Hemp has been one of the most misunderstood substances in its effects and also commonly mistaken for marijuana. More often, people who are not familiar with cannabinoids have a preconceived notion that hemp and weed are the same. While they come from the same family, we can consider them cousins who cannot be more different from each other.
Over the years, the government has responded to the clamor for CBD. The 2018 Farm Bill and the Hemp Farming Act have legalized the cultivation of hemp in the United States. These have ushered in a more positive outlook on the product as a whole. Deemed illegal for many years, the stigma attached to hemp has led to frequent inaccuracies and misinterpretation.
In this article, we inspect hemp, its relation and differences from marijuana, and debunk poorly understood myths that have tainted its reputation for years.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a plant that belongs to the cannabis family. For centuries they have used it for raw materials that make up over 50,000 commercial products we have today. The plant’s stalk is made into fiber that is made into fabric, ropes, clothing, biofuel, construction materials, and plastic composites. Other parts of the hemp plant are used to make protein, oils, food, and body products. Hemp leaves and flowers can also be smoked or made into oils.
Even before CBD became the new “in” thing, hemp has already been part of our daily lives. Most people are unaware of the bustling hemp industry around the world. It was only recently legalized to grow it in United States soil, but countries in South East Asia, Europe, and South America have been in the hemp trade for many years.
According to the 2018 Farm Bill, “hemp has been removed from schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and is no longer a controlled substance.” The same bill defines hemp as, “any cannabis plant, or a derivative thereof, that contains not more than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry-weight basis.”
Most people think cannabis is synonymous with marijuana and in the same way, hemp is the same as weed. The cannabis family is made up of different strains. From the legal definition, hemp is a variant of cannabis that contains less than 1% of THC. It is therefore non-drug and non-intoxicating.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
Hemp and marijuana differ in cultivation, appearance, effect, and chemical composition. Marijuana or weed as it is famously called, is psychoactive. This is the first difference it has from its cousin. Hemp cannot alter the mental state. As a psychotropic substance, marijuana can induce euphoria and may ease some ailments. It is widely used for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
The second dissimilarity among the two lies in their composition. Hemp, by law, contains at most 0.3% of THC by dry weight. Marijuana can contain 20% on the average while its most premium strains can have up to 30% of THC.
In that regard, they differ by the law. The difference between their THC content is night and day. What is currently permissible is a THC content of only 0.3%, this standard is satisfied by hemp. Using the 2018 Farm Bill as a reference, we can then define marijuana as a variant of cannabis that contains over 0.3% of THC by dry weight. Unlike hemp, its use is not entirely legal in the U.S.
The fourth distinction has to do with the way these plants are grown. Farmers have grown hemp for thousands of years. When cultivated, female hemp plants will have a few male counterparts in the same field. This is to help pollinate the female into producing seeds. Marijuana farms, on the other hand, prefer female plants for maximum yield.
Marijuana plants are typically grown in dry and controlled environments. They can be grown indoors or outdoors, but due to uncertain weather conditions, most growers choose the indoor option. In this way, mold and rot formation can be avoided and the environment can be kept in check. The setup is one marijuana plant per four square feet to ensure there is enough space for the plant to grow. Marijuana plants look like short bushes and require ample space for peak revenue.
Hemp is historically farmed outdoors using the crop rotation technique. Farmers plant hemp depending on what it will be used for. For fiber, they plant it at 100 to 120 plants per four square feet. If it is for oil, they are planted at 40 to 60 plants per four square feet.
THC vs. CBD
The main difference between hemp and marijuana lies in their THC content. Tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychotropic qualities. It is the reason behind the “high.” Standard weed can have anywhere between 5-20% of THC. The best quality strains can have as much as 30%.
Because hemp is allowed only a maximum of 0.3% of THC, it cannot induce psychological effects like marijuana does. This does not discount the many benefits hemp has. Its low amount of THC is balanced by its high cannabidiol content, which is responsible for the calm users from using it.
Cannabidiol or CBD can generate pain relief and relaxation. It also has anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties. These effects have made it popular in the medical community, especially because it is non intoxicating.
Does Hemp Get You High?
Hemp’s THC content is not enough to get a person high. Aside from its many industrial uses, smoking hemp has gained massive popularity. Like marijuana, they can be rolled into cigarettes and smoked. Smoking hemp flowers will not give a “high.” Its THC content is simply too low to give intoxicating effects. The experience is relaxing, but it will not have psychologically altering effects.
It is important to take note that this will only hold when buying hemp from strictly regulated companies and breeders. Legal hemp should contain at most only 0.3% of THC. United States law prohibits any product that contains more than that amount.
Given those conditions, those experiencing anxiety or chronic pain can use hemp. It may even be used recreationally for its relaxing effects on the mind and body. It is an alternative for many people looking for these results without the psychoactive effects one gets from marijuana.
There are many ways to achieve the restorative benefits of hemp. One may try smoking, but a great option is using a hemp-derived CBD product. Remember that hemp’s CBD content is responsible for its many therapeutic uses. CBD oil is gaining a lot of traction as many users have attested to its efficacy and ease of use. Other CBD rich products include tinctures and edibles.
In conclusion, hemp is non intoxicating. The hemp and marijuana debacle has been a subject of many debates and confusion. The most important takeaway here is the knowledge that they are, in fact, not the same. Their names are often used interchangeably and proper usage of hemp and marijuana might take a while.
It is important to be in the know if you want to call yourself a well-meaning hemp user. Proper information is key in knowing your rights and in using hemp for your daily lives.