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Difference Between Hemp And Marijuana

While many people use the terms “hemp” and “marijuana” interchangeably, the two are actually not the same. Both plants, however, come from the same family – Cannabis – and that is where the confusion primarily lies. Cannabis, unfortunately, has a particular connotation that elicits thoughts of marijuana and it’s related activities, whereas in reality, the cannabis plant has many applications including plant-based plastics, durable paper and military grade fabric, as well as (in the form of hemp) healthy dietary supplements, skin products, clothing, and accessories.

Cannabis is thought to be one of the earliest domesticated crops; tall, sturdy plants that were grown to produce a variety of foods, oils, ropes, and fabrics, and bred with other plants with similar characteristics. This crop evolved to become what we now define as the hemp plant. Modern hemp is typically grown outdoors, producing tall, fast growing stalks that do not produce flowering buds at any of their life stages, with a focus on crop yield.

Conversely, another plant within the same family was discovered to be psychoactive and was cultivated for the purpose of creating medicines and for religious purposes – that’s right, the marijuana plant. Modern marijuana requires much more specific growing conditions, and careful monitoring, to produce flowering plants that yield budding flowers at the flowering stage of their life cycle, and is grown with a focus on maximum psychoactive properties.

Marijuana plants contain very high levels of THC, the most widely known of the chemicals called cannabinoids found within plants of the Cannabis family. THC is the chemical that produces the “high” that is associated with marijuana. Hemp, however, contains very little THC, and instead contains much higher levels of another chemical – CBD. CBD has been shown to actually reduce the high from THC. This value has become the most defining distinction between the two plants, with some countries even using the amount of THC found within the plant to determine whether it is classified as hemp or marijuana.

Another notable difference is the legal status of each of the two plant forms. While marijuana is illegal in most countries, the opposite is true for hemp, with hemp being grown in more than 30 countries, with hemp products even being classified as legal imports into the United States.

In summary, the two plants are very different, used for different purposes, and neither plant could do the job of the other. As legalization of marijuana grows, and more research is done, perhaps the general public can begin to understand the differences between hemp and marijuana.