Commonly misunderstood but offering an array of health benefits, the hemp plant is similar in name and structure to the marijuana plant. Because they are both from the same species of plant, differentiating between the two is crucial.
One – The Plants
The Cannabis stavia plant contains many varieties of cannabis plants, leading to confusion regarding the differences between marijuana and hemp. One type of the cannabis plant is high in delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which produces psychoactive effects. This type of cannabis plant is commonly called marijuana and currently legal in 36 U.S. states for medicinal purposes.
Another variety of the cannabis plant is high in cannabidiol (CBD). This plant is referred to as the industrial hemp plant and is harvested for myriad purposes including seeds, fiber, oil and CBD. It is legal in 43 U.S. states.
Two – The CBD and THC
CBD, one of the products hemp is grown for, is found in the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant. This means that hemp seeds, hemp fiber, and hemp oil do not contain CBD. CBD can be harvested and added to oil, making hemp oil a CBD carrier, but hemp oil does not inherently contain CBD.
CBD offers benefits in terms of relieving pain, relaxing muscles, and reducing anxiety, and contains trace amounts of THC; this plant will not cause psychoactive effects as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Historically, THC has primarily been used for its psychoactive properties. More recently, THC has been legalized in many states and is being used medicinally for several purposes including the management of nausea and appetite stimulation.
Three – The Growth and Harvest
A third area of confusion is the assumption that growing hemp could allow for more marijuana to be grown; however, growing these plants in the same location, or even nearby, would be detrimental due to cross pollination. Allowing cross pollination between the marijuana and hemp plants decreases the potency of the marijuana variety, an undesirable outcome for those growing marijuana.
Beyond cross pollination, the plants are also harvested at different times for different purposes. The marijuana plant is grown for THC found in the flowers and leaves. Hemp is grown and harvested for fiber (the stalks and stems), grain (seeds after the flower dies), oil (produced from the seeds) and CBD (in the flowers and leaves).
While marijuana and industrial hemp do come from the same genus of plant, they are inherently different and used for different purposes. Marijuana, harvested for THC content, starkly contrasts industrial hemp which contains a miniscule amount of THC and is harvested for industrial purposes including fiber, grain, oil, and CBD.