to physiological aches, stimulate appetite, promote better sleep, and reduce symptoms of depression.
However, marijuana offers good benefits together with an addicting high. On the other hand, when hemp is used, all the benefits flood the system but without the mind-altering high.
New cannabis enthusiasts traversing the path to natural supplements and different levels of euphoria feel the same way. But that’s why we’re here. To understand better, let’s dissect each cannabis plant and then compare them to each other.
What Is Hemp?
What exactly is hemp and why is there a constant debate regarding hemp and marijuana? The thing is, hemp plants are botanical herbs that are also called industrial hemp due to the plant’s commercial uses.
In fact, for 50,000 years, hemp has been grown and developed into a usable fiber. More than industrial products, this medical cannabis plant is highly regarded as folk medicine.
Thanks to the low THC content of 0.3% or under, hemp plants do not produce the same level of psychotic high as marijuana. These hemp plants have low THC levels and high cannabidiol (CBD) content. Hence, manufacturers use this industrial hemp for commercial purposes.
The latter dampens the psychoactive effects of THC, which allows the users to experience overflowing medicinal benefits minus the potent high.
History Of Hemp Plants
What many cannabis connoisseurs do not know is, hemp has been around since 10,000 B.C. in Northern China as a popular fiber plant and source of natural medicine.
There was even scientific evidence that hemp was used as a paper material in the 1st century, thanks to the discovery of ancient Chinese graves. As for medicinal purposes, in 2700 B.C., Shen Nung, the Father of Chinese Medicine was known to utilize hemp as medicine.
Indeed, there are many ancient artifacts, books, and records implicating hemp as part of Chinese culture for thousands of years.
As centuries passed, during the Middle Ages, industrial hemp was welcomed in Europe where trade was rich among Mediterranean countries. After the 16th century, hemp finally found its way to North America.
From here, the use of industrial hemp spread across continents and its popularity grew. But even though during the 18th century the use of hemp for commercial products started to decline, the medicinal aspect of this cannabis plant continued to prosper.
What Is Hemp Used For?
When we talk about the usage between hemp and marijuana, industrial hemp has been utilized in the commercial world to create various products.
For thousands of years, hemp has been instrumental in producing paper, bow strings, ropes, shoes, textiles, bioplastics, cannabis oil, food (for animals and humans), biofuel, carpets, and insulation.
In recent years, with utter awareness of the legality of hemp and marijuana, cultivators and chemists found a more efficient way to deliver hemp extracts to the world. They started to develop CBD oil, edibles, topicals, and capsules to aid in the health campaign of consumers.
Thanks to the innovation of technology, hemp professionals found efficacious methods to convert cannabis CBD into Delta 8. With this cannabinoid comes an experience of mild euphoria that in high doses can be nearly as potent as the regular THC.
The discovery of the hemp CBD isomer paved the way for new products such as Delta 8 flowers, gummies, vapes, tinctures, capsules, and powders.
Cannabis Plants Species: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis
The cannabis genus often has three species – cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, or Cannabis Ruderalis. Cannabis sativa often produces a “mind high,” that’s more relaxing.
On the other hand, cannabis indica offers a relaxing high. Cannabis Ruderalis is a less popular cannabis species, which offers the combined effects of the first two species.
What Is CBD?
CBD is one component that can never be disassociated from the two cannabis plants. It is a cannabinoid that can be found in both hemp and marijuana but differs in quantity.
Hemp has high CBD levels while THC dominates marijuana and is seconded only by CBD. Hemp-derived CBD products are legal to use in the US, while marijuana-derived CBD products remain illegal in most states.
Note that CBD oil is different from hemp oil. CBD oil comes from pressing cannabis seeds, which may not contain CBD.
As a powerful cannabinoid, hemp-derived CBD was approved as one of the ingredients of an epilepsy medicine called Epidiolex. It is also instrumental in helping people cope with anxiety and depression, insomnia, addiction, and chronic ache.
What Is Delta 8?
Delta 8 is a cannabinoid that occurs naturally in the hemp plant, but only in small traces. In order to create more Delta 8, a synthetic process is performed to convert CBD or Delta 9 THC into Delta 8.
Normally, the conversion procedure includes heating the CBD or Delta 9 THC in heptane, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, or other carbon-based substances, coupled with an acidic catalyst (hydrofluoric acid, heteropoly acids, or toluenesulfonic acid) to trigger a chemical reaction.
When there is enough Delta 8 THC for commercial production, various products are created such as D8 flowers, tinctures, powders, gummies, vapes, and capsules. Delta 8 THC offers a mellow high that is not as strong as Delta 9 THC.
The mild head buzz is enough to give users focus, energy, and motivation, while still having control of the overall senses. Since Delta 8 THC is derived from hemp, all products from this cannabinoid are legal throughout the US.
Does Hemp Get You High?
The debate between hemp and marijuana plants is never complete without asking if hemp, like its cousin marijuana, can get people high. The quick answer is no.
Hemp contains 0.3% or under THC levels, which may give you a head buzz, but nothing like the mind-altering psychosis of marijuana. Even if you smoke a bunch of hemp flowers, the act will not take you to a magical world.
However, thanks to the brilliance and continued innovation of hemp chemists, they were able to exploit the hemp-derived cannabinoids and turn them into mildly psychoactive products.
