What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is an annual herbaceous plant with two primary classifications — Indica and Sativa. Marijuana and hemp are members of this plant genus; hemp belongs to the Cannabis indica species only, whereas marijuana can be a member of either Cannabis indica or sativa species. Because both marijuana and hemp come from Cannabis indica, they share certain traits. However, marijuana and hemp are not the same things. Below we highlight several distinct differences between these two plants.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a cannabis plant that is harvested commercially for its seeds, stalks, and flowers. Because it grows sturdy and tall — up to 2 to 4 meters in height — it’s typically cultivated outdoors.
Different parts of the plant are used for different uses:
- Seeds are often used in food and cosmetics.
- Stalks are the source of fiber used in building materials and clothing.
- Flowers, on the other hand, are harvested for its cannabinoid content.
- The cannabinoid content of hemp is where it differs the most from marijuana.
Namely, hemp comes with high concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, but it carries almost no THC (below 0.3%). It’s the THC content that gives marijuana its psychoactive effects. Unlike marijuana, hemp has been excluded from the Controlled Substances Act with the introduction of the 2018 Farm Bill. According to the new act, hemp can be commercially grown and manufactured into CBD products for sale to the public.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is a cannabis plant that is harvested for its euphoric, relaxing, and psychoactive properties. As opposed to hemp, the seeds and stalks of marijuana aren’t used commercially as a food source, or in the textiles industry. Instead, the plant is cultivated for its highly resinous flowers containing an abundance of cannabinoids. The THC content of marijuana is much higher than it is in hemp. Marijuana can have up to 30% THC per dry weight. This type of cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Therefore, the US federal government doesn’t recognize any medical uses of marijuana and claims it has a strong potential for abuse. Marijuana remains federally illegal in the USA, although states have begun passing legislation that legalize either medical or recreational marijuana use. Given the above differences, those new to cannabis may think CBD from hemp is somehow different than CBD from marijuana. It’s not.
CBD is CBD Regardless of the Source — But Not All CBD Oils Are Created Equal
On the molecular level, CBD is the same compound regardless of whether it’s found in high-THC or low-THC cannabis plants. There are, however, several differences between CBD products, such as CBD oil, depending on where the CBD is sourced from.