Hemp vs. Marijuana

Marijuana and CBD

Probably the first thing to understand about cannabidiol (CBD) is that it can be a derivative of marijuana, but it’s not the same as smoking pot or getting high. In fact, the large majority of CBD comes from hemp, a plant we will discuss in further detail in our eBook, CBD For Beginners.

Marijuana is dried leaves, flowers, and stems that come from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. While CBD is a part of the marijuana plant, it also has higher levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mind-altering chemical responsible for psychoactivity.

What is Medical Marijuana?

You’ve probably heard about medical marijuana, and you may even know someone who has or is applying for a medical marijuana card. So why is medical marijuana legal and why are there so many people using it?

Medical marijuana is not the same as CBD, although some people argue that both can offer health benefits. Though medical marijuana contains CBD, it also includes THC. Medical marijuana is remarkably similar to recreational marijuana, and it has a hallucinogenic effect.

In many cases, recreational and medical marijuana with high levels of THC have lower levels of CBD.

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History of the Legalization of Medical Marijuana

Over the years, many states decriminalized recreational marijuana. For instance, in 1973 Oregon decriminalized marijuana, which reduced the fine for having an ounce or less of cannabis to a $100 fine as opposed to a harsher consequence.

In 1996, California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana. The law called the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 allowed seriously ill people to take marijuana if it was recommended by a physician who determined that they would benefit from it.

Illnesses specifically included on the list were:

● Cancer
● Anorexia
● Chronic pain
● Spasticity
● Glaucoma
● Arthritis
● Migraine
● Any other illness for which marijuana supplies relief

Today, the nation is very split over the legality of medical marijuana.

States such as Texas, Idaho, Georgia, and North Carolina have not switched to allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Other states, such as Oklahoma, South Dakota, and West Virginia have within recent years changed the laws to allow for medical marijuana use.

Some states have allowed the use of CBD, while not allowing marijuana with THC.  

The Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are from the same family and genus, Cannabaceae and Cannabis, respectively. These plants can be indistinguishable from each other, though cultivators have used selective breeding to separate the varieties.

When you compare the two, hemp tends to be thinner with slimmer leaves and having the majority of the leaves at the top of the plant. Marijuana tends to have wider leaves and appears more like a bush than hemp.

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Other significant differences between hemp and marijuana include:
  1. Composition: Hemp and marijuana both produce CBD, but marijuana has a much higher level of THC. To be classified as hemp, it must have a THC level lower than 0.3%. Marijuana can have a THC content level of 30%.
  2. Different legality: The law allows for hemp production as long as the THC content stays below 0.3%. The law allows hemp production as long as the THC content stays below 0.3%.
  3. Additional uses: People can use hemp for various purposes other than its therapeutic or recreational uses, such as:

● Hemp seeds for food
● Cooking oil
● Textiles
● Paper
● Skincare
● Soap
● Building materials
● Fuel like biodiesel and bioethanol
● Hemp plastic

  1. Different cultivation: The growing environment for hemp and marijuana is quite different. Hemp is usually grown close together on outside, multi-acre lots. It can grow well in a variety of climates and is grown in a way to maximize the size and yield of the plant. It has a growing cycle of about 108-120 days. Marijuana must be grown in a controlled environment. It needs the proper warmth, humidity, and lighting to thrive and produce the intended composition. It’s important to produce female plants that have budding flowers. The average growth cycle for marijuana is 60-90 days. Hemp and marijuana can’t be grown together as the cross-pollination will change the composition of the plants, ruining both crops.
  1. CBD legality – Hemp and marijuana both can produce CBD, but obtaining it from marijuana remains illegal at a federal level. Even if the THC content is 0.0%, according to federal law, it is not legal to use marijuana to obtain CBD.

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