CBD has become very popular over the last decade. You must have heard your health-savvy friends talking about the therapeutic benefits of CBD. CBD may even be available at your local gas station store. You probably know that CBD is cannabis, yet people are using it openly.
You will see many adverts for natural CBD hemp flowers even from online dealers, and you are probably wondering what legal loopholes they use to sell and use hemp. When you ask, they tell you that hemp is legal. If you hear that cannabis is legal, but marijuana is illegal, it throws you in a wave of confusion. Isn’t marijuana and cannabis the same plant?
Many people are confused with these terms. In some regions, the term marijuana and hemp are used interchangeably to refer to the same plan. In places like the U.S., they mean totally different things.
What is the Difference Between Marijuana and Hemp Flower?
1. Chemical Composition
The United States defines marijuana as Cannabis Sativa species with a chemical composition of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of greater than 0.3%. THC is the primary psychoactive chemical in cannabis. Generally, cannabis Sativa species have higher than 0.3% concentrations of THC.
Hemp is composed of indica dominant strains of cannabis. While it is the same species as Cannabis Sativa, it contains lower concentrations of THC. A typical Indica plant contains less than 0.3% of THC, but growing conditions can always affect these levels.
There is actually no taxonomic difference between hemp and marijuana, and the distinction is purely based on the chemical composition of individual plants. While 0.3% is an arbitrary number, it is what the law has adopted as the legal definition in the Agricultural Act of 2018.
Marijuana is illegal in the United States and many other countries, but hemp is legal. The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal federally, though several states still ban the plant. You can now grow, process, and use hemp products with less than 0.3% THC.
State and federal laws vary. While marijuana is federally illegal, some states legalize its use for both recreational and medicinal purposes. If you reside in a state where marijuana is legal, you can grow and use its products despite the federal ban. But even states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, like New York, require a valid medical marijuana card for obtaining cannabis.
You must be wondering why marijuana and hemp face such contrasting treatment by the law while they are the same plant. Well, it all comes down to THC. Studies show that while THC may have significant therapeutic benefits, it also has adverse effects that outweigh its benefits.
THC has the potential for addiction, which makes it a controlled substance under Schedule 1. It is also psychoactive and can lead to mental health problems.
Selective breeding of cannabis plants has resulted in many uses. If you thought cannabis only gets you high, then you are in for a surprise. Early farmers discovered that certain strains of cannabis had a potent ‘high’ and selectively bred them for psychoactive potential.
Industrial hemp was traditionally used for its fiber and seeds rather than phytochemicals. Today, industrial hemp is used to manufacture fiber, textiles, health products, food, and supplements.
In the natural world, there is hardly any difference between hemp and marijuana plants. The two look and smell the same. However, because of selective breeding, cultivated hemp and marijuana have differences in appearance.
Marijuana is much bushy with thick leaves. For marijuana, the priced part is the buds, as they are rich in trichomes that contain the beneficial chemicals of the plant. Hemp is selected from strains with better fiber, which has led to hemp plants having slender stalks and leaves.
5. Psychoactive Effect
The main concern for many users and even regulating authorities is the effects of the two strains. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid, and it is what causes the ‘high’ effect of marijuana. So, you will definitely get ‘high’ when you use marijuana due to its high THC concentrations.
The same is not true for hemp. The 0.3% THC content required to categorize a strain as hemp is too low to cause psychoactive effects. This does not mean that hemp cannot get you high. Any natural hemp plant contains trace amounts of THC, but you’ll have to take a lot even to feel slight effects.
While the legal limit of THC is 0.3%, even 0.5% is still too low to get you ‘high’. However, you can be arrested for any products with even 0.4% THC.
There is a lot of confusion about hemp and marijuana among users, especially now that hemp flower is legal. If you are in a state where marijuana is legal, the difference might not be of much interest unless you are interested in its therapeutic effects.
If marijuana is illegal in your state, then you need to be aware of the difference because a slight confusion can land you in jail.
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