Hemp Vs Marijuana - What's the difference?

Posted by Aleshia Johnson on

As the world starts to re-embrace the possibilities of the cannabis plant, it has become increasingly important that we can clearly identify and understand the key differences between hemp and marijuana to ensure cannabis enthusiasts are safe and well informed. 

Explanation showing the difference between hemp and marijuana that both come from Cannabis Sativa

What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?

The most to the point answer is that hemp naturally contains less than 0.3% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is a compound found in cannabis that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. This means that hemp is a type of cannabis that will not get you ‘high’. 

Hemp and Marijuana are from the same plant species, Cannabis Sativa, however their physical and pharmacological properties are actually quite different. 

Key differences between hemp and marijuana:

  • Chemical composition
  • Cultivation
  • Uses

What is hemp?

Hemp is a form of cannabis that is grown for its many industrial purposes. It has been grown and used by humans for an estimated 10,000 years and many believe it was the first domesticated crop in the world. 

Hemp contains a full spectrum of cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes, however to be classified as hemp, it must legally contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. Hemp is also naturally higher in CBD (cannabidiol), which is another widely researched cannabinoid of interest. CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects but has demonstrated a range of therapeutic and health benefits which we will explore at a later date. 

Hemp grows abundantly in most conditions, with the main contributing factor to a successful crop being sunshine hours. The aim is to maximise size and yield, which makes hemp the perfect crop to be grown outside. 

Once harvested hemp can be used to make literally thousands of different products. We can utilise every part of the hemp plant; seeds, flowers, leaves,stalks and roots. From food, skincare, supplements and clothing to rope, textiles, bio-plastics and insulation. 

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is the name given to a cannabis plant that is specifically grown for medicinal and recreational use, typically containing between 5 - 30% THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol holds a huge amount of therapeutic potential for medicinal use. Legalisation and regulations for cannabis will allow for specific strains and dosing to be established, produced and sold in a manner that will allow for the desired therapeutic outcome.

Some people in the cannabis industry actually refuse to use the word ‘marijuana’ and consider it to condone negative propaganda and racism that was set about by the USA in the early 1930’s. Read more about the history of cannabis here.

High THC varieties of cannabis are selectively bred in controlled indoor environments to optimise the desired characteristics of the plant. Cultivators must closely monitor and regulate temperature, lighting and humidity conditions for crop growth. 

Crops are harvested specifically for their flowers/buds and leaves which contain the highest amounts of THC to use for medicinal or recreational products. 

Hopefully this has given you an insight into the difference between these two types of cannabis plants. Cannabis has a lot to offer, in the near future we may finally have the opportunity to explore the full potential of this plant to heal both ourselves and our world that continues to suffer.

We generally change for one of two reasons, inspiration or desperation. Let Kōaka be part of your inspiration.

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