Differences between Hemp and Marijuana

Cannabis is a species of plant which includes both industrial hemp and marijuana.  There are two main differences between the two types of plants: the first difference is based on the genetics and is dependent on the level of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present.  The other difference is its legal status, depending on the country.  It is legislation that has grouped hemp and marijuana into the same category, but these plants are very different.

The technical definition of industrial hemp is that it is a plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, containing a THC concentration of no more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis.  Due to the low THC level present, hemp is considered unsuitable for drug and therapeutic uses.  The lack of THC ensures that you can not get psychotropic effects from the hemp plant.

As quoted in a Pineapple Magazine article, Dan Sutton of Tantulus Labs says…“the core agricultural differences between medical Cannabis and hemp are largely in their genetic parentage and cultivation environment.”

Since March of 1998, Canada has grown industrial hemp for seed and for fibre.  Hemp is federally regulated by Health Canada, which does allow for commercial production under a licensing system.  Canada is currently the largest producer and exporter of hemp seed products, including hulled hemp seeds, hemp oil, and hemp protein powder.  Seeds from the hemp plant can provide complete nutrition containing essential fatty acids, amino acids and also contains easy to digest protein.

Hemp was originally grown over 10,000 years ago in Taiwan; these farmers cultivated a strain that would produce tall and durable plants for industrial uses.  Some of the applications for hemp include military grade fabrics, dietary supplements, paper products, building supplies, plant-based plastics and even fuel alternatives.

Both plants are grown for completely different purposes.  Medical Cannabis crops produce female plants only, where hemp crops produce only male plants.  Cannabis can be grown indoor and outdoor, but hemp crops are typically grown outdoors due to the size of the plants.

It is also important to know the difference between hemp oil and Cannabis oil.  Hemp oil will be high in CBD but low in THC and marijuana oil can have levels of both components present.  The hemp oil will provide some nutritional value and can help control inflammation, where the marijuana oil will provide several medicinal effects. Understanding why and how to use Cannabis correctly will provide the most health benefit.

The research will become more accessible as more countries regulate the production of both hemp and marijuana, allowing for more medial studies and product innovations.  The benefits of this plant, no matter what it is called, are numerous and the list will only grow as legalization spreads throughout the world.


Pineapple Magazine Edition #3, Herb, Healthy Hemp OilEntheonationState of ColoradoThe CHTA, Ministry of Hemp, Hemp Seed Health and Dr. Axe.

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