Hemp, Cannabis, and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

Posted on October 16 2018

Hemp, Cannabis, and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
There's a lot of buzz around the words “hemp” and “marijuana” and “cannabis.” The problem is that many people don’t understand the difference between these words and often lump them into one category. The truth is, scientifically these words do fall into one category, but not in the way people think. Cannabis is actually a genus of plants that both hemp and marijuana fall under.

So they’re not all the same thing?
Well, yes and no. Cannabis is actually a genus of plants that both hemp and marijuana fall under. In fact, marijuana and hemp can also fall under the same species--Cannabis sativa. However, the plants themselves are different varieties of the same species. Just in the way that all edible apples are of the Malus pumila species, they can vary in color, taste, and chemical makeup. These diverse varieties of the same species are referred to as cultivars or strains. Hemp and marijuana are different cultivars of the same species of Cannabis.

So what are the main differences between hemp and marijuana?
There are several differences between these two cultivars, including appearance, cultivation methods, chemical makeup, and applications.

Hemp, Cannabis, and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?Appearance
Hemp plants are tall and thin, with the potential to grow up to 20 feet in height. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, are short and bushy. The leaves of a hemp plant are skinny and concentrated at the top of the plant, while marijuana leaves are broad and spread throughout.

Cultivation Methods
Hemp is typically grown outdoors and close together--sometimes as close as four inches apart. It is a strong, quickly growing plant with a growth cycle of 108-120 days. Contrastly, marijuana requires a more controlled growth environment that usually takes place indoors with regulated lighting and humidity. The plants are more fragile and must be grown further from each other--often about six feet apart--and has a growth cycle of only 60-90 days.

Chemical Makeup
Both hemp and marijuana contain cannabinoids. To learn more about cannabinoids, read our scientific snapshot here. The two main cannabinoids at play here are tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD. The critical difference between hemp and marijuana is the presence of THC, which is the psychoactive chemical component that gives users a “high.” Marijuana can typically have anywhere from 5-30% THC content, where hemp has a max THC level of less than .5%. Because of this low THC presence, it is impossible to get high from hemp--it has been said that the human lungs would fail from smoke inhalation before receiving a psychoactive effect from using hemp.

Both plants, however, do contain a high amount of CBD. The CBD content in hemp is much higher than that of marijuana.

Hemp has been used for centuries to make clothing, fuel, paper, rope, cosmetics, and even food. Marijuana, on the other hand, is primarily cultivated for medical and recreational use.

Cool… so what does that mean for me?
Another very distinctive difference between hemp and marijuana is the legality of the plants. While the legality of growing either plant is still a little hairy, the use of hemp and hemp-based products is allowable across the country, while the use of products containing THC legally varies from state to state.

Hemp, Cannabis, and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?CBD products sold in states where the medical or recreational use of marijuana is illegal is almost always extracted from hemp. This is due to both the legality issue we just addressed, as well as the fact that the CBD content is higher in hemp than marijuana. CBD extracted from hemp has been found to have extremely beneficial properties to the body without the psychoactive effects that THC has.

Where can I find universally legal-use CBD products?
If you’re new to CBD products, an excellent place to start is with an oil or tincture. Warrior’s Edge is a safe and effective full spectrum hemp-based CBD oil. “Full spectrum” means it is infused with terpenes and other whole-plant elements, making it beneficial to the body in multiple ways. Because it contains less than 0.3 percent THC, Warrior’s Edge is legal at the Federal level in the USA.  Try it for yourself today!

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