So what is the difference between hemp and marijuana? Well in a nutshell very little. They are after all the same plant. It is why hemp was so easily lumped into the same category as marijuana and therefore was made illegal in 1937 by (politically driven and racially fueled) Harry J. Anslinger, and later made a federal crime by President Nixon’s famous ‘War on Drugs’ in the 1970s. *Booth, Martin. Cannabis: A History Ch 13
THC vs. CBDs.
There are literally hundreds of different cannabinoids in marijuana, but there are two that dominate today’s media. THC (tetrahydrocannabinols) are the psychoactive compound that creates that ‘high’ when smoked, whereas CBDs benefit our health without the high.
Indica and Sativa
Cannabis is the latin name for marijuana and its family contains two varieties: Indica and Sativa.
Indica originates in the Middle East and Asia. They tend to grow short and fat in size. Their leaves can get quite large and round in appearance. This form of marijuana tends to be grown for its higher amounts THC and another compound, myrcene, which is believed to attribute to that ‘body high’. Indica is most often used for recreational use and as a sleep aid.
Sativas are native to Central America. They grow much taller and thinner than their Asian cousins. Their leaves are distinctively smaller. Sativas also have THC, but virtually no myrcene; thus the high has been described as having a more energizing effect or ‘head high’. It tends to also contain higher amounts of CBDs. Though it must be noted that most marijuana plants on the market are hybrids of the two species, to truly know the ratio of THC to CBDs, the products must be laboratory tested.
Hemp is an industrial form of Sativa. The amounts of CBDs are low, and THC is almost non-existent (.3% vs. 10-20% in Indica). It quickly grows with heavy fibrous stems and leaves, making the plant highly desirable for manufacture. Hemp can be turned into everything from toilet paper to carpet, and its protein rich seeds are sought after by food producers. Nearly 10 grams of protein are in a single tablespoon of seeds! CBDs in hemp are also used for the production of medications such as Epidiolex, used for treating epilepsy.
Last December, President Trump flew to the marijuana friendly state of Colorado and signed a Farm Bill with a hemp-made pen. This bill was mainly to lend aid to farmers who are suffering from his imposed Trade Wars with China, but also included the declassification of hemp from Schedule 1 status. Nearly 90% of our hemp comes from Canada and China because the production of hemp as a crop was illegal unless grown on federal approved test farms.
This was a bi-partisan created bill, but much of the credit goes to Mitch McConnell. With elections on the horizon, and his Kentucky state’s tobacco crop taking a hit from anti-smoking campaigns, hemp is expected to bring a boost of nearly 22 billion dollars to the US by 2022. Hemp will not be allowed for the production of medication though, something medical CBD supporters are hoping to change.
The bill will not open the doors to the legalization of marijuana, which is still labeled under the Schedule 1 federal laws. Mitch McConnell remains a staunch prohibitionist, and will not be advocating for national legalization of either pot or CBDs anytime soon.
**This article is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Please consult your local physician for any questions!**