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The Cannabis Family: Hemp vs Marijuana

The Definition

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the 2018 Farm Bill described Hemp as a variety of cannabis with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. Marijuana refers to plant material derived from cannabis with a content greater than 0.3% THC by dry weight.

The History of Hemp

For the first 162 years of U.S. history, hemp was a common crop known by all Americans. Hemp was on its way to becoming a premier cash crop in America as it was notoriously easy to grow, and it had many industrial purposes .The crop was used in anything from animal feed to fuels to personal care products. 

In the early 1930’s the prohibition had just ended and alcohol was once again on the rise. Harry J. Anslinger became the first director of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now called the DEA).  Anslinger strongly opposed Hemp. He in conjunction with politicians and law enforcement officials were able to convince the public that they were the only real experts on Marijuana. They launched the propaganda campaign referred to as “Reefer Madness”. The end result was the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 getting passed in congress banning the cultivation of hemp in the U.S. You needed a special government license to grow the crop for research purposes up until 2018. In 2018 under the Trump administration,  the Farm Bill lifted the ban on hemp cultivation revitalizing this age-old industry.

What are the structural differences between the plants?

The main difference between hemp and marijuana is that consuming organic matter derived from hemp will not get you “high” as the main psychoactive substance THC is only present in very small amounts or not present at all. However, there is more to it than just that fact alone. Hemp is known to be adaptable in growing well in many different environments. Marijuana on the other hand thrives in very controlled environments such as green houses. Variables such as soil nutrients, water quality, sun quantity all play a much larger role in marijuana cultivation as opposed to hemp cultivation. Additionally, hemp plants devote more resources to the structure of the plant while a marijuana plant will devote nearly all of its resources into the budding and germination process during the later phases of the plant's life. This means that, in general, hemp plants are more fibrous than marijuana plants. This is more useful when it comes to creating textiles or personal care products as you get more volume of plant material per acreage of farmland.

Moving Forward

We can expect universities to continue to conduct market research to determine the profitability of hemp. We can also look forward to the creation of hemp products, such as textiles, carpeting, paper, fabric, yarn, insulation, and construction materials as this industry continues to be revitalized. Moreover, as CBD Products becomes more widely accepted and researched, it is likely to continue to gain popularity as people seek natural alternatives to traditional medicine.

Article Last Edited: December 3rd, 2022


† Medical Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice or to be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare professional. CBD has not been evaluated by the FDA for its safety and efficacy, and its use is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medication. Additionally, this article does not endorse any specific CBD products or brands, and the author and publisher are not responsible for any adverse reactions or consequences resulting from the use of any products mentioned in this article.

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