Hemp vs Marijuana: What's the difference?
It seems like you see the letters CBD everywhere today. You almost forget that not long ago, CBD products weren’t legal in America. What makes CBD legal comes down to its plant source. Following the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and marijuana are classified as two different substances under the Control Substance Act. That’s because the effects of hemp vs marijuana are very different. This contrast is thanks to how marijuana and hemp affect a network inside of our body, known as the endocannabinoid system. Let’s discuss the differences between hemp and marijuana.
Hemp vs Marijuana: A Difference in Genetics
While hemp and marijuana effects differ, the two plants are siblings from the same family. Marijuana and hemp are both species of the Cannabaceae genus. There are two predominant plants in the Cannabaceae family. They are Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa.
Due to it’s sturdier frame and huskier exterior, present-day hemp evolved from Cannabis sativa. Their short and stocky frame cause hemp plants to grow closer together than marijuana plants do, maxing out around 4 inches apart.
Thanks to the hardiness of their fibrous stalks and close proximity to other plants, hemp can withstand many climates. The durability of hemp allows them to reach maturity within 108 to 120 days.
While hemp is just one species of the Cannabaceae genus, marijuana, on the other hand, can be cultivated as either Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa. That’s where it’s pickiness stops.
To best grow marijuana, you’re going to need warmer climates and more space. These cannabis family members also like breathing room–upwards of six feet between plants! Hey, maybe space is a bit of a good thing. After all, marijuana matures quicker than hemp, as these plants are ready for harvest within 60 to 90 days.
Another glaring difference between hemp and marijuana? Hemp plants are male. Whereas, marijuana is female. Maybe that’s why they mature quicker than hemp plants!
Hemp Effects vs Marijuana Effects
One last difference in the hemp vs marijuana debate might just be the most important. It involves how compounds within these plants interact with our endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system relies on a series of receptors located throughout our body. These receptors regulate everything from our mental health to hormone production to appetite.
Research indicates hemp effects are very beneficial to the system. The plant is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids. Hemp effects also include antioxidative and anti-inflammatory benefits. This wide range of qualities is why CBD oil is popping up in everything from beauty lines to supplements to skin care.
Additional research confirms many of the benefits of hemp effects can also be achieved to some degree by marijuana as well. However, there’s one significant difference between how hemp affects the endocannabinoid system vs how marijuana affects it. This primary contrast is that marijuana triggers a psychoactive effect on the endocannabinoid system.
While marijuana can create a euphoric feeling throughout the body, hemp doesn’t have the same effect on the endocannabinoid system. Farm Bill-compliant hemp can’t get you high. The reason for such a variance in cannabis experiences comes down to two molecules–CBD vs THC.
CBD vs THC
What gives plants their distinct attributes are the network of chemical compounds within their DNA. In the Cannabis sativa family, the significant differences between plants come down to plant-based compounds known as cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are molecules formed within the oils of the cannabis plant. They are also behind the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
As the prefix implies, cannabinoids are closely associated with the cannabis family. While other plants do have cannabinoids, none has an abundant supply as members of the Cannabaceae clan. Research indicates that the hemp plant has at least 113 cannabinoids known to humankind.
Think of cannabis plants like men and women. Both genders have estrogen and testosterone in their system. The difference in these levels is what causes one person to grow the characteristics of a male like facial hair or traits of a female such as the growth of breast tissue.
In hemp vs marijuana plants, instead of estrogen or testosterone, their molecular structure depends on the ratio of CBD vs THC.
What Causes Marijuana Effects?
Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is the THC molecule that gives marijuana its psychoactive or intoxicating characteristics. The THC molecule binds on cannabinoid receptors, creating a euphoric-like feeling on the system.
Under the Farm Bill, hemp plants must have 0.3% THC or less. Due to its low concentration of THC, hemp effects are not psychoactive.
What Causes Hemp Benefits and Effects?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is predominant in hemp plants and the primary reason for the effects felt from hemp. It works in unison with the other cannabinoids in hemp to help bring homeostasis (balance) to our system.
Unlike THC, the CBD molecule doesn’t bind onto many receptors. Instead, it stimulates stressed receptors, causing a calming-like effect on the body.
CBD can’t get you high. In fact, due to its molecular structure, CBD can even counteract unwanted marijuana effects.
A History of Hemp CBD Benefits on Ancestors
Back before plants were classified by species and family, our ancestors learned about herbs through trial and error. They would use plants for sustenance and eventually, for medicinal purposes. One of the earliest texts known to humankind is a Hindu work known as The Vedas. This ancient record referenced cannabis as one of the Five Essential Plants.
When our ancestors migrated, they brought this versatile plant along with them. Chinese emperor Shen-Nung seeped the leaves in a tea to experience hemp effects such as pain relief. Egyptians used cannabis to treat sore eyes. Romans applied hemp extracts to heal sores on both humans and horses.
Our ancestors who went west took hemp along for the journey. As America started colonizing, parts of the country even valued hemp as an acceptable form of payment!
Cannabis was so commonplace that in the 1800s it was an ingredient in many over-the-counter medicines. The plant even landed itself on a list of medicinal herbs in the 1850 US Pharmacopeia.
In 1850, science hadn’t evolved to the point where scientists could differentiate between hemp and marijuana. Cannabis the species was classified like one plant, and this would come to be detrimental in the hemp vs marijuana battle.