By isolating the Delta 9 THC from the hemp plant, a high that is closer to marijuana is achieved by cannabis connoisseurs.
What Is Marijuana?
Marijuana plants can cause a psychotic high for the users. It is abundant with THC, which is the main psychoactive compound.
Marijuana is often referred to as plain cannabis, and the THC levels of over 0.3% make the plant and all its products illegal in most US states. Indeed, between hemp and marijuana, the former is the only legal plant.
History Of Marijuana
When it comes to history, marijuana shares the same entry to the pharmacopeia of Emperor Shen Nung. Since 2800B.C., the medicinal uses of marijuana have been recognized in western China, particularly in the improvement of swelling, depression, discomfort, asthma, amenorrhea, and no appetite.
Fast forward to 129-200A.D., the famous Greek physician Galen started using marijuana for therapeutic purposes as well as to improve mood. And finally, in 1841, marijuana entered the Western world through William Brooke O’Shaughnessy.
Later on in the 1940s, cannabidiol (CBD) was isolated from the hemp plant by Adams and Todd. And then in 1970, the Controlled Substance Act in the US named marijuana as a psychotic plant that provides a potent high.
And until this day, even with the obvious medical benefits of cannabis, marijuana still carries the stigma of mind “high”. And though a few states approved marijuana as a medicinal drug and fewer still for recreational purposes, the majority of the states banned the use of marijuana.
What Is Marijuana Used For?
Marijuana is most commonly utilized by inhaling the weed using a pipe or smoking it like a joint. There are no marijuana-derived products on the market, mostly because it’s illegal for sale and use. So between hemp and marijuana, the cannabis sativa plant wins in connection to usage.
What Is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a cannabinoid is one among the over one hundred compounds of the marijuana plant. THC is the principal psychotic element that makes cannabis potent for a mind-altering high.
In marijuana, THC is actually Delta 9 THC, sometimes referred to as the regular THC. When marijuana is smoked, the users experience a superior euphoric high that is mostly couch-locking.
Hemp Vs Marijuana
The discussion regarding which is better between hemp and marijuana is always concluded with the fact that hemp is legal and marijuana is mostly prohibited in the US. The 2018 Farm Bill protects hemp production, which makes hemp-derived products federally legal.
Thankfully, with the advancement of knowledge and technology, cannabis connoisseurs now have new hemp-derived products that can offer almost the same euphoric high as marijuana.
To better comprehend the similarities and differences between both cannabis plants, let’s dive deeper into the facts.
Like other normal families, the popular cannabis cousins from the Cannabaceae family often have their heads against each other, but their similarities cannot be ignored.
While hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the Cannabis sativa species, we can consider both as cannabis.
So even though there is a constant rivalry between hemp and marijuana, their resemblance is obvious too.
Both hemp and marijuana have the same molecular structure, mainly because they come from the same cannabis family. They’re both cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.
In terms of medicinal purposes, there’s no point arguing between hemp and marijuana because both plants were used by the Father of Chinese Medicine to treat diseases beginning in 2700 B.C.
Hemp and marijuana produce flowers that can be smoked to achieve different levels of high.
Both hemp and marijuana contain cannabinoids such as CBD, THC, and a hundred more. But they have varying levels of content.
It may sound like the same species, but hemp and marijuana also have differences.
THC Content and CBD Content
Hemp flower has 0.3% or below THC content, while marijuana strains may contain over 0.3% THC up to 30% THC, which makes cannabis highly psychoactive. For this reason, marijuana flower remains illegal for use.
Although, there are some states that have passed legislation for medical marijuana. So, you wouldn’t find any recreational marijuana in the hemp industry. On the other hand, marijuana plants tend to have lower levels of CBD than industrial hemp plants.
Hemp is used for industrial and commercial purposes. This plant produces a wide variety of products, while marijuana is used only for recreational and medicinal purposes, and only in a very few states.
Of course, marijuana is illegal in most states, while it is federally legal in the whole country. On the other hand, most state laws legalize cannabis from hemp for recreational use.
Hemp is the skinnier and shorter version of marijuana. The cannabis leaves are more pronounced, with little hairs on the flowers.
Hemp plants are grown closely together in 4” space intervals, while marijuana requires more space from other plants to grow. Hemp has a 108-120 days growth cycle, while marijuana has 60-90 days.
How Did Hemp And Marijuana Get Grouped Together?
The “War on Drugs” in the 1970s blurred the perception of people on hemp and marijuana, despite the reality that for centuries, both cannabis plants have served the world with their medicinal properties.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 banned the use of certain drugs that included marijuana and hemp. Fortunately, in 2018, the Farm Bill recognized that hemp does not have psychoactive properties like marijuana.
So the cannabis sativa plant was freed from being labeled as a drug and now is federally legal in the US. Now, with the liberation of hemp from the Controlled Substances list, the debate continues regarding hemp and marijuana, and whether or not the latter will be made legal too in the future.
Final Thoughts: Hemp Vs Marijuana
Thousands, if not millions of cannabis connoisseurs are hoping that the battle between Hemp Vs Marijuana will soon come to an end. Users simply want to enjoy their personal brand of high without fear of the law.
However, the reality is hemp is the only cannabis plant that can be consumed without legal issues. And if you truly want to experience the euphoria brought by marijuana, simply buy hemp-derived products that are more potent than others, such as moon rocks and vapes.