Hemp and Marijuana are both cannabis plants used for different purposes depending on a country’s law. When hemp is mentioned, the first thing that comes to the mind is a narcotic drug people take to get “high”. This however is a half-sided assumption because it leaves out the productive side of hemp. To better understand what hemp and marijuana really is, let’s look closely at their differences.
For over ten of thousands of years, man has cultivated cannabis plant extracting fiber, fuel and medicinal extract out of the plant. The fiber extracted from this plant is used in the making of paper, lace, linen, etc. whereas vegetable oil is got from the seed of cannabis.
In 1971, serious research was made into the studying hemp by a scientist by name Ernest Small. Where the confusion lies in differentiating marijuana and hemp is how they differ from each other physically, the extent of narcotic content in them and their legal status.
What makes marijuana and hemp and marijuana a drug?
No matter how much productive use this two plant derivatives can be used for, the fundamental similarity between them is that they both contain some amount of narcotic content which can be found in other drug plants. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is what makes them a drug element. The differentiating factor is the level of THC content in the two plants.
Physical difference between hemp and marijuana
In the US for instance, hemp is used to describe the stalk, stems and seeds of cannabis plant, while marijuana is the leave, flowers and viable seed of the same plant. It must be noted that though marijuana is distinctively different from hemp, both are cannabis plant. Like every other plant, cannabis comes in different variants, each having different level of narcotic content depending on the region where it is grown. It would then be impossible to grow marijuana in place of hemp just to deceive drug enforcement agencies, nor to grow marijuana together with hemp on the same land.
THC content in marijuana and hemp
Researchers have identified THC as the make-up of marijuana that gets its smokers “high”. Hemp containing its own THC to some degrees does not create the “high” effect. We can now conclusively state that while marijuana has a very high level of THC, hemp contains just little of it. Industrial hemp contains between 0.01 – 1.5% of THC while Marijuana contains as much as 10 – 15% THC. To get high, one must consume at least 3% of THC. This little amount of THC in hemp makes the plant useless for those who wish to get high. For those who still to get high on hemp, it would take as much of an acre of cultivated hemp to get the same effect marijuana would give. Unlike Marijuana that contains only THC Hemp contains an important element which experts would refer to as CBD (Cannabidiol). CBD is what gives hemp its medicinal touch, making it useful in medical fields.
Legal Status of marijuana and hemp
Way back in the 60’s and 70’s, hemp was an important cash crop in the United States. It was later banned in the 70’s by congress. The sale of hemp based product was still legal. In 2001, Drug Enforcement Agencies made an attempt to stop the sale of hemp products citing the narcotic effect of the drug. Hemp Industry association countered back, clearly proving that hemp products does not cause “high” effect on its consumer.
Within the United States, cannabis is an illicit substance. It was labeled Schedule I drug by an act of congress. Though forbidden to be grown in the United States, it is very much legal to import hemp products into the United States. Annually, about half a billion dollars’ worth of hemp products is shipped into the United States. This figure is based on reports supplied by Hemp Industry Association.
In many more countries in Asia and Europe, growing hemp is very much legal. Hemp is grown in over 30 countries scattered across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Statistics from 2011 survey revealed that China was the top producing hemp countries, followed closely by Chile and tailed behind by European Union. Surprisingly, hemp production is very much legal in Canada. As at 2013, 66,700 acres of land was used in the cultivation of hemp in Canada. However, marijuana is very illegal in these countries where hemp is grown. There are however some few exceptions. Israel and Canada for instance are moderating marijuana use in medicinal field. Large scale production of marijuana is barely allowed due to its high THC content.
In the simplest term, cannabis oil refers to the oil that can be extracted from any cannabis plant. It can then be said that hemp oil can either be got from marijuana or hemp. It is advised that the user exercise discretion when buying cannabis oil as marijuana oil contains some amount of THC. The media have been notorious for using “cannabis oil” to referto the illegal side of cannabis
As you rightly guessed, hemp oil is extracted from hemp plant. This oil has many variations of use. The oil finds applications in soap, shampoo and hair conditioners, and body lotions. When not used in making oil, hemp seeds can be eaten if you wish. There is nothing to worry about because the seeds won’t get you high. Hemp seeds being proteinous in nature can be ground into powder and used in making of drinks and confectioneries.